The Venture Grant Aeolian Harp taken by the
power dam at the lake in Vaucluse, South Carolina.
Here is a Web version of the text & photos of
Henry Gurr's talk given to The First Ever MOQ Conference.
This webpage is a
"self-tour" web version adapted from my presentation given at
the 2005 MOQ Conference. In this somewhat improved version, you
will have to read and do most mouse clicks for yourself. (At the
conference, the audience leaned back and relaxed while Ian
Glendinning read aloud my words and Paul Turner clicked the
In the Summer of
2002, I followed the route of travel described in the book
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZMM), by Robert
Pirsig (1974). I did my best to research and photograph all the
places the ZMM Narrator reports seeing as he traveled from
Minneapolis to San Francisco. My rather modest effort just to
photograph the "Sights and Scenes" of "ZMM gradually morphed
into a "field check-up" of the factual accuracy of the ZMM
Narrative. In actual fact, the closer I looked for the physical
evidence, the more and more the "ZMM Travel Narrative stood to
factual test! Mr. Pirsig's book, detail after detail, to use his
own words, held to Good old reality. I was amazed!! It
is a great tribute to Mr. Pirsig as author that this much detail
is weaved into ZMM Travel Narrative!
did not expect to find this! Nor did many ZMM critics! They and
I doubted the "total reality" of the ZMM scenery and places.
Moreover, my own initial doubt resulted in my failure to find
many ZMM locations. If I taken Pirsig's words as literal fact
from the "get-go", I would have found many ZMM locations
'much, much, faster'!!
this MOQ talk I will:
Say "Hello" to the MOQ Conference audience,
Give an introduction to myself, and then,
Show some of the more outstanding examples of Mr. Pirsig's
factual precision. As you will see this webpage thus will be a
good introduction to the remainder of my 800 ZMM Route Photos,
displayed elsewhere on my site at:
Professor of Physics at University of South Carolina,
Aiken South Carolina, USA.
Hello & Letter Of
Greeting To the MOQ Audience.
Greetings to MOQ
congratulations to Dr. Anthony McWatt on receipt of his well
I am disappointed not to be with you-all today, but thanks to
Ian Glendinning's reading of my words, I can be with you in
would address you as "Pirsig Pilgrims", but that is an "advanced
degree" that has to be earned in a special school. Let me
explain. Mr. Pirsig, in a June 2001 letter, discussing how he no
longer desired to travel the West & the ZMM Route, added the
following comment: "I have heard from Bozeman that there has
been a steady trickle of what they call Pirsig Pilgrims who come
through every summer following that route".
term "Pirsig Pilgrim" raised my interest. Google, always found
things I needed to know, but this time no leads on the term
"Pirsig Pilgrim". So when I got to Bozeman on my research trip,
I started asking if people had heard of it. The four Montana
State University English Professors I interviewed, knew much
history re: Mr. Pirsig, but were completely unaware of the term
"Pirsig Pilgrims". In fact they had no awareness of hardly any
visitors to their campus, inquiring about Mr. Pirsig or his
course, while I was in Bozeman, I also interviewed Gennie
DeWeese. Very early in the interview, she said that I reminded
her of those one or two persons per year, who call her up, and
ask to come see her: I asked her if she had invented the term
"Pirsig Pilgrim". I had to practically pry it out of her.
Finally, she modestly and very quietly and a wisp of a smile,
admitted, "Yes ..... I'm the one".
travelers who get to Bozeman, of course, want to see Mrs.
DeWeese's famous home and share discussions of Pirsig & ZMM. Her
phone number is in the Bozeman phone directory and she clearly
enjoys sharing her home and what she knows.... even with
complete strangers!!! Mrs. DeWeese has apparently has done this
for many years! Mrs. DeWeese is now quite elderly, and typically
one of her two grown daughters will participate in the fun of
the discussions. She says that without exception these "Zen
visitors" are a good bunch of people! So, "y-all" pat yourself
on the back, you are among good company!!
it is, .... the Advanced Degree "Pirsig Pilgrim" ….. comes from
Mrs. DeWeese herself, and your next educational challenge is to
travel the entire ZMM Route yourself. That's when you earn the
right to call yourself a "Pirsig Pilgrim"!
Lets Look At How ZMM Incorporates "The Factual" Into Its Travel
For each of the
following items, read the words and then click the associated
link. After you have studied the photo and caption, close the
"frame" you are looking at, and you will be automatically back
to this document, so you may read the next item. NOTE: DO NOT
GET DETOURED! Please always come back to this page so you will
finish the tour.
A) Who Is Henry
Click on link to
view his picture. After this comes up, click at right of photo
to see Dr. Gurr's home webpage where you can read his bio.
(Close browser when ready to return to this page.)
B) The Aeolian
Harp Is One of Henry Gurr's Pet Projects.
The Aeolian Harp
(pictured above) was inspired by British author, poet,
philosopher, and linguist Owen Barfield, who wrote an article
called The Harp and the Camera. (Close browser when
ready to return to this page.)
note concerning previous Aeolian Harp Photos: Mr. Barfield's
article The Harp and the Camera inspired the creation,
on my campus a Camera Obscura in addition to the Aeolian Harp
you just saw. As Mr Barfield points out, the Aeolian Harp and
the Camera Obscura were major stages of historical/literary
development of our modern consciousness. Mr. Barfield's books
will considerably extend MOQ'ers understanding of ZMM and Lila.
I highly recommends them. Dr. McWatt and Ian Glendinning can
vouch for the MOQ usefulness of Barfield's books.)
Now Lets Look At
How Mr. Pirsig Incorporates "The Factual" Into the ZMM Travel
ZMM page has an example, but I will narrow it down to
C) Arrival at a
town. D) Events at a Hotel and E) Experiences in the High
Country. I will use the photos from my WebSite to illustrate
these examples. (I must narrow it down just like
Phaedrus told his writing student to vastly simplfy:
"Narrow it down to
the front of one building on the Main Street of Bozeman. The
Opera House. Start with the upper left-hand brick."!
C) The Town Of
Three Forks, Montana Actually Exists, Just Where the Narrator
Says It Is! We Also Note Pirsig's Metaphorical Use of This
The most obvious
examples of accuracy is that the series of towns mentioned in
ZMM are all there, as is the case for Three Forks! And often the
name of the town is used to metaphorically support the current
lecture Chautauqua. Here I have also chosen to show you the town
of Three Forks, because it is a rather nice
"Metaphoric-Bridge-Connection", between the Narrator's
Chautauqua (lecture) and the Travel Description. This is Mr.
Pirsig's stock-in-trade in both ZMM and Lila. (In many of my
photo explanations I mention these connections,) At first, I was
slow to catch on to these ”Metaphoric Bridge-Connections". It
took me about four readings of ZMM, before I finally said "Hey,
what is Pirsig doing here?" I started to watch for these
"Connections", and was amazed to note, that at every abrupt
switch between Chautauqua and the Travel Description, the
"Metaphoric-Bridge-Connections" were always there! (Close
browser when you are finished with this photo.)
D) The Narrator
Tells Us Very Accurately About Their Hotel In The Town Of
Laurel, Montana. (Six Photos.)
Study the photo and
the captions for this and next 5 photos. Just as the Narrator
tells us, you will see the communal wash room at the back end
of, a long hallway, with creaky wood floor, window by the wash
room, and second level porch. (Close browser when you are
finished with all six photos.)
E) ZMM Narrator's
Factual Experiences in the Montana Mountainous High Country Are
the My Final Examples. (Eighteen Photos.).
As you read the ZMM
passages in italics that go with these photos, study how the
Narrator gives us a full, realistic, and enthusiastic
description of what he calls the "High Country". You should
especially note how these descriptions closely track the scenery
as follows: Stunted trees; details of a roadside rest area and
look out point, then no trees, just grass; then grass and
flowers and lichens; they go into the first snow field, then
between banks of snow, back to grass, flowers, mud, melt-water.
Then a second heavy snowfield, and finally the highest twin
walled tunnel of snow, As described, the travelers are at
actually at the factual "summit", where they encounter a second
rest area and then they are on their way back down to lower
elevations. (Close browser when you are finished with all 18
Additional notes to help appreciate the degree of accuracy of
On photos you just
On several of these
photos I placed clickable links on the waypoint number (lower
right). One of these links to a topo map of the landscape of the
photo. This map shows what is not evident from either the ZMM
Narrative or my photos: The highway, between the two snow
fields, runs along a south facing slope which has sun warmth for
the flowers. And then goes through a low area (10736 feet) which
of course would have melt water channels. This accounts for the
flowers and small streams immediately prior to the "tunnel of
snow" mentioned on ZMM. This topo map also confirms that the
Narrator's "Summit" is indeed the factual highest of his travel
over what is called Beartooth Pass. Here the highway maxes-out
at a “bench mark” (BM = 10947 feet), just nine feet higher
than the previous highway maximum encountered just after the
first snowfield. Link to photo that has the clickable waypoint
number mentioned above:
You have seen just
a few of the more interesting examples of the factual accuracy
of ZMM. Practically every one of my 833 ZMM Route Sights and
Scenes Photos on my WebSite, will reveal more this Factual
Narrative Accuracy. I hope you will the near future study my
photos and further explore this topic of Mr. Pirsig's landscape
accuracy. Please go to the Second Album at:
But All This Still
Begs a Few Questions: How (& Why) Is ZMM So Accurate?..
1) How did Mr.
Pirsig keep all this 'accuracy' in mind?
2) Did he take notes during the time of his travel in 1968?
3) How much information was obtained from maps?
4) Or were there a great number of photographs, so most ZMM
travel details were extracted from the photos?
5) Is this why we see so much correspondence with practically
every one of his 12 photos we already have?
6) Or was his writing of ZMM all from memory?
7) Beyond this, why was the ZMM authoring Travel narrative held
to such strict accuracy?
8) Finally: Why would Mr. Pirsig include so much specific travel
detail in ZMM? And especially so, when we consider that the ZMM
Travel Narratives are not the most important parts of ZMM? In
other words: Why such travel accuracy, when the ZMM central
focus is the Chautauqua Lectures propounding the Metaphysics of
can think of six imperatives for accuracy. Because time does not
permit, they are presented in my MOQ Conference "hand-out"
concerning Mr. Pirsig's Travel Narrative demonstrates that he
did achieve his own stated criterion; He held his book to "Good
quote Professor Robert Nelson "[ZMM's] plot remain consistently
responsible to the topography of the physical landscape through
which the protagonist moves ".
indeed, "Good old reality." frames our very existence.
to Accompany Professor Henry Gurr's Presentation.
(Thursday July 7th 2005
at the Department of Philosophy, University of Liverpool.)
de Ching: 25th Anniversary Edition. [RELIGION AND EASTERN
Translated by Gia-Fu Feng & Jane English (March 97, Vintage
The Tao Te
esoteric but infinitely practical book written most probably
in the sixth century B.C. by Lao Tsu, has been translated
more frequently than any work except the Bible. This translation
of the Chinese classic, which was first published twenty-five
years ago, has sold more copies than any of the others. It
offers the essence of each word and make Lao Tsu’s teaching
Immediate and alive.
The philosophy of Lao
Tsu is simple: Accept what is in front of you without wanting
the situation to be other than it is, Study the natural order
of things and work with it rather than against it, for to
try to change what is ..... only sets up resistance. Nature
provides everything without requiring payment or thanks and
also provides for all without discrimination — therefore let
us present the same face to everyone and treat all men as
equals, however they may behave. If we watch carefully, we
will see that work proceeds more quickly and easily if we
stop "trying," if we stop putting in so much extra
effort, if we stop looking for results. In the clarity of
a still and open mind, truth will be reflected. We will come
to appreciate the original meaning of the word "understand,"
which means to stand under" We serve whatever or whoever
stands before us, without any thought for ourselves. Te—which
may be translated as “virtue” or "strength"—lies
always In Tao, or "natural law." In other words:
[About this translation]
No one has done better in conveying Lao Tsu's simple and laconic
style of writing , so as to produce an English version almost
as suggestive of the many meanings intended: this is a most
useful, as well and beautiful, volume —and what it has to
say is exactly what the world, in its present state, needs
to hear." — ALAN WATTS
Note from Henry
I discovered the above
passage on the back of a Lao Tzu translation, some 5 months
ago. And only then did I fully realize how much Robert Pirsig
has written the principles of the Tao into in his book "Zen
and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". Like Lao Tzu's,
Pirsig's Book is to practical guide life and living.... a
hand book for "Westerners" to apply Lao Tzu. This
is suggested as a meditative reading at the start of the MOQ
So why was the Zen and
the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Authoring Held to Such Strict
Accuracy? I Can think of Six Pirsig Imperatives for
1) I think that being
factually accurate is just the Scientist and the Mechanic
coming out in Pirsig. This inevitably sets the tenor of his
2) Pirsig must make his book consistent with one of the ZMM's
main messages: Scientist and the Mechanics must be truthful,
to be successful, and besides a good idea any way, especially
truth with one's self.
3) The MOQ, in ZMM, asserts that our minds create "the
whole world", and "reality" is the only grounding
that science, (and even all of humanity), will ever get!!
We require "reality" to keep our minds straight.
Ditto for any author in pursuit of Quality. 4) The mentally
unstable Narrator says he depends on "Good old reality".
And he repeatedly says (or implies) that he would "go
off the deep-end", except for the ever present support
of the surrounding ...... and beautiful...... physical world.
Thus he must fully participate with (and report) his surroundings.
5) About the time ZMM was being written Pirsig said something
like the following:
"For success, ZMM needed all the support it could get.
He went on to say: For the reader to accept the overall central
philosophic messages of ZMM, the story narrative must seem
to the reader, absolutely real." For Pirsig, the way
to achieve this, was to be both interesting and absolutely
factual with his travel scenery.
6) And that, I believe, is why the travel narrative was added
to ZMM in the first place.
This is my explanation
for the ZMM accuracy I found on my ZMM Route Research Trip.
I should like to hear your ideas. HenryG@aiken.SC.edu
I can also think of several
likely methods of achieving this accuracy in ZMM. Several
places in ZMM the Narrator refers to the use of maps on their
1968 trip. These maps, with perhaps travel notes added during
the actual trip, may have been saved, and later used as a
memory device during the writing of ZMM. Mr. John (ZMM) Sutherland
mentioned in my DVD interview, that he remembered such maps
on his 1968 ZMM trip with Mr. Pirsig. He said Mr. Pirsig held
folded road maps to the Honda gas tank with several stretched
screen-door springs, and constantly referred to them. This
fact is also mentioned in ZMM (page 21) where in Minnesota,
they missed the turn-off just prior to going over the Interstate.
Also is it very likely Pirsig himself used "topo maps"
to plan their "Bozeman Mountain Climb". ZMM indicates
such maps (page 36) were with them on their trip to be used
during a hoped for camping expedition. In addition the Narrator
mentions his use of planned routes in the Bozeman mountain
climb (and descent), even if they these plans did not work
out as anticipated. So we have indications in ZMM that Pirsig
depended on various maps, and thus these maps, with all their
marks from usage would be a boon to Pirsig's writing accuracy.
Also there is the possibility of accuracy from Pirsig using
his photos taken on the trip, as well as those of John Sutherland',
plus possible travel notes.
More ZMM Information
Is Available. I am anxious to share what I have.
My research notes contain a wealth of additional information.
Interested persons, most especially biographers, may contact
me. Moreover, if any one of you wishes to travel the ZMM Route,
please contact me. I have a hankering to go again and might
go with you. We might even coax John and Sylvia Sutherland
of the ZMM book, to go with us!! I am highly desirous for
them to reveal their memories of specific places and events
on that original ZMM Trip. But I need some help in convincing
them to go. (NOTE: Some of Mr. Sutherland's recollections
are already on a DVD for any one interested.)
As I was posting my photos
for the "Pirsig and Chris Bozeman Mountain Climb",
I deduced, with the help of topo maps, a probable route. These
are stated on my ZMM Part III photos .I hope you, and the
mountain climbing clubs, will verify my guesses as to this
possible "Pirsig and Chris mountain climb route".
All of us should urge
Mr. Pirsig to archive (or museum preserve) all possible ZMM
and Lila related physical materials for posterity.
You too should travel
"The ZMM Route"!
The Ghost of Phaedrus will be your guide for every step!
Mr. Pirsig clearly choose the ZMM route for its natural beauty
and wonder of the western USA. Indeed it is a fantastic voyage!!
There are many sights & wonders never even hinted at in
ZMM!! I never expected this from all my readings of ZMM. Why
these are ignored, is another intriguing topic covered in
my photo albums. You should travel this route yourself!! Your
travel Will be so full of the Memories of Chris and Narrator!
It will an immensely meaningful experience! I guarantee it!
"Sometimes it’s a little better to travel than to arrive."
How can you experience,
first hand, the Sights and Scenes of the book you know so
1) Eat at restaurant
in Ellendale ND, Recall the varnished lobby floor of John
Sutherland's "Chicken Man" skit.
2) Take in the wide expanse & solitude of the Northern
Planes, & think of Sylvia's statement; "Its so beautiful"!
3) Find the old A & W Root Beer Place in Mobridge SD,
and have your own hamburger and soda.
4) Travel the Main Street of Miles City MT, Western Town Extraordinaire.
All its old buildings are still there!
5) On the Montana State University Campus, trod with Phaedrus
the old stone steps of Montana Hall, and Phaedra's hand will
reach for the handle as you pull open the heavy oak door and
enter the musty interior.
6) Ponder boring fine points of “Gumptionology 101”, as you
travel the mountains & deserts of Idaho &Oregon.
7) Experience the vistas and twisty roads along cliffs and
ocean beaches of the Northern California Coast. You will think
about the Narrator's long sought goal (Cliffs and Vistas of
Pacific Ocean), as well as you own.
8) On the high cliffs off California's Caspar Bay, you will
stand quietly and remember; Pirsig and Chris's dramatic break-through
at the fog enshrouded ZMM Climax Scene,
9) You will arrive in triumph, as did the ZMM Narrator, at
the San Francisco. "Its going to get better now!
Google will always find
my pages using my Name [Henry Gurr]. But just in case here
are some entry points:
Professor Henry Gurr
Pirsig 1968 Photos & All Albums
Three Forks Montana
Hotel Hurzler, Laurel Montana.
Heading Up to the High Country, Beartooth Pass Highway, Montana
Just In Case You Are
Not Already Convinced, Here Are More Photos Showing Detailed
[Place the following
photo #'s in the "Search", Upper Right of ZMMQuality
All albums page = http://ww2.usca.edu/ResearchProjects/ProfessorGurr/gallery/
Photo = 105-0584c Narrator
mentions they walk down the street, to a near-by restaurant
Photo = 112-1208 And
soon thereafter go under a railroad underpass on their way
out of town.
Photo = 105-0590 This
is in the next town of Red Lodge. "The dark ominous mass
of the mountain dominates the buildings".
Photo = 105-0599 The
photo, mentioned in ZMM, is still there &
Photo = TomEgens Shows a better view of the giant colored
photograph of the switch-backs of the Narrator's 108 Degree
Fare height heat wave, in EXACTLY this same area, IS confirmed
in the 9 July 1968 upcoming Montana Mountain Pass.
Photo = 104-0473 The
facts do fit Pirsig’s writing concerning the narrator’s “scorcher”
heat wave. An 108 Degree Fare height heat wave, in EXACTLY
this same area, IS confirmed in the 9 July 1968 weather record!
Sometime I will check the weather data for the California
Coast on dates of ZMM.
END & Many Thanks for Your Attention **********
you enjoyed this paper, please visit Henry's website
via this link:
site information on ZMM route
This website includes
the original photographs taken by Robert Pirsig on his 1968
trip as well as nearly 1300 photos taken of the route by
Professor Gurr in 2002 and 2006 where he attempts to find and
photograph the actual places described in the book. Gurr goes
into some detail so making this website an invaluable resource
for anyone planning to travel the original '68 route for