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It taught me to live more in the moment and to not overanalyze my first-person experience of life. Reading it still gives me chills though.
I first read Zen and the Art of the Motorcycle Maintenance and then Lila. I would recommend reading them in that order as Pirsig intended. The way he captures complex social mechanisms and examines them based off of their humanistic effect is genius and, for me, life changing. I couldn't encourage you enough to give this book a try. To me, this quote is Pirsig's epiphany about how what he call "an 'objective scientific' view of life" (reenforced by the common thought of his era) brought about an era of everyman-for-himself mentality and spiritual loneliness. The concepts he develops in his first and second book are intended to solve many of these perceptual problems inherent in western society by examining the issues brought up in everyday life and morally reacting to them (as he calls it, seeing and reacting to the highest level of "quality" in each moment). I am probably biased towards these books because I used the concepts in them to improve myself and therefore cannot reject them. I still believe that others can do the same. If you give them a try please get back to me and say what you thought about them, i've wanted to have some feedback from someone else for a while now.
"Everyone seamed to be guided by an "objective""scientific" view of life that told each person that his essential self is his evolved material body. Ideas and societies are a component of brains, not the other way around. No two brains can merge physically, and therefore no two people can ever really communicate except in the mode of ship's radio operators sending messages back and forth in the night. A scientific, intellectual culture had become a culture of millions of isolated people living and dying in little cells of psychic solitary confinement. Unable to talk to one another, really, and unable to judge one another because scientifically speaking it is impossible to do so. Each individual in his cell of isolation was told that no matter how hard he tried, no matter how hard he worked, his whole life is that of an animal that lives and dies like any other animal. He could invent moral goals for himself, but they are just artificial inventions. Scientifically speaking he has no goals. Sometime after the twenties a secret loneliness, so penetrating and so encompassing that we are only beginning to realize the extent of it, descended upon the land. The scientific, psychiatric isolation and futility had become a far worse prison of the spirit than the old Victorian "virtue" ever was. That streetcar ride with Lila so long ago. That was the feeling. There was no way he could ever get to Lila or understand her and no way she could ever understand him because all this intellect and its relationships and products and contrivances intervened. They had lost some of their realness. They were living in some kind of movie projected by this intellectual, electromechanical machine that had been created for their happiness, saying: Paradise-->Paradise-->Paradise-->, but which had inadvertently shut them out from direct experience of life itself- and from each other." -Robert Pirsig's: Lila