Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals, died today at the age of 88, according to a statement released by his publisher. Pirsig’s work explored a system of thought called the “Metaphysics of Quality,” which has been defined as “a thesis that quality is the basis of reality, and that this understanding unifies most East Asian and Western thought.”
Consider these two Tumblrs as late additions to my three-part (one, two, three) taxonomy of literary blogs. Writers at Work is three years in the making, so we’re a bit late to the party, but Erasing Infinite, which creates erasure poems out of each page of Infinite Jest, looks like it’s got a long way to go before it’s finished.
A pair of pieces from The Millions are among the finalists in this year’s 3 Quarks Daily Arts and Literature Prize: “Her Story Next to His: Beloved and The Odyssey” by Frank Kovarik and “Reading and Race: On Slavery in Fiction” by our staff writer Edan Lepucki.
“She was to me and so many poets an exemplary and inimitable figure. And I mean to emphasize the tension between ‘exemplary’ and ‘inimitable’—what her example taught us was the necessity of going our own way, of being one with others.” Ben Lerner remembers C.D. Wright, who passed away earlier this week.
This week in the New Yorker Jane Hu analyzes the “dispassionate first-person narrators” prominent in works by English-speaking Asian authors and questions whether that makes it easier to identify with the narrator. She uses Chemistry by NBA 5 under 35 honoree Weike Wang as an example along with other recent works. “Against this tradition, there is, perhaps, another emerging, of Asian-Anglophone writers who both play with and thus begin to undo these tropes of Asian impersonality. The novels by Ishiguro, Park, Lin, and Wang all feature first-person narrators who keep their distance—actively denying readers direct interior access. This is true, it’s important to note, even when the characters they write are not themselves Asian.”