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.”
I’ve written before about Wolf in White Van, the new novel by Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle. But there’s another book out by a prominent artist in a field other than writing: Consumed by David Cronenberg, the director of A History of Violence. Sam Costello reviews the new book over at Full-Stop.
If you’re not already a fan of Will Self, his new book, Shark, may not be the best place to start. As Walker Rutter-Bowman points out, the book dispatches with many of the conventions of modern writing, including line breaks, paragraphs and dialogue tags. But it’s still an effort worthy of its author, he writes: “Here is a hunk of modernism that poignantly, beautifully, and, it seems, genuinely renders mental states of sanity and insanity while smudging the gradations in between.”
If you’re wondering why you should read this new essay on Jack London, consider this sentence: “Born in 1876, the year of Little Bighorn and Custer’s Last Stand, the prolific writer would die in the year John T. Thompson invented the submachine gun.” In Smithsonian Magazine, Kenneth Brandt explores the brief life of the author.
“The terrible thing is that the reality behind these words depends ultimately on what the human being (meaning every single one of us) believes to be real. The terrible thing is that the reality behind all these words depends on choices one has got to make, for ever and ever and ever, every day.” James Baldwin on the artist’s struggle for “integrity.” Here’s a bonus piece from The Millions on Baldwin, race, and fatherhood.