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To say technology is a function of history or vice versa, one runs immediately into a problem of endogenatity. Irrespective of time, technology pervades culture (even the most primitive) and it is difficult if not impossible to claim that one directly affects the other. From the discovery of fire to the advent of space travel, technology profoundly impresses the world around it, for better of worse. Most recently, society has chosen to fixate mostly on technology’s negative aspects, not because of some fundamental change in the nature of such advances, but because of our inability to understand their workings.
This evolution of paradigm affords Pirsig the ability to evaluate the role of technology more comprehensively than Burgess could inA Clockwork Orange. Technology and the sciences are epistemological pursuits just like art and nature. They should each be evaluated on the basis of their inherent value, an appreciation that serves Pirsig well-.
The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of the mountain or in the petals of a flower.
Ultimately, Pirsig reconciles his new life with those of Phaedrus. With this reconciliation in hand, Pirsig not only accepts his past but comes to transcend it. Upon reflection, the questions that brought Phaedrus to nervous breakdown do not bother Pirsig: "What is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good — need we ask anyone to tell us these things?" Instead personal strain has evaporated. He retains a reverence of nature and a contemplative mood, but without self-consciousness. His life is no longer based on conflict, real or imagined. He has transcended the surface differences between technology and art, exterminating fear and removing the stigma of technological ugliness. His life centers on the appreciation of all that he encounters rather than the need to question, or necessarily understand them. Very Zen.
Burgess, Anthony. A Clockwork Orange. New York: W. W. Norton, 1962.
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Burke, James. "Shaman Says" Forbes ASAP: Fifty-Seven Minds on Time November 30, 1998.
DiSanto, Ronald L. and Thomas J. Steele. A Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. William Morrow and Company, 1990.
Hillis, Danny. "Impatient Pendulum." Forbes ASAP: Fifty-Seven Minds on Time November 30, 1998.
Kubrick, Stanley. A Clockwork Orange based on the novel by Anthony Burgess, 1972.
Pirsig, Robert M. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values. New York: William Morrow and Company, 1974.
Plato. The Phaedrus. translated by William S. Cobb, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.