An Inquiry into Values | 02

And what is good, Phaedrus,
And what is not good—
Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?

These 12 photos seem to be the only existing photos from the 1968 trip upon which the book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” was based. Mr. Pirsig sent these photos to Professor Henry Gurr, and I just copied them from his site. As you will see, nearly all these photos appear to have been “written into” the book, and I see them as illustrations or visual references for re-reading it.


and then, from where the deck disappears around the corner of the house, suddenly comes Gennie DeWeese with a tray of beer cans. She is a painter too and, I’m suddenly aware, a quick comprehender and already there’s a shared smile over the artistic economy of grabbing a can of beer instead of her hand, ….

DeWeese Home, Cotton Wood Canyon, Gallatin Gateway. Gennie DeWeese and neighbor’s boy. This is how Gennie looked in the summer of ’68. The scene is described in Chap. 14 where Gennie says, “Some neighbors just came over with a mess of trout for dinner. I’m so pleased.”


John explains that it’s been just great, something he and Sylvia have needed for years. .. Sylvia seconds this. “Just to be out in the open in all this space,” she says. .. “Lots of space in Montana,” DeWeese says, a little wistfully. He and John and the art instructor become involved in get-acquainted talk about differences between Montana and Minnesota. .. The horse grazes peacefully below us, and just beyond it the water sparkles in the creek.

DeWeese Homestead, Gallatin Gateway MT. Chris, Horseback. Gennie DeWeese says the horse’s name was Moccasin. She says the pasture shown was on the opposite side of the road from their house and also Cottonwood Creek. This pasture is now filled with trees and a private residence.


The talk has shifted to DeWeese’s land here in the canyon, how long DeWeese has lived here and what art instruction at the college is like. John has a real gift for casual conversation like this that I’ve never had, so I just listen. …. I don’t know how much later I hear some comments about “the movie star here” come from John and I realize he is talking about me and my sunglasses.

DeWeese Homestead, Gallatin Gateway MT. This is the DeWeese’s youngest son, Josh, on the horse with DeWeese and Chris standing by.


We come to a flat spot, a large knoll protruding from the side of the mountain. I tell Chris this is it for today. He seems satisfied and cheerful; maybe some progress has been made with him after all.

Chris in Cottonwood Canyon. This is described in Chap. 19 as follows: .. “Later I return to the tent where a noise indicates that Chris is awake, and when I look inside I see his face stare around silently. He’s a slow waker and it’ll be five minutes before his mind warms up to the point where he can speak. Now he squints into the light.”


The logging road is sandy, so I keep in low gear with feet out to prevent a spill. We see side roads off the main logging road but I stay on the main one until after about a mile we come to some bulldozers. That means they’re still logging here. We turn back and head up one of the side roads. After about half a mile we come to a tree fallen across the road. That’s good. That means this road has been abandoned.

Idaho Forest Road. This is the scene at the beginning of Chapt. 24: .. “I get out of the sleeping bag. It’s cold and I get dressed quickly. Chris is asleep. I walk around him, climb over a fallen tree trunk and walk up the logging road. To warm myself I speed up to a jog and move up the road briskly.” That’s Chris in the sleeping bag. Here again we can see, reflected in the shiny gas tank, the tiny image of the person taking the photo.


pirsig 12

Farther south we find a forest of scrubby trees, subdivided into ridiculous little lots. Some developer’s scheme apparently. At one of the lots far off the main highway we spread out our sleeping bags and discover that the pine needles just barely cover what must be many feet of soft spongy dust. I’ve never seen anything like it. We have to be careful not to kick up the needles or the dust flies up over everything.

Just North of La Pine, OR. This is from Chap. 28. In the background you can make out a white helmet and beside it a sleeping bag that has Chris in it. The accompanying in text reads: “Cold out! Feels like winter! Where are we, that it should get this cold? We must be at a high altitude. I look out of the sleeping bag and this time see frost on the motorcycle. On the chrome of the gas tank it’s sparkling in the early sunlight. On the black frame where the sunlight hits it it’s partly turned to beads of water that will soon run down to the wheel. It’s too cold to lie around. I remember the dust under the pine needles and put my boots on carefully to avoid stirring it up.”


For Chris, of course.