In ZAMM Pirsig doesn’t talk about women (hasn't yet) – obviously he does more so in Lila. In this section I make a tenuous link to Phaedrus but that is an excuse – more I want to investigate “women”. On a personal level in society (person-to-person), perhaps the greatest miscommunication is that between women and men. To be open I have a certain amount of anger and frustration towards women, I have never found a woman I could live with and I have never felt comfortable sexually with a woman, because of this I live alone – yet there is still a part that is not realist that hopes. This assessment looks bad – demeaning to women and therefore to me. What would I want in a relationship, two people living together as individuals but their individuality being enhanced because they are living together. For my failed relationships I would be continually asking “what am I gaining from this?” and then “what am I losing from this?”, after the initial passion subsided the answer to the second was always greater. As I grew older I asked “what does a woman gain from living with me?” I have no answer except I felt I had nothing to offer because I don’t understand what the women wanted – I know what it appeared like but I am unwilling to commit that to print because I am not sure of its truth - and I am sure I am not detached enough to give a fair answer. So when I talk about women I only intend to use what they say about themselves because I am not unbiased.
The Phaedrus link is that I am asking “where did Phaedrus come from?”, and, apart from his mother, the answer I am going to give comes from Jane Fonda. I admire Jane Fonda in many ways. Sadly the first is a weakness, I admired Barbarella so admired her physically. At that young age I shamefully did not see anything else in her. Then there was the male fantasy of “saving the prostitute” in Klute, but this still had no perception of Fonda as a person. I never saw “China Syndrome” as her activism – just a good movie, there I should definitely have been better. I never followed her much otherwise, until I heard a TED talk on the third act – activism for the old, and I thought that was wonderful. And that brings me finally to a talk on her book “My Life so Far” at Santa Barbara - Ref1. She talks about the patriarchy which starts working on males at 5. Men have an image to work up to from the age of 5. I guess that comes from two sources – your father and society. I can’t ever remember looking up to my father - I have no wish to say more, and as regards to peers there was never any desire to be like them – and I put that down to my zen. My zen working in the background withdrew me from all that conditioning. This felt lonely as a child, but it was so much better for me as an adult after hitting bottom.
Can you imagine not having all that conditioning and then eventually to be able to grow up as me? I live in Thailand where there are western men who say they live in Thailand because they can get sex from the young girls. Whilst the girls are pretty, the ones who are offering that sex do have strings attached, but to watch these men is totally confusing to me because I don’t have that conditioning – I have the lust but not the conditioning. I see little boys in big bodies, I am perplexed – completely perplexed. Not least of all because I have slaved all my life for what little money I have, and why do I want to throw it away on a young gold-digger? These men do, it is so confusing to me. Yet when they have been conditioned by the male ego since 5, perhaps I should understand. You know I think they believe they are attractive to these women – old bodies with beer bellies being attractive to these beautiful women makes no sense to me. But I was lucky that conditioning passed me by, in Jane’s words I felt “I never had my manhood to prove”. It passed me by, I became engrossed in intellect until it took over, and then zen kicked in making me hit bottom. Can this be where Phaedrus came from? In ZAMM Pirsig never indicates male conditioning, Phaedrus is overwhelmed by intellect as an answer for everything, and then he hits bottom remembering being the ZAMM Chautauqua. Is this lack of conditioning where Phaedrus came from? Only Pirsig can answer that.
I did not arrive at the Fonda talk through Phaedrus. I recently have listened to the Carpenters in the car, what a wonderfully creative voice Karen had! I didn’t know her but her voice sounds so zen. I went to university at the time she was starting, and that music did not suit the “hippy rebel”. Her music was always around, and so I knew it when I played it in the car - with youthful prejudices gone. And only this week (May 2016) did I learn she died from anorexia. How can such a wonderful zen voice die from anorexia? As I investigated this I grew more and more tearful – thinking of her, hearing her music, knowing the anorexia I am still tearful. And then I find Jane Fonda was bulimic. The woman whose body was perfect in Barbarella was bulimic. There is so much wrong with how we condition for that to happen, for what happened to Karen. Karen has so rocked me that when my anger and frustration with women returns, I can rebalance myself thinking of these mental conditions that were imposed on Karen and Jane.
In the referred Santa Barbara talk Jane talks about developing an emptiness inside in her adolescence. This is an emptiness I can relate to. It was an emptiness Jane retained and it became an eating disorder - amongst other problems. My emptiness was filled with the academic crap which eventually blew up when I hit bottom.
From the talk it appears that Jane’s zen is kicking in now, only she can know. But her talk has more, and she mentioned Carol Gilligan who offers a moral development that is different for women. That is fascinating. A woman saying her sila is different, that has to be something to engage with, that is a platform.