[MD] Phaedrus and Chickenman and the Subversion of Western Culture's Norms

Bensinger Jr., Arlo James ajb102 at psu.edu
Mon Aug 17 11:24:43 PDT 2020

Hey All (or Fellow Ghosts in the Machine),

Just thought I'd share a recently published Pirsig-related article that appears in this month's Journal of American Culture (09 August 2020), "Zen and the Art of Chickenman" by Matthew Teorey.


"On the surface, Phaedrus and Chickenman are so starkly arrogant, self‐interested, and needy that most readers or listeners consider themselves unlike these foolish characters. However, as Orkin asserted, radio audiences respond positively to Chickenman because they unconsciously recognize their kinship with him (“How to Make”), which allows them to laugh at their own foibles and strive to be less self‐centered. Moreover, because “the Fool stands at the border of one reality and is ready to drop off into the next” (Tafoya 49), listeners and readers eagerly follow Chickenman and Phaedrus into the realms of the unknown and the absurd in order to escape the foolish values, attitudes, and expectations of Western society, and seek self‐actualization and social improvement."

It's a fun read. If you're unable to access a full-text version, this let me know, I may be able to help.


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