Monday, November 19, 2007

A Thought Provoking Winter Read - Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I recently re-discovered the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig, which had been collecting dust these past several years on my bookshelf. I eagerly read it for the second time, glad to be reunited with the timeless storyline and interesting characters in the book. I found it to be entertaining and at the same time strangely unsettling.

First published in 1984 "Zen" is based on actual occurances and is one of those timeless classics that will be read by many people well into the future.

Pirsig writes about his motorcycle trip from Minnesota to California with his son and two friends. The book's subtitle is "An Inquiry into Values" which suggests it is not so much about Zen or motorcycles but about self-discovery, his struggle to reconcile with the past and the strained relationship with his twelve year old son.

The book is appealing on many levels, from an interesting trip diary on the surface down to some pretty deep philosophical thinking. I also have read the Guidebook To Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert L. DiSanto, Ph.D and Thomas J. Steele, Ph.D, and as the authors titles suggest, it's pretty heady stuff and most of it is well beyond my limited level of understanding. I wouldn't recommend that one unless you're a scholar or a sucker for punishment.

Back to the subject of the original book, I particularly liked Pirsig's examination of the contrast between himself and his friend as far as motorcycle maintenance and technology in general are concerned. He makes a good point about not leaving the maintenance of one's motorcycle to the mercy of a professional mechanic. (Ah, the good old days when it was still possible to take care of one's own bike).

Pirsig put it this way, "The study of the art of motorcycle maintenance is really a miniature study of the art of rationality itself. Working on a motorcycle, working well, caring, is to become part of a process, to achieve an inner peace of mind."
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Amazon Book Link: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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1 comment:

abraxas said...

http://ww2.usca.edu/ResearchProjects/ProfessorGurr/Main/HomePage

You go have a look here ;-)