Friday, August 24, 2007

63. "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" - Robert M. Pirsig


This is one of those book titles that sticks with you because of its marketability. How many times have you heard (or seen) of lackluster imitations: Zen and the Art of Dog Grooming or Zen and the Art of Flunking Out of School?

Perhaps, for this reason, I thought this was going to be a bit of light reading. As a zen student, I expected enlightenment (aside: all zen students seek enlightenment, while most expect it to be an easy task... so why not find it in a book?). As a storyteller, I expected his tale through his "chautauqua"

Instead, it is a book about learning, teaching, and being. His stories of being a composition instructor at a university are woefully familiar; however, he begins to "lose his shit" as he tries to tie down the definition of quality.

Pirsig tells his story in contrast to a motorcycle trip across the U.S. with his son. The "zen" aspect is at direct odds to the "motorcycle maintenance" aspect, where one is "romantic" and the other is "pragmatic." He speaks of different approaches to philosophy until my head spun.

This is the type of novel to purchase and read again. And again, but at different moments of your life... just to see how you have changed.

3.5 out of 5.0 Motor Oils.

4 comments:

Jeane said...

Thanks for reminding me of it! I read this book some five years ago, and it was quite intriguing- and a bit confusing to me. I'm eager to read it again...

Jason said...

I keep skipping past this one on the shelf. I may have to get to it soon.

Interesting Word Verification:
fweukcuf

Kristin Dodge said...

Jason, I have to admit that I thought of you a lot while reading this book. There aren't many people that I know who could process the ideas on its pages without using one's finger as a marker and mumbling.

I'd move it up on your list. Then you can tell me what it means.

Jason said...

But part of Buddhism in general, and presumably Zen in particular, is the abandonment of beliefs. Therefore, any interpretation I could offer can only have value if I have abandoned it.

Sometimes nirvana is just a brain-fart away.