Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
The novel, published in 1974, uses a long motorcycle trip to frame a prolonged exploration of the world of ideas, about life and how best to live it. It references perspectives from Western and Eastern Civilizations as it explores the central question of the how to pursue technology so that human life is enriched rather than degraded. Narrated in the first person, it incorporates a parallel presentation of trip details and an ongoing retrospective concerning dramatic events from the Narrator's past, creating rich symbolism and including numerous analogies reinforcing the overall theme of coming to terms with the mysteries of why we exist and how best to live.
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Being only 18 I've not heard much about this book, and undoubtedly some of the content was way over my head. Never the less, i found this book very interesting, and a great read. He being a professor of Rhetoric made a pretty compelling argument, however I'm not sure how much I agree with what it is he had to say
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was recommended to me by a friend who said it was his favorite book of all time. Now I know why.
I wasn't really expecting such a deep dive into philosophy when I started reading this book. But here it is, a book written in a totally conversational and accessible style that knocked my intellectual socks off. I think I could probably read this book three or four more times and just barely scratch the surface of what Pirsig is trying to convey in this book. This book has made me think harder than I've thought in my entire academic career.
It's hard to pin down exactly what this book is about. It's sort of a philosophy book on value in life, part commentary on man and technology, and part story about a father and a son held apart by a dark history of obsession and insanity.
Pirsig's big philosophical push in this book is about something he calls "Quality" - a term that he claims defies definition but is sort of like the Tao. I'm still not sure I completely understand it. It's sort of like the absolute essence of something. I'll get back to you after I read this book a few more times.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle seems to have some sort of cult following. If you carry this book around, people will approach you and share their experience with the book. It happened to me multiple times when I was waiting to cross the street, picking up a copy to send to my girlfriend (scoring major points), and eating at Moe's. Life gets better after you read this book.