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Well, I figure its a mark of my poor search skills, but I have failed to find any thread discussing this classic book by Robert Pirsig.

I somehow never got around to reading it until this year, although it was popular when I was in college over 30 years ago. But maybe being older has helped me appreciate it more. I found it intriguing on several different levels, including the author's philosophical obsession with a search for "quality," his relationship with his young son, the travelogue of their cross-country bike trip together, the struggle with mental illness--and, yes, the zen art of motorcycle maintenance.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Any other fans of the book on this forum?
 

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I sidestepped it in college, but picked up and read the 25th anniversary edition then shared it with my wife. I found it intriguing if not a bit outdated. The philosophies were presented in an esoteric manner. My problem with the book is I've gone off in other directions philosophically and no longer am curious of some of its tenants. 30 years ago (OK, 35 years ago) it would've been a good foil to the Tibetan Book of the Dead or the writings of Chairman Mao and possibly the lyrics of the Beatles in a pop culture sense. These days, I'm attracted to the writings of the ancient Greeks and Romans with large doses of Dante (as a heretic) to countermand Augustine (as a saint) thrown in for good measure. I'm not sure I ascribe to any one philosophy; rather, I'm a graphic novel-like student of them all.

It is a worthwhile read and superficially at least makes me happy I have modern motorcycles. I can focus on the less important and more mundane aspects of traveling by motorcycle instead of investigating the road to self-discovery. But, I'm old and Zen is a young man's book.
 

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What IS the sound of only one reply to a thread? Whoops! Now there's two. Durn it, guess I'll never know. Okay how about this one- If a motorcycle, let's just say a Triumph, fell over in a forest, and it took days of slogging through a thicket of logic and plot line and dense philosophical reasoning to get to the conclusion that it fell over, would the owner make a noise? Anyone? ...Bueller? ...Bueller?
 

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Well, I figure its a mark of my poor search skills, but I have failed to find any thread discussing this classic book by Robert Pirsig.

I somehow never got around to reading it until this year, although it was popular when I was in college over 30 years ago. But maybe being older has helped me appreciate it more. I found it intriguing on several different levels, including the author's philosophical obsession with a search for "quality," his relationship with his young son, the travelogue of their cross-country bike trip together, the struggle with mental illness--and, yes, the zen art of motorcycle maintenance.

I thoroughly enjoyed it. Any other fans of the book on this forum?
I count this book among the most influential books I've read in my life. I use excerpts from it in the English classes I teach.
A young fellow [30 years] I work with has never read it but will over Christmas break, and I will reread it so we can discuss it.
 

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I just read it two weeks ago, thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked his obsession with quality - I didn't necessarily agree 100% with his diagnosis, but it was thought provoking, and has actually helped me reason through some issues of my own.

I have never studied philosophy, so I can't really compare or offer any valid opinions about how it rates with the ancient greeks, or anyone else for that matter.

It was agood book for me though, I'd recommend it to folks. It really doesn't have that much to do with motorcycles, the motorcycle was really an incidental thing, used to describe some of his theories.

It's funny how a lot of it still holds true though - for instance I share 100% his views on technicians in motorcycle dealerships.

Great reading.
 

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I bought a copy in the early 70's , I was young and bought anything with the word motorcycle in it. Read it, did'nt understand it then but have read it at least once a year since then and get a bit more out of each each time. Love the book. My paperback copy is just about worn out and I've had to tape it togeather but still enjoy reading it. One sad note, Robert's son was killed in some kind of robbery a few years ago.
 

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. It really doesn't have that much to do with motorcycles, the motorcycle was really an incidental thing, used to describe some of his theories.
My interpretation of the motorcycle end of it is he used motorcycles and their workings as a metaphor for humans and their workings - at least the maintenance part of it. Both require maintenance.
 

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you will love this..

pictures from the trip!


http://ww2.usca.edu/ResearchProjects/ProfessorGurr/gallery/Pictures-Robert-Pirsigs-original-1968-trip

There is also a site where a guy recreates the entire trip and shows you what the country looks like now.

I have read the book many times, have a hard cover copy. I get more out of it now that I am older, but I think many people intellectually have moved on.

In contrast, On the Road gets better and better every time I read it. I used to carry a paperback copy and talk about it on college and got the nickname that is my user name here. (Sal is my real first name.) I still use the Paradise with old friends. As I get older and appreciate Kerouac's writing skills more and more, Pirsig seems more and more dated.
 

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While I won't deny Zen & the the Art is a little dated, and not exactly a breezy read, it's still worth reading. I wish it was assigned to a class when I was in high school so I could compare analysis of it. Oh, well, at least you could still read "Catcher in the Rye" then...
The Dancing Wu-Lee Masters is a good one for a snowed in weekend...quantum physics made e-z!
 

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My interpretation of the motorcycle end of it is he used motorcycles and their workings as a metaphor for humans and their workings - at least the maintenance part of it. Both require maintenance.
I completely agree with that, well put.

One sad note, Robert's son was killed in some kind of robbery a few years ago.
He talks about that in the 25th anniversary edition. Very sad. The extra stuff in this edition is worth reading.
 

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The zen of reading Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance

Thanks for bringing this one up....I read the book years ago and since have read it several times, but now i'm gonna have to dig in the bookcase to read it again.
It's one of those books that can be re-read and considering where your head is at the time, can give you a good perspecive on your life.
I seem to remember a similar book regarding VW microbus's, anyone remember that ?
 

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It had a couple of good points; the motorcycle you're working on is yourself. Sounds very much like some comments I've heard about some other disciplines like bonsai. But I haven't felt any need to re-read it, personally.

And I don't think we've ever discussed it before, that I can remember.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well! I'm enjoying reading the responses.

My own paperback copy is underlined in several spots. I'll just reproduce a couple of my favorite brief passages here:

Mountains like these and travelers in the mountains and events that happen to them are found not only in Zen literature but in the tales of every major religion. The allegory of a physical mountain for the spiritual one that stands between each soul and its goal is an easy and natural one to make. Like those in the valley behind us, most people stand in sight of the spiritual mountains all their lives and never enter them, being content to listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the hardships. Some travel into the mountains accompanied by experienced guides who know the best ande least dangerous routes by which they arrive at their destination. Still others, inexperienced and untrusting, attempt to make their own routes. Few of these are successful, but occasionally some, by sheer will and luck and grace, do make it. Once there they become more aware than any of the others that there's no single or fixed number of routes. There are as many routes as there are individual souls.


Normally screws are so cheap and small and simple you think of them as unimportant. But now, as your Quality awareness becomes stronger, you realize that this one, individual, particular screw [which is stuck] is neither cheap nor unimportant. Right now this screw is worth exactly the selling price of the whole motorcycle, because the motorcycle is actually valueless until you get the screw out.
 

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It had a couple of good points; the motorcycle you're working on is yourself. Sounds very much like some comments I've heard about some other disciplines like bonsai. But I haven't felt any need to re-read it, personally.

And I don't think we've ever discussed it before, that I can remember.
You caught the gist of it perfectly! I went out and bought a copy the same day I took delivery of my bike. In addition to the philosophy, I have been drawn by the Minnesota/Midwest connections in his work.

Be the bike; and as the line from CaddyShack goes..."Be the ball."

;)
 

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Koifarm

I think what you are thinking about is not a VW bus but a school bus. Ken Kesey and it wasn't so much about philosophy as it was about drugs. Good anyway!
 

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I think what you are thinking about is not a VW bus but a school bus. Ken Kesey and it wasn't so much about philosophy as it was about drugs. Good anyway!
That would be "The Electric Koolaid Acid Test" by Tom Wolfe.

If memory (what's left of it) serves, the bus was named "Further."





Cripes... I AM old...:eek:
 

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Be the bike; and as the line from CaddyShack goes..."Be the ball."
See, that's what's really missing from Zen and the Art... A pyromaniac engaged in a titanic struggle with a lawn-destroying rodent.
 
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