Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Topics: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig, Philosophy Pages: 2 (548 words) Published: October 26, 2008
Robert M. Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a 17-day motorcycle journey across the United States done by the author (though he is not identified in the book) and his son Chris, joined for nine days by John and Sylvia Sutherland, a befriended couple. During this novel, I also went on a journey filled with a countless number of insightful, philosophical discussions the author stirs up. This story makes you think and ponder questions just as the main character is doing. The story is told in the first person and you get a unique view into the mind of a man who is on the razor edge of genius and insanity. His basic concern is with the following, seemingly simple, but an infinitely complex question: "How can one distinguish "good" from "bad?". This question also arose when I read The Secret History. The students that committed murder twice in that novel had no intentions of being “evil” people or committing such sinful acts, they in fact thought of themselves as “good people”. But one can never really tell. The question is posed and addressed in many different ways throughout Pirsig’s book, and along the way, the concepts of truth, value and quality are analyzed and pulled apart numerous times. Mr. Pirsig has an uncanny sense of timing, and he never allows the heavier passages to labor on too long. This is avoided by craftily sprinkling his philosophical discourse among very down-to-earth and pleasant observations made during a motorcycle. Not being one to lend himself easily to corny clichés, I nevertheless believe that this is one book that definitely could dramatically change your life, whether or not you believe in Zen or have ever sat on a motorcycle. I went into this book expecting a novel. There is a plot, and a good one at that, but everything is encased in philosophy. It is all fascinating, even to a new-comer in the subject, like me, but you simply cannot expect it to be a story you read straight through. One of the...
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