Zen and the Art Of Motor Cycle Maintenance

Robert Pirsig's book will change the way you think...

" I can see by my watch, without taking my hand from the left grip of the cycle, that it is eight-thirty in the morning. The wind, even at sixty miles an hour, is warm and humid. When it's this hot and muggy at eight-thirty, I'm wondering what it's going to be like in the afternoon. In the wind are pungent odors from the marshes by the road. We are in an area of the Central Plains filled with thousands of duck hunting sloughs, heading northwest from Minneapolis toward the Dakotas. This highway is an old concrete two-laner that hasn't had much traffic since a four-laner went in parallel to it several years ago. When we pass a marsh the air suddenly becomes cooler. Then, when we are past, it suddenly warms up again. I'm happy to be riding back into this country. It is a kind of nowhere, famous for nothing at all and has an appeal because of just that. Tensions disappear along old roads like this."

This book was much talked about and little read. It spawned a whole raft of Zen and the Art Of titles - because everyone had heard of it. But those of us who took the time to read it through soon realised that there was something very special in this book. I've probably read my copy 50 times now but it remains a constant source of delight to me every time I read it. It's literally falling to bits, so I've had to buy another copy! Unlike other books it just gets better every time you read it.

Being superbly writen helps of course. But above all it rings very true and helps us understand the very different ways that different peoples minds work. The artist and the mechanic - such different types of people, do they ever see things the same? Sometimes everyone seems to be in one of the two camps -- the artist and the businessman typify these two groups. Present them with a piece of abstract art and watch the fireworks fly as they violently disagree about it. Pirsig explores this through the gentle medium of a story of his motorbike journey across the US with his son Chris and a couple of friends. If you can get hold of the book, do read it. Most of the time it's very readable, but there are sections when it gets heavy going - do keep on and there is real light at the end of the tunnel. Robert went on to write "Leila - an Enquiry Into Morals" which some see as an even better book but only read it afterwards not instead of.

The full text of ZMM and Lila are on the internet if you care to search for them, but please don't let that stop you buying the book. I have three copies of ZMM and two of Lila - I don't know why, but it feels right


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