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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
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message 1: by Jim (last edited Nov 28, 2011 06:41AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 2967 comments Mod
This thread is a place to explore the ideas discussed in Robert Pirsig's classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values.

If you know this book and wish to discuss it here, great!

If you haven't read this book, here are a few of the ideas presented in the work that can be discussed independently from Pirsig's book.

Classic reason versus Romantic reason

Analytical mind versus intuitive mind

Science versus Arts and Humanities

The philosophy of Aristotle and Plato and their opposition to earlier philosophers

The scientific method

Quality

and basically, anything related to western thought.


message 2: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 2967 comments Mod
Z&AMM is a book I've read nine or ten times over the past 25 years. There is something about how he interlaces the underlying assumptions of Western thought and the story of his own mental breakdown and recovery that keeps calling me back for another read.


message 3: by Aubrey (new)

Aubrey (Korrick) I was recently thinking about adding this book to my TBR list, but I was turned off by some of the reviews. I think I'll give it another shot by lurking in the thread to spot out some incentives for me to read it.


message 4: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 2967 comments Mod
Aubrey wrote: "I was recently thinking about adding this book to my TBR list, but I was turned off by some of the reviews. I think I'll give it another shot by lurking in the thread to spot out some incentives fo..."

Hi Aubrey,

Z&AMM isn't really a novel, but an autobiographical meditation on thought, knowledge, science, and writing. I can see how, if people were looking for "a story", they would be disappointed by this book. It isn't meant for pleasure reading, but for contemplation and reflection. The second part of the title "An Inquiry Into Values" is very much an accurate description of what Pirsig presents.

I have much more to say about this book, but I need to head off to lunch right now. I'll try to get back to this discussion later today.


message 5: by Filipe (new)

Filipe Russo (russo) | 93 comments Jim, contemplation and reflection interact very well with pleasure and reading and sometimes, if not in most, are even meant to do so. But then again I get myself thinking about how much we can decide our tastes by choice rather than coping with what is handed down by conditioning from society, genes or whatever. We all read books for pleasure no matter how obscure that pleasure is felt or denied (sometimes not even directly related to the aesthetic value of the piece), this isn't school anymore after all but I could even in such case draw a line between these two situations also correlating them with pleasure as the main theme.


Ellie (EllieArcher) | 251 comments I love reading literary theory and criticism. It was a major discovery for me to realize that in reading Judith Butler or Luce Irigeray, I was reading for pleasure in the same way that I read Dickens or even mystery novels. The pleasure may come from a different source (such as intellectual exercise rather than plot or characters) but I'm still reading for pleasure, even fun. And often what seems dry to my friends feels lively to me.


message 7: by James (new) - added it

James Christine Parker (cracked_belle) a few aquaintances have suggested this book to me, as did a gentleman I with whom I was dating and living for a fair length of time. my partner was never really a reader, so I was impressed that a book captivated him so.

my inquiry follows:
he and I both rode motorcycles. I believe that's why he picked the book up. he told me that the motorcycle references in the book are present mainly for a comparative nature, something with which the author could create metaphors and similes that others would more easily be able to grasp.

how accurate is that assessment? I still have every intention of reading it. however, I would hate to walk into it with outlandish expectations (as y'all've discussed above people doing, beginning the novel with the assumption it's a "story").


message 8: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 2967 comments Mod
James wrote: "a few aquaintances have suggested this book to me, as did a gentleman I with whom I was dating and living for a fair length of time. my partner was never really a reader, so I was impressed that a..."

The motorcycle and the associated road trip are used as a narrative vehicle (no pun intended) to move through the writer's personal story,as well as his contemplation of philosophy and values in late 1960's American society. Some people find the book to be dated because the story is set in 1968 and so the feelings about technology and the 'death force' are very much a moment in time. If you can get past that, there is much here to enjoy as an intellectual, philosophical, and metaphysical meditation.

As I mentioned above, I have read this book multiple times over the past 26 years, and enjoy it just as much each time. The funny thing is, I always thought the road trip story was fiction, but discovered earlier this year that it's actually an autobiography presented as the 'story' of a road trip.


message 9: by James (last edited Dec 22, 2011 10:25AM) (new) - added it

James Christine Parker (cracked_belle) huh, interesting. thank you very much. I look forward to my (eventual, haha) reading of it. :)


message 10: by Jim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jim | 2967 comments Mod
I spent this afternoon assembling a stationary bicycle I received from Santa. While reading the assembly instructions, I was reminded of the passage in Pirsig's book about assembly instructions and technical writing in general.

Anyone have any xmas fun with funny assembly instructions?


message 11: by Lily (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lily (Joy1) | 349 comments Jim wrote: "...Anyone have any xmas fun with funny assembly instructions? ..."

Not this year, but in looking at some fancy "skin" options for my ebook gift, I did notice the comments about whether they fit well. I probably particularly noted because my son's wife found her replacement cover for her I-phone had rough edges -- I think from the decals. (I am still learning some of my ebook features! And I still haven't quite figured out how I overflowed a single cup coffee maker. Did something dumb, apparently.)

Well do I remember the years of being the "final stage in manufacture" of toys. Always rankled the product manager mentality in me, even though I understood the cost/price tradeoffs.


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