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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance:…
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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (P.S.) (original 1974; edition 2008)

by Robert M. Pirsig

Series: Phaedrus (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
14,048196147 (3.84)211
Member:karmabodhi
Title:Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (P.S.)
Authors:Robert M. Pirsig
Info:Harper Perennial Modern Classics (2008), Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:zen, buddhism

Work details

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig (1974)

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    Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford (prehensel)
  2. 00
    My Mercedes is Not for Sale: From Amsterdam to Ouagadougou...An Auto-Misadventure Across the Sahara by Jeroen van Bergeijk (gonzobrarian)
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    Stranger in a Strange Land (Uncut Edition) by Robert A. Heinlein (emf1123)
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» See also 211 mentions

English (175)  Dutch (6)  Italian (6)  Finnish (4)  French (2)  All (2)  Danish (1)  All (196)
Showing 1-5 of 175 (next | show all)
I hardly ever give up on books, but I gave up on this one during disc 4 of 12, I believe. I ended up listening to the last disc as well, so I know how it ends. I shouted "I hate this book!" so many times while listening to it and, finally, just gave up. What did it for me was the patronizing explanation of how the scientific method works, the depiction of people working factory jobs as a mindless part of the "system," and the part explaining that women are incapable of thinking logically and therefore would never understand how things like machines work. UGH. Add in the fact that the author feels the personality of someone else is inside him and it all comes out to a book that is just plain painful for me to read.

I found myself drawn more to the narrative of his trip than the philosophy portions. However, that really wasn't much better. All he does is insult his friends and his son, criticizing their choices, attitudes, reactions to surroundings and situations, but also the way their brains work. I don't even know these people and I felt bad for them. Then I started to long for the philosophy/zen moments just to give these poor people a break from his rudeness. But when those stretches came, I quickly lost patience there as well.

This is just not the book for me. I'm sure it's filled with a load of interesting advice that, when applied to people in a specific mindset or culture or place in their life, it could be just what they're looking for to help them explore more about the world and human nature. But it was just not for me. Which is disappointing, as a writer in my roundtable group keeps recommending it to me. Oh well, at least I gave it a fair shot.

Pop Sugar Reading Challenge: A book involving travel ( )
  katekintail | Jun 9, 2017 |
First read this @ 2002 while backpacking in Central America. Thought it was good, in an unidentifiable way. Handed it off to a fellow hiker at the time, which I would rarely do. Before I began reading the story this time, I had no clue what this book is actually about and retained a really superficial impression of it. I find it quite impressive now, and regret that I am getting rid of it after the re-read to clear out clutter.

Plowed through a bunch of heavy Quality/philosophical passages. I always liked philosophy but did not really 'get it." Didn't do very well at all in my college philosophy class either. Plus during the first reading I was primarily reading popular fiction w a little history. My quality of reading content has increased considerably over the years, and I understand most of what he is saying. I got a little lost during the Poincare chapter w the geometry references. Then I looked up Poincare in Wikipedia and it mention none of the data from the book. Ch 26 on gumption was excellent. ( )
  delta351 | May 21, 2017 |
I read this book after many years, and it remains the classic it was always meant to be.

I took my time to read the book, because it is one that works on many planes. While yes, there is the road trip, and yes there is Phaedrus.

However, in all the musings about Quality, which are relevant, I also took home the lessons on technology, isolation and the yearning to connect again with the world.

This is not to say that none of the other issues are not relevant. It is just that, in our current technology-addled world, this is one thing that stood out for me, in this reading of the book.

There is something for all of us in this book.

It is brilliant, and masterfully written. Robert Pirsig died when I was on the last pages of the book.

May his soul rest in peace. He has left behind a rich legacy. ( )
  RajivC | May 5, 2017 |
Bestimmt schon viermal gelesen und immer wieder etwas Neues entdeckt. ( )
  larsreineke | Apr 10, 2017 |
Covers a lot of ground in exploring the metaphysics of quality, mindfulness, and getting to the bottom of several "gumption-traps" that academics set. Where they work at all, I didn't find the ultimate syntheses of classical/romantic, narrator/Phaedrus, eastern/western all that earth-shattering (i've never thought philosophy needed any grand unification theory)...but the exposition in the road-trip/personal history brings the ideas to life. ( )
1 vote albertgoldfain | Mar 22, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 175 (next | show all)
One is tempted to call the book a psychomelodrama, for Pirsig's intentions are as extravagant as his themes. The attempt to triumph over madness, suicide, death in the self, of his son, for our world, by means of the patient exploration of ideas and emotions is certainly an extravagant ambition. That he succeeds in finding a plausible catharsis through such an enterprise seems to me sufficient reward for the author's perseverance, and ample testimony to his honesty and courage.
added by Shortride | editThe New York Times Book Review, Edward Abbey (pay site) (Mar 30, 1975)
 
Whatever it's true philosophical worth, it is intellectual entertainment of the highest order.
 
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
And what is good, Phaedrus,

And what is not good -

Need we ask anyone to tell us these things?
Dedication
for my family
Aan mijn familie
First words
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.
Quotations
You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It's easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.
Live in the future, then build what's missing.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language
Book description
Acclaimed as one of the most exciting books in the history of American letters, this modern epic became an instant bestseller upon publication in 1974, transforming a generation and continuing to inspire millions. This 25th Anniversary Quill Edition features a new introduction by the author; important typographical changes; and a Reader's Guide that includes discussion topics, an interview with the author, and letters and documents detailing how this extraordinary book came to be. A narration of a summer motorcycle trip undertaken by a father and his son, the book becomes a personal and philosophical odyssey into fundamental questions of how to live. The narrator's relationship with his son leads to a powerful self-reckoning; the craft of motorcycle maintenance leads to an austerely beautiful process for reconciling science, religion, and humanism. Resonant with the confusions of existence, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a touching and transcendent book of life.

In his now classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig brings us a literary chautauqua, a novel that is meant to both entertain and edify. It scores high on both counts. Phaedrus, our narrator, takes a present-tense cross-country motorcycle trip with his son during which the maintenance of the motorcycle becomes an illustration of how we can unify the cold, rational realm of technology with the warm, imaginative realm of artistry. As in Zen, the trick is to become one with the activity, to engage in it fully, to see and appreciate all details--be it hiking in the woods, penning an essay, or tightening the chain on a motorcycle. In his autobiographical first novel, Pirsig wrestles both with the ghost of his past and with the most important philosophical questions of the 20th century--why has technology alienated us from our world? what are the limits of rational analysis? if we can't define the good, how can we live it? Unfortunately, while exploring the defects of our philosophical heritage from Socrates and the Sophists to Hume and Kant, Pirsig inexplicably stops at the middle of the 19th century. With the exception of Poincaré, he ignores the more recent philosophers who have tackled his most urgent questions, thinkers such as Peirce, Nietzsche (to whom Phaedrus bears a passing resemblance), Heidegger, Whitehead, Dewey, Sartre, Wittgenstein, and Kuhn. In the end, the narrator's claims to originality turn out to be overstated, his reasoning questionable, and his understanding of the history of Western thought sketchy. His solution to a synthesis of the rational and creative by elevating Quality to a metaphysical level simply repeats the mistakes of the premodern philosophers. But in contrast to most other philosophers, Pirsig writes a compelling story. And he is a true innovator in his attempt to popularize a reconciliation of Eastern mindfulness and nonrationalism with Western subject/object dualism. The magic of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance turns out to lie not in the answers it gives, but in the questions it raises and the way it raises them. Like a cross between The Razor's Edge and Sophie's World, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance takes us into "the high country of the mind" and opens our eyes to vistas of possibility. --Brian Bruya
Haiku summary
Biker -- deep thinker:

finally finds acceptance

for his peace of mind.

(legallypuzzled)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060589469, Mass Market Paperback)

In his now classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig brings us a literary chautauqua, a novel that is meant to both entertain and edify. It scores high on both counts.

Phaedrus, our narrator, takes a present-tense cross-country motorcycle trip with his son during which the maintenance of the motorcycle becomes an illustration of how we can unify the cold, rational realm of technology with the warm, imaginative realm of artistry. As in Zen, the trick is to become one with the activity, to engage in it fully, to see and appreciate all details--be it hiking in the woods, penning an essay, or tightening the chain on a motorcycle.

In his autobiographical first novel, Pirsig wrestles both with the ghost of his past and with the most important philosophical questions of the 20th century--why has technology alienated us from our world? what are the limits of rational analysis? if we can't define the good, how can we live it? Unfortunately, while exploring the defects of our philosophical heritage from Socrates and the Sophists to Hume and Kant, Pirsig inexplicably stops at the middle of the 19th century. With the exception of Poincaré, he ignores the more recent philosophers who have tackled his most urgent questions, thinkers such as Peirce, Nietzsche (to whom Phaedrus bears a passing resemblance), Heidegger, Whitehead, Dewey, Sartre, Wittgenstein, and Kuhn. In the end, the narrator's claims to originality turn out to be overstated, his reasoning questionable, and his understanding of the history of Western thought sketchy. His solution to a synthesis of the rational and creative by elevating Quality to a metaphysical level simply repeats the mistakes of the premodern philosophers. But in contrast to most other philosophers, Pirsig writes a compelling story. And he is a true innovator in his attempt to popularize a reconciliation of Eastern mindfulness and nonrationalism with Western subject/object dualism. The magic of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance turns out to lie not in the answers it gives, but in the questions it raises and the way it raises them. Like a cross between The Razor's Edge and Sophie's World, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance takes us into "the high country of the mind" and opens our eyes to vistas of possibility. --Brian Bruya

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:19 -0400)

(see all 11 descriptions)

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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 12 descriptions

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