Sunday, June 16, 2013

"There is nothing here but dead neon and cement and brick"

Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance by Robert Pirsig

Coincidentally, Robert Pirsig's 1974 book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance appeared on my radar twice in the last three months, so I decided to give it a try. According to The Guardian, ZMM is the biggest-selling philosophy book ever.

We follow the narrator, who remains unnamed throughout the book, and his son Chris as they travel from Minnesota to California per motorcycle. Their journey sets the stage for the narrator's search for understanding of the world. Via his philosophical search, we discover his relentless alter ego Phaedrus, who became so obsessed with his ideas about Quality that he eventually became insane.

I was both intrigued and frustrated by ZMM. I definitely picked up some philosophic insights and I thought Phaedrus' descent into insanity was fascinating, but the father-son storyline should have gotten a little more attention. At one point, it felt like I was reading a philosophy textbook, and I believe the philosophic meanderings should have been woven into an actual storyline.

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