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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by Loz, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. [​IMG]

    A guy I met gave me this book, and it was one of those perfect right book, right time situations. What a stunning read, what an amazing guy. I devoured it over a weekend and I wanted to start again straight away.

    I just wanted to post up a sincere recommendation - Pirsig would appear to be one of the truly great philosophers of our time, plus a true motorcyclist and, it would seem, an excellent mechanic. The book's message hits home even harder today, I'd imagine, than when it was released 30+ years ago.

    Much respect - if it's true that we are what we consume in terms of books, TV, music, movies and art, then this is the sort of quality stuff I want to be made of.


    If you've read it, you might appreciate these photos, which Pirsig took on the trip that inspired the book:

  2. Here's the route of the journey:

    By the way, none of this bike stuff should give people the opinion that the book is about motorcycles. The bike stuff, while excellent, is minimal and really only there to serve as an example for the philosophy stuff Pirsig really wants to get into.
  3. I've got that as a PDF file. I haven't bothered reading it yet ( no pictures :p )
    Wonder if it's the same book ?
    192 pages
  4. I read this book in high school and it engulfed me. It was a sensational read.

    I've made the mistake in the past, however, of re-reading a loved book years later, only to be sorely disappointed. I think, for me, you got it right Loz - it was the right book at the right time. I don't want to pick it up again and it not be what I remembered it to be, or more accurately it not make me feel the way it did back then. Some reads are best kept as memories. I'm going to keep this one that way :)
  5. Probably the same one. I'd want a paper copy though, a nice, old, secondhand, dog-eared one with pencil underlines and notes in the margins. It deserves that sort of treatment.

    Here's one of my favourite passages:

    "You’ve got to live right too. It’s the way you live that predisposes you to avoid the traps and see the right facts. You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally. That’s the way all the experts do it. The making of a painting or the fixing of a motorcycle isn’t separate from the rest of your existence. If you’re a sloppy thinker the six days of the week you aren’t working on your machine, what trap avoidances, what gimmicks, can make you all of a sudden sharp on the seventh? It all goes together.

    But if you’re a sloppy thinker six days a week and you really try to be sharp on the seventh, then maybe the next six days aren’t going to be quite as sloppy as the preceding six. What I’m trying to come up with on these gumption traps, I guess, is shortcuts to living right.

    The real cycle you’re working on is a cycle called Yourself. The machine that appears to be “out there†and the person that appears to be “in here†are not two separate things. They grow toward Quality or fall away from Quality together."
  6. I don't think the "Penthouse Forum Letter Collection" counts as a "book", sarz :p
  7. :butt:
  8. I've read it as well. It's quite good and worth a read. It inspired me to take a philosophy subject as an elective at uni.
  9. I read this book a long time ago, back before I had a bike. In fact I got my first bike about a year after reading it.

    I loved it and still harbour the desire to have another copy. That's the only problem I can see with this book, it doesn't stay in your possession forever. You never want to let go of it, but eventually someone comes along who you think might enjoy it, and it is soon bestowed upon them in a reverent ceremony of the brotherhood.

    I'm guessing there are only a very small amount of copies left in the world, it's a lot easier to find somebody who has read it, than it is to find somebody who has a copy (I don't believe you ever really own this book, it just happens to be in your possession)

    Whenever that story comes up about 'The Nod', it always invokes this image...


  10. Pirsig wrote a sequel in 1991 called "Lila - an Enquiry into Morals", which takes his 'Metaphysics of Quality' further.

    Worth a read if you enjoyed 'Zen and the Art of...'.
  11. Interesting Cheffie - it was given to me by a Canadian swing dancer I spent a random afternoon chatting to. He said "read it, enjoy it, pass it along." Spooky.

    Apparently it sold 5 million copies but yes, I'd imagine it's far more widely read than that!
  12. If you're having trouble getting onto a copy of this book, check with your local library to see if they have it.

    And just because they may not have it on their shelves, doesn't necessarily mean you can't get hold of a copy...check with them to see if they're a part of the SWIFT consortium. If so, you will be able to order an intra-library loan of this text. I just did a check and there are a few member libraries in the consortium who have this text on their shelves atm. :) And best thing about it is unlike an inter-library loan it'll cost you nothing...nada...nil...zilch. \:D/

    Okay, my work here is done. ;)

    BTW Loz - I've just placed a hold on a copy. ;) Sounds interesting. :)
  13. That's it!!! now i remember, i gave mine to a Canadian Swing Dancer. How could I forget?

    :LOL: Just kidding.

    I do like the notion that there is only one copy, that we've all read and shared. Nobody to date has spoken of ever seeing two copies together at the same time, it would be like crossing the streams.

    My advise is read it as many times as you can and soak it up, before long it will be on it's way again.

    I'm looking forward to his other book, 'Feng Sui and the Art of motorcycle parking.' :p haha

    This is another book that I recommend, it's not everybody's cup of tea. I reckon Robsalv has either read it or should. - http://www.samurai.com/5rings/
    My copy of this mysteriously disappeared too. Legend has it, there are a number of translations of this book, only one of them transmits it's contents to the reader.
  14. It will be interesting to see if Loz's copy disappears when you get yours.
  15. Read this when I was younger and wiser and liked it a lot.

    Came across it recently in the library and re-read it and wasn't so impressed. Which isn't to say I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.

    Good to see the photo. I always wondered what the bike was. He identified the bike his friend was riding but not his.

    The copy I re-read was published as an anniversay edition, unfortunately I don't recall which anniversary - 25 years?? It had some interesting correspondence between Pirsig and the publishers showing difficulties he had getting it published, and the surpirise form the publisher at the success it finally enjoyed.

    Sadly it also said that his son was dead. Shot as a result of a mugging gone wrong.
  16. Oh FFS, now I can't find my copy... must have given it to someone :p

    Brilliant book, the more so because it makes some tough ideas easy to understand. But, yeah, you do need to be in the right state of mind to appreciate it.
  17. eh, eh..... Told ya, and you thought I was being all mystical and hippy about it. :LOL:
  18. I've tried to read and reread and reread ZATAOMM over the years and I think I have a Richard Bach inspired, much-more-directly-understandable and way more enjoyable, fundamental comprehension blockage and low boredom tolerance against that flamin frustrating ZATAOMM.

    If you want a good read about zen type topics, get a book called the "Tao of pooh". It rocks. :)

    Chef, you've got me intrigued... I've had a quick squiz at the five rings... this is something I'm going to have a closer look at!
  19. Let me know how you get on. 67 undefeated contests I think it was, as he was still around to jot down a few notes, he's got plenty of street cred for a grasshopper. :wink:
    When i read it, the internet was still a pup, so i had to search for a copy. Which was a part of the quest.

    While we're here I might just go OT a little bit (even though it's not really when you think about it - here are the pics I told you about)