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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : A Review

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence

(Photograph courtesy : Amazon.com)

“Since the ‘ONE’ is the source of all things and includes all things in it, it can’t be defined in terms of those things, since no matter what thing you use to define it, the thing will always describe something less than ‘ONE’ itself.”

– Robert M Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance)

If the above doesn’t make any sense to you and/or makes you inquisitive, do not pick up the book!

I just finished up this book and a couple of people asked me how it was and whether it is worth reading. This was the second time I had picked up the book. The first time, I just couldn’t read beyond the first fifty pages. But that was more because of the fact that I didn’t have any inclination towards reading stuff.

What fascinated me was the fact that this book was published first in 1974, i.e. more than 30 years ago and still is, widely popular. I wanted to start up on philosophy, and this book featured in the top-10 lists at quite a few places. So I decided to give it a go.

To cut it short, this book is about a few journeys. One of them being a literal one as long-distance, cross-country motorcycle ride, one of them into the author’s past life and a third one into a philosophical journey which pops up randomly as the book starts and takes center stage towards the second half of the book. I had not read anything on philosophy before this and yet I could get along with the book. The book starts on a lighter note with more emphasis on the travelogue and slowly emphasizing on the philosophical concepts which the author wants to communicate. I’d say, the pace is built up well even for a casual reader on philosophy.

The book will introduce you to some of the philosophical concepts, however doesn’t really define all of those. Also, the book is ‘open-ended’‘, i.e. although it initiates quite a few questions in mind, it doesn’t really provide answers to all of those. That pisses off quite a few people I guess. But then, I feel that the book achieves what it intends, i.e. generate the inquisitiveness to pursue some of the concepts discussed in the book. As an advice, do not attempt to understand and comprehend everything, as some of the concepts presented are not fully mature and conclusive. Just take it as a starter and if it really interests you, look for some more reads in the main course 🙂

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Amit Srivastava
 

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Ankit - July 7, 2008

I loved the road-trip part of the book. The early philosophical ramblings were fun to read as well… But then once he gets into discussing philosophy in earnest, I quickly lost interest.

Do you know that the book is autobiographical?

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Amit Srivastava - July 7, 2008

@Ankit:Yeah, I did know that it is an autobiography sort of. Towards the end it does get a bit difficult to comprehend as too many new things are introduced. Haven’t really understood everything but still worth a go!

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Ankur - July 9, 2008

I didn’t enjoy the book. Liked the Road-trip description, sp all the preparation that goes into one.

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Amit Srivastava - July 10, 2008

@Ankur: Thanks for the comment.

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Motorcycle Reviews » Post Topic » Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : A Review - July 12, 2008

[…] jocelyn wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt… it can’t be defined in terms of those things, since no matter what thing you use to define it, the thing will always describe something less than ‘ONE’ itself.” – Robert M Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) If the [. … […]

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Electra - October 28, 2008

Interesting to know.

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Zen and the Relief of Motorcycle Servicing! — iLog - November 8, 2008

[…] long enough I had read a book called ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance‘. While it was more of a philosophical journey as opposed to what the title suggests, there […]

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Bike Shop Boys - January 24, 2011

I have heared many good things about this book but have yet to actually buy it, is it a must have?

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