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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“An unforgettable trip.” (Time)
“The book is inspired, original. . . . The analogies with Moby-Dick are patent.” (The New Yorker)
“Profoundly important...full of insights into our most perplexing contemporary dilemmas.” (New York Times)
“It is filled with beauty. . .a finely made whole that seems to emanate from a very special grace.” (Baltimore Sun)
“A miracle . . . sparkles like an electric dream.” (The Village Voice)
Making good things is hard. Everyone has tried to make something wonderful and failed. What's so lovely about ZAAMM is you may finally learn why. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Rob
It was with a bit of trepidation that I started this book, being that there was a lot of hype about it and the assumptions I had made from this hype and what the 'Zen' part of its... Read morePublished 1 day ago by Og Maciel
AMAZING. Great read even if your not into motorcycles or have a son.Published 2 days ago by The Philly Attorney
Great book, glad I had a liberal arts background and had read plato and aristole to help with some of the context.Published 6 days ago by mark hoekstra
I will say this up front. I could not get past the first 200 pages. You will have to forgive me the fact that I am a philosophy student as well and much of the pseudo or... Read morePublished 11 days ago by Eric William Staeger
Great book, it has great philosophical insights but not only that, it has real world applications. Its a great story that will teach you a lot and take you on an emotional ride. Read morePublished 11 days ago by Sandy Adler
Started reading the preview and couldn't put it down. Bought the full book and am not disappointed. It is a book that will keep you interested but cause you to think.Published 15 days ago by Amazon Customer