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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

17 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

Not Only for Buddhists and Mechanics

The first of Robert Maynard Pirsig's two books, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is neither primarily focused on zen nor motorcycle maintenance but is a nonfiction account of the author's search for truth. More symbolic of the manifestation of Pirsig's philoso...
The first of Robert Maynard Pirsig's two books, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is neither primarily focused on zen nor motorcycle maintenance but is a nonfiction account of the author's search for truth. More symbolic of the manifestation of Pirsig's philosophies, the concepts of zen and motorcycles are used to demonstrate the author's theories so that the reader can better visualize his ideas. Serving as the book's main organizational device, the motorcycle trip lasts for seventeen days beginning in Minnesota and ending in California. This quest motif seems to be representative of the author's larger search for truth, for identity, and for quality. Interspersed throughout the story of the author's journey through the mountains are what he likes to call Chautauquas: philosophical thoughts pertaining to life, human nature, humanity's relationship with technology, and the ever-elusive concept of quality, which is the book's main focus. The philosophical aspects make the book worth your time and somehow more sophisticated. The narrative aspects provides interest and gives you a break from all the deep concepts presented. The autobiographical aspects cause a relationship between the author and yourself to form. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance can be a perplexing book and a struggle to get through. In the beginning of the book, before you've adjusted to this unusual style of the author, you can't help but wonder as what this book's purpose is, be confused at this structure which you had never seen before, and even question the sanity of the author. Then, as a reader you become accustomed to Pirsig's writing style. You begin to look at things differently, where you don't look so much as to what the words are but what they mean. And after becoming accustomed to his unusual style, you learn to appreciate it. His use of narrative structure makes it seem as if the author is just now experiencing all of these thoughts and discovering all of these truths. Pirsig portrays himself to be in the act of philosophizing, in the act of his experiential struggles, not simply telling the reader afterward when the action is finished and the thought has ceased. As a reader, you feel as if you are experiencing these revelations in concurrence with him. Pirsig invites you to step into the next level of thinking but still allows you to formulate your own personal viewpoints and opinions. He doesn't write above the level of the average person, yet manages to not oversimplify things as if he's addressing ignorance. Before reading this book, I perceived the concepts which he discusses to be way above my level, perhaps because they simply are too complex for me or perhaps because I lack the patience to really sit down and examine them. Somehow, Pirsig made these topics more understandable. However, this is not to be confused with effortless. He does not make the topics easy and simple, but he makes them more accessible to an ordinary person like myself. He allows you to have the opportunity to look at and dissect these things, to relate them to your own thoughts and life, to have its own profound impact on you. There is still much confusion, times of frustration, endless hours of thinking about these concepts that just go around and around in your mind. There is still all of this, but there is no confusion as to what these topics are, just the marvelous confusion of what these topics mean. Personally, my perception of the theme was that changing your concept of the world and of life can change the world and life itself. Looking at things from a different point of view, a point of view not tainted by sociey's perception of right and wrong and normal, a point of view not tarnished by structure and routine, a point of view completely new and fresh, can do wonders. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is the type of book that stays with you long after you've finished reading it.

posted by Anonymous on January 13, 2003

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

Takes time to warm up to

Right from the start I could tell Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was going to be one of those books with excessive detail that would sometimes be unnecesary. I knew I would need much diligence in reading this book. One of the major themes of the story is find...
Right from the start I could tell Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was going to be one of those books with excessive detail that would sometimes be unnecesary. I knew I would need much diligence in reading this book. One of the major themes of the story is finding a sense of indentity. The narrator struggles with this and finds himself at opposition with Phaedrus, his other personality. Phaedrus is very detached, detailed and stubborn and finds it his desire to seek the truth. The novel is divided into four parts in which the story unfolds. It is the story of a forty year old father and his eleven year old son who take a motorcycle trip from Minnesota through the Dakotas, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and California. They are accompanied for some time by the narrator's friends, a married couple, John and Sylvia Sutherland. Throughout the trip, the narrator feels that it is the perfect time to give these lectures he calls Chautauquas in which he explains such an overwhelming amount of philosophical ideas and analyzes those ideas,. By giving these Chautauquas, the narrator provides us with more and an understanding of how Phaedrus thought and what he thought about. The topics he chooses to talk about are: technology, classical versus romantic understanding, quality, deductive versus inductive logic,caring and attitude, 'gumption', and of course motorcycle maintenance. John and Sylvia are the narrator's victims in his talk about technology. He explains how the effect of technology makes one feel "alienated" and "a stranger in your own land" and how John and Slylvia hate technology and so try to run away from it. The narrator talks about quality but is never able to define it and just states that to achieve quality one must have clarity of mind and the right attitide. He also explains that gumption is encouragement and he provides not only gumption traps but the solutions to those traps. Of course these are very simple explanations of the many topics he has in-depth analyses of. Also, the narrator tends to be in the middle of his Chautauqua and suddenly cuts off to talk about the current motorcycle trip he and his son are taking that the story is supposed to be about. Aside from this inconsistency, he goes into great detail when he analyzes each subject and the book gets a bit confusing to understand and to follow. The flow of the book was not very well planned.One example of unnecesary detail found in the novel as I explained before is in chapter four where the author makes an extensive list of valuable items that should be taken on a motorcycle trip. In doing so he takes up the first half of the chapter giving information that does not directly have to do with what the plot of the story is about. I would not consider this as a book meant to be read by anyone below the college level. The book's 400 pages are packed with complex information that needs a lot of time to fully grasp and appreciate.

posted by 9425749 on August 18, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2011

    Far too much

    Quick into reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance, I realized that the narrator enjoyed rambling. When discussing his journey he made sure to provide the reader with ample detail, however I did not personally like that. The immense amount of details seemed to sidetrack me from the philosophical understanding of the text. He went too far into details with the scenery that he saw, the weather, the mood, etc. With the excessive amount of detail, I was easily bored while reading and unfortunately, it would cause me to put the book down for periods of time, thus losing connection to the author. The whole idea of "repairing motorcycles" was distracting as well. As a female reader, the idea of repairing motorcycles does not interest me, therefore I lost any sense of connection through the random talk about the repair of them. I realize it was all for the narrator to get his points across about the relations of motorcycle repair to scenarios in life, but he could have simply showed the symbolism between the two and omitted all the extra unnecessary details. I found the conflicts within the book to be interesting and relatable to a more general audience though. There is the idea of reconciling with one's past as well as a father's lost connection with his son. These issues are all a result of the narrator's insanity. He must search for ways to find peace not only within himself, but also with those around him, especially his son. The only times I was able to feel connected to the text was during the philosophical discussions, mainly those of Phaedrus' beliefs, before the author would sidetrack back to describing his journey on the road to through the West. At this point the narrator discusses compelling philosophical insights that the reader is actually able to learn from. He discusses topics such as the classic-romantic split and stresses the importance of the unity of the two. The idea of "caring" was very common throughout his text as well. In order to be successful at something, one must care for what they are doing in order for their performance to reach its full potential. The narrator showed he cared about motorcycles by constantly mentioning them and through his knowledge to fix them without the necessity of a manual. He wanted to pass this knowledge to his son, but since there was no connection between them and Chris did not care, this was difficult for him to do. Finally, defining "Quality" was a major aspect in this novel. The author came to the conclusion that quality is the source of all objects and subjects and therefore cannot be defined. This book was assigned to me, had it been optional, I would not have chosen it. The overall message that the book portrayed about finding one's identity was very intriguing. Without the excessive detail, I think the book would have been pleasant to read in regards to the philosophical aspects that the author touches upon.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2013

    A good read

    This book is still relevant today-alomost 40 years after it was published. The philosophical aspects are intertwined with the story-and at times a bit too much. The forward and afterwords give new insight and sadness to the story.

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  • Posted August 18, 2011

    Don't read this while on the road.

    I brought this book with me to read it while road tripping through the mountains of Puerto Rico. While this setting is different from the American Midwest, the boredom is not. As such, it frustrated me greatly that my one of my escapes from meditating on the random birds and trees that passed me by in real life was to read about a man meditating about the birds and trees that passed him in an partly autobiographical novel. Persig truly succeeds as an author in his ability to describe the boredom of being on the open road. To break from that monotonous cycle, I tried to just focus my attention on the parts where Persig discusses logic, reasoning, zen, and most importantly, quality. I must note this diversion because the book really can be separated into two parts: a story about a father and son trying to connect as well as a discussion on the journey to uncover the ultimate truths of life. I did not enjoy the story. I barely cared about the characters and nothing gets resolved in the end if you really analyze the whole thing. But alas, even I, who loves philosophy and have even electively taken logic and reasoning courses, grew bored with the sections where Persig discusses philosophy. Perhaps the central problem with the book is Persig's long winded writing. I like getting to the point while Persig enjoys dragging out each and every idea, whether it describes a lake that passes the motorcyclists or it argues a philosophy. Additionally, the analogy of motorcycle maintenance feels forced. I actually grew anxious after literally the hundredth time bolts and screws were used as an analogy. And trust me, it really was the hundredth. On the other hand, reading this book may have subconsciously worked. Even writing this review, I find myself questioning how I am supposed to determine the quality of this book. Why? Because many of the ideas persig wrote about have stuck . What makes a good author? Does a good book communicate the authors own thoughts? I mean, the entire book really made me feel like I was locked in a room that was known as Persig's mind. Furthermore, there were many passages within the book that actually do help with every day thinking. The section where Persig discusses his cures for boredom ironically helped me finish the book. As a whole, I would definitely never read this book again. I really did grow impatient while Persig would "get at it slowly". Maybe I'm just young and impatient. Maybe half of the book could have easily been edited out and all of the memorable and best information would have remained intact anyway. But I would certainly not recommend this book for any small children, not because it is graphic, but because it takes a certain enthusiasm that only exists for the most fervent fans of highly descriptive narration. Some people love that; I am not one of those people. On the contrary, finishing this book is not only rewarding because it can stand as a challenge of will, but it is also filled with ideas that stick. If there is one thing that you take away from this review, however, is that you should never take this book to try and escape from traveling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2011

    Don't Believe the Hype

    A best-selling novel and my father's favorite book, I began reading Zen with high expectations. The back cover promises that Zen is: "The extraordinary story of a man's quest for truth. It will change the way you think and feel about your life." Needless to say, I was disappointed to discover that I would be spending my time reading through nothing more than Pirsig's monotonous, self-absorbed ramblings. The story follows the narrator's cross-country road trip with his son; however, the plot becomes merely a backdrop to the narrator's hard-to-follow philosophical discussions. In fact, he hardly mentions his son for the first half of the novel, aside from a few negative remarks towards him, and instead is absorbed in his own lame observations. The parts where the author bothers to mention his relationship with his son, specifically Phaedrus' relationship with him, are fascinating and I wish Pirsig had gone further into developing it. In fact, any sort of development of characters other than himself would've contributed to the success of the story as a whole. But instead, the plot becomes lost in his endless philosophizing. Furthermore, Pirsig desperately tries to connect his story and ramblings with flimsy transitions that are clearly forced. Instead, most of the book is made up of constant complaints about weather, unimportant observations that contribute nothing to the overall story, and the narrator's tiresome philosophical monologues. I quickly found myself being forced to continue reading. To be honest, most of my disinterest probably stems from my complete lack of knowledge regarding the mechanics of motorcycles, which made up a large part of the novel. A discussion that peaked my interest involved the author's suggestion that things we accept as fact, such as the laws of science, may be nothing more than another "ghost." Pirsig writes, "The laws of science contain no matter and have no energy either and therefore do not exist except in people's minds. It's best to be completely scientific about the whole thing and refuse to believe in either ghosts or the laws of science." Pirsig's discussion on the classical and romantic split also engaged my attention. However, a few insightful philosophical discussions weren't enough to win me over --and for the most part, unfortunately, his philosophical ideas were weak. For example, his explanation of the concept of "Quality" is drawn out and ultimately left a mystery to the reader as Pirsig ultimately declares it indefinable. Also, for a student who is not at all well versed in the origins of Greek and Eastern philosophy, I found myself struggling to understand references to Aristotle, Plato and Eastern philosophers. For the most part, Pirsig's writing came across as unorganized and random, as he struggled to make a real connection between his philosophical ideas and the actual plot. It's no surprise to me that Zen was rejected by over 100 publishers, despite becoming a best-selling book, as it generally doesn't seem to appeal to a large audience.

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  • Posted August 18, 2011

    Recommended with patience

    Taking the reader through many ups and downs, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance adventures into the depths of philosophical thought and values. The narrator consistently tries taking hold of the reader in his "chautauquas", small philosophical discourses. The narrator eloquently goes into a plethora of philosophical subjects ranging from what he calls the "Church of Reason" to ancient teachings by the three great Greek philosophers: Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. As the story progresses it becomes less about the actual plot events and more about the narrator's inner thoughts about philosophy and the like. Unfortunately, his philosophical thoughts are not only arduous to read, but half-baked. Pirsig is the kind of writer who can easily comprehend the works of other philosophers, but cannot truly formulate his own original world-view or lifestyle. If the reader manages to make it past the first three parts of the novel without tossing it aside he/she soon discovers what a literary gem this piece of literature really is. Though his philosophical "chautauquas" are mediocre at best, the events of the story line and the ending of the book prove to be quite entertaining. I found myself constantly struggling to continue reading the work. At many points throughout the novel I said to myself I would quit. Thankfully, I pulled through and finished the work. I was lucky. Because had I left off in the reading before the story came full circle, I would have failed to understand the true beauty of what Phaedrus was trying to capture. It's a tough read and in many ways it ("the read") resembles the characters' own journey in the story. As they suffer in the story from the weather and other outside factors, you suffer as the reader. Pirsig seems to purposely write his novel to have the reader's and characters' emotions coincide with one another. If you like being frustrated for long periods of time to then be rewarded with a literary masterpiece, this is the story for you. Zen requires one to have an extremely long attention span to ultimately pull through the novel and enjoy, making it a work not far from mediocre. Many works not even considered "philosophical novels" prove to have more concrete and well thought out theorems and ideas then Zen, whose extremely cheesy quotes like "The real cycle you're working on is a cycle called 'yourself'' leave the reader wondering what exactly is being said. Pirsig provides great character depth for the narrator, but this is to a loss of the rest of the characters. The author focuses so much on only Phaedrus/the Narrator that he becomes the only interesting aspect of the story aside from the few interesting tid-bits on philosophy here and there. Phaedrus' whole inner journey throughout the novel is the driving force behind the novel. Without the narrator's loss of identity or unintentional quest to find his lost identity the story would be left hollow. A whole piece of literature only recounting the thoughts of ancient philosophers would have no story credibility at all. Again, a good read if you have patience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2011

    Worth Enduring the Disorderly Rambles

    Naturally, I assumed Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance provided a basic story concerning care of motorcycles and Zen Buddhism. To my surprise, I found that Pirsig's novel had little to do with either of the two topics, and was far from a generic story about a motorcycle journey. While the author briefly touches upon motorcycle maintenance and Zen Buddhism in either the basic plot or transiently in "Chautauquas", they are not the focus of the novel. Instead, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance provides a story regarding the dynamics of a father-son relationship during an excursion through the highways and terrains of the 1960's American Midwest. Simultaneously, it discusses philosophical outlooks on numerous topics that result from the Narrator's unorthodox and intricate ideas about life and values that stem from his past as Phaedrus (the Narrator's brilliant past self who was obsessed with the search for reality). I initially found this novel to be extremely difficult to "get into", extremely dense passages regarding heavy and complicated topics were initially very off-putting as a reader. However, in the case of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, patience is rewarded. I enjoyed the author's emphasis on redefining simple words in ways that one might not ordinarily expect. Specifically, I was highly intrigued by the concept of 'Quality', which altered my outlook on everyday tasks as simple as motorcycle maintenance, as specifically discussed in the novel. I also enjoyed the "Chautauqua" based on technology, and the discussion on how rejecting it is rejecting an essential part of everyday life, a concept that I feel is very prevalent in our current society. An element that I found frustrating in the novel was that the overwhelming philosophical text outshines the general plot, and several characters remain underdeveloped. I admit that I had difficulty relating to the Protagonist. His preoccupation with thought (while interesting) unfortunately didn't allow readers to fully understand his character or his son's. Because of the undersized basic storyline, the journey itself almost seems irrelevant in the context of such substantial philosophical discourse. Therefore, I recommend the novel not because of it's plot-line but rather because of the intriguing "Chautauquas". However, while I did note the lack of emphasis on the relationship between Chris and his father, I still experienced pathos during the moments in which the Narrator and Chris would fight and Chris would display desires to commit suicide. The reconciliation at the end of the novel suggests that the journey has reached it's end on a bright note, leaving readers relieved and uplifted. While I did find the dual storyline at times frustrating, I appreciated the themes to such an extent that I wholeheartedly recommend the novel. Particularly to anyone who wishes to transform their day to day outlook on simple things.

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  • Posted August 18, 2011

    Is there really a need for motorcycles???

    At its outermost shell, Robert Pirsig's novel Zen the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a cross-country road trip where a man ponders his life and society's newfound values in changing times. Written in the turbulent early 1970's, the author explores technology, a reinvented view of nature, and a search for meaning in the world. He constantly questions his place in humanity and his highly intelligence nature causes him to be in a constant struggle with insanity.

    While the novel is technically told in s first person perspective, the narrator switches between himself and his alter ego, "Phaedrus," who he speaks about in the third person. The change of perspective forms confusion regarding the true identify of Phaedrus and his exact relationship to the narrator. It is easy to get lost in Pirsig's web of road trip narration, philosophical lessons, and stories of Phaedrus. He switches back and forth with little transition and often for no apparent reason. The multitude of topics discussed in the novel soon come to overshadow the very "Zen" that should really be the foundation.

    Pirsig starts off by demonstrating man's struggle with the efficiency of technology and how it has made man "a stranger in his own land" (24). Pirsig's wrote the novel in the latter half of the 20th century, a time where mass production became the standard, technological innovation replaced manpower, and society was gradually adapting to a trend that seemed unlikely to seize. His theory that man must either learn to live with and take advantage of a technological world, or succumb to its overarching power is just as relevant today as it was when he wrote the novel in the midst of the technological revolution.

    The author's view on man's struggle with technology soon transforms into a pondering of the relationship of quality and quantity. Pirsig tries to demonstrate how "quality" is the basic of societal values and the catalyst to our actions and decisions. Then he spends about twenty pages attempting to define the term before deciding that there is in fact no true definition. The novel is quite repetitious, but rather than clarify information, it simply restates it.

    However, before you completely disregard the novel I must mention that philosophy is a relatively new genre to me. I have only touched the foundation of the most well known ones. Before reading this novel, I highly suggest some background reading on Greek philosophy, especially the theories of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Pirsig dissects these philosophers in a way that it is assumed that you already understand their basic principles of life.

    While the novel's lessons on the importance of quality, society's struggle with technology, and a search for truth are all relevant, Robert M. Persig unsuccessfully attempts to connect unrelated items, confusing the reader while masking the true philosophy of the novel. I would be perfectly happy reading Zen and the Art, but the actual novel is a bit too much to properly digest.

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  • Posted August 18, 2011

    Interesting but do not recommend

    I recommend this novel as an easy way to start up discussions, not as an easy enjoyable read. There are so many different perspectives offered, which gives it more depth and causes it to be less boring as any other book, but it was still very repetitive. The author kept on going on different tangents making the story less interesting. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is not only a novel, but also a guide to life and an explanation to all forms of art. It was a little difficult to read and time consuming but once it was over, it seemed more interesting than what I expected it to be. It is about a narrator and his son going on a journey through the United States on a motorcycle to try and fight the narrator's insanity and maintain a relationship with his son at the same time. Throughout the journey, the narrator revisits his past in order to find answers on where he went wrong and what really happened to him. Slowly, his son starts to realize his father's insanity and later appreciates his father's fascination and interest in nature. Although this plot sounds interesting, it is only a small part of the book, which makes it more frustrating to read.
    What makes this novel extremely confusing is its combination of topics such as quality, technology, the Church of Reason, classics versus romantics and more. While explaining all these topics in great depth and in different perspectives that are unimaginable, the author continues to bring in the plot of the journey with the narrator and his son. He also incorporates what he explains on these topics to the maintenance of his motorcycle. Most of the explanations were very repetitive and could be easily summarized in a page instead of 25-50 pages.
    Although it was interesting to read about the maintenance of the motorcycle in such a different way and how each task in fixing the motorcycle represented a different part of life, each way was over explained. The author took one simple advice or concept and over analyzed it, which may seem interesting to some but not to the average person reading for fun. One can also use this novel as a guide to make the right decisions and what to do when stuck in the middle of two different paths. Although this could be useful, it was not as interesting as it sounds. In order to get this information across one has to read over 100 pages and analyze each page causing frustration. It was not a traditionally formatted novel, which made it a little more interesting but some of the topics were not very motivating causing me to loose focus.
    I do not recommend this novel for a teenager because it easily makes them loose focus. It is a difficult read, but once you get a hang of it, some of the topics and ideas are helpful. Personally, I could not get into it and it took me longer to read than any other book of that size. The plot interested me and so did some of the topics discussed such as the definition of quality, but the overall purpose of the Chautauqua I found useless to the story and the plot. It took way to long to analyze each and every topic discussed and the only part that was easy to read was the main plot about the journey between the boy and his father.

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  • Posted August 18, 2011

    Interesting ideas lost in a muddled stream of rambling

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was a book that ultimately fell below my expectations. World renown, the novel, published in 1974,may be viewed as a response to the growing predominance of technology within American society during the 70's. Written shortly after Woodstock, Zen provides an alternative to the unsubstantial arguments of the hippie movement, as it expresses radical concepts that serve as a counter to the growing coldness and harsh rationality of 1970s American culture. The book delves into such subject matter under the conceit of a father-son road trip across the American northwest. Two main stories run parallel to each other with the novel. The main plot details the increasingly strained relationship between the narrator and his son, as they journey across the country and interact with a number of individuals. Running simultaneously is the story of Phaedrus, a brilliant individual who obsessively studied rhetoric and the concept of quality, in an effort to understand the true nature of reality. Phaedrus represents the narrator's intellectual self prior to a court ordered electroshock therapy that radically altered his personality. The stories eventually reach their respective climaxes, but being a philosophy book rather than a fiction novel, Zen never seems to gain any momentum as it reaches its conclusion. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance demonstrated a multitude of unique and interesting theories, and explained a few very profound statements regarding human nature and society. For instance, its examination into the fallacious nature of the Scientific Method, struck a chord with me as a reader. Additionally, the book really forced me to look differently at "Quality" as a concept. Prior to reading the book, I fallaciously thought that quality was a simplistic idea; certainly not worth the effort to examining further. However, after reading Zen, I now fully understand that the idea of "Quality" goes far deeper than the comparison of two objects. And yet, while Pirsig expresses some truly interesting theories within the novel, it has lost some of its impact over time. As Pirsig himself states in the afterword, much of the novel's success may be attributed to the time frame in which it was released. With the growing disillusionment of American culture reaching its peak during the Vietnam War, the people of that time period needed a philosophy to latch onto, and Zen served that purpose well. However, in modern times, the American populace is not in the same mind frame, and would likely not have bought the book in droves had it been released in 2011. Additionally, the book is also flawed at the technical level. After reading through a few hundred pages of the book, I felt that the concepts eventually grew muddled, with the conflict between rhetoric and dialectic towards the novel's conclusion lasting overly long and adding little to the novel's themes. Additionally, the story would occasionally abandon the core road trip story for lengthy periods of time, only to abruptly return to it for a single sentence, and then immediately follow through with another ten pages of philosophical introspection. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is an interesting novel to read, but is ultimately too frustrating to recommend without reservations.

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  • Posted July 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Didn't Read This For School

    I enjoyed this book but it took me a little longer then normal to get through it. The deep philosophical meanderings really needed close attention to follow. I was not expecting something so deeply philosophical. I had anticipated a sort of feel good Mitch Albom-esque life lesson story. That's not to say the story was bad. It wasn't. I just found it a bit difficult to slog through the more 'deep' parts.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2008

    Good read

    A book not only about 'hogs', but about a father and son and life itself. A good read if you get a chance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 4, 2003

    zen critique

    In the beginning I hated this book, yet by its conclusion had learned to like it. Although it can be long winded at times, questions are raised that I could have gone most of my life without asking. I have gained a new perspective on the world, and I doubt my thought process will ever be the same. It was interesting at times, to see a person go through such self-destructive behaviors in order to find the answer to a question that might not have one, to define something without a finite definition. This book is full of lessons, difficult yet important. I recommend it, but only to those who have a significant amount of free time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2003

    Interesting

    Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig is an interesting book, to say the least. It is a book aimed at the extremely intelligent or those willing to broaden their ways of thinking. The difficult storyline and concepts and colorful vocabulary really open your mind in a different way if you allow them to. Each time you read this book, you can get a different message or intellectual perspective from it. When you read this book, you must read it almost as a textbook ¿ as if you¿re searching for information and ways to understand the concepts. This book is a good choice for a higher level English discussion- based class, because it is very difficult, provides a challenge, and each person gets something different out of it. I would not choose this book to read on my own. It has a technical and philosophical style, so it really helped to be able to discuss the events, outcomes, and motives with others. There are sections where Pirsig takes chapters to describe one concept, and those go very slowly. The book left me wishing for more emotional content. It is a book that you must read with a certain perspective to get something meaningful out of. Overall, an eye opening one-time read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2003

    Probably not again!

    Having heard negative reviews going into this book, I was curious to know how it could be that bad. Starting off it was fairly understandable because it dealt more with the events of the story and less with the psychological struggles of Pirsig. Once I cleared the first couple chapters, it got more difficult, and I realized that a lot of this book is filled with psychopathic tangents that take you just about nowhere unless you have about an hour to sit and analyze them. However, I do think that there are some good messages to be taken out of this book. Some of Pirsig¿s ideas are very insightful and can be applied to many aspects of life. It could cause one to evaluate his or her values and own definition of 'quality'. Mostly, it made me realize how important human interactions are and how much Pirsig lacked in them. I think that a lot of this book was very detached from human emotion which is probably why I couldn¿t really ¿get into it¿ as much as I usually do when reading. I liked the resolution at the end, especially the development of the relationship between father and son and also the merging of Pirsig and Phaedrus. Overall, I probably wouldn¿t read this book again for fun just because it is rather difficult reading without a ton of payoff, but it was good to get through a book this challenging.

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    Posted November 5, 2010

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    Posted July 18, 2010

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