Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Robert Pirsig

★★★★★

 

I’ll pull my review straight from my first weekly inspiration post:

 

This week I’ve been reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. I actually started it back in November, dipping in and out periodically. The first half was kind of a struggle but I sensed that it would all be worth it.

It was worth it. I steamrolled through the second half in a day — I couldn’t put it down. The downside of this was that my brain felt like it had been melted. The numerous upsides included:

  • I learnt about the parallels between the Ancient Greek concept of Arete and the Hindu concept of DharmaIf you’ve got any interest in Eastern spirituality, read the book! These parallels are seriously fascinating — they suggest a link between ancient Western thought and traditional Eastern thought that I didn’t have a clue about
  • I got to the section where Pirsig talks about practical ways to find greater ‘Quality’ in your life. In my eyes, finding Pirsig’s ‘Quality’ is  equivalent to finding a sense of presence or mindfulness. I also definitely see some links to flow and extrinsic / intrinsic motivation
  • I reached the end of the book’s narrative, which I really enjoyed. The book combines discussion of Pirsig’s ideas on philosophy with a recalling of a trip he took with his son. It’s pretty moving.

If I had to summarise the book in one sentence, I’d say… ‘Ideas on how to live a better life in a Western world focused on the material’. If that grabs you, check it out. If it doesn’t, probably check it out anyway. I wouldn’t want my terrible attempt at a summary to put you off.

Additional note: this book comes recommended by Josh Waitzkin, author of The Art of Learning. That’s a pretty good endorsement, if you ask me.