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Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

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What is quality? Here is the answer.

Since the book never tells you, I will.

Quality is in the space between object and subject. All objects are tools for accomplishing goals which exist in the minds of man and other creatures.

An object has high quality to the degree that it satisfies one's desires.

There you go.

Chris Indeedski!

Daily Paul cured my abibliophobia.

Reading Again Now

and wondering if Quality in Pirsig's view is not different from Ayn Rand's view of Value.

Fantastic book

that literally changed my life. Highly recommended.

"If this mischievous financial policy [greenbacks], which has its origin in North America, should become endurated down to a fixture, then that government will furnish its own money without cost. It will pay off its debts and be without debts. It will hav

great read.

LILA, the sequel, is somewhat off-putting but in some ways is deeper than the original book.

I was unclear..

as to what you might mean by "off-putting" until I realized that I had purchased the book in the 1980s and put off reading it for so long that when I finally got around to finding the time to read it, I merely discovered that I had lost it.

You have inspired me to acquire another copy. Oh, and to read it directly. :D

Great Book !

Great Book !


Not this one again

I hope he was better at Zen than motorcycle maintenance which for him was an "art" in the same way a monkey can finger paint.

It's going back some 25 years but he has some kind of psuedo spiritual explanation for why his bike didn't run well going over the Rockies. Well it could have been that or it could have been oh, I dunno, ALTITUDE maybe?

And then I recall his trick of using Bon Ami scrubbing powder on is carbs. It must be the Zen thing again because no mechanic alive or dead would dream of using an abrasive in a carb.

Yeah, he really better know something about Zen. And I hope he stuck to that and not bikes. People like him really don't belong on serious machines.

Most of those who think so actually don't and most people who think sew actually rip.

He did have one good tip

carry a towel. LOL


I think most people attribute that advice to Douglas Adams. But maybe this guy needed a towel too.

Read it Again

I think you may have missed the point - Pirsig's character understands bike maintenance - that you can't BS the bike.

For me it helped that I did study some philosophy in college. Hated it, didn't understand what it meant in my life. Then years after college and reality had set in, I read Ayn Rand and that helped, so I happened to go back and read Zen, and was astonished that it started to make sense.

Or it could have been that I had undertaken the restoration of a VW Karmann Ghia that put everything in perspective. Metal doesn't lie.

I'd say give it another try.

The Bon Ami?

I started and ran my own bike shop for years, used it to get, among other things, a useless degree but I owed not once cent upon graduation.

There has never been nor will there ever be a place for Bon Ami on my bench and as far as altitude goes there's really nothing like rejetting.

As far as Zen goes, isn't not caring like the ultimate in Zen?

-with mirth

Most of those who think so actually don't and most people who think sew actually rip.

Thanks for caring to add a second comment.

If you are already "with mirth" then perhaps you are in no need of anything Zen, for mirth is Zen's goal. Another solution for problems of altitude is to take a lower road. Perhaps that's not as thrilling, but it's legitimate. As I am unclear what has led you to mirth, I might suggest that you try Bon Ami on a dirty, scratched, or yellowed windshield. Is there no place on your bench for a "Good Friend"? The map of Pirsig's story is initially plotted by his mistakes. He had left himself a trail of bread crumbs. He journeys again to clean up his litter. Along the way he learns how to better care and what "care" refers to. As such he ends his journey, with mirth. My last comma is crucial. He would not have sold many books had he simply wrote, "I was sitting on my couch gazing at the peppermint plant on my coffee table. I was filled with a sense of love and care for God's creation as my nose caught wind of its minty freshness. I sat for an hour with it in quiet, glassy-eyed meditation. Then my son passed by but to feed its dry soil a cup of water. An hour later I laughed, stood up, and drew open the curtains... Perhaps my son's been the Zen master all along!" :D

To Chris,
Thanks for sharing the mirth with your ironic bit about your "regret of expectation". ;)

OK - just finished it. I love happy endings.


Chris Indeedski!

Daily Paul cured my abibliophobia.

Reading It Now

for perhaps the 5th or 6th time...I lost count.

The first time I read it I was baffled and discounted it. This was before I studied philosophy in a formal setting.

In later years I picked it up again, and re-read it every few summers.

Great book, great read.

I gave it up the first 2 or 3 times...

I'm pushing through to the conclusion for the first time. My only regret is the expectation that the ending will force me to restart the book and reexamine it again the book again the brain again...

Chris Indeedski!

Daily Paul cured my abibliophobia.

read it as many times as you will transcend regret

I first read the book just a few years after it was published while attending the high school Pirsig had attended. An uncle of mine had been his classmate. I was quite familiar with the general scenery and stops along his travel route as I had traveled the same many times with my father from Minneapolis, through Bozeman, and beyond. I nearly attended the university in Bozeman, well, "considered it for a time" might be more accurate. I picked up an enrollment application once during an extended Bozeman hangout session, to be most accurate. :D Anyway, it was an exquisitely intimate read for me. I was eventually relieved to hear reports that it is an intimate read for most who push through to its conclusion. The book is certainly a sturdy stepping stone into classics referenced by Pirsig. I eagerly read through Plato's "Phaedrus" directly, did a stint in Philosophy at the University of Minnesota, and there has been no time since high school til now when Buddhist literature has been far from reach. But the story! the journey itself! If you take delight in the story he told, then I highly recommend the book "Ceremony" by Leslie Marmon Silko. If you "push through" the beginning, you will ravenously inhale the end.

Michael Nystrom's picture

I read a bootleg copy of this in Thailand

15 years ago.

Isn't that funny - they used to bootleg books! For the foreign tourists. That was a favorite.

I read it on the beach in Thailand, so I loved it. And today, I can't remember a damn thing about it.

I've tried rereading it a couple times, but somehow, the first time was just the right moment in time.

If I had to give an all time favorite for a book: American Gods, by Neil Gaiman.

I've read that twice, no problem.

That is my top recent piece of fiction.

Prior holders of that title:

Canada - Richard Ford

I met him, shook his hand, told him the story about seeing him on McNeil Leher, when he won the pulitzer for the Sportswriter. I told him that he had provided me with tens of hours of enjoyment in my life. Which is true. Going back to the Sportswriter, and Independence Day. What a towering, incredible talent. Canada is a masterpiece.

- - - - - -

All that being said, today I barely remember a single thing about Zen and the Art, except that it was "good."

When humans merge with computing networks, that will no longer be a problem.


Which I really enjoyed, and it was a page turner. But afterwards, I was left feeling like I just ate a big bowl of candy. Ultimately not very satisfying on a deep level.

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle

That book intersected my life like a perpendicular plane. It was incredible.

This Side of Paradise

What is quality? Can you say?

And if so then, where is it?

In this merry month of May?

Chris Indeedski!

Daily Paul cured my abibliophobia.

Michael Nystrom's picture

What is quality?

It is represented here at the DP, but not exclusively.

Sell in May and go away.

It certainly is represented here.

Thanks! :) Oh, and good advice too, but nowadays it seems to have moved up a bit...

Sell in March and span the arch. ;)

hmm, or maybe... buy the arch?

A lot of the 'quality' argument relies on so-called goodness...

which it need not.....

Chris Indeedski!

Daily Paul cured my abibliophobia.

or as Pirsig might say...

Quality relies on nothing, but it is that on which all things rely.

or as I might say...
Quality is nothing but that on which all things rely.

or as Pete might say...

Well, I finished the book. Unexpected ending worth the ride...

Don't quite get why the question of what is quality was so difficult for him. Quality is simply the space between intention and object or action. If the object meets the need well it has high quality, if not then not. He never comes out and states this simplest of truths but this is probably because he has too much faith in his readers? I don't know. 50 out of 50 stars.

Chris Indeedski!

Daily Paul cured my abibliophobia.

This book is a classic. I

This book is a classic. I once worked in a resale shop where this book floated around on the donation tables from time to time, so for me to read this was inevitable. Wishing you much happiness in your future time invested in reading wonderful books such as this one.

Number 2's picture

50 out of 50?

Wow! That's a lot.

The book was perfectly itself. It was the best tool for the job.

It kicked my ass in the end.

Chris Indeedski!

Daily Paul cured my abibliophobia.