Oh Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, you beguiling bastard. The author, Robert Pirsig, gave warning when treading into the philosophical allegories of this book that it was not going to be comfortable. Bob is indeed a man of his word. It was like picking up dog poop: you know it has to be done, but it just doesn’t feel right. Unless of course I’ve stumbled upon your hobby, then ignore that. And wash your hands. Perhaps your hobby would look less suspicious if you even owned a dog?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not that content sifting through self-rhetoric, or dog-poop, and also not at ease with researching dialectics and Sophism. I can just about use Microsoft Word. I get the attainment of quality, of self-reliance, of reason and logic, of duty towards self, but a hundred pages trim would have done the volume no harm. Then again, this is a modern classic, selling millions, and Robert achieved worldwide fame for his honesty and intelligence, weaving three separate stories in their own right into an excellent tome . . . so really, what the hell do I know? Thankfully, 121 publishers rejected the volume before Robert found success. So, really, what the hell do we know?
There are a couple of lines though that made me put down the book and gaze out the window, mouthing to no one in particular ‘Yeahhhh!! And another thing. . .’ like some kind of lunatic. To quote "You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun will rise tomorrow. They know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because the dogmas or goals are in doubt."
Essentially, the more fervour someone has and indignant they become, the more they’re trying to protect against any consideration of an alternative which is probably equally valid. Just ask any football team chanting ‘we’re by far the greatest team, the world has ever seen!’ every weekend.
Whilst there is, I think, an immense amount of Robert himself in the book, and despite being sometimes a long affair, it is an exceptional read. And the afterword is heart wrenching. But I’ll end this week on an up-note with a lovely whimsical quotation from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Remember to be kind to yourself and others.
‘How can happiness be defined? How can goodness be defined? Happiness and good are not objective terms. We cannot deal with them scientifically. And since they’re not objective then they just exist in your mind. So, if you want to be happy, just change your mind’
Music reference now it's in my head!
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