Wednesday 18 September 2013

Zen And The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I just finished this book.  It's the first book I've finished digitally, I'm more of a paper and ink reader, but I thought I'd give this a go on my phablet.

The narrative is based on a man and his son doing a cross country trip on a motorcycle in the 1970s.  The story focuses on that quiet mind you experience as you make miles on two wheels.  While some people's mind wander while riding, the narrator of this hefty tome starts with an examination of the basic mechanics of motorcycle maintenance but quickly wanders into a philosophical deconstruction of Greek philosophy and its effects on Western thinking.

If you've got a background in philosophy it's fairly easy to follow, if you don't you're probably going to be wondering what the hell is going on in places.

The book is full of some real gems in terms of how we approach basic mechanics as well as life in general, but it can get pretty full of itself as well.

To further complicate things the author is battling with his alter-ego as he recovers from electroshock
therapy.  No, this isn't an easy read, though it's worth it if you can get through it.

Last year I read Shopclass as Soulcraft, which I'd recommend as a much more accessible read if you're interested in getting philosophical through the lens of motorbiking.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is a classic, and it has attained a kind of cult status in philosophy and motorcycle literature.  I'd recommend reading Crawford before you take a run at Pirsig.  Reading a review of Western philosophy wouldn't hurt either.