Dearest Books: “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert M. Pirsig

I began this book because of a Creative Writing Class taught by one of my favorite professors at Rollins, Dr. Aufhammer.

In the class, Dr. Aufhammer gave us a list of his favorite books from his lifetime of reading. Although I didn’t choose this book at first, someone I highly respect as a writer and reader did choose it. His recommendation interested me, as did Dr. Aufhammer’s statement that Pirsig’s book isn’t an easy read. My subconscious decided to accept that challenge, so when something recalled the book to me months later, I immediately purchased it on Amazon.

“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” is indeed a complicated read. It’s taken me months to piece together the ideas and concepts Pirsig introduces, and thus months to absorb this book. I think Pirsig would say, though, that it isn’t the amount of time it takes to finish the book that matters at all. He wouldn’t even care, I believe, whether a reader absorbed anything at all but one thought which somehow changes the reader’s perspective just a little bit.

There is truly no better way I can think of to describe this book than “beautiful.” Pirsig sets his course of philosophical discussion as he does the concurrent motorcycle journey — gently, with a seemingly uncharted route which somehow works its way perfectly through the necessary philosophical territory. He questions experience (subjective, objective, or otherwise), “classical” and “romantic” perspectives, and introduces the concept of “Quality.” I have no authority upon which to explain these terms, since I’m highly doubtful that I understand them myself. But truly, something about these concepts has changed the way I perceive life and continuity and other people, trying to understand the same things in different ways.

This book has become part of my life. There are so many stories which are wonderful, and exciting, and even question things yet this book is something outside of these. It is a sacred journey which Robert Pirsig has somehow slipped between the folds of a paperback and of which we, as readers, are allowed a glimpse.

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