Cool book.

Years and years ago, when I started going to the local library, this book on one of those posters that pictures celebrities with a favorite book. Do you remember them? The ALA put them out; the posters hung on nearly every wall. I remember seeing one with Tim Allen holding Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The title stuck.

I got around to reading the book this month. It seemed like something good to read while I readjust to American life.

Little did I know that Mr. Pirsig’s book would combine three favorite subjects: Teaching, traveling, and philosophy. Talk about relevance! The man taught writing in college and experimented with withholding grades. And he wrote about a motorcycle journey from the Midwest to California.

The book’s a demanding read because the philosophical sections get abstract. I can’t recall anything this intellectually difficult or abstract since reading The Republic or anything from Alvin Toffler. Yet Pirsig makes his writing palatable, even engrossing, by interspersing the philosophy with the travelogue. Just when the discourse gets heavy, he switches to wherever he and his son are on their journey across the USA.

Enjoyable and thought-provoking.

Notes:

  • As someone who’s never ridden a motorcycle, I found what he had to say quite interesting, for cycles seem to require much more day-to-day care than cars. This is good to know in case I ever get a motorcycle…which might happen someday.
  • Pirsig includes examples of things not to do while teaching, ie professors lording it over their students by belittling their intelligence.
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