Thursday, April 2, 2009

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I recently re-read this book. Ok, actually I'm not quite to the end yet. But a number of things have become clear to me this time around that didn't quite sink in the first time.

First, while the philosophy laid out in the book will stand or fall on its own merits (I've not formed an opinion on this quite yet), I think the book loses a lot of power once you realize that the entire narrative is essentially a straight-up autobiography. This realization was nagging at me throughout the first couple hundred pages until I finally broke down looked up Robert Pirsig's wikipedia page. Confirmed.

I mean, I hate to be too hard on the guy, because he seems genuinely likable, and his writing style is very friendly and engaging... but once you know he is talking about the actual details of his life the whole thing starts to look like a somewhat embarrassing (if not pathetic) attempt at self-justification and excuse-making for his personal academic and career failings. Or maybe I'm just a cynical hard-hearted bastard. I kind of hope the latter is true.

Update: on further reflection, I'm pretty sure I'm just in a bad mood and being a jerk about this. So, nevermind.

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