Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

by Robert M. Pirsig

Posted by Anton Katunin on 15 April 2024
Tags: books, 2 stars, audiobook

This is one of the most famous books about philosophy. Few years ago my partner at the time gifted me this book for my birthday. She thought it's about motorcycles, so it was an easy choice for her. Over the years I've heard about this book from different sources. The most recent one was in this video.

This is a long book, and seems like the readers split into two distinct categories. Who loved it and found it life changing, or who didn't get it much. I'm in the second group.

It has a story which represents a life journey. I found the book's philosophy a bit shallow. There are two main points to it.

The first one is the talk about classical and romantic approaches. It's a discussion between science and creativity or intuition. The book was written in 1974 when the hippy movement was very popular. Rejection of technology was a common trend at the time. The book talks about the differences between the two ways of thinking and how the best place is to absorb both and be between them.

I think this discussion is still relevant in 2024 as we are still looking for that balance as a society. Interesting that I drew parallels to the movie Matrix. In the second movie people in Zeon city see machines as evil and yet their lives depend on them.

Science vs art discussion is also relevant to my career in software engineering, which is both. Such inconclusive balance baffled the industry for decades and we are yet to accept it as a norm.

The second point is a discussion about Quality. To be honest I didn't get it. I checked multiple book explanations and still don't understand it. So if you know, tell me. Interesting that there is a whole wiki page for it Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality

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