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Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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The definitive guide to Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance When Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was first published in 1974, it caused a literary sensation. An entire generation was profoundly affected by the story of the narrator, his son, Chris, and their month-long motorcycle odyssey from Minnesota to California. A combina The definitive guide to Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance When Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was first published in 1974, it caused a literary sensation. An entire generation was profoundly affected by the story of the narrator, his son, Chris, and their month-long motorcycle odyssey from Minnesota to California. A combination of philosophical speculation and psychological tension, the book is a complex story of relationships, values, madness, and, eventually, enlightenment. Ron Di Santo and Tom Steele have spent years investigating the background and underlying symbolism of Pirsig’s work. Together, and with the approval of Robert Pirsig, they have written a fascinating reference/companion to the original. Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance serves as a metaphorical backpack of supplies for the reader’s journey through the original work. With the background material, insights, and perspectives the authors provide, Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is destined to become required reading for new fans of the book as well as those who have returned to it over the years.


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The definitive guide to Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance When Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was first published in 1974, it caused a literary sensation. An entire generation was profoundly affected by the story of the narrator, his son, Chris, and their month-long motorcycle odyssey from Minnesota to California. A combina The definitive guide to Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance When Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was first published in 1974, it caused a literary sensation. An entire generation was profoundly affected by the story of the narrator, his son, Chris, and their month-long motorcycle odyssey from Minnesota to California. A combination of philosophical speculation and psychological tension, the book is a complex story of relationships, values, madness, and, eventually, enlightenment. Ron Di Santo and Tom Steele have spent years investigating the background and underlying symbolism of Pirsig’s work. Together, and with the approval of Robert Pirsig, they have written a fascinating reference/companion to the original. Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance serves as a metaphorical backpack of supplies for the reader’s journey through the original work. With the background material, insights, and perspectives the authors provide, Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is destined to become required reading for new fans of the book as well as those who have returned to it over the years.

30 review for Guidebook to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

  1. 4 out of 5

    Raine

    Initial Thoughts: This book - 50% motorcycle repair/travel manual, 50% philosophical treatise, and 50% psychological horror story - left me with a strange disjointed mix of information and emotion in its wake. I gave it a 4-star rating because of the uncanny amount of personal overlap I had with the narrator, who was also a molecular biologist, a philosopher driven by his thoughts (though sometimes to the point of what his peers would call madness), went to the University of Illinois, and had a Initial Thoughts: This book - 50% motorcycle repair/travel manual, 50% philosophical treatise, and 50% psychological horror story - left me with a strange disjointed mix of information and emotion in its wake. I gave it a 4-star rating because of the uncanny amount of personal overlap I had with the narrator, who was also a molecular biologist, a philosopher driven by his thoughts (though sometimes to the point of what his peers would call madness), went to the University of Illinois, and had a passion for motorbikes. However, life coincidences aside, this book was the first in my experience to have spelled out a satisfactory resolve to the tension between Aristotelian and Platonic thought that has been raging since the birth and through the rebirth of these movements throughout history. It did take a long time in developing the idea, and the reader should expect to be confusedly left hanging for a majority of the book. As much as this detracts from the philosophical treatise, it adds to the suspense/thriller aspect of the next plot device though... As prefaced early in the book, this story has little to do with either Zen or motorcycle maintenance. Aside from its philosophical or practical facets though, the book has an underlying plot of a ghost story which outlines a person haunted by his former persona who was removed by force of electroconvulsive "therapy." His ghost of a self revisits him both to haunt and bestow what seem to him as clairvoyant encounters, though probably more like the instantaneous foreknowledge that one has of his surroundings at the beginning of a dream. All the while, our protagonist simultaneously runs away from and chases toward his past. All in all, I learned a lot about the correct mentality to have when approaching DIY motorcycle repair; I was markedly chilled by the encounters with the ghost of Phaedrus; and Last, I was given the missing piece to the puzzle of philosophical cultural analysis that I have been missing for the better part of the last decade. This book is not what you think it will be, so I can at least guarantee that you will be in for a surprise.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Thomas Burg

    One of my all time favorite books. A++. A hard read, but worth it. The book in a single word: life is about QUALITY.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Maid4life

    My husband bugged me to read this book. What a disappointment. The author obviously thinks he has a handle on what life is all about, so he uses his main character to spout a plethera of lofty philosophical mumbo jumbo. He thinks he's "waxing eloquent", but it comes across as arogant, egotistical and someone who loves to hear themselves talk, thinking all the time they are imparting pearls of wisdom to all who remain awake while he's doing so. My husband bugged me to read this book. What a disappointment. The author obviously thinks he has a handle on what life is all about, so he uses his main character to spout a plethera of lofty philosophical mumbo jumbo. He thinks he's "waxing eloquent", but it comes across as arogant, egotistical and someone who loves to hear themselves talk, thinking all the time they are imparting pearls of wisdom to all who remain awake while he's doing so.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul Gibson

    A very informative book. This book probes the philosophical influences underlying Pirsig's book. This book is to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as Wisdom's Hiding Place is to The Oxbow Revelation. This book reads like an introduction to philosophy that is written in such a way as to be accessible to the interested lay reader. I do, however, think that the information on Taoism is weak. Be aware that about half of the book consists of book reviews and the like. A very informative book. This book probes the philosophical influences underlying Pirsig's book. This book is to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as Wisdom's Hiding Place is to The Oxbow Revelation. This book reads like an introduction to philosophy that is written in such a way as to be accessible to the interested lay reader. I do, however, think that the information on Taoism is weak. Be aware that about half of the book consists of book reviews and the like.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Greg Loughnane

    The book in 3 sentences: This guidebook creates a lens to be "seen through," in contrast to the experience of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance itself, which is a journey to be "lived through." True to form, the guidebook provides a literal map of the motorcycle trip, as well as a chronology of the story, before surveying the most relevant aspects of both eastern and western philosophy in pocket-sized chunks that all point to much larger volumes and bodies of work for the interested reade The book in 3 sentences: This guidebook creates a lens to be "seen through," in contrast to the experience of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance itself, which is a journey to be "lived through." True to form, the guidebook provides a literal map of the motorcycle trip, as well as a chronology of the story, before surveying the most relevant aspects of both eastern and western philosophy in pocket-sized chunks that all point to much larger volumes and bodies of work for the interested reader. The book then proceeds to detail a number of excellent passages that were ultimately cut out of the original manuscript, before turning to the letter that Pirsig wrote to Robert Redford about his personal take on how the movie (that was never made) should be shot, at which point the guidebook culminates in 100+ densely packed pages of critical reception (and associated bibliography). My personal commentary in 3 sentences: If ZAMM served as an intro or re-intro to taking philosophy seriously for you (as it certainly did for me), this book is invaluable; and, while it's pretty damn difficult reading, I can attest that it's more than worth the time it will take you to go through cover-to-cover. Even without the critical reception pieces it will open up new worlds to you and give you confidence to investigate them further, but if you take the extra time to seriously hear out Pirsig's detractors and supporters (many of whom are unbelievably well read), your mind will most certainly be blown (I feel like mine exploded with some of the stuff that people came up with). Lastly, there's also a gem of a dialogue written out by the authors between Phaedrus, a sophist, Plato, Nietzsche, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, William James, Heraclitus, and Chickenman that is can't miss and, if you can actually understand the whole thing, then it's safe to say that you're a ZAMM master.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tom Huguelet

    I had started this Guidebook several times, as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance might be my favorite book ever. Seems I could never get the Ox out of the Market. Having been educated by Jesuits myself, the organization of the book and the deeper analyses felt familiar. The book is a bit of a hodge-podge. It seemed quite similar to some of my college textbooks. The latter part of the book is more a bibliography of other critiques, references, and resources. I found it interesting to read I had started this Guidebook several times, as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance might be my favorite book ever. Seems I could never get the Ox out of the Market. Having been educated by Jesuits myself, the organization of the book and the deeper analyses felt familiar. The book is a bit of a hodge-podge. It seemed quite similar to some of my college textbooks. The latter part of the book is more a bibliography of other critiques, references, and resources. I found it interesting to read contemporaneous critiques. I'm glad I returned to this, as it does reveal some patterns and relationships that a reader of ZatAoMM might only sense and not consciously acknowledge. I would say that this book is hardly a "page-turner", but is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to consider ZatAoMM as fully and deeply as possible.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Farid Azar

    It is a classic philosophy book. Great read and very insightful. Yet, sometimes the stories were too much.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    This was not a terrible book. I found a few different insights that I think were stated very eloquently. At the same time, I found there were several points where I was confused. For example, part of this journey is for this chautauqua. Yet what is that supposed to mean? Is he actually talking to people or just thinking to himself? Most of that thinking is just recalling things from before, so I don't get what he's actually doing. I also found a lot of the philosophical arguments to be confusing. This was not a terrible book. I found a few different insights that I think were stated very eloquently. At the same time, I found there were several points where I was confused. For example, part of this journey is for this chautauqua. Yet what is that supposed to mean? Is he actually talking to people or just thinking to himself? Most of that thinking is just recalling things from before, so I don't get what he's actually doing. I also found a lot of the philosophical arguments to be confusing. The tirades on quality became too abstract, to the point of making no sense. I understand that's kind of the point, as it symbolizes the descent into madness, but then the book becomes impossible to read. I think overall the author did a good job combining the present day, past, and philosophy into a single read, but could've done a better job at pacing toward the end.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Raydar

    I was a philosophy major, so this is just what I was looking for: Detailed elucidations of the philosophical disciplines, thinkers, and theories Pirsig spoke of and drew upon, and a chance to keep being steeped in the thought-provoking stew of Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Lila, even though this book is not *by* Pirsig.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Walker

    This book was a bit too philosophical for me.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Suza

    Gave up half way.....not feeling it

  12. 5 out of 5

    Clay

    After going on my first group ride this past weekend I can relate to the author's romanticizing of taking the road less-traveled. After going on my first group ride this past weekend I can relate to the author's romanticizing of taking the road less-traveled.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Reuel

    A really good book for the culture of the era.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Larry Chaves

    Take out the Zen and the motorcycle maintenance parts of this book and it would be a far better story. The afterward is actually my favorite part.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tim Chizmar

    Fun fun fun

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ron Beyer

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jillian Kent

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robert Sullivan

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

  20. 4 out of 5

    Dan P. Luethje

  21. 5 out of 5

    Souvanny

  22. 5 out of 5

    Zeineddine Daher

  23. 5 out of 5

    Theodore Koinis

  24. 4 out of 5

    Owen Trickey

  25. 4 out of 5

    Scott WItte

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jaime

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  28. 5 out of 5

    Megan

  29. 5 out of 5

    Matija

  30. 4 out of 5

    Terry

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