Saturday, July 31, 2010

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I can't say that it has changed the way I think about my life, but I am happy to have read it, I'll give it that much.

What was great: the stuff on motorcycle maintenance, the personal story between the author and his son, and the descriptions of the landscapes and natural landmarks on their trip.

What got to be too much for me: The on and on about Phaedrus. I understand that much of this was about this man's journey not only on the bike, but to figure things out in his head (had had been previously treated in a mental hospital), but I have to confess, toward the end I really had to flip through a lot of the philosophical chapters because they just went on forever and there was nothing I could grasp onto. Hell, I didn't even realize he was talking about himself (Phaedrus) until about halfway through, big dummy I am. . .

Much like with Main Street, though, I am grateful to have kept on with it, because the ending was everything. I was hopeful for a redemption, a connection with the son, even a dialogue that would smooth things over, but man, I didn't expect what actually happened (it was good, I think). It made me sad to read in the introduction that his son had since been killed; it definitely would have been a different, more naive reading experience had I skipped the intro, which is something I commonly do. I think every reader will get their own something different out of this novel, I encourage us all to go for it, there are many gems to be found:

"'Peace of mind isn't at all superficial, really,' I expound. 'It's the whole thing. That which produces it is good maintenance; that which disturbs it is poor maintenance. What we call workability of the machine is just an objectification of this peace of mind. The ultimate test's always your own serenity. If you don't have this when you start and maintain it while you're working, you're likely to build your personal problems right into the machine itself.'"

(!!!) I enjoyed little things like these.

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