Finding one’s life goal is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Even though we want clear directions, that doesn’t always pan out as one might have hoped.
This book speaks about a long and meaningful journey which laid the groundwork for fundamental alteration.
Let’s go through the key takeaways!
Who Should Read “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”? And Why?
During the reading session of this 20th-century classic, we were on the verge of backing down the whole time. The reason was obvious – not knowing what picture succeeds the previous one.
To some extent, we loved the excitement and anticipation, and that’s why we recommend “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” to all knowledge-thirty seekers.
Robert M. Pirsig Biography
Robert M. Pirsig was indeed a philosophical icon of the 20th century.
He passed away on April 24th, 2017, at the age of 88 and left a legacy of written texts, which will remain a source of inspiration for new generations.
They key leitmotif throughout this 1974 novel, is the long motorcycle trip whose symbolic essence gave birth to ideas about the new way of life. So, instead of parsing sentence-by-sentence, one should advocate for confluence between Western and Eastern civilization to sympathize with Robert’s message.
The central premise tackles the rather superficial lifestyle, which can be improved through a series of reforms.
The narrative is in the first person, and it widely encompasses the trip scheme while reminiscing about the narrator’s past which abounds with interesting encounters.
The storyline commences with Chris revving up his motorcycle engine alongside John Sutherland and Sylvia (his wife). They are headed toward the Dakotas, and the weather turns bad. Dark clouds emerge above their heads and herald a rainstorm.
The narrator recalls a trip to Canada which resulted in a heavy rainstorm. He and Chris end up soaking wet because they forgot to dig a trench to support their tent. The bad motorcycle condition was just icing on the cake for them, and it only aggravated the problem even further.
What could have happened on that perilous journey – they wonder? He nails down this story in order to stay sharp if things go south once again. In the meantime, John says that they’ve veered off course, and need to adjust their route.
The crew takes a quick break at Hague to refuel and ask for directions. What shocks them the most is the fact that “Bismarck and Mobridge” are nowhere nearby. Even their existence is called into question. John believes that heading south to Mobridge might be their best chance. They take some time off to think and weigh their options at Herried.
Upon reaching Mobridge, they cross the river and go inland. The Narrator notices a shift in John’s perception of life, as it becomes more into line with the objective reality rather than embracing false imagery painted by the creative mind.
This mind-switch is even labeled as the Chautauqua point.
They make headway in their long journey, as they move toward Bowman during a sweltering heat wave whereas the crew comes across an old stockman. The narrator shows glimpses of adoration for this man’s conduct and embraces some tips on how to tame the mind.
The Phaedrus’ knife becomes the central hypothesis in this process as the narrator leans on the analogy of sorting the sand into piles in order to exemplify the analytical urges of the mind.
The Narrator’s objective hangs in the balance as a realization struck like a bolt of lightning. Too much analyzing can hasten your demise, and drain the life out of you. As they traverse the Marmarth region, they wind up at Montana.
The Phaedrus story emerges again, as the Narrator pinpoints that he lost his mind, and in order to get an aerial perspective of his life, one must put itself in its shoes. However, that’s easier said than done.
In Chapter 8, the narrator leads into a beautiful description of their mission in Miles City. It’s early in the morning, and they can’t seem to get enough rest due to the restless strives in the past few days.
The Narrator turns over to repairing its motorcycle and associates the scrutinization of the spark plugs with some religious deity.
The need for materials and precise equipment evokes a reaction from the narrator. This instrumental hierarchy reminds him of everyday concepts and how complex systems consist of these small elements and inject fire into the systematic way of thinking.
Upon fixing the motorcycle, he ponders about Phaedrus’ insights lodged into his photographic memory which was partly the reason for his demise. The Narrator keeps the ball rolling by highlighting the schools in which Phaedrus instilled a sense of organization.
Next day, the narrator is awakened by the morning breeze that sparks them to continue their voyage south through Yellowstone Park. They devise a route which will help them to reach Bozeman by crossing the fields of the Red Lodge.
The Narrator keeps the excitement in the air by sharing more of Phaedrus military career, and his daily encounters in Korea. The pursuit of truth and independence helped him to establish liberty, but at what cost?
As they approach Bozeman, the Narrator senses the tension in the air, fueled by inner turbulence. Their timidity doesn’t go unnoticed, as they ponder about turning back. Phaedrus’ mindset is still the subject of their discussions as they discuss the political impasse present in his days on campus.
During those times, Phaedrus conveyed mind-blowing words regarding the disparity between professors being labeled as employees and protectors of the truth. His igniting speech has stretched to various circles but didn’t circumvent the problem.
His behavior receives positive critics, but the impulsive fanaticism in terms of expression jeopardized the broad picture. The narrator takes a step further by attributing the lack of faith to anxiety and low self-esteem.
In the next chapter, the narrator puts him and Chris in the spotlight. They hit the road with an intention in mind to climb the mountains near the DeWeese. On the voyage, they ruminate on the spiritual connection with nature while remaining acutely aware of their surroundings.
Phaedrus is once again at the center of their thoughts, as they puzzle over his concept of quality.
They stumble upon two phases, which were brought to life by Phaedrus.
- Phase 1: No definition of Quality and lot of flexibility
- Phase 2: Rigid definition – impairing his thinking potential and destroying his life.
By drilling deep into Phase 1, the narrator bumps into the methodology of teaching which consists of genuine engagement and flexibility. Whereas the second Phase brings about contumacy as a way of perception which conflicts the receptive cognitive abilities of the students.
Next chapter opens up with thoughts regarding the statements and analysis conducted by Phaedrus. The narrator explains the process by providing a psychological overlook of Phaedrus’ tendencies. If you don’t define something, you are giving it a wide berth to crop up in different shapes and forms.
Chris’ indifference regarding the hike, adds to the Narrator’s outrage. Upon restraining himself, the narrator pays close heed to Phaedrus recent insightful revolution according to which Realism can justify Quality.
This finding led Phaedrus into believing that Quality is the only obstacle standing in the way of pure rationality. The attributes you give to Quality are meaningless in terms of getting the hang of the world to the maximum extent.
The narrator dreams of being in a white-painted room and facing his family members who are disposed on the other corner of the same room. He is disturbed by this nightmare, and upon awakening, Chris tells him that he had been “vocal” all night long.
He is worried that this scenario could lead him astray. Meanwhile, he is on the fence regarding the possibility of Chris dreaming, and him going nuts. Despite all the polemics, the narrator decides to forge ahead with the hike while overlooking the plan for rehydration.
In an effort to rejuvenate spiritually, he unwittingly starts the discussion about Quality. Phaedrus was the latest to succumb to this impulse which was a one-way ticket to disaster. While descending the mountain, they decide to take a breather and get some snack.
Chris, however, becomes increasingly aware of the Narrator’s paranoia and even proposes that he should be the one carrying the heavy load. As they mull over the metaphysical aspects of thinking, they come across a thick bush and are compelled to make their way through it.
The narrator elaborates on the exact correlation between Quality and Religion, and that a possible confluence could be the essence of “good.” While at it, he argues that value-free science has no place in the modern understanding of philosophy.
Upon descending from the mountains, they settle down at Bozeman and spend a night in a hotel.
As the storyline heathens up, the Narrator enters the depths of technological artifacts and make remarks on the basis for laying out these claims. In his opinion, the artifacts are not subjected to the proper Quality evaluation process.
To prove his point, the Narrator enlightens us by explaining the inseparable connection between technology and art. He finds it challenging to impugn the effectiveness of modern technology while advocating for Quality technology, like the wall in Korea.
The degradation that occurs is due to the existence and legacy of value-free thinking. Following after this discussion is their arrival in White Bird. They come to the conclusion that following the Salmon River would be their best option, regardless of the heavy traffic.
They set foot in Riggins, and are compelled to traverse the forest in an effort to reach Dew Meadows. The narrator is consistent in its intention to expose the value-free issue while trying to interpret the dream he had some time ago.
Chris however, takes some time off to write a letter to his mom. It seems like Chris is no longer brimming with excitement, and anxiety slowly starts to take over. Upon arriving at Dayville, they brush against the owner of the station, who helps them find some decent place to spend the night.
They indulge in a friendly and profound conversation.
At this point, he has little choice but to disclose the Phaedrus’ story to the full extent. This process entails interpretation of Greek Philosophy and their methods of scrutinizing the ideas. Prior to going too deep into this topic, they decide to take a quick break and head over to La Pine for a meal.
The next morning, Chris is awakened to help with the chores while the Narrator embarks on a quest to locate a chain guard.
His efforts don’t bear fruit, as he heads back home and enjoys a meal accompanied by Chris. They decide to try their luck elsewhere, as they mark California as their next destination.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance Epilogue
The last three chapters are filled with ambivalence. As they have a meal, a sense of discomfort permeates the air, and on the way over to Chicago, they stumble upon the Platonic dialogue of Phaedrus.
In the meantime, Phaedrus gets a motivational boost to continue with unraveling its baffling mysteries. Also, this makes him feel invincible and dominant to the degree that he believes a solution to the metaphysical puzzle is nearby.
They are headed toward San Francisco on a rainy and cloudy day. The narrator exerts himself to find a motel and finally manages to locate one. This ultimately triggers the last discourse.
From a philosophical standpoint, the Narrator realizes that it’s not easy to integrate technology with humanistic elements in pursuit of the perfect lifestyle.
The plot comes to an end, as the narrator understands that Chris craves for Phaedrus and his theories.
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“Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance PDF Quotes”The place to improve the world is first in one's own heart and head and hands and then work outward from there. Click To Tweet When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion, it is called a Religion. Click To Tweet You look at where you're going and where you are, and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you've been, and a pattern seems to emerge. Click To Tweet Not if you have the right attitudes. It's having the right attitudes that’s hard. Click To Tweet If someone's ungrateful and you tell him he's ungrateful, okay, you've called him a name. You haven't solved anything. Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
This is not an easy-going book, and you to be at your very best to understand the core message contained in it.
But don’t let this discourage you from taking the fast-track to insightful breakthroughs.