Monday, December 16, 2013
2013 Book Review: "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig
While perusing for a book for this month's newsletter, I came across many "top 10" lists for entrepreneurial reads. "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" appeared on so many of them that my curiosity was sparked.
"Zen" tells the story of a man, presumably the author, and his son, Chris, who take a motorcycle journey from Minnesota to California. It becomes a search for a mentor named Phraedus, who, come to find out, is the narrator in his past life. The story is less about the trip itself and more about the musings of the main character as he makes his journey. Pirsig debates his Metaphysics of Quality theory, basically what makes something "good" and how it can be quantified as such.
Early on, Pirsig describes the act of reading as a central interest between the father and son. The way they approach books is to read a few sentences at a time, pondering and discussing them before moving on to the next few sentences. It is interesting to relate that to "Zen" itself, as each paragraph description may be discussing motorcycles, the countryside, or his approach on issues in relation to their traveling companions, John and Sylvia Sutherland. However, it is clear that though this is the surface material, each description can be thought of as an approach to life itself.
Following my act of reading this book in a week would not be my recommended approach. Take your time. Savor each page. Reflect. Read this in a book club, and all members could come away with a different idea of the true story, due to the theories presented in relation to personal morals and values.
Yes, entrepreneurs should read "Zen," as they have chosen their own path, and may understand better than others the balance of Pirsig's Metaphysics of Quality. However, those from all walks of life can truly relate.