ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE by Robert M. Pirsig

ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE

An Inquiry Into Values

KIRKUS REVIEW

            Twenty-eight electroshock treatments were required to bring Pirsig back from the realms beyond Reason where, in hot pursuit of the nature of Quality, he “saw too much.”  As a precocious student of chemistry and philosophy and later as a teacher of rhetoric, Pirsig set himself the problem of resolving the dialectical nature of Western thought on its own rational terms (the title of this book notwithstanding), and eventually found himself, strange to say, with a mind divided against itself.  Now as a writer of technical manuals and an amateur mechanic, he is trying to heal the schism on a summer motorcycle trip with his high-strung young son who has been diagnosed as having “the beginning symptoms of mental illness.”  The journal of their travels is integrated with what he calls the “Chautauqua,” a discourse on the obsessive development of the highly abstract personal philosophy that led to the author’s withdrawal from public reality.  From all appearances, Quality still has the upper hand over such mundane matters as paternity – the presence of Aristotle and Plato is more strongly felt than the character of the boy, which remains shadowy.  Pirsig’s arguments are as incisive and absorbing as his drastic fate would indicate, and the elements of the story hang together in a reified, disturbing autobiography of a body/mind duality incarnate.

Pub Date: April 15th, 1974
ISBN: 0060839872
Page count: 468pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1974




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