With the recent passing of Robert Pirsig, author of the acclaimed book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” the world was reminded that the book sits alongside the best literature on travel writing, spirituality, and metaphysics. Now is a good time to revisit what this book generously offered in understanding concepts of Zen.
The book was the first of its kind when it came out, on the surface fostering the romanticized, carefree concerns of beat literature that the likes of Kerouac and Ginsberg likewise espoused. But it was more than just a travel book; outside the main plot involving the journey of the father and his son across America on a bike, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” delved into rich and prolonged discussions on Zen Buddhist perspectives.
At the heart of the storyline is a meditation on what Pirsig called “the metaphysics of quality.” The book gently inquires on values, pontificates on how science and art can reconcile if quality becomes the centerpiece of things. “Good is a noun,” the book insists, as it manifested attentiveness to both the mechanical and the spiritual in this world.
The author makes his main character work on his bike, deal with his son and co-travelers, and discuss philosophical concerns throughout the book— guided by the age-old adage that the journey is more important than the arrival.
Hello, the name’sDavid Turlington. I am a college student, majoring in theology. Religion is such a fascinating subject, especially when trying to understand the different cultural definitions of God and spirituality. For more of my writings on spirituality and belief systems, check out this blog.