Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance explores some concepts that I have briefly considered but certainly passed over without considering deeply. Subtitled ‘An Inquiry into Values,’ Pirsig spends a great deal of the book examining the idea of quality and whether it is objective or subjective or neither or both. This strikes at an issue many of us have, specifically when arguing or discussing the value of some piece of artistic output. While some may argue that the quality of art is completely subjective, almost everyone agrees that there exists some art that is objectively superior or inferior to other art. He probes these ideas deeply.
Aside from that the book employs a nice narrative and Pirsig deftly describes the American landscape— collective consciousness as well as the physical beauty. Here are some quotes that I enjoyed:
“The past only exists in our memory, the future only exists in our plans. The present is our only reality.”
“You want to to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.”
“We always condemn in others that which we most fear in ourselves.”