I offered to write this book review as a result of my own recent experiences during a solo expedition around Australia and Thailand. My introduction to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance occurred when I was in about eighth grade. A classmate suggested the book, so I asked my mom to purchase it for me. I started the book several times, but found it so abstract and technical. The copy moved to my college dorm room with me, still unread, then to my apartments over the next 15 years. As I was packing up my belongings to store while I travelled for four months, I separated the book from the others, thinking, “Maybe I will finally read it on this trip.” The circumstances under which I embarked on the trip couldn’t have provided a better parallel to the struggles of the author/narrator. Because of its philosophical density, I’ve extracted just a few themes on which to base our discussion.
“You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming.” Every trip you take progresses along a physical journey, but the mental journey is just as relevant. In the span of the story, though it didn’t last very long, the author’s thoughts and mental awareness deepen the more detached he is from reality. I liken this process to immersing yourself in the culture as you travel. You can be a tourist or you can be a traveler. At one point during the story, as the narrator and Chris delve into remote, backwoods camping, I became concerned with his sanity, or the devolution thereof. There is a fine line between immersion and complete isolation from the familiar and the erosion of your normal thought process. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was the perfect companion on my recent journey, which provided the time to ponder these themes of everyday life.
"Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig: ANOTHER road trip story: a man's first-person narrationof his 17-day journey from Minnesota to California. If there's anything women are worse at than driving, it's reading about driving. Also, women don't drive motorcycles!