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Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: Gateway To The Great Minds

1512 words - 6 pages

Peace of mind isn't at all superficial, really, I expound. It's the whole thing. That which  

produces it is good Maintenance; that which disturbs it is poor maintenance. What we call

workability of the machine is just an objectification of this peace of mind. The ultimate

test is always your own serenity. If you don't have this when you start and maintain it while

your working, you're likely to build your personal problems right into the machine itself.

(Pirsig 146)

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, from which this quote is taken, is a complex story written by Robert Pirsig about a narrator's inquiry into the past intellectual and personal life of the man he once was before a complete nervous breakdown caused by the futile search for the definition of the word "Quality" changed his entire life. This intricate array of flashbacks, theories, analysis, proofs and anecdotes combines the present life of the narrator, and Pheadrus, the only name given to the man's past self, during a modern day cross country motorcycle trip with the narrators son, as well as another couple who accompany them. The book, however, is merely not just a novel, but instead a "owners manual for the soul", written by Pirsig in an attempt to prevent what happened to the narrator from ever happening to the readers of this book.

The entire basis of this book deals with communicating from both character to character, and narrator to reader, on a very high cerebral level. Because of this analytic quality of the book, the most important events also take place on such a high level. In fact, the major theme of the novel, that of the narrator searching for his past self, as well as the cognitive change between the "two" men, takes place solely on a mental and psychological basis. There is no actual physical change occurring, but without this change of thought, the book would be nothing more than a description of a cross country motorcycle trip. Further, this book is one of ideas more then plot. Although it accomplishes its's task, that of giving concepts for the reader to think about, it remains without the traditional aspects of a novel. Despite the lack of material plot, however, the author still writes the book in a fascinating and captivating way, retaining the reader through the use of description, plot arrangement, and theory explanation.

Description is crucial element in every piece of literary significance, and although this novel is not of traditional means, it too rely heavily on description to portray it's message. There are two types of description that are evident in this book: that of scenic quality and that of theory explanation. The latter will be covered at a later time, but the former, begin evident the most frequent in the book, must not procrastinated. Details prove to be important in the book. Whether they be details of what the narrator is carrying with him on his motorcycle trip, or small details of the...

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