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am 1. November 1999
There's really nothing more I can say. Trying to describe the effect this book's had on me is useless... it's far too great, far too powerful, far too unbelievable to put into words.
Perhaps I've read more into this book that was warranted... So be it. I fully realize that there are those out there who claim Pirsig is an unintelligible hack who got lucky, and others who aren't so vicious but who agree that Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence is not what the "hype" said it was... but it doesn't matter. This book represents so many things to me. I _care_ about it. And I've learned to care about other things. Some would scoff at the use of the word "care" in this way, because they fall back on the easy to use and ultimately ridiculous view that such "new age, baby boomer/twenty something spirituality" is empty and fake. But I _care_ now, I understand Quality in all its infinite forms. This book has done so much for me....
See? I even began this review by saying "there's not much I can say," but Pirsig's book has drawn me in yet again.
Read this book. Cherish this book. The two go hand in hand, so just do the former first, and the latter will inevitable happen of its own accord.
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am 15. März 1999
My 10-year-old son asked me what I wanted for Christmas last year, and I suggested two books I had known about for 20 years or more, but had never actually read: "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac, and "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert Pirsig. He got them both for me, and now, at age 47, I've read them both. Kerouac's book is a breathless, almost endless series of cross-country treks, written in a continuous "present" with little concept of a past or future.
"Zen", in contrast, is a book I wish I had read years ago, knowing full well I would not have understood or appreciated it until now. Pirsig's literary journey is careful and methodical, painstakingly documenting both the physical landscape through which he and his son are riding, and the elaborate philosophical landscape through which humanity has traveled in the last several millennia. It is a history of philosophy which ultimately rejects much of the Aristotelian analysis underlying Western scientific method. I hated philosophy and theology in college, for a variety of reasons, and wish I had this guidebook (and 40+ years of experience) handy as I sat through Metaphysics. Pirsig makes clear the seminal importance of many of the competing ideas of Eastern and Western philosophy, in ways I don't think any of my college professors could have. On a more personal note, Pirsig develops his complex line of thought while traversing the American west with his son Chris on the back of his motorcycle. His discourse with the reader is extensive, highly emotional and intensely personal, while his interaction with his son is almost non-existent. More than once I wanted to yell at Pirsig to stop the bike and talk to Chris instead, only to realize that my own conversations with my own son Chris were, in many ways, similarly perfunctory and self-limiting. In my opinion, no one can read this book without gaining some insight into their own soul, their own values and their place in the world.
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I read this book as a psychology undergrad at age 20 and thought it was about mental illness. I read it again as a software analyst at age 30 and found that it's about quality, and that it contains relevant, useful, and powerful tools for solving quality problems in the real world.
The alienation with technology that Pirsig addresses is a bigger problem than ever. "Dummies" books are best sellers, and "web sites that suck" is a popular web site. The digital revolution is fraught with real-world quality problems, and Pirsig's metaphysics gives insight to their root causes. His metaphysics is of sound philosophical construct, and that's why it still works decades later.
The book is not about Zen, art, or motorcycles, so please don't mind the title. The protagonist is a rhetorician. The title is a rhetorical tool. Pirsig defines a "classic-romantic split" that explains why we have so many technology products that are more frustrating than useful. He argues that quality can't be found in objects (products) or subjects (critics), which explains why evaluating quality is difficult.
I'm reading it again this summer at age 37, and it's helping me rebuild my world view in response to the changing times, which is the primary useful value of philosophy. Next, I'm going to re-read the sequel, "Lila" which, despite its less interesting plot, has an even better explication of the "metaphysics of quality" than ZAMM.
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am 12. Juni 1998
The book is revolutionary and has a certain timelessness about it. It is revolutionary as it questions the very essence on which our systems and beliefs are founded. It articulates a very strong case for the so called 'out of box' thinking and very logically picks holes in our current methodology of instruction and analysis. I read the book for the first time as a student some ten years back, and have read it about 5 times ever since. As a teacher, I found the section on 'grades' particularly useful and enlightening. Pirsig's analysis of the shortcomings of the present educational system is very succinct and strikes at the very root of our way of thinking and analysis. The book makes a very strong case for a definitive paradigm shift that shall help us to face the challenges of the coming century. In a lot of ways, the book is philosophical and some passages tend to be very heavy. Readers are advised to also go through the very thoroughly researched and well written guidebook that was presented to me by one of my American friends when he heard me recite an entire passage from the book verbatim sitting in a bar!! 'The Turning Point' by Fritjof Capra also makes a very similar point but his approach is more matter of fact and 'historical', Pirsig's is intuitive and compellingly sincere. Take your time over it, skip the difficult passages at first go, finish it once and you are bound to get back to it again and again. Happy reading. Mohit Misra Asian Institute Of Management, Philippines.
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am 10. Februar 1997
As a philosopher, Pirsig has gained very little recognition, even though his book has been around for 23 years. You will not find his name or his work anywhere within philosophical encyclopedias, or any other kind of encyclopedia for that matter. I've wondered for many years why that is the case. It is true that the Metaphysics of Quality is not very compatible with most of the great Western philosophies, but nonetheless, I've found it incredible in scope, vision and depth. It is a book which contains principles applicable to almost anyone, anywhere, anytime here on earth, and its applicability owes much to the fact that it is very simple to read, though the ideas it explores - especially when dealing with Kant and Poincare - can become mind-boggling; fortunately this is not the case when it discusses Quality. It is true that Pirsig can sound rather sophistic at times, everyone, even the revered Socrates and Plato, are guilty of that. What really matters is that on the whole, Pirsig can hardly fail to deeply affect anyone who reads him with an open mind. Love it or hate it, this is definitely one of the most important books of the century, if not of all civilization
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am 28. Dezember 1996
I don't usually recommend stuff lightly...Neither do I
write to urge people to spend money... Zen and the art of motorcyckle maintanance is not a book that is easily reviewed.
If you are looking for thrilling action, you should look for another title, this book might not please you at this time in life.
But it is , by far, the most comprehensive book of living ever written. Everyone should take the time to read it at least once in a lifetime.
It might take a while to grasp all the "consepts" of the author. But they are worth pondering, over and over again!
I have read it half a dozen times...And I will read it again!
I am a teacher for grades one through seven , from Pitea in Sweden. We have had many discussions about
"quality" and "what is important in life" , based on the contents of this book among my colleagues.

If you ever wondered about why things are the way they are, or what REALLY matters, or why your neighbor wont wear anything but name brand-
clothing...Try reading Zen and the art of motorcycle maintanance...It's not easily read, But I can't recommend it enough //JOUNI
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am 23. September 1999
I liked this book very much. I give it a 4, rather than a 5 simply because I have a few minor structural or stylistic complaints.
To me it was a novel and successful approach to bring the philosophical ranting and daily life together, as well as find connecting links between religion, art and science. I think, for example, that ZAMM does a better and more beautiful job at it then Hofstadter's "Goedel, Echer, Bach".
I was particularly interested to read negative criticism for the book by readers here at Amazon. I wasn't happy with them. A score of ad hominem attacks on Pirsig, from people who are either bored with this kind of non-academic or philosophical stuff or were looking for a tractate on Zen, a manual for motorcycle maintenance, or a doctoral dissertation in philosophy.
This book is neither, and perhaps that was exactly the point of it. I am really open for someone to rip this book apart, to show that it does not have Quality. They could start, for example, by telling us what Quality is.
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am 10. Januar 1999
This book was recommended to me by a friend whose opinion I respect. For this reason I read all the way to the end feeling all the way like I was flogging a dead philosophy. There were a few illuminating moments, but very few and not enough to justify the rapturous treatment given to it by my friend and other reviewers.
Obviously, the rapturous readers are getting something from the book of value and that is great. Now you've had just a hint of the real thing, you'll be blown away when you start reading books written by those with a more masterful approach. For those interested in the philosophy of science touched on by Mr Pirsig try "The Matter Myth" by physicist Paul Davies, just in case you thought all scientists were beholden to logical positivism or naive scientism. Try "Marriage of Sense and Sensibility" by Ken Wilber if you want to see the world only marginally hinted at by Mr Pirsig with his concept of Quality.
And never trust authors who seek authority for their pet ideas by Capitalising!
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am 20. Juli 2000
It did to our narrator. But what a tale he tells! It seems that most of the reviews of this book revolve around the obvious lessons. But like Allen Bloom's "Closing of the American Mind," if you are not grounded in classic education you will wind up like me, wondering what this book is really about. The motorcycle analogy, like parables, tells a story with a hidden message that portends to be spiritual. While the meaning of our lives from an eternal perspective is danced around, it is not the central message of the tome, which I find it's weakness. I feel the author is looking for answers in the intellect, but they are only available in the soul. The quest for quality in life is a worthwhile journey that we all will account for someday, and this book will benefit all those who care to ponder the journey.
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am 1. April 1998
(with apologies to Pirandello)
Isn't it lucky that Zen patriarchs tend to be an enlightened lot, with an active sense of humour? If they weren't, I have no doubt they would sue Pirsig for libel. What this book contains is all the froth and gibber that you have to dispose of before you can discover Zen.
People have a habit of saying that books they like 'changed their life', and this book gets a lot of that. Personally, I find that any book worth reading will change my life. This one didn't.
Zen and the Art of Lacklustre Hippiedom has all the philosophical insight of Sophie's World, and all the entertainment value of the Boston Telephone Directory. So yes, I suppose it has some redeeming virtues.
In short, a best seller.
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