Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

By Robert Pirsig

Robert Pirsig was computer manual creator, professor, and writer. He had an IQ of 170 and suffered a severe mental breakdown in his 30’s. He was diagnosed with Schizophrenia and subjected to electroshock therapy. This book is a slightly fictionalized autobiography.

In the book, the narrator (post-mental breakdown) and his son are on motorcycle road trip from Minneapolis to San Francisco. While riding the narrator performs lectures on motorcycle maintenance, philosophy, and how they blended together. The core narrative behind these lectures is how Aristotelian philosophy has dominated Western culture and how his pre-mental breakdown self created a new system of philosophy which ended up causing his eventual mental breakdown.

I found the book very interesting but since philosophy is not a major interest of mine I’m not sure I really absorbed what Pirsig was putting down. Perhaps I’ll have to come back to this book after doing some more reading and thinking of my own. This book has given me a ton to think about, even if I don’t grasp the whole point of the new system of philosophy Pirsig was describing.