advertisement
Forums

The Forum is sponsored by 
 

AAPL stock: Click Here

You are currently viewing the Tips and Deals forum
Robert M. Pirsig of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies.
Posted by: artie67
Date: April 24, 2017 06:40PM
Author of a book I've known about and never read.
I'll let the forum fill in. From NPR...
[www.npr.org]
Options:  Reply • Quote
Re: Robert M. Pirsig of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies.
Posted by: cbelt3
Date: April 24, 2017 07:09PM
It was a beautiful book, and a heartfelt glimpse into mental illness just as psychopharmacology was going mainstream and accessible. RIP indeed.
Options:  Reply • Quote
Re: Robert M. Pirsig of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies.
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: April 24, 2017 07:10PM
Still use a one-page excerpt from "Zen and..." for classes I teach on writing.

"Lila," his other book has been on my list for quite a while. It's now on my Hold list at the library.

Todd's my-heart-has-joined-the-Hundred keyboard
Options:  Reply • Quote
Re: Robert M. Pirsig of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies.
Posted by: space-time
Date: April 24, 2017 08:21PM
At least it's not our Robert M! For a second there I was scared...
Options:  Reply • Quote
Re: Robert M. Pirsig of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies.
Posted by: robfilms
Date: April 24, 2017 08:40PM
"zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance" was a seminal book in my maturation process.

i remember the summer that i read it. it might have been on a high school reading list. it took me all of those eight weeks to read it. i read it very slowly, almost savoring the story all the while trying to understand the concept of the journey not simply the arrival.

when that book was done, i knew i was different. and so i was.

thank you mr. pirsig, may your many good deeds bring solace to your family and friends.

be well.

rob
Options:  Reply • Quote
Re: Robert M. Pirsig of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies.
Posted by: rgG
Date: April 24, 2017 09:02PM
I think I remember that the paperback came in many different colors. The one I had was orange,IIRC.





Roswell, GA (Atlanta suburb)
Options:  Reply • Quote
Re: Robert M. Pirsig of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies.
Posted by: davester
Date: April 24, 2017 09:16PM
That book spoke to me. I still have a copy.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan
Options:  Reply • Quote
Re: Robert M. Pirsig of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies.
Posted by: ka jowct
Date: April 24, 2017 10:10PM
I read it in grad school; one of my teachers was recommending it to all of us. I should read it again.
Options:  Reply • Quote
Re: Robert M. Pirsig of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies.
Posted by: lost in space
Date: April 25, 2017 12:05AM
That's sad. That book had a huge influence on my view of the world of craft, second to none.



Options:  Reply • Quote
Re: Robert M. Pirsig of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies.
Posted by: anonymouse1
Date: April 25, 2017 01:02AM
Very helpful of rme in graduate school.

One line I still use, something like, "The One in Greece and the One in Japan better be the same, or you don't have One, you have two."
Options:  Reply • Quote
Re: Robert M. Pirsig of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies.
Posted by: artie67
Date: April 25, 2017 01:38AM
After a few comments I had to order a used copy and give it a try.
We have a west coastal road trip this summer and we can both read it. My wife, the writer, will explain it to me and I will agree or not. We will see.
Options:  Reply • Quote
Re: Robert M. Pirsig of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies.
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: April 25, 2017 09:56AM
Below is an excerpt from "Zen and..."

The third-person male Pirsig refers to is himself as Phaedrus, the personality Pirsig assumed during a bout of mental instability that got him institutionalized.
________
from "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" by Robert M. Pirsig

Today now I want to take up the first phase of his journey into Quality, the nonmetaphysical phase, and this will be pleasant. It’s nice to start journeys pleasantly, even when you know they won’t end that way. Using his class notes as reference material I want to reconstruct the way in which Quality became a working concept for him in the teaching of rhetoric. His second phase, the metaphysical one, was tenuous and speculative, but this first phase, in which he simply taught rhetoric, was by all accounts solid and pragmatic and probably deserves to be judged on its own merits, independently of the second phase.

He’d been innovating extensively. He’d been having trouble with students who had nothing to say. At first he thought it was laziness but later it became apparent that it wasn’t. They just couldn’t think of anything to say.

One of them, a girl with strong-lensed glasses, wanted to write a five-hundred-word essay about the United States. He was used to the sinking feeling that comes from statements like this, and suggested without disparagement that she narrow it down to just Bozeman.

When the paper came due she didn’t have it and was quite upset. She had tried and tried but she just couldn’t think of anything to say.

He had already discussed her with her previous instructors and they’d confirmed his impressions of her. She was very serious, disciplined and hardworking, but extremely dull. Not a spark of creativity in her anywhere. Her eyes, behind the thick-lensed glasses, were the eyes of a drudge. She wasn’t bluffing him, she really couldn’t think of anything to say, and was upset by her inability to do as she was told.

It just stumped him. Now he couldn’t think of anything to say. A silence occurred, and then a peculiar answer: "Narrow it down to the main street of Bozeman." It was a stroke of insight.
She nodded dutifully and went out. But just before her next class she came back in real distress, tears this time, distress that had obviously been there for a long time. She still couldn’t think of anything to say, and couldn’t understand why, if she couldn’t think of anything about all of Bozeman, she should be able to think of something about just one street.

He was furious. "You’re not looking!" he said. A memory came back of his own dismissal from the University for having too much to say. For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses. The more you look the more you see. She really wasn’t looking and yet somehow didn’t understand this.

He told her angrily, "Narrow it down to the front of one building on the main street of Bozeman. The Opera House. Start with the upper left-hand brick."

Her eyes, behind the thick-lensed glasses, opened wide. She came in the next class with a puzzled look and handed him a five-thousand-word essay on the front of the Opera House on the main street of Bozeman, Montana. "I sat in the hamburger stand across the street," she said, "and started writing about the first brick, and the second brick, and then by the third brick it all started to come and I couldn’t stop. They thought I was crazy, and they kept kidding me, but here it all is. I don’t understand it."

Neither did he, but on long walks through the streets of town he thought about it and concluded she was evidently stopped with the same kind of blockage that had paralyzed him on his first day of teaching. She was blocked because she was trying to repeat, in her writing, things she had already heard, just as on the first day he had tried to repeat things he had already decided to say. She couldn’t think of anything to write about Bozeman because she couldn’t recall anything she had heard worth repeating. She was strangely unaware that she could look and see freshly for herself, as she wrote, without primary regard for what had been said before. The narrowing down to one brick destroyed the blockage because it was so obvious she had to do some original and direct seeing.

He experimented further. In one class he had everyone write all hour about the back of his thumb. Everyone gave him funny looks at the beginning of the hour, but everyone did it, and there wasn’t a single complaint about "nothing to say."

In another class he changed the subject from the thumb to a coin, and got a full hour’s writing from every student. In other classes it was the same. Some asked, "Do you have to write about both sides?" Once they got into the idea of seeing directly for themselves they also saw there was no limit to the amount they could say. It was a confidence-building assignment too, because what they wrote, even though seemingly trivial, was nevertheless their own thing, not a mimicking of someone else’s. Classes where he used that coin exercise were always less balky and more interested.

As a result of his experiments he concluded that imitation was a real evil that had to be broken before real rhetoric teaching could begin. This imitation seemed to be an external compulsion. Little children didn’t have it. It seemed to come later on, possibly as a result of school itself.
Options:  Reply • Quote
Re: Robert M. Pirsig of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies.
Posted by: btfc
Date: April 25, 2017 12:35PM
One of my favorite books ever. I have at least two copies, one as a loaner.

' Below is an excerpt from "Zen and..." '

I wondered what passage you use in your class!

There are several parts that I sometimes think of; the part about ego hiking, the beer can shim, and especially the part about "stuckness" that I quoted here:

[forums.macresource.com]



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/25/2017 12:36PM by btfc.
Options:  Reply • Quote
Re: Robert M. Pirsig of Zen & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance dies.
Posted by: Todd's keyboard
Date: April 25, 2017 12:47PM
The "beer can shim" is fantastic, both as a solution to a problem and a metaphor.

That piece about writing about one brick stuck in my memory for decades, and came in handy when I began teaching a writing class. I've used the writing-about-a-coin exercise and was happy with it

The other section that I found powerful was when Pirsig complained about having to go back and forth on a hike because his son Chris was not willing to carry his own backpack. The father grumbled to himself until he realized his goal that day was to go for a hike, and that's exactly what he was doing. It didn't matter that he was covering the same ground twice.

I've found that perspective useful many times.

The summer of '79 I moved to a somewhat rundown (at the time) section of San Francisco a couple of blocks from the SF Zen Center. Apparently Christopher (the son) was living at the Zen Center at the time. That fall I moved to Minnesota to begin grad school.

Never ran into him, and it was still a blow when I heard he had been stabbed one night that fall while going to the local corner store.
Options:  Reply • Quote
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login

Online Users

Guests: 348
Record Number of Users: 186 on February 20, 2020
Record Number of Guests: 2330 on October 25, 2018