May 1, 2008

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Today is May 1st, 2008, and here in Italy (yes, I’m here for 17 more days) it’s Labour’s Day Holiday. Since tomorrow is friday, many people took the chance to go away (sea, mountain, lake, whatever). Instead, I’m still here, in my small apartment near **Assisi (enjoy my [Creative-Commons photos**]( here on Flickr).

Surfing the internet, I stumbled upon this 1974 book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. (see what Wikipedia has to say, or read the full text online).

Robert Pirsig, the author, explains his own concept of Quality: non-intellectualizing, non-conceptualizing, Zen-like direct viewing of the universe. Logic, and Reason, still have an important role in seeking awareness and understanding, differently from the Asian “Zen” philosophy.

In the words of Wikipedia: “… He understands that technology and the “dehumanised world” it carries with it appear ugly and repulsive to a romantic person. He is, however, capable of seeing the beauty of technology and feels good about mechanical work. The author demonstrates that the cycle maintenance may be dull and tedious drudgery or an exciting and pleasurable pastime; it all depends on the inner attitude and peace of mind, or lack thereof…

And again: “Pirsig attempts to reveal rationality’s pretense to be the ultimate and sole source of knowledge and argues for an approach to knowledge that is more varied and inclusive. He seeks a perception of the world that also encompasses “irrational” sources of wisdom and knowledge - in particular, the bursts of creativity and intuition that seemingly come from nowhere and are apparently not rationally explainable. Pirsig seeks to demonstrate that rationality and zen-like irrationality can harmoniously coexist. He suggests such a combination of rationality and mysticism can potentially bring a higher quality of life.

I’ve read some excerpts of the book in the past, but I’ll definitively read it very soon. There is a very important reason why, on the title of this blog, you read “Zen and Life of Simone Brunozzi”.

Zen, in my case, is an attitude, a search, an answer, a target. This book will help me in seeing things more clearly.

I also suggest you to take a look at this blog, Zen Habits. He seems on a path very similar to mine :-)