Self Discovery In Robert Pirsig's Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

1001 words - 5 pages

He was a man in search of himself, a man not willing to follow the human race as it moved drearily on, a man who would not cease in his journey until he knew what truth and quality were. His expedition across American answered his inquiries. In actuality, he provided his own answers, solutions that would provide for the most important of all states: peace of mind. Such is the depth of discovery that a reader will find in Robert Pirsig's masterful innovation, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

The story is an eye-opening look into the thoughts and feelings of an unnamed man who saw too much of his society and started asking questions. In the story, his quest begins when he hops ...view middle of the document...

Most times, in order to do this, you must leave the highway and journey into the pastures or mountains where everything is clearer and easier. Metaphors like this one are really what brings the book alive. Another metaphor that digs deep into the thoughts of the reader involves the conditions that a person must face in pursuing total peace of mind. He relates this to the challenges placed on an individual as he struggles up a mountain: "the thinner air of uncertainty, the magnitude of questions asked, and the untraveled trail that a climber must take to answer his questions" (111). these kind of large scale metaphors are really what bring Zen together and intriguing to read.

Another factor that makes it extremely interesting to read is the profundity of Pirsig's analysis of many different ideas and processes. Right off, he starts in on the fields of science and art, stating that a major part of the problem society is facing right now is that these fields are so separated. He contends that technology, as a product of science, has become ugly by the process that produces it. The producers and inventors of technology are no longer taking into account artistic value and this is why there seems to be a false quality associated with technology. Pirsig states that, in actuality, there is no quality in modern technology at all and it has just been laced with style.

These are the sort of revelations that occurred to the narrator before his "nervous breakdown." Throughout the novel he affectionately refers to this pre-insanity self as Phaedrus, a sort of ghost that he knows but can't remember. The narrator's entire journey is focused on trying to piece together the fragments of his memory of Phaedrus and figure out what caused his surmise. He follows Phaedrus' path...

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