Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Motorcycles and thought

Have you seen this book? Zen and Now: On the Trail of Robert Pirsig and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Mark Richardson. I saw it this evening. I leafed through it. I read several pages. I put it down in disappointment. It is possible that my perception was skewed as I was looking at the new arrivals table which has historically contained less than stellar selections. The discerning reader can only hope, deeply deeply hope, that the real new arrivals from the publishing house are either still on a pallet in the back or someone placed the authentic new arrivals on the 50% table.
As any knowledge-seeking young man, I read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I finished the work and desperately wanted to own a motorcycle and think really deep thoughts.
My motorcycle fever has waned though I'm still trying to think some semi-deep thoughts. While I don't completely agree with some of Pirsig's premises, the book attempts to find out
what is and consistently asks and interacts with worthwhile questions. Pirsig also is a brilliant writer. His descriptions, settings, interactions with the landscape,
the romance he shares with his bike, his detailed inner struggles told through a thrid-person narrative are excellent. The premise of Zen and Now is that Richardson is retracing
Pirsig's journey. This is not unheard of or unusual and so I was somewhat interested in the description of Richardson's journey. However, Richardson simply summarizes chunks of
what Pirsig was writing about. Frankly, the majority of people woh are going to pick up Zen and Now are going to be people who are already interested in Pirisig and
most likely have already read him. We don't need an Pirsig exegesis; we've already clocked hours in coffee shops doing that. The book seems like a publisher's ploy to cash
in on Pirisig's work which is basically alluded to on the inside cover of the dust jacket. The dust jacket indicates Zen and Now was published to coincide with the 40th anniversary
of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I was hoping for a much stronger showing for anyone attempting to retrace and/or recapture Pirsig's journey and thoughts.

No comments: