Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

I had a copy of the book, Zen and the Motorcycle Maintenance in my third year of engineering college. I picked it up probably because I was fascinated with Zen (still am) and Motorcycles (still am).

It had not stuck me when I became a technical writer in 2019 that the author of the book, Robert Pirsig had also been a technical writer at the time. I discovered this fact when Tom Johnson interviewed Dan Grabski about a talk that he gave at the Write the Docs conference.

Tom Johnson then read the book and began doing experiments around some of the ideas from the book.

In a blog post in the series, Johnson wrote:

During the sixties, with the countercultural movement associated with hippies, there was a strong distrust that technology had introduced destructive and controlling capabilities, with dehumanizing war machines (in the context of Vietnam) and government surveillance, leading to manipulation and mass control. There was a Luddite sentiment toward technology. The post-countercultural movement sought to reconcile that attitude about technology with something more positive, embracing the more creative, connective, and liberating aspects of technology.

I think we are at a similar point again in history.

Looking at my writings from 2007 and 2013 (when I had picked up the book again, close to it’s fortieth anniversary), my takeaways from the book were more philosophical. But, these were not things that I could apply to my life practically.

Reading the works of Ryan Holiday, helps me understand the usefulness to look at how philosophy could help in our daily life. We also had a workshop on the practice of mindfulness and meditation that I think will help me do this. I may pick up this book again as my first read of 2024.

December 4, 2023