Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig is a book which describes inner search for the truth and the meaning of life. During the story the protagonist travels across the country with his small son. In reality they go through not only physical journey. This journey becomes also a great transformation of their personalities. The protagonist of the book compares the motorcycle to the living person and teaches people how to deal with both – a vehicle and their true selves. As states the author, working taking a good care of one’s cycle can become a way to uncover true self.
This process can become the most interesting and significant journey of the person’s life.During his quest for true sense of life the main character doubts all conventional norms and standards. He is not interested in popular knowledge. In his search he counts only on himself and his personal experience. In the third chapter of the book Pirsig doubts all conventional scientific discoveries and findings. He states that the law of gravity is not more real than ghosts. He gives several characteristics which prove this resemblance. The law of gravity did not exist anywhere until it was discovered by Newton.
“What I’m “is the notion that before the beginning of the earth, before the sun and the stars were formed, before the primal generation of anything, the law of gravity existed” (Pirsig 18).We can not agree that it did not exist at all, in this way it should have been situated somewhere until it was discovered, but we find now such a place.Step by step, the author enumerates all characteristics of this law and all of them possess same characteristics as ghosts do. Same, like ghosts’ undiscovered laws, including the law of gravity, do not posses neither physical form, no energy. “”I honestly don’t know what a thing has to do to be nonexistent. It seems to me that law of gravity has passed every test of nonexistence there is. You cannot think of a single attribute of non-existence that that law of gravity didn’t have. Or a single scientific attribute of existence it did have.
And yet it is still `common sense’ to believe that it existed” (Pirsig 48). Since all characteristics of the ghosts can be applied for physical and mathematic laws, the author makes it possible to compare them. In this way the author states that the existence of ghosts has the same probability as the existence of fundamental laws.He states that science and education help people to adapt social norms and fundamental laws from early childhood. People who did not get used to doubt common truth they hear have no other choice but to follow these laws. Answering to John who asks: “Why does everybody believe in the law of gravity then?” , the author gives simple but deep explanation. He states :”Mass hypnosis.
In a very orthodox form known as `education” (Pirsig). This idea has important consequences. According to the author’s opinion, it uncovers the main source of the problem.
In his opinion the mind, which also has no mass or form, creates main problems in our life. Despite it has no peculiarities which would distinguish it from a ghost, it influences all our decisions and determines all our choices. This unexpected conclusion helps the readers to see how their decisions and actions are determined by the thing which does not exist in reality.Pirsig’s conclusions are very unexpected. Some would definitely disagree with them, other would accept them partially, but what is for sure, all the readers will spend time thinking on the issues described.
This is the main good thing about this book, to my mind.