Tuesday, April 25, 2017

RIP: Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

PRI's The World (pri.org); Dhr. Seven, Seth Auberon, CC Liu (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, dies (AFP)
Jonathan Davis of Korn famously noted that there are "dead bodies everywhere, dead bodies everywhere." And Chris Barnes of Cannibal Corpse infamously delighted that "They're all dead, they're all dead, they're all dead." Death is all around. We ignore it. Then someone writes a book, and suddenly it's in our face. The lesson? It's better to travel than arrive. Zen says, Be where you are, or as Ram Dass phrased it, "Be here now."

HEADLINE: Robert Pirsig, author of the iconic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, dies
AFP via PRI.org
It has sold around five million copies around the world. Pirsig died at his home in Maine on Monday, news reports said.

(BBC) Interview with and about Pirsig on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Over 5 million copies sold, paperback
The book is a first person narrative [a kind of meditation or contemplation rather than the deeper Buddhist sense of absorption (jhana) and insight-practice (vipassana)] that draws on a 17-day motorcycle trip that Pirsig took across the US in 1968 with his 11-year-old son Chris.
In the book Pirsig speaks under the name Phaedrus, one of the characters in Plato's Dialogues. He reflects among other things on what should be essential to people as they go about living their lives.

Pirsig's son died in 1979 after being stabbed outside a Zen center that he frequented in San Francisco.
Pirsig, a biochemist by training, published in 1991 another novel that was less successful: Lila: An Inquiry Into Morals. Source

Zen Buddhist Pirsig interviewed on NPR, 1974
"What is the road less traveled?" asked American poet Robert Frost. Pirsig answered.
(NPR) Pirsig interview, July 12, 1974 -- the year the book came out. Written by former English teacher while working writing boring computer manuals. It took four years to write, and it was rejected by more than 100 publishers.

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