The blog ofJonathan Pepin

Notes from Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values [raw]

2018-11-23

Raw Kindle notes for Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values by Robert M. Pirsig

You always suppress momentary anger at something you deeply and permanently hate.

I argued that physical discomfort is important only when the mood is wrong. Then you fasten on to whatever thing is uncomfortable and call that the cause. But if the mood is right, then physical discomfort doesn’t mean much.

I didn’t check it carefully because I assumed the rain had caused the engine failure. I didn’t understand then how foolish quick assumptions like that are.

When you want to hurry something, that means you no longer care about it and want to get on to other things.

A classical understanding sees the world primarily as underlying form itself. A romantic understanding sees it primarily in terms of immediate appearance.

“Art” when it is opposed to “Science” is often romantic.

motorcycle riding is romantic, motorcycle maintenance is purely classic.

Persons tend to think and feel exclusively in one mode or the other and in doing so tend to misunderstand and underestimate what the other mode is all about.

But to tear down a factory or to revolt against a government or to avoid repair of a motorcycle because it is a system is to attack effects rather than causes; and as long as the attack is upon effects only, no change is possible.

When you’ve hit a really tough one, tried everything, racked your brain and nothing works, and you know that this time Nature has really decided to be difficult, you say, “Okay, Nature, that’s the end of the nice guy,” and you crank up the formal scientific method.

The logical statements entered into the notebook are broken down into six categories: (1) statement of the problem, (2) hypotheses as to the cause of the problem, (3) experiments designed to test each hypothesis, (4) predicted results of the experiments, (5) observed results of the experiments and (6) conclusions from the results of the experiments.

You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.

The ultimate test’s always your own serenity. If you don’t have this when you start and maintain it while you’re working you’re likely to build your personal problems right into the machine itself.”

If the machine produces tranquillity it’s right. If it disturbs you it’s wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed. The test of the machine’s always your own mind. There isn’t any other test.”

the solution to the problem isn’t that you abandon rationality but that you expand the nature of rationality so that it’s capable of coming up with a solution.”

imitation was a real evil that had to be broken

This imitation seemed to be an external compulsion. Little children didn’t have it.

To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow. But of course, without the top you can’t have any sides. It’s the top that defines the sides.

“Quality is a characteristic of thought and statement that is recognized by a nonthinking process. Because definitions are a product of rigid, formal thinking, quality cannot be defined.”

Students who went along with his rules were then condemned for their inability to be creative or produce a piece of work that reflected their own personal standards of what is good.

Any effort that has self-glorification as its final endpoint is bound to end in disaster.

When you subtract quality you get squareness. Absence of Quality is the essence of squareness.

The whole purpose of scientific method is to make valid distinctions between the false and the true in nature, to eliminate the subjective, unreal, imaginary elements from one’s work so as to obtain an objective, true picture of reality.

Quality in this case is unimportant because it’s an emotional understanding unaccompanied by the intellectual elements of reason.

And because without objects there can be no subject—because the objects create the subject’s awareness of himself—Quality is the event at which awareness of both subjects and objects is made possible.

The past exists only in our memories, the future only in our plans. The present is our only reality.

‘Quality is the response of an organism to its environment’

If the scientist had at his disposal infinite time, Poincaré said, it would only be necessary to say to him, “Look and notice well”; but as there isn’t time to see everything, and as it’s better not to see than to see wrongly, it’s necessary for him to make a choice.

It’s proper to begin with the regular facts, but after a rule is established beyond all doubt, the facts in conformity with it become dull because they no longer teach us anything new. Then it’s the exception that becomes important.

Then he looks up. “What should I say?” I start to grin. I should have him write for an hour about one side of a coin.

getting stuck is the commonest trouble of all. Usually, I say, your mind gets stuck when you’re trying to do too many things at once. What you have to do is try not to force words to come.

This is the zero moment of consciousness. Stuck. No answer. Honked. Kaput. It’s a miserable experience emotionally. You’re losing time. You’re incompetent. You don’t know what you’re doing. You should be ashamed of yourself. You should take the machine to a real mechanic who knows how to figure these things out.

Stuckness shouldn’t be avoided. It’s the psychic predecessor of all real understanding.

a root word of technology, techne, originally meant “art.” The ancient Greeks never separated art from manufacture in their minds, and so never developed separate words for them.

Of the value traps, the most widespread and pernicious is value rigidity. This is an inability to revalue what one sees because of commitment to previous values.

Here by far the most frustrating gumption trap is inadequate tools. Nothing’s quite so demoralizing as a tool hang-up. Buy good tools as you can afford them and you’ll never regret

You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.