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 RIP Robert M Persig

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Cosmic_Jumper
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PostSubject: RIP Robert M Persig   Mon Apr 24, 2017 10:36 pm

Robert M Persig, the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance died at 88 today.
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terrier
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PostSubject: Re: RIP Robert M Persig   Tue Apr 25, 2017 2:37 pm

I read that book many years ago. I'm sure it's still lying around the house somewhere. Must dig it out and have a read again.
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Meldrew
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PostSubject: Re: RIP Robert M Persig   Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:47 am

I tried reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in the Seventies, probably because I'd read a couple of articles about it in the American bike mags like Cycle, and Cycle World that I used to read back then. They weren't on sale locally so I had to ride over the fells down to Barrow-in-Furness to buy them every month or so.

This was way back in my young Meldrew days when I was rather envious that Americans could buy fantastic looking fairings like the Vetter Windjammer in metallic paint colours with custom fitting kits. We had to make do with plain looking Rickman fairings in smelly white fibre glass. They came with a Universal Fitting Kit that fitted nothing without a lot of fettling and swearing.

In the States you could have coloured custom made Bates Leathers like 500cc Motorcycle Champion Barry Sheene wore on the track, we had to settle for plain black leathers from Lewis Leathers... but as usual I digress.

Anyway I bought Z a t A o M M in paperback, and for all it being a fashionable read at the time, less than a third of the way through the book I got bored reading it.
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PostSubject: Re: RIP Robert M Persig   Fri Apr 28, 2017 10:06 am

I first tried reading ZAMM after it was touted in a couple of then-contemporary cycle mags. I had been riding and generally bodging cycles since the 1950s and "studied" Zen after having read Alan W Watts and Kerouac in the 1960s, so I really latched on to this book. Or wanted to. I suppose that I was expecting some sort of beatific insight, but little did I realize how laborious a read it would be. No Dharma Bums on motorcycles this. Eventually I put it down and, getting caught up in the 1970s, raising a family and being distracted with constant repairs to used cars and a long line of fit-the-budget VWs, didn't pick it up again for several years.

The next three attempts at reading ZAMM were equally unsuccessful. Bogged down by the seeming schizoid discontinuity of it all. Little "explanation" of the zen of riding and little too of motorcycle maintenance. Small wonder that the first 120 publishers rejected the book. Eventually the library provided a copy of the Guidebook to ZAMM, which seemingly was the result of a University level study of Persig's book. Well at least the Guidebook parsed the chapters and nuances a bit clearer. But, argh! footnotes, citations, academia; I was still unclear how I could bring this down to my level of understanding of the zen of riding.

Eventually the kids grew up and went out on their own and my budget allowed me to revisit riding. Things had changed since those early Harley iron and Wentworth wrench British days. A Honda Silverwing came my way. No more greasy hands and spotted driveway. A touring-class scooter capable of long leaps to far places in be-here-now solitude. The book came off the shelf again, but still no joy. Still no haiku.

Then I discovered Mark Richardson's 2009 book, "Zen and Now", in which he retraces Persig's epic journey with his own motorcycle, a copy of ZAMM, and a journalists insight. He brought meaning and sense and balance to ZAMM and, more so, to Persig's life and what brought him to write "Zen and ..." Meanwhile Richardson discovers his own self in his own ride. Now it made sense

Now Persig's "Zen" book rests on the shelf along side my well worn copy of John Muir's "How to Keep Your VW Alive..." Idiot book.

So RIP Robert Persig. Don't hide the madness.

Enuf said. Just ride.
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john grinsel
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PostSubject: Re: RIP Robert M Persig   Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:41 pm

As rider, I tried to read his book when it first came out---made no sense to me.
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RIP Robert M Persig
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