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Robert Strack

Associate Professor

Robert Strack

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values by Robert M. Persig

Sometimes it is the timing of reading a book as much as the book itself that dictates its impact. I picked up Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance just prior to embarking on a two month backcountry camping trip that carried me across the country and to many beautiful and remote places. I was just out of my Masters degree and was on my own quest for adventure and discovery. The book, written by Robert M. Pirsig, is a somewhat auto-biographical account of a deep thinking academic who, while traveling across the country with his son, provides philosophical Chautauquas (short talks) on 'quality' and its influence on what is real and good in life and our pursuit of truths. The combination of Pirsig's musings with my rotating views of mountain streams, high ridges, rain-drenched forests, calm campfires and the wide-open western sky made for a dramatic reading room. More then a decade after the book was published Pershing offered his own summary stating: "This book offers another, more serious alternative to material success. It's not so much an alternative as an expansion of the meaning of "success" to something larger than just getting a good job and staying out of trouble".