CBC’s excellent Ideas program has republished their show on Robert Pirsig (best known as the author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) who passed away a few days ago. It is really worth a listen (as is their whole program series; available as podcasts).
I was lucky to read Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance without every having heard of it. It was in my early twenties and I picked it up from a book sale in Uppsala, Sweden on a whim; not aware of what a hit it had been some twenty years earlier.
I think that is probably the best way of approaching any book, but especially Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and it made a great impression on me at the time. I had never considered a divide between the technical and the “spiritual” (perhaps sensual is a better word) before, and I found Prisig’s attempt to unification – his metaphysics of quality – interesting. Since then I have perceived echoes of that divide elsewhere, such as in C.P. Snow’s concept of The Two Cultures.
As for quality, it is something I have seldom encountered it in my own work, but always striven for, ever since reading Pirsig for the first time.