Madness and Meditation

#NewAge #Mindfulness #Unmadefilms


by Monkles

27  December 2015

Robert Redford attempted to buy the rights of this book. ZAMM is #NewAge philosophy disguised as an autobiographical tale of the author’s journey on a motorcycle accompanied by his son.


Robert Redford was turned down.

When I was required to write in ‘76 about the book, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”, I was less complimentary than Robert Redford. In due course, I did get an "A" grade for successfully dismantling the logic of this best selling author, Robert M. Pirsig.

I had managed to identify Pirsig's frequent dodgy conflations of the very obvious with some questionable less convincing #NewAge assertions. His book continues to divide opinions to this day.

Having read the 2006 Guardian Interview with Pirsig I am now more forgiving. I had him down as a “new age” guru claiming to know "the way", in yet another “new age” way. I do now see that Pirsig's book was a "philosophical quest " and what you might call a meditation on life and of "mysteries that remain unexplained." Not a manifesto, nor a bible.



Pirsig's book sold 5 million copies and may well be, as claimed, the most read book of any living "philosopher". The catchy title tapped into the post Beatles popular taste for all things transcendentally meditating.

In a further positive step forward the UK National Health Service have recently committed to Zen-like courses of meditation for psychiatric patients who might benefit from it. And who would say it would not benefit anyone so inclined and so in need to calm down, find a focus, or simply cope with modern life.

Pirsig said in 2006  "It is not good to talk about Zen because Zen is nothingness ... If you talk about it you are always lying, and if you don't talk about it no one knows it is there."

However, Pirsig was a manic thinker with a far-out IQ of 170, attained at the age of 9 years. When he wrote "Zen" the book, he may well have been in a state of un-Zen-like overdrive. And yes, he did require prescribed medication to control clinical depression. He read Kerouac of course, but ultimately it was by court order that he underwent comprehensive shock treatment.

"I could not sleep and I could not stay awake," he now recalls. "All these ideas were coming in to me too fast."
Pirsig’s mind was full all right but that should not be confused with the key word,  “Mindfulness” which has been adopted by what the Guardian has called the new “Mindfulness Industry” now embraced by the NHS, or so we are told.

Pirsig clearly popularised Zen models and lived the dream, but his Zen remedies were compromised by madness and not remedied by meditation.

After all these years I admire Pirsig the man and would gladly return my "A" grade.

This was 1974, after all.


“I could not sleep and I could not stay awake”
#NewAge #Mindfulness #Unmadefilms


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