Thursday, January 01, 2015

Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, part II

from the booklog (January 1989):

Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig

I wonder how autobiographical this is. [Pirsig’s book] is a page turner and well-written. I came away not altogether sure what “Phaedrus” had gotten so uptight about & what all that deconstruction of Socrates meant. Sophists had something to do with the Quality that comes before everything. I rather liked some of Phaedrus’ original teaching methods. He threw out the essay-writing textbooks and told his classes, “You know what quality is. Just work on that.” And he didn’t give grades (until the end). The good students, he found, didn’t like grades. I coulda told him that!


Some of the above repeats what I wrote in my diary (and which I quoted in the earlier Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance post).

Writing teachers in grade school taught me to loathe essays and the mechanistic crafting of them. In my reading life I’ve come to love the weird things essays often are. In college my professors were usually ready to engage with the weird things I made of my papers.


Nathan said...

I never liked high school and college essays because I was always supposed to prove something.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

In high school I got downgraded for straying from the formula. In college, I got away with more weirdness, thus wrote much better and produced work worth reading.

Years after high school I came upon an essay for which I'd gotten my best grade -- and it was horrid. The college work, on the other hand, is still readable.