Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is one of my favourite novels, even though I never managed to complete it.
It was a cult novel in the 1970s I came across it through a Swedish girl who I met on Mykonos, which was in itself a cult place to be.
I sat reading it that summer. But never finished. Never mind thought I, I will read next summer. The same thing happened.
For whatever reason it was destined never to be read to the end.
I do not even know what happened to my copy as I cannot find it.
Last year I was walking along the River Wey in Guildford thinking of a Hungarian friend, and there she was, sat by the river reading a book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Good choice I told her.
I must read, thought I. I picked up a copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Last summer I started to read, exactly the same thing happened. I got part way through, no further.
But for a book I have never managed to get far into, it had a very profound impact.
It was the 1970s, and yet I can still recall what I read then.
The love we put into our work. Seeing beauty in what has been made.
Hating when I see people working with background music playing, as their soul is not in their work.
Newton’s Laws of Motion. Did they exist before Newton found them? Were they lying around waiting to be found?
I had this discussion with a speaker at a multi-faith meeting last year. He sadly was talking garbage.
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance has never been dramatized. Not that is until last Saturday on BBC Radio 4. I did not know at the time and only stumbled upon it when I was going back through the schedule looking for something else.
The beginning I just do not recognise.
The BBC once again demonstrate their crass stupidity. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance will only be held on-line for seven days.
The Zen is to have empathy with, engage with what you are doing.
An expensive BMW motorcycle. Use a piece of a coke can as a washer. Is this not to insult the machine? No. It is to recognise the properties of aluminium. That is will give slightly, be slightly sticky, thus ideal properties for a washer.
I do not think any other book or writing has had such a profound effect, other than Hermann Hesse and more recently Paulo Coelho.