Pirsig’s Progress: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance as a Modern Spiritual Journey

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Since its publication in 1974, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values (ZAMM) has been widely hailed as a modern classic as well as a work that defies conventional characterization. Part novel, part diary, part manifesto, ZAMM relates the thoughts and experiences of a philosophically-oriented unnamed middle-aged narrator as he progresses along a number of simultaneous personal journeys, all of which facilitate an overarching spiritual journey toward wholeness and wellness. Overall, though, ZAMM appears to be a special kind of “Chautauqua” designed to induce analogous journeys in readers. This course will undertake the ZAMM journey through close reading and discussion of this modern masterpiece along with related Platonic dialogues that lurk in the background.

Texts
  • Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
  • Plato, Meno
  • Plato, Phaedrus
  • Plato, Symposium
TAUGHT: SUMMER 2016