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Death of a favourite author

April 25, 2017

pirsig-with-chris-1968_custom-1dfd21fa4918cd9508463228a8dd69566ee06eb0-s800-c85Many authors have influenced my life. Hemingway, Ustinov, Kerouac, Burroughs, Twain, Cassady, Melville, Shakespeare, Steinbeck, McGahan, Stevenson, Wilder, Kesey, Miller, Rhinehart, Fowles, Tolkien, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. All male nearly all dead. I read them in bed, on trains, in waiting rooms… Nowhere else except on the beach, the cafe. I love reading them. I treat them like music. I never get bored of them. Some of them. Hemingway and Steinbeck, Cassady and Kerouac are like that. The plot and finding out what happens doesn’t matter after the first read. I dog ear them,  I make notes in the margins and underline sentences. I keep a dictionary beside my bed. I read them for the same reason I eat. To grow and be strong. Aspiration and inspiration.

Robert Pirsig died yesterday. 88 – long illness. In Maine. I had his book. Still have maybe. Under a house. I sold a lot of books before I moved overseas to work. I wouldn’t couldn’t have sold Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I didn’t sell books that good and it was too beat up. No cover. I lost that in Thailand. Among other things. It had SYDNEY written in Nikko pen big capitals on the blank page before page 1. A sign to drivers. 1987. Hitchhiking across the Nullarbor. Six months after I came back from Thailand. Damaged and bulletproof. Zen in hand, walking down the highway. Gee this story could go on for a while if I had time.

I read the book in Thailand along with On the Road first. It was hard going. A father and son. A motorbike. A question of sanity. Too many miles to think in silence and distort reality when a simple validation of sanity would have left no reason for Pirsig to write the book. I read it in bamboo bungalows eating banana cake and in rooms in hotels that were whorehouses for Muslims coming across the Malaysian border. So many questions. A thesis of technology and quality. It echoed my thinking as I wondered often what was I doing, what I was doing. I was what. What.

“I can imitate the father he’s supposed to have, but subconsciously, at the Quality level, he sees through it and knows his real father isn’t here. In all this Chautauqua talk there’s been more than a touch of hypocrisy. Advice is given again and again to eliminate subject-object duality, when the biggest duality of all, the duality between me and him, remains unfaced. A mind divided against itself.”

Vale Robert Pirsig. I read you in my obscurity. I found myself writing and motorbikes. Thankyou. I love the highway and I thank you for describing the time the highway gave you. Zen was a brave journey.

 

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One Comment
  1. m a r i a permalink

    Probably the most beautiful piece of writing I’ve read, Mic. Really soulful!

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