I was saddened this morning to hear of the death of Robert Pirsig. I first read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when I was in high school, and I loved every page. I last read it, and perhaps for the last time, back in 2009, and I wrote this blog post, with this, the review summed up in just a few sentences:
"And then, we come to the end. The narrator is about to send his son away, and then, just like that, they decide that neither one of them is crazy. They hop back on the bike, and we're told that everything will be just fine. The narrator assures us: 'We've won it. It's going to get better now. You can sort of tell these things.'"
How lovely for them. Just decide that the rest of the world is crazy. Just decide that you'll be fine. How very 1970's."
The depiction of mental illness bothered me the most when I read the book in 2009; I worry that if I read it again now I'd find myself disagreeing with the ideas about education. I worry it would be the same as when I watched Fame many years later and realized that somewhere along the way I had morphed from the cool drama kid to the stern English teacher--and worse, that the cool drama kids were very troubled in ways that I didn't fully understand when I first saw the film in 10th grade.
I never read Pirsig's second book, Lila: An Inquiry into Morals, but maybe I will. My spouse enjoyed it, and we still have it on the shelf.
I will always be grateful to Pirsig for showing us that a novel that discusses great ideas can be a bestseller. The story of this book's path to publication has given comfort to many a writer; it was rejected 121 times, and has gone on to sell over 5 million copies. May all our worthy yet rejected manuscripts fare as well--or even half as well!
This morning I realized that I had been spending National Poetry Month by not writing any poetry at all. I've had ideas for poems, but I haven't actually created any. So this morning, I wrote "Good Friday in Binderville"--I first described the idea for the poem in this post.
I am coming up to a time where I may have a bit more time to write--and even better, I've found a way to enter the short story I want to tell--let me not waste these precious windows of time that open here and there in my administrator days.
Reading the Environment: Some Recent Favorites
4 weeks ago