Home > Observations > Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintanence – Inquiries into the Metaphysics of Quality

Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintanence – Inquiries into the Metaphysics of Quality


We cite it as the thing which is trapped in materials and facades. "Look at this bag! It’s made from crocodile skin! The best and most expensive skin in the world!" But we’re woefully mistaken. Quality isn’t just found in materials or facades. True Quality is found in the relationship between the object (material) and the subject (the worker). While Prisig tried to be precise in his definition, it remains outside of most of our experience.


It’s because we’re too often deep within it. And we can’t see that our everyday work has Quality in it. Those who experience this Quality are usually ‘in the zone’. That means everything falls neatly in place.

Perhaps an example from Basketball: shots swish through the net, incredible passes reach their recipients, everyone slows down and plays can be ‘seen’ before they happen. The same goes for the seasoned worker. He knows the most efficient and effective way of getting something done. The worker can ‘feel’ the object’s trouble spots; he sees the form within the crude material; he’s knows how to get the best mileage from his tools.

Now that is the substance of Quality.

Title: Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Author: Robert M. Prisig
Links: Wikipedia entry | Online text | Interview

Categories: Observations
  1. Jason
    June 26, 2007 at 10:59 pm

    I love that book, man.  I think it is the perfect interpretation of Daoism/Buddhism in Western perspective. I especially remember that part about walking up the mountain, how if you focus too much on the top of the mountain, then you can\’t enjoy the climb at all. It just becomes an exercise in agony.


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