Robert M. Pirsig (1928-2017) Tribute List

Author Robert M. Pirsig died on April 24, 2017 at the age of 88. Pirsig's most successful book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, mixed philosophy with the story of a father and son on the road together. This novel was a huge bestseller and seemed to capture something about the questing nature of America when it was released in 1974. Here are ten vocabulary words from quotes from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. monotony
    the quality of wearisome constancy and lack of variety
    We’re in such a hurry most of the time we never get much chance to talk. The result is a kind of endless day-to-day shallowness, a monotony that leaves a person wondering years later where all the time went and sorry that it’s all gone.
  2. serenity
    the absence of mental stress or anxiety
    Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all.
  3. tranquility
    an untroubled state that is free from disturbances
    The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn't any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it's right. If it disturbs you it's wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.
  4. gumption
    fortitude and determination
    Anxiety, the next gumption trap, is sort of the opposite of ego. You're so sure you'll do everything wrong you're afraid to do anything at all. Often this, rather than "laziness" is the real reason you find it hard to get started.
  5. equilibrium
    a stable situation in which forces cancel one another
    Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion.
  6. impasse
    a situation in which no progress can be made
    Now we’ve a real intellectual impasse. Our reason, which is supposed to make things more intelligible, seems to be making them less intelligible, and when reason thus defeats its own purpose something has to be changed in the structure of our reason itself.
  7. intelligible
    capable of being apprehended or understood
    Now we’ve a real intellectual impasse. Our reason, which is supposed to make things more intelligible, seems to be making them less intelligible, and when reason thus defeats its own purpose something has to be changed in the structure of our reason itself.
  8. subjective
    taking place within the mind and modified by individual bias
    The whole purpose of scientific method is to make valid distinctions between the false and the true in nature, to eliminate the subjective, unreal, imaginary elements from one’s work so as to obtain an objective, true picture of reality.
  9. invariably
    without change, in every case
    One thing about pioneers that you don’t hear mentioned is that they are invariably, by their nature, mess-makers.
  10. pernicious
    exceedingly harmful
    Of the value traps, the most widespread and pernicious is value rigidity. This is an inability to revalue what one sees because of commitment to previous values. In motorcycle maintenance, you MUST rediscover what you do as you go. Rigid values makes this impossible.

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