I finished reading my battered second-hand bookshop paperback copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pirsig. What a strange book it is, full of deep and practical ideas that for me left dog-eared pages and pencilled-in margins in their wake, and scraps of which I’m sure will linger in my mind for some time to come. There a lot of philosophy-type stuff in there and some of it is hard going, and some of it is quite tedious too. I liked the father-son journey stuff, it captures some of the crazy concerns and emotions that being a father of a boy can bring. I wonder how much of it is true.
One especially memorable bit talks about a ‘South Indian monkey trap’, which I’d never heard of, and which supposedly involves a hollowed out coconut with food placed inside and a hole just big enough to admit a monkey’s hand. The monkey sticks its hand in and grabs a fistful of food, and can’t escape when the trapper comes because it can’t release the food from its fist. All the monkey needs to do is open its fist, but it is simply unable to reevaluate the positive value of the fistful of food vs the negative value of being captured and losing its freedom. There’s nothing physically keeping it trapped, but it just can’t let go. 📚