think I waited too long on this one

‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ by Robert M. Pirsig is often found on reader’s lists of favorite 20th century books. The identifying stamp inside the front cover of my copy indicates it was purchased from one of the used bookstores I frequented while living in Tallahassee from 1978 to 1984. As with many books I own it has moved with me over the years yet remained unread. That is until today. Sort of. Loading up the CD player with the Chant, Chant II and Chant III CDs to establish “mood”, I settled onto the couch with a big homemade iced mocha drink and began reading. After the first few chapters I began to wonder when the author would begin enlightening me or at least tell me something I hadn’t already learned in life. As much as I hate it when other people say it, I found myself repeating “I knew that, I knew that”.

Taking a break I picked up and read Marshall McLuhan’s ‘The Medium is the Massage’ cover to cover(it’s an easy read) then went back to ‘Zen’. Still nothing. Skimming ahead I noticed the book’s previous owner(s) had highlighted paragraphs and added a notes in the margins. So I read just those portions and will now either trade it in the next time I go to the used bookstore or put it back in the box. Maybe I’ll give it to my 13 year old nephew whose mind might be more receptive to the message.

‘Horizon’ was (I don’t think it still is) a hardbound “magazine of the arts” published quarterly in the ’60s and ’70s. Along the way I picked up one edition (Spring 1970) because of the feature article on Hieronymus Bosch. Included as a supplement was a true fold-up version of Bosch’s famous triptych, “The Garden Of Earthly Delights”(printed on heavy paper and “suitable for framing” as they say). Among the other interesting articles was an essay by Alvin Toffler based on his then yet to be published book, ‘Future Shock’. Back in the ’70s, while still in high school, I enjoyed reading ‘Future Shock’ when it came out. Not that long ago I read the Horizon Toffler essay and thought it would be a good idea to reread his entire book. Wrong. Almost immediately I was bored to the point of abandoning the idea. Yet I still think his essay is intriguing. Does that mean the book is fluff and filler or is my attention span too short these days for anything but the condensed version?

With ‘Zen’ and ‘Future Shock’ paperback versions the covers were not uniform in that both books were available in various colors. Bright blue, green, yellow or orange if I remember correctly. Maybe I should only try to read books that don’t vary their covers.


About Marcus

Who me? Introverted, neurotic, self-absorbed, increasingly cynical observer of human nature and part time social critic in hiding. Most of my life spent avoiding growing up. The naive idealistic passions of youth have evolved into the eclectic eccentricities of adulthood. Northeast Florida small-town native, related to people I can't relate to. Simultaneously my own best friend and worst enemy. Politically and spiritually unaffiliated, my personal ideologies put me all over the map or off it completely.
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2 Responses to think I waited too long on this one

  1. mcmatz says:

    I don’t think that the books are necessarily fluff or filler or that your power of focusing is waning in the later years. I have noticed that some materials – be it visual or written – can be remembered fondly and profoundly yet in the passing decades, under scrutiny, with aged knowledge, falls short of our youthful memory of it.
    I think it is having a different perspective. What was fascinating and engrossing in our adolescent may well be tedious in our maturity.
    Perhaps only the truly great works can be revisited over a lifetime and continue to hold our interest.
    But I am probably insulting your intelligence by even pointing that out.

    • marcsuttle says:

      No, I’m not insulted. Unlike most students I know about today, I made it all the way thru high school and college never encountering a “required reading” list. The closest was a “suggested” list handed out by a high school English teacher during a college level comp course I took as a senior. Wanting to watch less TV and read more starting this year, I’ve gone thru 47 books so far. Not all would be considered great “literature”. I’ve made a few posts about my efforts including a list back on June 6th of the thirty or so completed at that point. Many I couldn’t have sat thru as a teenager. I know my tastes have changed(hopefully broadened). Probably need to post an update, not that anyone is following my progress.

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