Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance

is an excellent book by Robert Pirsig (isbn 978-0-099-32261-0). As usual I'm going to quote from a few pages:
By far the greatest part of his [the mechanic's] work is careful observation and precise thinking.
Care and Quality are internal and external aspects of the same thing. A person who sees Quality and feels it as he works is a person who cares. A person who cares about what he sees and does is a person who's bound to have some characteristics of Quality.
As Poincaré would have said, there are an infinite number of facts about the motorcycle, and the right ones don't just dance up and introduce themselves. The right facts, the ones we really need, are not only passive, they are damned elusive and we're not going to just sit back and "observe" them. We're going to have to be in there looking for them or we're going to be here a long time. Forever. As Poincaré pointed out, there must be a subliminal choice of what facts we observe. The difference between a good mechanic and a bad one, like the difference between a good mathematician and a bad one, is precisely this ability to select the good facts from the bad ones on the basis of quality. He has to care!
That's really why he got so upset that day when he couldn't get his engine started. It was an intrusion into his reality.
The range of human knowledge today is so great that we're all specialists and the distance between specializations has become so great that anyone who seeks to wander freely among them almost has to forego closeness with the people around him.
This isn't really a small town. People are moving too fast and too independently of one another.
I've a set of instructions at home which open up great realms for the improvement of technical writing. They begin, 'Assembly of Japanese bicycle require great peace of mind.'
Peace of mind isn't at all superficial really, I expound. It's the whole thing. That which produces it is good maintenance; that which disturbs it is poor maintenance. What we call workability of the machine is just an objectification of this peace of mind. The ultimate test's always your own serenity. If you don't have this when you start and maintain it while you're working you're likely to build your personal problems right into the machine itself.
There is an infinity of hypotheses. The more you look the more you see.
It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top.
It is not the facts but the relation of things that results in the universal harmony that is the sole objective reality.
Always take the old part with you to prevent getting a wrong part.
Impatience is close to boredom but always results from one cause: an underestimation of the amount of time the job will take.
Mu means "no thing". Like "Quality" it points outside the process of dualistic discrimination. Mu simply says, "No class; not one; not zero, not yes, not no." It states that the context of the question is such that a yes or no answer is an error and should not be given. "Unask the question" is what it says. Mu becomes appropriate when the context of the question becomes too small for the truth of the answer.
Apart from bad tools, bad surroundings are a major gumption trap.
Religion isn't invented by man. Men are invented by religion.
When handling precision parts that are stuck or difficult to manipulate, a person with mechanic's feel will avoid damaging the surfaces and work with his tools on the nonprecision surfaces of the same part whenever possible. If he must work on the surfaces themselves, he'll always use softer surfaces to work with them. ... Handle precision parts gently.
Want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It's easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally. That's the way all experts do it.
The real cycle you're working on is a cycle called yourself.

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