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Made You Think

Jan 19, 2024

“ know what it is, yet you don’t know what it is. But that’s self-contradictory. But some things are better than others, that is, they have more quality. But when you try to say what the quality is, apart from the things that have it, it all goes poof! There’s nothing to talk about. But if you can’t say what Quality is, how do you know what it is, or how do you know that it even exists? If no one knows what it is, then for all practical purposes it doesn’t exist at all. But for all practical purposes it really does exist.”

Welcome back to another episode of Made You Think! In this episode, we're discussing Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. Join us as we ride through the intersections of philosophy, a father and son motorcycle trip across America, and the pursuit of Quality. 

We cover a wide range of topics including:

  • Different learning styles and the value of hands-on experience
  • Exploring the elusive concept of Quality
  • Reflections on the narrative and philosophy of the book
  • Overcoming gumption traps and staying enthusiastic 
  • How the journey is just as important as the destination

And much more. Please enjoy, and make sure to follow NatNeil, and Adil on Twitter and share your thoughts on the episode.

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(0:00) We open the episode with our take on podcast analytics. Though people can choose where they want to listen, it’s hard to get a sense of overall listening numbers across platforms as a whole.

(2:49) Today's episode is centered around Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Neil connects his college experience to the book, describing the contrast between theoretical vs. applied learning.

(5:35) Different learning styles, emphasizing hands-on experience, and the importance of practical understanding over theory. 

(9:43) Why is it that not every great athlete can go on to become a great coach? It all comes down to being able to apply and share your knowledge in a given setting.

(12:59) Sharing our thoughts on how the story was written, the narrative of the motorcycle trip, and how the sequel compares to this story.

(18:43)The author opens the door to a variety of ideas such as learning to be in the present moment and how to focus on one thing at a time. Though Pirsig is intuitive across several domains, we find that he struggles to put these concepts into words. 

(23:12) While on a trip with his son and another couple, the author reflects on flashbacks in his life, including the treatment of his past insanity. Through fixing the bike and traveling across the country, he learns many valuable lessons and philosophies along the way.

(28:23) We briefly discuss the sequel where Pirsig highlights William James Sidis, known for his incredibly high IQ and profound ideas on the origin of life. 

(32:43) Comparing bike riding to a full-body meditation. Each limb has a specific task to operate the bike, and you have to be focused on the road in front of you, truly bringing yourself to the present moment.

(34:10) Nat, Neil, and Adil ponder the concept of Quality, its connection to science, spirituality, and the importance of peace of mind. Quality is all about applying yourself and your senses in the present moment, and being one with what you are doing.

(40:54) Nat shares his perspective on the book's cognitive challenges and the reconciliation of theory and practice within the book.

(45:18) One unique factor about this book is that it doesn’t necessarily mean to give you a conclusive solution at the end. It’s all about enjoying the journey, and being okay with the fact that you may not have arrived anywhere by the end of the book. 

(48:53) Appreciating the book's humor, comical dialogues, and character depth, with a desire for more insight into the minds of the minor characters.

(52:05) It can be very difficult to get started on any project, especially when you think of the whole scope of what you're about to do. If you can start with just one part, it becomes more manageable. We relate this idea to the book writing process.

(1:04:37) What are gumption traps, and how can you avoid falling into them? Plus, we give some examples of common gumption traps that you may fall into that diminish your enthusiasm. 

(1:11:47) That concludes this episode! If this episode intrigued you, make sure to pick up a copy of  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Next up, we'll be reading Straw Dogs by John Gray. Plus, we have an exciting announcement coming soon. Stay tuned for future episodes to stay in the know!

If you enjoyed this episode, let us know by leaving a review on iTunes and tell a friend. As always, let us know if you have any book recommendations! You can say hi to us on Twitter @TheRealNeilS, @adilmajid, @nateliason and share your thoughts on this episode.

You can now support Made You Think using the Value-for-Value feature of Podcasting 2.0. This means you can directly tip the co-hosts in BTC with minimal transaction fees. To get started, simply download a podcast app (like Fountain or Breez) that supports Value-for-Value and send some BTC to your in-app wallet. You can then use that to support shows who have opted-in, including Made You Think! We’ll be going with this direct support model moving forward, rather than ads.

Thanks for listening. See you next time!