The book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values is a novel that makes you really reflect on life. If the reader is not fully engaged in the book all they will notice is the one narrator who tells stories about his journeys on his motorcycle. However, if the reader actually focuses on the writing they will realize that the book has actually two narrators and explains life more thoroughly. The book actually points out other things rather than just telling the somewhat boring stories of a man, his son, and his motorcycle.
The author expresses his thoughts in a different way, the narrator tells the story from actually two different points of view. The narrator speaks from his current self while telling his motorcycle stories, but also from the mind of his pre electroshock therapy personality, which he calls Phaedrus, who was previously a teacher and a very intellectual man. Throughout the majority of the book the reader is led to believe that Phaedrus was insane, however, after resuming reading the story he really is not.Order now
This causes some confusion and leads us to question the reliability of the two personalities: which is more reliable? The novel begins with the unnamed narrator describing the world as he experiences it from his motorcycle journeys. He describes what the experience of riding on a motorcycle is like and how you can make full use of all senses. The narrator feels like you are more connected to nature when freely riding on a motorcycle rather then crammed into a car and stressed.
Not long after the beginning we are informed of a “ghost” named Phaedrus, who spent so long hunting a ghost, “that he became a ghost himself”. At first we assume Phaedrus was an old friend of the narrator, however, we soon learn all about how Phaedrus is actually the name the narrator has given to his pre electroshock therapy self also known as his other personality. It is at this point the reader feels some inaccuracy and confusion in the reading. What the narrator is saying doesn’t always add up or necessarily make sense.
Basically what I am saying, he is unreliable. Though the novel the narrator says that Phaedrus is the one who was insane but I feel it is actually the other way around. Based off of the narrator’s view of Phaedrus may, at first, seem absolutely crazy. His ideas are quite different from the norm including his obsessive attitude. He obsesses over things such as quality and theories and the scientific method, and focusing on the littler things in life. Phaedrus’s ideas are just different, not crazy.
In our society the terms are often confused to mean the same thing. Phaedrus wasn’t insane; he just had ideas that were different and told everyone about them even if they thought he was crazy. Phaedrus said what he felt and wasn’t afraid of what other people thought because he stuck to what he believed in. his ideas were similar to the ideas of Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton but people could not understand what Phaedrus was “preaching. ” His theories were so far out there that people could not understand them and that is why he was assumed to be crazy.
He was known as this because we are afraid of change so society was afraid of Phaedrus’ ideas that were crazy and different. This is what was evident in the end of the book. Phaedrus wasn’t crazier than any of us are; he just had some different ideas. Others couldn’t understand his philosophies, which is what led him to eventually believe he was insane. Phaedrus was actually completely reliable; it was those around him that were not. The story leads us to believe that Phaedrus was the crazy one, while the narrator was supposedly a completely different person.
The truth is actually that it was not Phaedrus who was crazy, but the narrator. The narrator was completely unpredictable and unreliable and at times he seemed perfectly sane and normal, but would have random episodes where he just became absolutely obsessed with what and who Phaedrus was. He became consumed with it and believed things that were false. His body had been altered to basically depend on Phaedrus, which is what led to his unreliability. But Phaedrus was a normal person who happened to have some amazing ideas that were “different” which made him very reliable.