Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Zen, Karma, Baseball, and Motorcyles


Laurie and I are heading out for a couple of days to see some old friends and watch the Giants in spring training. I don't know about you guys, but I find these kinds of moments reflective. Whenever I am packing a bag, even for a small trip like this one, it just brings out a sense of reflectiveness and that makes me reach for a different kind of literature.

I grew up reading fiction, but turned to poetry and counterculture material in my teens and twenties, but mainly read non-fiction, now. I was out of step with my peers in that I was reading counterculture stuff (Kerouac, et al) in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan and Brook Shields ruled the cultural landscape.

But one of my favorite books when I was a kid, in my teens, was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig.  There is something about this book that brings me back to it over and over again.  Certainly it was a kind of classic of its time.  Published in 1974, it probably represents some of the best of the countercultural literature.

As I write this I am looking at a mass market paperback edition from the early 80s.  And the thing of it is, I know if I can bring myself to relax with this book and slowly chew on this material, which is concerned with romantic ways of seeing the world versus scientific rationality... or Dionysus versus Apollo... that it will bring me back to a time before all this concern about Israel and the well-being of the Jewish people and our betrayal by the progressive movement.

Pirsig wrote the following:

The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower.  To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha -- which is to demean oneself.

I get that entirely and I very much hope that the time never comes in my life when I forget it.

I have to say, tho, that right at this moment I am looking forward to nothing so much as watching the Giants in Scottsdale and seeing if Buster Posey can actually come back as a star catcher.

We shall see.

Oh, and by the way,

Read School's piece about Harvard's betrayal.

I may be indulging myself, and just writing off of the top of my head as I sometimes do, but School's piece is significant.


  1. What is it about Jews and baseball?

    The common wisdom is that baseball was a method by which American Jews assimilated into American culture.

    I suppose that there is some truth in that notion.

    I grew up a Yankees fan and cried the day that Thurmon Munson crashed his plane in Canada.

    My father was a close friend of Arty Abrams who was the brother of Brooklyn Dodger great Cal Abrams.

    And, yes, when the Dodgers left Brooklyn they broke my father's heart.

    The Giants and the Dodgers are almost the mortal enemies that the Yanks and the Red Sox are.


  2. Looking forward to seeing the Phillies win it all this year! I've never been to a championship parade. Maybe the Sixers and the Flyers will even hold a couple this summer, too... ;)

    1. The Phillies have a good team, for sure.

      Plus, they're one of those old-timey baseball teams which... in fact, they may be the oldest-timeist ball club of all time.

      You know, Jay, I almost moved to Philly, myself.

      I came thiiiiis close.

      It doesn't get much more Americana than Philly, I think.

      Good for you, mister, and when you get your ass back here we'll hook up for a cocktail, maybe with Paul.

    2. Sure thing. I had to cancel my Oakland trip this summer now, obviously, but I'll get back out there one day. If you're ever out in Philly, give a holler...