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Influential Books

Charles Pirsig just died. Long obit in NYT highlights the cultural impact of his Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It doesn't mention that it was studying philosophy at the U. of Chicago that drove him crazy, which made the book personal for me. Like me, Pirsig was cowed by the tyranny of Reason, as personified by Richard McKeon and his course on Aristotle. Pirsig's contrarian emphasis on the pre-Socratic notion of "Arete"-- Quality-- was very attractive to me.

Other books from the same period had personal as well as cultural impact: the "Autobiography of Malcolm X" -- I was stunned that anyone would see me as a blue-eyed devil. "The Feminine Mystique" further confused male-female relationships in my mind just as Bev and I were trying to figure out how do marriage.

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