Pirsig Connection

I don’t read any more than coincidence into this, but spooky none-the-less,

I’ve been in Oslo, around 20 months so far, and have been aware, from mentions by colleagues, of a bar on the other side of town, Grønland on the east side, we live in Majorstua on the west side. The place is Olympen (or Lompa to its friends) … originally a traditional Oslo Brun Cafe, but famous for keeping a great selection of Norwegian and imported beers – hundreds of them, though only a handful on draft. I’ve even walked past the place a handful of times, visting the ethnic shops in Grønland for spices, teas, etc, but visited the place only very recently, 3 times the last week or ten days. (Does great food too.)

Anyway, I was talking to an(other) engineer / project manager at the bar, discussing the engineering / ingenuity / quality angle – she was bemoaning male prejudice and the irony of the classical objectivity impression that engineering has. And the (Brit / brewer) barman having worked out what I liked – by trial and error, you understand – brought up a bottled beer and said, “Here, try this one.”

It was Red Seal Ale from the North Coast Brewery in Mendocino Co, CA (!) Of course I said instantly, that’s weird, do you guys know Pirsig ? (They didn’t as it happens, so I had to explain the significance of the climactic scenes on the Mendocino bluff / cliff-tops. In fact that particular brewery is about as close to the scene as it’s possible for a brewery to be, alongside Fort Bragg, just north of Caspar, now that is spooky.)

Anyway probably because of that I picked-up my first-edition / first-impression copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (ZMM) on Sunday and started an umpteenth re-read from the beginning – never actually “read” this particular copy – I have several.

Monday morning Christof sends me a link to his design/engineering and quality lecture video (never even been aware of it before now) – I post the link below.  This morning, Tuesday, on the way to work I’m reading towards the end of Part One of ZMM, about the never ending possibility of subdividing the classes of things in the world we perceive – Pirsig using his physical / functional / systematic breakdown of the eponymous motorcycle and Aristotle’s analytic knife to illustrate the dangerous illusion that creates.

This same morning a US colleague sends me a link overnight to a database of (tens of thousands of) distinct piping material components – as if to prove the point, part of our day job – and Bob (Pirsig) responds to yesterday’s post – a very rare event. My colleague here in Oslo, who overheard my exclamation (something less polite than “Good Heavens”), now wants to borrow the book. He’d not heard of it either. Dilemma – to loan the prized first edition … or bring in another copy tomorrow ? … but he’s on holiday after today for almost two weeks ….. aaagghh!

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Post Note : And ….

the brand of beer the travellers refresh themselves with early in Part 2 … Olympia

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