[MD] questions about cover art

Horse horse at darkstar.uk.net
Fri Oct 5 04:25:13 PDT 2018

Hi Christoph

The flower half of the motif on the cover of Zen and the Art of 
Motorcycle Maintenance (ZAMM) is a Lotus Flower which has a special 
place in Buddhism. According to Wiki:
"In*Buddhist*symbolism the*lotus*is symbolic of purity of the body, 
speech, and mind as while rooted in the mud, its*flowers blossom*on long 
stalks as if floating above the muddy waters of attachment and desire. 
It is also symbolic of detachment as drops of water easily slide off its 
The flower is Zen, the spanner the motorcycle.

Something else that may also be of interest are the markings on the spanner.
On my ancient copy of ZAMM, on the shaft of the spanner I can see 2 
impressions from the 'casting'. One is 5/16W and the other is 3/8BSF. 
The first is for Whitworth (or British Standard Whitworth) and the 
second is for British Standard Fine which relate to bolt/thread sizes 
and were used extensively on British motorcycles, before and during the 
I don't know if this is to symbolise Pirsig's links with the UK or if 
it's just an artist's attention to detail. It does seem a bit 
incongruous when you think that Pirsig's motorcycle was Japanese which 
would likely have used the metric system. It may be some other 
additional symbolism or it may be nothing!
Food for thought?

Have a look at:
for more background info

There are other good references to be found if you search using Google.

Good luck with your research and feel free to post again with other 
questions or ideas


On 02/10/2018 21:35, list wrote:
> Hello,
> I am working on some research about the various editions of Pirsig’s books and I was wondering if anybody would know what flower/plant is depicted on several of the covers. I would suspect that it somehow relates to the philosophical ideas.
> Any ideas?
> Thank you,
> Christoph
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