Zen and the Art

Why the relationship between Zen and art is neither as simple nor as obvious as this cliché impliesHenry Shukman

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For better or worse, “Zen and the Art of…” has become a phrase that, like “Catch-22,” gets bandied about in all kinds of contexts. Zen and the Art of Changing Diapers, Zen and the Art of Casino Gaming, Zen and the Art of Faking It—there are now literally hundreds of books with “Zen and the Art of…” in the title, all presumably taking their cue from Robert Pirsig’s huge 1970s bestseller, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Likewise, hundreds of articles—even scholarly ones—appear under the same banner: “Zen and the Art of Medical Image Registration,” “Zen and the Art of Policy Analysis,” and so on.

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