zen and the art of

Here's something that's been bugging the stuffing out of me for a while. People need to stop using Zen And The Art Of … in the title of every misbegotten how to spew that their half-baked muse strikes them to hack up.

Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values was a great book by Robert M. Pirsig. It was published in 1974, 36 years ago this spring. I read it in about 1981, and could not put it down. That was back when I had an attention span.

Since then, countless people have ripped off that title. Zen And The Art Of Poker, Zen And The Art Of Rhubarb Furniture, Zen And The Art Of Vampires, Zen And The Art Of Chicken n Dumplins, Zen And The Art Of Zen, Zen And The Art Of Leather Pants, Zen And The Art Of Getting Rich, Zen And The Art Of The Banana Sandwich. Then there's the one that set me off, Zen and the art of serial-drama maintenance.

Huh? Knock it off! It was fresh once, over a third of a century ago, when Pirsig did it, and that was that. He got there first, nailed it down, done. Get over it. Shoot for a original thought, for cryin' out loud. 

You can't just come along and write For Whom The Bell Rings, A Clean Well-Lighted House, or The Sound and the Funny, and expect to get away with it. What If I spewed up a poem about walking a dog at night, hearing her rabies tags jingling, and called it Stopping By Woods On A Chilly Evening? I'd be dragged to the withered bracken!

Am I serious? No, not really. I made up half those titles in the third paragraph. Can you guess which? But it does seem like a pretty easy way to scratch the itch to find a title, and nobody respects taking the easy way out. I can stop ranting now, and we can just feel sorry for those so lacking in imagination. They wouldn't know Zen if it ran up and bit them, and they don't understand that repetition is the death of something, as somebody already said.  

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