Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Quality

I was helping out a good friend in setting up his brand new iMac, a process I have done several times before for Apple systems I have had over the years and noticed, once again, what attention to detail really means. From carrying the box to configuring the system, I was continually struck by how nuanced the Apple product truly is. The box opened with ease, the protective plastic bag, designed to keep scratches at bay, had a nice feel and the tape holding the keyboard and mouse together during it's trip to the customer released it's grip without the need of scissors. The machine itself had enough heft to it that bespoke of good materials used in the building of the product and when booted up and linked to the web, it simply worked.

The guts of the machine are the same as any decent Windows box (I use Windows as well as Macs in my real job.) but the experience of setting up an Apple computer always strikes me as being different, which translates to quality, a concept well addressed by Robert M. Pirsig, a writer I have long admired as being one of the few who really knows how do this most difficult craft with elegance and grace.


His first book, Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, instructs one to see quality as an undefinable essence that just "is" as life is just "is" when viewed through the prism of Zen.

In Lila, this attempt to define quality (and to experience it) becomes the central locus of the book because wasting one's time on anything less is not acceptable as one moves toward old age.

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