Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Seed Crystal Symbol Icon
A seed crystal is a small particle used to induce crystallization in a liquid. It is a metaphor that the narrator borrows from Phaedrus’s background in biochemistry to express the insight-based processes that allowed Phaedrus’s thoughts to suddenly take shape.

Seed Crystal Quotes in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance quotes below all refer to the symbol of Seed Crystal. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Quality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperTorch edition of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance published in 1974.
Chapter 15 Quotes

Quality—you know what it is, yet you don’t know what it is. But that’s self-contradictory. But some things are better than others, that is, they have more quality. But when you try to say what the quality is, apart from the things that have it, it all goes poof! There’s nothing to talk about. But if you can’t say what Quality is, how do you know what it is, or how do you know that it even exists? If no one knows what it is, then for all practical purposes it doesn’t exist at all. But for all practical purposes it really does exist.

Related Characters: The Narrator (speaker)
Related Symbols: Seed Crystal
Page Number: 231
Explanation and Analysis:

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Seed Crystal Symbol Timeline in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The timeline below shows where the symbol Seed Crystal appears in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 16
Quality Theme Icon
...on the system and grades normally again. In the narrator’s words, he awaited a “ seed crystal ” to solidify his thought. (full context)