zenpundit.com » zoo

Archive for the ‘zoo’ Category

Joshu and the poets

Monday, November 18th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — From Joshu, Japanese zen master who recommends having a hot coal caught in your throat, metaphorically speaking, to Isaiah, Hebrew prophet, to whose lips it is said an angel pressed a burning coal ]
.

Said Joshu, proffering the word “Mu” in answer to the question “Does a dog have buddha nature? in one of the great koans of the Zen text, The Gateless Gate”:

If you really want to pass this barrier, you should feel as though you have a hot iron ball in your throat that you can neither swallow nor spit up. Then your previous conceptualizing disappears. Like a fruit ripening in season, subjectivity and objectivity are experienced as one.

You have a hot iron ball in your throat that you can neither swallow nor spit up. That’s how you must feel, so that by means of this koan, “your previous conceptualizing disappears” and “subjectivity and objectivity are experienced as one.”

There are few barriers in our contemporary western world so difficult to pass — “the first responders running towards the burning Twin Towers as everyone else was running away” would surely qualify.

**

And yet and yet.

And yet, the thing is, “buddha nature”, or”original face” as another koan names it, the condition in which “subjectivity and objectivity are experienced as one” is prior to the condition in which they are experienced separately as “subjectivity” and “objectivity” — it’s “original”.

So if yo find yourself suffering from “subjectivity” and “objectivity, you’ll need that “hot iron ball in your throat” to get back to origins. But if you’re there, where “subjectivity and objectivity are experienced as one” — no problem.

In fact, after you’ve “solved” — “resolved” might be better — a koan, your zen master is liable to suggest you look through a book of “capping verses” such as this one, Zen Sand, kindly published by the University of Hawaii Press, to find one verse that caps or sums up your experience.

The thing being that some poet wrote that verse, after experiencing something very close to what you experienced.

**

Which suggests that either:

literally hundreds of poets arrived at “subjectivity and objectivity are experienced as one” without going through the “hot iron ball in your throat” stage by being poets, in other words, they simply kept to the “original” state beyond dualism — in which case poetry sounds like a fine route by which to avoid all that throat-blistering terror or..

the poets routinely go through the “iron ball” barrier on their way to poetic clarity — a possibility which would oleave traces, surely, in their poems..

Such as:

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels’ hierarchies?
and even if one of them pressed me suddenly against his heart:
I would be consumed in that overwhelming existence.
For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, which we are still just able to endure,
and we are so awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Every angel is terrifying.
And so I hold myself back and swallow the call-note of my dark sobbing.

That, as you may know, is Rilke, in the first of huis Duino Elegies.

Or this:

No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring. ..
My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief
Woe, wórld-sorrow; on an áge-old anvil wince and sing…

World sorrow — can there be any greater?

But those words are the words of a Catholic priest, a Jesuit, Gerard Manley Hopkins — and I left out the two most remarkable lines in that poem, lines in which he despairs of the Holy Spirit or Comforter, and the Virgin Mary, Mother of the world in Catholic theology:

Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?

Coming from a Catholic pruiest, those are noteworthy, certainly surprising lines.

**

Or this, from Rilke again, triggered by Hopkins’ speaking of “world-sorrow” — here Orpheus speaks of Eurydice:

A woman so loved that from one lyre there came
more lament than from all lamenting women;
that a whole world of lament arose, in which
all nature reappeared: forest and valley,
road and village, field and stream and animal;
and that around this lament-world, even as
around the other earth, a sun revolved
and a silent star-filled heaven, a lament-
heaven, with its own, disfigured stars —:
So greatly was she loved.

It may be the poets ahve swallowed more grief than that “hot coal” could muster — but then consider the story told in Isaiah 6. 5-7,. Isaiah speaks:

Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.

Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged.

One may always wish, trembling, for an angelic visitation.

cat : football :: snake : baseball ?

Monday, November 11th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — the zoo unleashed here on the fields of football and baseball, a DoubleQuote illustrating that comparison can be invidious ]
.

Let’s start with a cat on the field (football), tweeted by Timothy Burke

Burke comments:

Kevin Harlan’s Westwood One radio call of the cat on the field is, as you might expect, an all-time great call. How much of a pro is Harlan? He worked a sponsor read into it.

**

Okay, I’ll cap that with a snake on the field (baseball):

cat : football :: snake : baseball?

But that’s ridiculous. Comparisons are invidious, QED.

The Magic in Advertising series, more music, classics, mixes, snore

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — following on Advertising series 01: Music — maybe I’ll post three today — here’s the second ]
.

Ludacris Mercedes– there’s a moment in the middle of this magical commercial where magic transforms opera into rap — the Mercedes driver’s preference, as we see at the end of the commercial, when he instructs the car to play his music:

Opera as luxe:

The aria is — well, here’s how the LA Times puts it, in a piece titled Does Volvo know it’s using opera’s most monstrous villainess to sell its SUVs?:

Volvo’s new spokesmodel for its SUVs, the Queen of the Night from Mozart’s “Magic Flute” (Diana Damrau), ordering up the murder of Sarastro, the High Priest of the Sun, in a production at Covent Garden.(Royal Opera House)

.

Ha! For a different take, an opera-rap mix, see Twist of Fate Wines’ Embrace the Unexpected ad:

Like it? Switch modes of culture-clash:

Flight of the Bumblebee:

And go to Calvinball:

Last but not least, give things a sacred twist? Hallelujah:

**

Previous episodes in the same series:

Advertising series 01: Music
Eros, the Renaissance and advertising
Authentic, spiritual magic!
The magic of advertising or the commercialization of magic?
Here’s magic!
The magic of miniatures
rhyming, twinning, pattern recognition
the purring, roaring Jaguar

I imagine there will eventually be about twenty posts in the series..

The Magic in Advertising series, the purring, roaring Jaguar

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — this series has been quiescent, and that’s a pity — so I’ll post two today, to re-kick-start the series ]
.

Jaguar:

You’ll likely have seen the jaguar (cat) keeping pace with the Jaguar (e-pace), the cat and the car in parallel..

The cat-car association is embedded in the name: the addition of a beautiful woman never hurt from an ad-man’s perspective. Here’s a 1959 ad for an XK150 Roadster:

The same formula works today —

Eva Green features in an alluring, almost purring commercial in which her cat accompanies her to her car:

As the lady says, It’s just electric.

And in a docu-short, Ms Green tells us:

When I think of Jaguar I think of the power and the elegance of the animal, it’s such an iconic brand..

Cat and brand are no longer running in parallel, they’re merging..

**

Previous episodes in the same series:

Advertising series 01: Music
Eros, the Renaissance and advertising
Authentic, spiritual magic!
The magic of advertising or the commercialization of magic?
Here’s magic!
The magic of miniatures
rhyming, twinning, pattern recognition

I imagine there will eventually be about twenty posts in the series..

Orchids and Butterflies

Monday, September 30th, 2019

[ by Charles Cameron — just passing along what the New Yorker passed my way this last week ]
.

The New Yorker‘s regular emails pointing to past stories offered up a pair of very interesting writings this last week:

The first is the piece by Susan Orlean which was later developed into her book, The Orchid Thief, and again by Charlie Kaufman into the script for the Spike Jonze film, Adaptation. Just the screenplay would be enough to capture my interest, for its inherent ouroboros:

I’ve written myself into my screenplay.
That’s kind of weird, huh?

But that’s my obsession, far less erotic than orchids, I concede.

**

The second is Vladimir Nabokov‘s account of his own obsession, you might call it, with butterflies:

**

Here are the pieces — enjoy reading!!:

  • Susan Orlean, Orchid Fever
  • Vladimir Nabokov, Butterflies

  • Elif Batuman, Vladimir Nabokov, Butterfly Illustrator

  • Switch to our mobile site