Slumdog, Zen, the Arts, and the OX
The mountains around the Dragon Gate Inn are frozen white, but the fire is warm. It’s time for more updates on what’s going on in this writer’s life.
Movies seen: Slumdog Millionaire
Wow! Director Danny Boyle has done it again, created another marvelous movie, but this time he’s topped all his previous efforts. Slumdog Millionaire, filmed in Mumbai (Bombay), India in the exuberant “Bollywood” fashion, is an incredible experience. It’s what old time Hollywood movies used to be like before special effects took the place of solid storytelling. You can bet my heart is with the great screenplay writer, Simon Beaufoy, who adapted the movie from Vikas Swarup’s novel, Q and A. This is a movie that is what movies should be like, emotional experiences! Slumdog runs them all, from real horror – that is, from real life not something calculated merely for its gross out effect – to incredible joy and sorrow, from overwhelming sadness to overwhelming hope. Clearly, I was OVERWHELMED! It’s one of the best movies I’ve ever seen and I hope to see it again, soon. See it!
Books Read: Zen Baggage: A Pilgrimage to China
Amazing! My old friend, Bill Porter, has done it again, written a wonderful book about China’s ancient religious tradition; this time its China’s Zen tradition. Previously, in case you didn’t know, Bill went wandering off into the hills outside of the old Tang capital at Xian and documented China’s ancient tradition of religious hermits – a tradition that many people thought was long gone – turning it into the fascinating book, Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits.
This time Bill went on a pilgrimage to the six monasteries of the first six patriarchs of the Chinese Zen (Chan) tradition. His trip took him from Beijing down through Hong Kong and he visited more than the six monasteries. Here’s the review I summated to the Amazon.com book site:
Bill Porter’s Zen Baggage is a remarkable work that’s satisfying at multiple levels. Bill knows the spiritual landscape of modern China better than any author alive today traversing its sacred mountains, valleys, and waterways. And that’s the special attraction of Bill’s book – he’s been there! And being there, he’s got a lot of friends in those monasteries and sacred sites and each time he travels, he not only renews those friendships but also makes a raft of new ones. As a result, you, the lucky reader, get to make new friends, visit new places, have new experiences, and gain new insights. Old “Zennist” or total neophyte, Bill’s trip will surprise you in the depth and extent of China’s Zen Renaissance. And while it is one thing to build a lot of buildings and call them “Buddhist monasteries,” it’s quite another to populate them with sincere, intelligent Buddhists. Bill’s book introduces us to a new generation of remarkable Chinese Buddhist monks and nuns. At another level, if you enjoy traveling, you’ll enjoy Bill’s extensive knowledge of Chinese history and geography combined with his love of good tea and gastronomical adventures. Most of all, Zen Baggage let’s you check “your baggage” at the opening of the cover and join a remarkable traveler in a great modern day adventure!
If you’re up for a remarkable journey through a China most people never see, read it!
Things Joined: Arts in America
In a recent interview, Quincy Jones put forth the idea for a Secretary of the Arts. He says he’s going to bring it up with President Obama. As a result, a petition for just such a cabinet post has also sprung up. I think it’s a great idea and urge all writers and fellow artists of all genres and medias to sign the petition. You can find it here:
YEAR OF THE OX – May it bring prosperity, tranquility, and joy to the world!