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Thread: Dogen and Joyce

  1. #1

    Dogen and Joyce

    Hello friends,

    My yearly reading of Finnegan's Wake is coming up, and I have a thought; I may have mentioned this before, but I don't remember. Reading Joyce is, I think, like reading Dogen; while there is a message, it's something that cannot really be understood intellectually. Like sitting--the more you search for meaning, the further away it retreats. It's a book that can (for me) only be read for the sake of reading. Only understood by letting go of understanding. It also, being a circular book (the sentence of the last chapter is the first half of the first sentence of the first chapter), facilitates a realization of each word is both the first and the last, a beginning and an end, a constant departure and arrival.

    All that to say, for me, the Joyce book is a good introduction to the "literary free-form jazz" that Dogen seems to be so fond of, if there are any out there that, like me, have difficulty with Shobogenzo or any of his other works.

    Metta,

    Saijun

    EDIT: It appears that Ms. Chessie mentioned this back in November on a topic related to understanding Shobogenzo. My apologies for the duplicate post.

  2. #2

    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    Not being an English native speaker, Finnegan's wake is too difficult for me, but I like to connect "riverrun" with Heraclitus, and his saying about not being able to enter two times in the same river, and therefore a connection to impermanence.

    Gassho

    Rimon

  3. #3

    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    Quote Originally Posted by Rimon
    Not being an English native speaker, Finnegan's wake is too difficult for me, but I like to connect "riverrun" with Heraclitus, and his saying about not being able to enter two times in the same river, and therefore a connection to impermanence.

    Gassho

    Rimon
    Hello Rimon,

    Being a native English speaker doesn't help, I'm afraid. Mr. Joyce played with the language rather extensively ("He addle liddle phifie Annie ugged the little craythur." as an example), and I must admit that the book defeated me very early on the first time that I tried to read it. The trick, at least for me, is to occasionally pick out a passage and say it out loud. They tend to make a little more sense then.

    Metta,

    Saijun

  4. #4

    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    Hi,

    I touched on some of this (hopefully in clear and direct prose) in the "How to Read Dogen/Dogen as Jazzman" post I sometimes link to ... It's often the feeling, man, based on the classic "Standards" or Zen and Buddhist insight ...

    So, for that reason, it is important to approach Dogen, sometimes, as one would approach T.S. Eliot's The Waste land or James Joyce's Ulysses . Here is what some professor wrote of understanding The Waste Land ...

    We cannot understand the poem without knowing what it meant to its author, but we must also assume that what the poem meant to its author will not be its meaning. The notes to The Waste Land are, by the logic of Eliot's philosophical critique of interpretation, simply another riddle--and not a separate one to be solved. They are, we might say, the poem's way of treating itself as a reflex, a "something not intended as a sign," a gesture whose full significance it is impossible, by virtue of the nature of gestures, for the gesturer to explain."... The Waste Land appears to be a poem designed to make trouble for the conceptual mechanics not just of ordinary reading (for what poem does not try to disrupt those mechanics?) but of literary reading. For insofar as reading a piece of writing as literature is understood to mean reading it for its style, Eliot's poem eludes a literary grasp.

    From Discovering Modernism: T.S. Eliot and His Context. Oxford University Press, 1987
    T.S. Elliot was sometimes quoted as saying that he himself did not know exactly what he "meant" by various passages of that poem.
    viewtopic.php?f=19&t=2999

    Kirk reminded me too, awhile back, of a wonderful series on the Public Radio (now a Podcast) called "Ken Nordine's Word Jazz" ... word play (truly play), stream of consciousness yet crafted by a talented ear, rich in connections and layers of meaning, intended and accidental and both and neither ...

    http://www.wordjazz.com/index.php?optio ... &Itemid=32

    Gassho, J

  5. #5
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    Ah, Joyce... I first read Finnegans Wake back in 1988, when I was living for a year in Oslo. My wife was an engineer, and we were there as expats. I didn't have a lot of work - I was teaching English a few hours a week - so I spent a lot of time with FW and with Annotations to Finnegans Wake. I didn't "understand" a lot, but my knowledge of several languages (English, obviously, but also French and, at the time, Norwegian), helped me see a lot through the haze of that book. Interestingly, that is the same period when I first really "got" Buddhism. I recall it well - I had bought some sort of introductory book about the dharma, and I remember the flash of awareness when reading a passage, sitting in front of a museum near Frogner Park.

    I've been a Joycean for a long time, and part of what I like in FW is just what you say, the fact that you get something out of it on a level below that of your intellect. Just last year, a new "edition" of FW was released in Ireland, and I bought a copy (it's a limited edition, a very large, beautifully produced book), and I've been waiting for the right time to do another reading. I don't do it every year as you; I've only done so twice. But it certainly is an enjoyable book to read if you can just let go of the words. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. #6

    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    [quote="Saijun"]
    All that to say, for me, the Joyce book is a good introduction to the "literary free-form jazz" that Dogen seems to be so fond of, if there are any out there that, like me, have difficulty with Shobogenzo or any of his other works.[quote]

    Works with Jack Kerouac's works, too.

  7. #7

    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    Quote Originally Posted by Saijun

    Being a native English speaker doesn't help, I'm afraid. Mr. Joyce played with the language rather extensively ("He addle liddle phifie Annie ugged the little craythur." as an example), and I must admit that the book defeated me very early on the first time that I tried to read it. The trick, at least for me, is to occasionally pick out a passage and say it out loud. They tend to make a little more sense then.

    Metta,

    Saijun
    Good suggestion. I'll try reading some passages out loud then. Maybe it also helps for Dogen

    Gassho

    Rimon

  8. #8
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    Well, to start with, you have to hear Joyce himself read an excerpt:

    http://www.openculture.com/2009/06/jame ... _wake.html

    When I heard this, I understood the overall rhythm of the work much better.

  9. #9

    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hi,

    I touched on some of this (hopefully in clear and direct prose) in the "How to Read Dogen/Dogen as Jazzman" post I sometimes link to ... It's often the feeling, man, based on the classic "Standards" or Zen and Buddhist insight ...
    Ha. It appears that I'm a day late as always! At least I know that my connection is not without precedence! Thank you.

    Metta,

    Saijun

  10. #10
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    The thing about geniuses like Dogen or Joyce is that they are their own ideal readers. So subtle and advanced are their perceptions that they are not sure they can successfully communicate their insights in conventional language. They have both realised (very Zen this) the limits of language. Indeed, they have both pushed out beyond language.
    Finnegan’s Wake is written in a language of Joyce’s own making. It is a “meta” language. Joyce spoke English, French, Italian, and a little Irish. His book is written in a grammar and idiom where all these languages meet and intersect and influence each other. It offers an insight into the interconnection of all utterance, from language to language, and from historical period to historical period.
    Also, that it is a dream narrative makes it all even more unconventional and impenetrable at times. That and its love of the circular structure do make the work reminiscent of the Shobo Genzo.
    That’s my two-cents worth, anyway. Certainly we need to encounter both Joyce and Dogen with a different part of our being, one that we conventionally neglect.

    Gassho,
    Soen

  11. #11

    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    :lol: and just a quick reminder that Bloomsday is coming up soon; June 16!
    Gassho, Ann

  12. #12

    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    Hello everyone,

    with so many people saying such interesting things about Joyce, I feel like I should finally get round to reading some of his works. What's a good starting point? Any suggestions?

    Thank you very much for your recommendations.


    Gassho,

    Hans

  13. #13

    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    Quote Originally Posted by Hans
    Hello everyone,

    with so many people saying such interesting things about Joyce, I feel like I should finally get round to reading some of his works. What's a good starting point? Any suggestions?

    Thank you very much for your recommendations.


    Gassho,

    Hans
    Hello Hans,

    I started with A Portrait of the Author as a Young Man in school. It's not quite so inaccessible as the Wake, but is still different from anything I had read up to that time.

    Metta,

    Saijun

  14. #14
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    Hi Hans,
    I love the short stories in Dubliners. Each one has an "epiphany" at its heart for the character involved, a kensho, really.

    Then there's Portrait of the Artist, the journey of a character towards maturity and an understanding of the world.

    Then Ulysses: a single day over 800 pages, a celebration of the ordinary, the mythic force hehind habitual reality, the Everyman as hero.

    I envy you Hans not having read these great works. What a journey from Dubliners on!

    Deep bows,
    Soen

  15. #15
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    Dubliners then Ulysses. Portrait suffers, in my opinion, by too much digression. I re-read it last year, and was quite disappointed by it. But Dubliners has some touching short stories, notably the last one, The Dead, which is probably one of the best short stories in the English language.

  16. #16

    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    Mmmmm... Time to re-read some Joyce and next jump into Finnegan's Wake

    Gassho to all those helpful comments

    Rimon

  17. #17

    Re: Dogen and Joyce

    Hello,

    thank you all for your suggestions. I'll add the Dubliners to my Birthday wish list.

    Right now I am reading "Endless Path" by Rafe Martin, which is absolutely wonderful and offers the reader a very deep yet non-intellectual approach to Buddhist Jataka tales and the precepts. Mr. Martin is just a great storyteller.


    Gassho,

    Hans

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