more Zen, slightly more film related
Fri Sep 10 18:53:14 EDT 1999
> Could you suggest
> me any other useful source for my research? (On Ozu's aesthetics)
Well, my studies of Buddhism were two years ago and I forget a lot. If you
go to Faure and Sharf, their bibliographies are extensive (especially Faure
who regularly lists a 50-60 peage bibliography). For another, historical
way of understanding the daily realities of Zen, look at Foulk's work on
monastic organisation. His Phd (perhaps still unpublished after 10 years)
is still one of the best resources for studying Zen doctine and ritual.
Also Ketelaar's book on Meiji Buddhism, shows why changes occured in the
Buddhist tradition, and why some people in the tradition felt the need to
> I also hesitated about Richie $B}T(J interpretation about the empty moments
> in Ozu $B}T(J films. After all, as you said, probably his way of knowledge
> would be Suzuki itself. The developing of his conclussions was not
> convincing at all. What do you think about the relationship between
> Ozu and Zen?
Sorry, I haven't seen an Ozu film in over two years. I can't really answer
this question. I did write a paper that made some criticisms of Richie's
arguement and could not agree with his conclusions either. Indeed, his
understanding of Zen does seem to come from people like Suzuki. I
understand that Richie does not read Japanese, so he would almost certainly
have not used original material written in Japanese. Books written on Zen
in English (particularly by Zen missionaries like Suzuki) are written in
English for many reasons...
I am not suggesting that there is no evidence in the Zen tradition for such
conclusions like Richie's to be made. If one looks at Zen art, there is a
fairly strong arguement to think that Zen is all about emptiness, etc. Yet,
one should look at the historical development of Zen art, note that it is
usually politically motivated (patronized) and not intrinsic to 'MU', the
soteriological notion of emptiness that Richie is talking about (remember
that emptiness is originally an Indian philosophical notion found in all
Mahayana Buddhism since the 2nd century and not particularly 'Zen'). Sharf
points out that many of the 'zen arts' were originally traditional arts of
the Chinese aristocracy and practiced in Japan by the Japanese aristocracy
who literally bought their way into the zen monasteries because of Zen's
strong ties with Chinese culture. Entering a Zen monastery improved one's
image and a lot of the aristocracy obviously didn't want to sit facing a
wall all day, so they occupied themselves with other things, emphasized the
Chinese cultural connections and patronized things like tea ceremonies,
brush painting, gardening, etc... This relationship between the zen
institutions and the aristocracy was necessary for it's survival. Of
course, it effected the aesthetic sense of the tradition, but this aesthetic
has many political implications as well as soteriological.
To start with Zen art and make conclusions about Zen Buddhism is the wrong
way to go about it. I don't think this statement is essentialising Zen.
There are many facets to Zen but to make observations about Zen soteriology
and doctrinal statements based on a rough understanding of Zen aesthetics
written by a group of Zen modernists is, I feel, a bad place to start.
>Is there really such a relationship? What could be the most
> convincent sources for proving the links between Ozu and the zen
> philosophy and aesthetics?
If you are only concerned with Zen 'aesthetics', then perhaps you can find
some relationship between Ozu and Zen, but in my opinion, it would not be a
particularly strong argument. 'Zen aesthetics' is concerned with
soteriology and a product of the tradition's political good fortune. To
translate that into Ozu's aesthetics would be pretty arbitrary.
I seem to recall Kathy Geist(sp.?) having written something that talked
about Ozu and Buddhism. I also recall that she was mentioning names like
Alan Watts and Suzuki. While Suzuki maintains a lot of respect among
Buddhist scholars because he was an excellent scholar who besides his work
in English, contributed a great deal of excellent scholarship to Buddhology.
Alan Watts is considered a joke among Buddhist scholars. Japanese scholars
like Nishitani and Nishida and the guy that wrote the large book on 'ZEN
ART', fall into the 'reverse orientalism', that Faure talks about.
Sorry I can't be more help. It's been a while.....Good luck!
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