The eccentric Bankei has lengthy been an underground hero on the earth of Zen. At a time while Zen was once turning into overly formalized in Japan, he under pressure its relevance to lifestyle, insisting at the significance of naturalness and spontaneity.
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Extra info for Bankei Zen: Translations from the Record of Bankei
Where the Buddhist develops a sense of mindfulness about the emptiness of karmic formations, Cage advocates a form of mindful aesthetic practice – one that is not based on self-expression or on The imitation of nature in her manner of operation 47 grasping after identity, but on increasing the awareness of impermanence and suchness. And when Cage writes that ‘the highest purpose is to have no purpose’ and stresses the importance of identifying with ‘what is here and now’ (Silence 155), the thought could be reconsidered in Buddhist terms as an active portrayal of mindfulness practice, in which ‘karmic formations are allowed to rise into the mind and then to pass into cessation – without being acted upon’ (Snelling 71).
The writing becomes effortless, a gift from The imitation of nature in her manner of operation 33 another which is gratefully accepted through the text’s process of composition. In fact, the phrase ‘I have nothing to say and I am saying it’ makes another appearance among the intertexts of ‘Communi cation’ (51) thereby further illustrating that Cage’s ‘I’ is dispersed, empty of individual substance, and not limited to a single, autonomous location. How can a reader know which bits of writing originate with Cage, and which bits originate elsewhere, sourced as they are from an array of other writings, other territories, other subjects?
And yet, Cage remained unclear about the precise rationale for his choice of wing words. Perloff sees this recourse to choice as a kind of Oulipian clinamen – that is, the introduction of spontaneity and the unexpected in the use of an ordered constraint. For all of its meticulous procedures, the mesostic’s contradictory status as both non-intentional object and subjective compositional activity means that the poems oscillate between choice and choicelessness, purpose and purposelessness, and this oscilla tion moves the texts away from the subjective stance.