disembodied quote: institutions

“Our habit of treating institutions as second-order elements that “mean” less than such first-order categories as doctrine and belief is not purely a Eurocentric imposition, but has been encouraged in part by the discursive frameworks that East Asian Buddhists have formulated to inspire religious effort. An example is the Buddhist notion of the Two Truths. This conception pits the ultimate truth of buddha nature, which is what the Buddhist must grasp to attain salvation, against the conventional truth that institutions represents (Faure 1991, 18). The Chan religious imagination chose to distinguish the phenomenal realm, where the senses give rise to the illusion of permanence, from the realm of the impermanent and absolute, bracketing the one with the other. Being of the former, institutions are vulnerable to the charge of contributing to the illusion of permanence rather than working to dispel it. Institutions are left to “mean” less than they “are.” And yet, institutions — the customs, usages, practices, and organizations that shape the lives of Buddhists — are what provide and perpetuate the very possibility of the Buddhist life, furnishing the rituals, gestures, stories, and training through which people have access to an understanding of the Buddha.”

silently shaking fist

There is a scene in J.D. Salinger’s Raise High the Roof Beam Carpenters where the enigmatic Seymour Glass suggests that, instead of delivering the Gettysburg Address, a more appropriate response to the death 50,000 people would have been if Lincoln walked to the podium, silently shook his fist, and sat back down.

Which pretty well sums up my feelings this morning after the Johannes Mehserle trial and the subsequent highjacking of an otherwise peaceful rally by anarchists.

I’ve got nothing else to say.

disembodied quote: nonblackness

“The fundamental black/white binary endures, even though the category of whiteness — or we might say more precisely, a category of nonblackness — effectively expands. As before, the black poor remain outside the concept of the American as an “alien race” of “degenerate families.” A multicultural middle class may diversify the suburbs and college campuses, but the face of poor, segregated inner cities remains black. For quite some time, many observers have held that money and interracial sex would solve the race problem, and ,indeed, in some cases, they have. Nonetheless, poverty in a dark skin endures as the opposite of whiteness, driven by an age-old social yearning to characterize the poor as permanently other and inherently inferior.”

two sentence tuesday: issei buddhists

“American Buddhism began in the mid-to-late-nineteenth century with the transmission of ideology, artifacts, and people: Buddhism, Buddhist art, and Buddhists. These ideas and objects found their way to the Americas as part of transnational exchanges of translated texts or transported statuary made possible by the process of modernity and colonialism.”

smart people: an allegory

A little while ago, my wife’s car died in the parking lot of a video store. It’s an older car, a hand-me-down from her grandfather who pretty much drove it to the store and back once a week for a decade. It had been making all sorts of funny noises for a while, so its not starting all of a sudden wasn’t particularly surprising. But my wife had just gotten dental surgery and half of her face was numb; she didn’t particularly want to deal with calling the tow truck or finding a mechanic to figure out what was wrong with the car. She walked home, and along the way called me. The car became my responsibility.