last words

It is now Friday, December 4, 2009. It’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted anything, here at the end of a surprisingly quiet autumn for the buddha is my dj. I realize that I’ve been posting less lately. (And, my god, there’s been so much that I could have (should have?) written about!) There are real reasons for the scarcity of posts, to be sure, but rest assured the following: the primary reason I’ve been posting less is that I’ve been deeply engaged with some other projects this fall; and you can expect more from these parts in the new year.

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on writing

Via the ever-wonderful RMS at the Worst Horse, I have discovered, downloaded, installed, and am now using Ommwriter. As my long-time readers know, I have a complicated relationship with all things marketed as “Zen” or “Buddhist” or in any way a part of the spirituality business to the extent that it rubs my leftist leanings the wrong way, raising my quiet indignation against the system, the market-saturated culture of oppression in which we often find ourselves.

But. I digress.

I digress because I may be a convert here. The experience of actually using Ommwriter is, to put it bluntly, pretty freakin’ cool. I think part of the reason I’m enjoying it is because I was reminded yesterday about an article I read some years ago — one of those articles written by a linguist or a statistician at MIT back when the Internet was still called ARPANET, the kind of paper that gets shuffled from hard drive to hard drive before ending up in some dusty corner of the web to be found by the likes of me. I can’t now recall where I found that article, but I do recall that its author claimed that word processing programs are evil. They are evil because they force users to become two fundamentally different types of people simultaneously: typists and typesetters. The art of writing, of typing, is something that requires focus and dedication. And word processing programs, to the extent that they distract you with auto-spelling corrections and troubling you with type face and fonts and margins and so on, get in the way of writing. A good writer, the author suggested, should just write — and only once she’s finished, should she worry about Helvetica or Times New Roman, single or double space.

theravada, podcasts, kids, and cancer

The most recently released IBS Podcast episode is a lecture by UC Chico’s Daniel Veidlinger, and it’s quite good. His overall project is to examine how changes in technology effect the way Buddhism is practice, and, in this case, he’s looking at the transition from a predominately oral and aural culture to a culture dominated by the written word in ancient South and South East Asia. In other words, the basic question is, what effect did this new invention of writing have on the early Buddhist communities? The answers may surprise you. Or, maybe they won’t, but either way the talk is well worth watching.

In other, completely unrelated news, my lovely and talented wife, a force of unrelenting good in this world, is doing a 10K run to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. For those who don’t know, St. Jude’s hospitals do research to prevent childhood cancer and other catastrophic diseases. So, you know, also damn good work but of a different sort than historical/textual scholarship.

news and updates galore

First and foremost, my dear readers, it is the second Friday of the month which means you’re all being treated to a new episode of the DharmaRealm podcast. And not just any new episode — but the first episode recorded before a live studio audience!

Actually pulling this event off was pretty rewarding, I gotta say. Between you and me, we kind of threw it all together without much foresight (a consequence of a more-than-insanely-busy late summer, early autumn). Harry and I learned a lot from the experience, though and are looking forward to recording more stuff with an audience. And next time we’ll do it on a Saturday so more people can attend (and maybe I’ll look into live-streaming — but don’t hold your breath!). Apart from all that behind-the-scenes stuff, the content of this episode is, in my humble option, actually quite good! We were inspired by a question about the nature of the Pure Land, and to the extent this is the kind of question us Shin Buddhists get asked a lot, it was good to hash out our ideas. Harry’s perspective, that the idea of whether or not the Pure Land is really real and how that forces us to question the reality of our mundane world, is something worth considering. Needless to say, he blew my mind once or twice.

we’re doin’ it live!

It’s Saturday morning. It’s actually way too early on a Saturday morning (thanks, cat). But it looks like it’s going to be a lovely day out there, so I think I’ll make the most of it.

For the last week and a half, I’ve been floundering out here as my primary work computer’s hard drive crashed. I sort of pieced together a not-so-great working solution of the home computer and an old laptop, but I got very little done. So the next few weeks are going to be full of catch up. Oh, goodie. The reason I bring this up — well, one of the reasons I bring this up — is to reflect on how very attached I became to that computer. Or, more accurately, the routine I’d created with that computer and the work space. Not having that particular machine in that particular space was really disorienting. Working on the laptop in my living room just didn’t feel right. Funny how easily we are affected by change.

the DharmaRealm: live!

As of this writing (June 20), the details are fuzzy but the date is confirmed. Harry and I are doing a live recording of the DharmaRealm podcast. The event is scheduled for Friday, October 2, sometime around 5 p.m., held in the Kodo at the Jodo Shinshu Center, in Berkeley, Ca. We’ll start off with […]