Entering the Marketplace - Ten*

She is no longer fettered.
One place is all places.  
Her wanderings are purposeless.
What she encounters, she does.
What she discovers, she loves.
She is free.


*John Cage is one of those names that repeated emerges, so one day, I looked him up at the library. One of the books in the stacks was John Cage: Zen Ox Herding Pictures.  The book is illustrated with the paper towels John Cage used at the Mountain Lake Workshop in Virginia to test his brush and practice new watercolor techniques.  His friend Ray Kass found the resulting test sheets appealing and saved them for almost 20 years.  In 2007, Kass met Stephen Addiss, an artist, musician, and historian of Japanese art.  Addiss had studied with Cage, so Kass showed him the paper towel collection which they decided to use as illustrations for a zen ox herding series, something Cage liked and related to. Addiss then chose text from Cage's writings to accompany the images.*  

In the introductory pages to the book, Stephen Addiss writes:

While the ox has long been a symbol of fertility in China, in Zen it also represents the heart-mind unity.  In Chinese and Japanese the same character (for ox) has both meanings, so searching for the ox can be understood as searching for one's own true self.  As a metaphor for the path to enlightenment, the ox-herding poems and paintings form a spiritual narrative, making them part of a great tradition: the journey outward that leads to a journey inward.

*I talked to my mother today, and she insisted I clarify that John Cage's paper towel collection and accompanying text appears in the book I checked out of the library (and returned late).  The ink marks and text that appear here are my interpretations of the zen ox herding pictures.  10/25/12

No comments:

Post a Comment