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Tag: Buddhism

Ghosts of the Tsunami

Photo credit: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dylan McCord, 3/18/2011. Creative Commons.

Much has been said of the impact of the March, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, as well as the consequent disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The event wrought massive destruction and caused upwards of 15,000 casualties. Many affected cities and towns still have not recovered, almost three years later. Ruth, in A Tale for the Time Being, worries that her invisible correspondent-through-the-ages, 16 year old Nao, has met her fate in the tsunami; Ruth’s fears were echoed, and are still echoed, by people across the world whose friends and family were in Japan at the time of the disaster. According to the National Police Agency of Japan, 2,640 people across the country are still missing and unaccounted for.

Photo credit: Petty Officer First Class Matthew Bradley, US Navy, 3/15/2011. Creative Commons.

Less has been said, however, about the harm done to Japan’s social and spiritual life. As Richard Lloyd Parry points out in his recent essay “Ghosts of the Tsunami,” Japanese culture traditionally focuses on the spirits of dead ancestors, who often play a relatively active role in the spiritual life of a family or an individual. With so many dead in one fell swoop, what happens to those who are left alive? And what happens to the spirits?

“I met a priest in the north of Japan who exorcised the spirits of people who had drowned in the tsunami,” begins Lloyd Parry’s essay, and from there he embarks on a journey through Japan’s spiritual landscape, which was no less shaken by the tsunami than the buildings and houses and streets. Between dead ancestors with no one to care for them and survivors forced to leave their ancestors behind as they fled their homes exists an ocean of grief. “Ghosts of the Tsunami” attempts to navigate this ocean.

You can read Richard Lloyd Parry’s “Ghosts of the Tsunami” here on the London Review of Books website.

As a reminder, we are still accepting nominations for the 2014-25 Go Big Read selection.  Our theme this year is “service,” and you can read more here about what we’re looking for. If you have a book in mind that might fit the theme, let us know. The nomination deadline is February 1st, so hurry!

Guest Post: Reflections on the Nov. 14 talk by Professor Gene Phillips

It was enlightening to see the concept of Zen Buddhism depicted in
images at the talk by Professor Gene Phillips (Professor in the
Department of Art History; Director of the Center for East Asian
Studies). One of the things that Professor Phillips discussed was how
Zen monks in medieval Japan were commissioned to paint inspirational ink
images based on koans (questions that a Zen Buddhist master gives to
his disciples in order to help them understand the concepts of “mu”
[nothingness, emptiness] and the universe’s fundamental non-duality,
which leads them to enlightenment: the goal, the ultimate state of mind,
in Buddhism).

To learn more, see Professor Phillips’s book, The Practices of Painting in Japan, 1475-1500.

Photo by Hiromi Naka, Japan Outreach Specialist, the Center for East Asian Studies

Ayako Yoshiumra, the Center for East Asian Studies

“Zen and the Arts” at the Kohler Art Library

On November 14, the following books will be featured in an
informal table display at the Kohler Art Library. They are meant to complement Professor Gene Phillip’s
lecture: “Zen Buddhism: an Art Historian’s Perspective” which is scheduled for 6:00
pm in L140 Elvehjem Building as part of the Go Big Read program.Containing wonderful
examples of Zen painting, calligraphy, ceramics, sculpture, and architecture, the
books were selected by Lyn Korenic, Director, Kohler Art Library.

The art of twentieth-century Zen: paintings and calligraphy by Japanese masters /
Audrey Yoshiko Seo. Boston: Shambhala, 1998.

Oversize ND 1457 J32 L63 1998


The art of Zen:
paintings and calligraphy by Japanese monks, 1600-1925
/ Stephen Addiss. 
NY: H.N. Abrams, 1989.
Oversize ND 2071 A328 1989


Awakenings: Zen figure painting in medieval Japan / Naomi Noble Richard and Melanie B. D. Klein. NY: Japan Society; New Haven: Yale
University Press, c2007.

Oversize ND 2071 A98 2007

Daitokuji: the visual
cultures of a Zen monastery
/ Gregory P. A. Levine. Seattle: University of
Washington Press, c2005.
N 8193.3
Z46 L48 2005


Japan and the West: the filled void / Stephen Addiss et al.
Wolfsburg: Kunstmuseum
Wolfsburg ; Köln : DuMont, c2007.

Oversize N 7429 J36 2007


Japanese ink paintings from American collections: the Muromachi period : an exhibition in honor of Shūjirō Shimada /
Yoshiaki Shimizu and Carolyn Wheelwright.
Princeton, NJ: Art Museum, Princeton University, c1976.
Oversize ND 2071 J36

Kamakura, zen no genryūwa; Kamakuara: the art of Zen Buddhism.
Tokyo: Tokyo Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan, 2003.

Oversize N 8193 J3 K36 2003


“Kyōto Gozan Zen no bunka” ten: Ashikaga Yoshimitsu roppyakunen goki kinen = Zen
treasures from the Kyoto Gozan temples.
 Tokyo: Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha, 2007.

N 8193.3 Z46 J35 2007

Sengai: master Zen painter / Shōkin Furuta. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2000.
ND 1059 S45 F87 2000


Song of the brush:
Japanese paintings from the Sansō Collection
/ John M. Rosenfield. Seattle:
Seattle Art Museum, c1979.
Oversize ND 2071 S36 1979

Zen and the fine arts
/ Shin’ichi Hisamatsu. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1971.

N 8193.3 Z4 H513


Zen Buddhist landscape arts of early
Muromachi Japan (1336-1573)
/ Joseph D. Parker. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, c1999.
NX 676.3 Z45 P36 1999

Zen painting /
Yasuichi Awakawa. Tokyo: Kodansha
International, 1977.
ND 197 A9413 1977

Zenga, brushstrokes
of enlightenment
/ John Stevens. New Orleans, LA: New Orleans Museum of
Art, 1990.
Oversize ND 2071 Z47 1990

Zen Buddhism: An Art Historian’s Perspective

 
Next Thursday, November 14, join Go Big Read and the Center for East Asian Studies for a discussion of Zen Buddhism, the Japanese belief system explored in A Tale for the Time Being. Gene Phillips, Professor of Art History and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies, will present a talk titled “Zen Buddhism: An Art Historian’s Perspective.”
The lecture begins at 6:00pm and will take place in room L140 of the Elvehjem Building. We hope to see you there!