In my last issue I asked if art must be relevant and concluded that it need not be so. This was a long time ago, so you probably forgot all about it. It so happens that the next book on my reading list is Jed Perl’s ‘Authority and freedom: a defence of the arts,’ which happens to deal with this topic. I go into it still firmly believing that art of any form owes us nothing remotely close to relevance. Art is art.
Thich Nhat Hahn passed away recently, so this week’s quote is one of my favourite lines from him. He has earned great — and deserved — praise from many, but what Martin Luther King Jr. said when he nominated the monk for the Nobel prize sums things up nicely: ‘I do not personally know of anyone more worthy than this gentle monk from Vietnam … His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.’
In this short but profound and ridiculously informal letter to his friend, the writer Hunter Thompson offers thoughts on life.
‘A man must choose a path which will let his abilities function at maximum efficiency toward the gratification of his desires,’ writes Thompson. ‘In doing this, he is fulfilling a need, he avoids frustrating his potential, and he avoids the terror of seeing his goal wilt or lose its charm as he draws closer to it.’
In a commencement address that almost never happened, the writer David Foster Wallace talks about awareness, our environment, and how we can and ought to make conscious choices all along. A transcript of the speech is also available.
Rather than the swan-laden Dharma from Lost, find here a scattered collection of speeches given by the Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn at Plum Village, recorded into a podcast. The picture above leads to talks from various monks at Plum village. The iTunes link below is for those by Thich Nhat Hahn alone.
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