Notes on Zen Buddhism Through Popular Culture: building a list

The novels of Samuel Beckett: the trilogy and As It Isnothing to do with his mother.

Northern Exposure — large tracts of the show, but the Joel Fleishman’s final episodes (S06E01-S06E06) contain several Buddhist phrases amidst constant references to loss of a troublesome ego.

I stick my neck out for no-one.

— Rick in Casablanca, whilst he helps everyone rightful he can. One day I will put here a quote to sustain the argument that no-one who adheres to Shakymuni would ever claim to do anything.

Heidegger in Sein und Zeit: The dimension of space is irrelevant, the dimension of time is of critical importance — most define themselves by their relationship to the past and objectives for the future, in so doing missing the present. The individual must tear free from this aspect of social convention, to become “not ‘one’ but ‘I’.” The former is a fine depiction of samsara, and the latter, despite its language being in superficial opposition to the Buddhist creeds, in actuality perfectly reflects the reality of the practice of zen on Eight-fold Way.

Fredrich Nietzsche in Beyond Good And Evil describes Pratityasamutpada, specifically the dependent origination of Good and Evil, the dependency of one on the other, and thus their negation. ‘Faith’ is described as “peace of mind” (cf the chán poem, Faith In Mind). Nietzsche echoed Bankei in his view that the creation and appreciation of music allows the transcendence of “mundane reality.” Human, All Too Human is more explicitly zen: the “path of wisdom” is “forgive yourself your own self” and “throw off your own discontent at your own nature” to allow self-realisation. The words could have been written by Bodhidharma or Linji.

Avoid blinding anachronisms by removing Nietzsche’s Übermensch from the Nazis, to find justification for the sangha: “my principle article of faith … [is that] one can only flourish around those with an identical frame of mind.” The “trans-valuation of all values” stands for itself.

Barthes (in and around Death of the Author) and Saussure (Course in General Linguistics) both emphasise the lack of intrinsic objective value in words: cf Vajracchedika Prajna Paramita, the Diamond Sutra.

Bathes: To try to write love is to confront the muck of language: that region of hysteria where language is both too much and too little, excessive and impoverished.” “I cannot write myself. Who, after all, is this “I” who write himself?” – A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments (1990). Lots of references from the summer onwards in Barthes’ notes on the death of his mother, leadin gto The Neutral.

Lady Ga-ga: of whom Stephen Fry writes in the FT, ‘That message, “Find out who you are and be it,” clearly means a great deal to her.”‘