Evening Mind


“There’s no other place around here like this, so–this must be the place. ”  Card at Durham’s Ivy Room Restaurant, circa 1966

I’m not especially interested in relating the details of my daily life, so I’m not interested in a conventional blog.  But I am interested in writing about books, and about some of the movies I see, and about writing and literature in general. I have a habit of writing, but no wish to show all of it—even most of it—to the world. What I’ll publish here is pieces that have a shape, because that’s what I like in other websites.  I don’t want to hear from people everyday, just when they have something to say.

I do love to hear about good books to read, and movies to see. That’s what I’ll mostly write about.

What’s posted on 04-25-2017

Your Name, a film by Makato Shinkai, based on his novel.  With Ryunosuke Kamiki, Mone Kamishiraishi, Ryo Narita. I’ve been reading Kobun Chino’s commentary on the Song of Awakening, and the day before I saw this film read the following passage: “WheRead More

The Paradox of Desire posted on 04-19-2017

The 10,000 pages of the Pali Canon  (Most of which I haven’t read) I have spoken before of an Amazon reviewer that I stumbled across some years ago, a woman named Laurie from New Zealand who writes wonderfully informed and opinionated reviews.  MostRead More

Doc, Ya Gotta Level Wit Me posted on 04-14-2017

 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2017 My Lineup: Whose Streets? / Still Tomorrow / The Good Postman / Abacus / Zaatari Djinn / Tribal Justice / Strong Island / Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities / Quest / The Read More

Old Corn-Drinking Mellifluous posted on 04-13-2017

Absalom, Absalom! By William Faulkner.  315 pp.  .95 I’m obsessed with the subject of telling stories.  I’ve spoken before about how all stories are false, or all stories true; they are, in any case, human fabrications, which may have little to dRead More

Absolute Belief in Zazen posted on 03-30-2017

Embracing Mind: The Zen Talks of Kobun Chino Otogawa. Edited by Judy Cosgrove and Shinbo Joseph Hall.  Jikoji Zen Center. Kobun Chino Otogawa came to the United States for the first time to train the novice monks at the Tassajara Mountain Monastery,Read More

Beckett in the Bardo posted on 03-22-2017

The Unnamable from Three Novels by Samuel Beckett. Grove Press. 407 pp. .95. The mystery of Samuel Beckett continues, at least for me.  Some months back, when I had finally tackled his Three Novels—which had been sitting on my shelves for years—IRead More

Stories Short and Long posted on 03-16-2017

Autumn by Ali Smith.  Pantheon.  264 pp.  .95 Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley.  Washington Square Press.  208 pp. .00 There are short stories that seem to have enough material for novels.  Alice Munro’s late work was likRead More

It Sure Ain’t a Science posted on 03-09-2017

The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm.  Harper Perennial Modern Classics.  123 pp. .99. It’s hard for me to imagine having the nerve, at the age of 56, to publish a book entitled The Art of Loving.  This from a man who grew up with a mother who adoredRead More

How Long, Baby How Long, Has That Evenin' Train Been Gone? posted on 02-24-2017

The Grass Flute Zen Master: Sodo Yokoyama by Arthur Braverman.  Counterpoint.  148 pp.  .95. How much time should we give to spiritual practice?  It’s a question I often ask myself.  Twenty minutes twice a day, as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi suggested?Read More

James Baldwin Has a Question posted on 02-23-2017

I Am Not Your Negro a film by Raoul Peck.  With James Baldwin, Samuel L. Jackson, Dick Cavett. ****1/2 In a way I wish the title of this film had gone further.  The speech in the movie that it most closely reflects it is one by James Baldwin on a teRead More

Distinctly Praise the Years posted on 02-20-2017

Atlantis: Three Tales by Samuel R. Delany.  Wesleyan/New England.  212 pp. Every now and then I reread something by Samuel R. Delany because all of his work is intelligent, beautifully written, and unfailingly deep.  The fact that I’ve read it beforRead More

This Movie Is About You (Put Away Your Phone) posted on 02-16-2017

Paterson A film by Jim Jarmusch.  With Adam Driver, Golshifteh Farahani, Barry Shabaka Henley, Nellie. Every now and then people call something a Zen movie, and the candidate this year is Paterson, a film whose script Jim Jarmusch apparently wrote tRead More

You Gotta Start Somewhere posted on 02-10-2017

Beginners a film by Mike Mills.  With Ewen McGregor, Christopher Plummer, Melanie Laurent, Mary Page Keller, Cosmo. I have the perfect solution for those who loved 20th Century Women and don’t know what to watch next (after they’ve read the profile Read More

Doing Nothing for No Good Reason posted on 02-09-2017

Dogen Zen.  Translations by Shohaku Okamura.  Kyoto Soto Zen Center.  1988.  8 pp. Hara: The Vital Center of Man by Karlfried Graf Durckheim.  Inner Traditions.  202 pp.  .95. I have been known to complain—mostly to myself—that many of the woRead More

Dat Fig Tree Had It Comin’ posted on 02-03-2017

A Buddhist Reads the Bible: Gospel of Mark from the New Revised Standard Version.  Oxford University Press. (This is my eighth and final piece on the Gospel of Mark; the other pieces are here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) There are anRead More

Maybe Not This Village posted on 02-02-2017

Twentieth Century Women a film by Mike Mills.  With Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, Billy Crudup, Lucas Jade Zumann.  ****1/2 When I first heard the title of this movie, I thought, what the hell is a twentieth century woman?  How is she different fromRead More

What Does It Mean to Love God?  Jesus and the Bean Counters posted on 01-31-2017

A Buddhist Reads the Bible: Gospel of Mark from the New Revised Standard Version.  Oxford University Press. (This is my seventh piece on the Gospel of Mark; the other pieces are here, here, here, here, here, and here.  I’ll blunder along at my snailRead More

And Get Knocked Down the Stairs posted on 01-27-2017

Eat Sleep Sit: My Year at Japan’s Most Rigorous Zen Temple by Kaoru Nonomura.  Kodansha. 328 pp.  .95. “He’s making the fallacious distinction between the ends and the means.” That sentence was uttered at a Friends Meeting that I attended someRead More

All Stories Are Made Up posted on 01-25-2017

Moonglow by Michael Chabon.  Harper.  430 pp.  .00 Voss by Patrick White.  Penguin.  .00 The great Pittsburgh writer John Edgar Wideman—whom I wrote about in a recent post—once published a book entitled All Stories Are True.  I thought it a bRead More

Difficult Teachings posted on 01-21-2017

A Buddhist Reads the Bible: Gospel of Mark from the New Revised Standard Version.  Oxford University Press. (This is my sixth piece on the Gospel of Mark; the other pieces are here, here, here, here, and here.  I’ll blunder along at my snail like paRead More