Friday, March 23, 2012

JOHN CARTER and HUNGER GAMES


I saw two movies this week and if I blog about them I can justify writing off the ticket prices (and the nachos!) on my taxes. So here goes.

On Wednesday night I saw JOHN CARTER. The one thing most people seem to know about this movie is how badly it's done at the box office. It's too bad that it's faring so poorly with the public. Because it's really not a bad movie. It fails to be as epic as it wants to be. But it's good fun. My friend Dale, who read all the Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars books when we were both in high school, says the movie is very true to the novels.

As a guy who writes books I feel like a little bit of a traitor for saying this. But maybe they would have done better to deviate a bit more from the original story. We know a lot more about Mars now than Burroughs knew 95 years ago. If some of that was taken into account perhaps the film could have been more science fiction than what it seems like to us now, a fantasy epic set in outer space. Although fantasy epics set in outer space do very well (Star Wars, for example). So what do I know? It's impossible to say why people go for the films they go for.

I liked the film and I'm glad I saw it on a big screen. It's the kind of movie that I can't imagine would be nearly as fun on a DVD. Though that's probably where most people will end up seeing it.

Last night I went out at midnight to see the first area screening of HUNGER GAMES. This film is based on a series of mega selling novels aimed at teenagers. As I might have expected I was one of about five people over 18 in that packed theater last night.

One aspect I personally find intriguing about the novels is that the paperback edition has a list price of $8.99 and sells on Amazon for just five bucks. (I like Amazon, but folks, support your local booksellers, that extra $4 helps your community) Regular paperbacks like mine list at closer to $15. Perhaps it's because it's a teen novel that it's so much cheaper? But the only teen novel I've ever bought, Yvonne Prinz's The Vinyl Princess, lists for $16.99 in hardcover (I don't think there's a paperback edition). OK. Whatever. Just a little aside there.

Hunger Games clearly has a lot more to say than John Carter. It's a satire of the contemporary American Idol/America's Next Top Model etc. etc. type show set in a nightmare post-some-kind-of-undefined-war-thing future in which the contestants have to kill each other for the cameras in order to win. The rich people in the big city enjoy the bloodsport at the expense of the poor folks who do the real work needed to support their lavish lifestyles. It's all kind of surreal. But it's not hard to envision our own future ending up something like this. Though I doubt it will ever get quite that bad. At least I hope it won't.

Did the teenyboppers in the Highland Theater in Akron last night get that? It's hard to say. I'm sure some of them did. I'll bet most of them didn't. But a large percentage of the audience seemed familiar with the books. They laughed at lines that could only be funny to people who've read them. I had to ask the person I went with, who had read the books, to explain what was funny about one of the characters threatening to cook her cat.

The premise of Hunger Games is quite clearly based on the Japanese film Battle Royale (2000) starring "Beat" Takeshi Kitano in which teenagers in a dystopian future also kill each other for the entertainment of adults. It's not a remake of the Japanese movie. But the influence is unmistakable.

I hope the Hollywood people paid off the Japanese originators. Though the differences between the two films are so great that maybe they didn't have to. These kinds of things are always very complicated. I've was involved in some of this stuff when I worked for Tsuburaya Productions. It usually comes down to whoever has the most power and money winning and has nothing much to do with any laws that might exist.

As for any kind of Zen perspective on these films, it's hard to know what to say. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks out a lot about films and music that he thinks poison our minds. "We (writers) do not have the right just to express our own suffering if it brings suffering to others," he says. "Filmmakers, musicians, and writers need to practice Right Speech to help our society move again in the direction of peace, joy, and faith in the future."

I have a hard time agreeing with this. I do think that there are forms of entertainment whose sole purpose appears to be to excite people in unhealthy ways and generate profits. But almost every time I think I've come up with the perfect example of this, it turns out that either the makers of the thing had a higher purpose in mind than I'd imagined or that the fans of the thing got more out of it than I ever would.

I also think that many of the films, books and music that helped me get through my life -- particularly my adolescence -- would have probably been labeled "negative" by Mr. Hanh and his loyal followers. I can imagine him recommending me to watch Mary Poppins and listen to The Carpenters instead of reading Philip K. Dick and listening to the Sex Pistols. This would have ended up making me kill myself since I would never have known there were others just as dissatisfied with life as I was. At least that's how I take what he's said on the subject. And I'm certain I'm not alone in taking it that way.

In the case of Hunger Games, there's a lot of violence and ugliness. But that ugliness and violence appears to me to be intended to make an important commentary on contemporary society. So it's valid and good. You couldn't make the points they wanted to make without all the bloodshed. John Carter is more just pure entertainment and spectacle. It's not really trying to say anything at all. But it's unpretentious and honest in its aims. So again, I think that's also valid and good.

Sorry Thich Nhat Hanh fans if I've offended you again. I'm probably not allowed to do that either.

102 comments:

Indigo said...

John Carter was a wonderful movie that got crapped on by people with . . . let's leave it at "bad attitudes." As far as I'm concerned, it was far better than the shallow newagery of Avatar. And as for Hunger Games, I thought it was a profound allegory of mid-adolescent angst in the middle of this Great Recession, relevant to thinking people everywhere. Or not?

Steven said...

It looks like I have more reason to see the Hunger Games. I heard an interview with the director the other day that made me think this movie has a lot of substance to it. He didn't mention Battle Royale at all, though.

Patrick Smith said...

I think stories are what we use to build our minds. Sort of in the same way we use what we eat to build our bodies. If the teenagers don't get the deeper implications of the film, I don't think it matters. A story of courage, nobility, spiritual strength can remind a person that such things are possible.

Just to be clear, just because a movie is about somebody fighting a lot doesn't mean it's about somebody with courage.

There's a reason the Buddha, Jesus, and just about every spiritual teacher ever told stories and parables.

Misha said...

Part of the Right Speech formula to me has a lot to do with intention, as intention is, of course, integral to the practices and precepts. If an author or filmmaker's intent is to harm an audience, or to be misogynistic, or violent for the sake of violence, then Ven. Thay has a good point. Film and literature can't all be Mary Poppins, but unfortunately, so much out of Hollywood is gratuitous violence, sexual and otherwise. The massage is harmful, and the authors of these messages know they are being not creative or nuanced, but "street," in the hopes of selling tickets to impressionable minds.

Anonymous said...

Hunger Games is a Rip-Off of Roller Ball.

jwalker1967 said...

It's kind of difficult to know the intention behind a piece of art, though. From what I understand, American History X is intended as an anti-racist movie, but I can't bring myself to watch it just because of the description of the curbstomping it contains I've read about.

I myself have a lot of trouble with extremely realistic depictions of intensely personal violence, and (after becoming a dad) children in peril, again in a realistic setting. That's part of what makes the Hunger Games successful (as a book) - the distancing of setting the action in a non-specific future allows the author to comment on current society in the way Brad mentions.

Even though I have trouble with violence in movies, it's the realism that gets me. Zombie apocalypses are fine, as is the Hunger Games (which I'm seeing in 3.5 hours, in IMAX!).

Now violins in movies, that's another subject! *wags eyebrows and waves cigar around*

Broken Yogi said...

I haven't seen either movie, but definitely will when they come out on DVD. Glad to see science fiction of any stripe come out, especially old school, but Burroughs really is rather dated and the heroism seems trite even in the ads. I really wish more movies would be made from the SF classics, particularly Heinlein, who's only had Starship Troopers I think.

As for Thich's view, I think it's valuable precisely because he's not from our culture and can see how far away most all of our popular entertainments are from genuine right speech. I think a fairly honest approach of adhering to the precepts would make most modern entertainments something to just drop like a rock. They really don't have any real dharmic value, other than seeing what life is like when you don't live by the dharma. And that's valuable for a beginner, but how often do you really have to get that point? If we are honest with ourselves, we enjoy these entertainments because we enjoy entertainment, not because they have any real dharmic value. Trying to come up with justifications for that is just silly. We have faults, many of them culturally encouraged, and instead of pretending they are virtues why not just accept them as faults? No one is perfect, especially in our culture, which celebrates bullshit as if it were golden (as long as it makes money).

Which is really what it's all about: money. We generally excuse any kind of entertainment as long as it is popular and makes a lot of money. Let's not pretend there's any higher motive in making these kinds of movies than cash. It's not done to spread some kind of subtle dharmic message, and looking for one is simply being dishonest. One can't really easily avoid this sort of thing in our culture, and it's probably not greatly harmful to enjoy these things, but it is what it is.

Genuinely dharmic entertainment wouldn't look much of anything like this. Just because we like it, and we like dharma, doesn't make it dharmic. Brad likes punk rock, and who can blame him, but pretending it's a dharmic pastime is just being dishonest with oneself. Same with most other forms of modern entertainment. Nothing to get righteous about, but I'd say that Thich is closer to the real dharmic viewpoint than Brad on this.

Anna Rexia said...

There's already a competitive TV show with a "hunger games" theme. It's called "America's Next Top Model".

Mysterion said...

Perhaps there is a rumor campaign among the ultra-right Xtian Taliban. Such "whisper campaigns" are not rare although it is usually a tool used by Xtians against other Xtians.

"In discussions with his sons Hulbert and Jack, Edgar Rice Burroughs stated his religious attitude clearly: he did not believe in the Bible, Christ, the Immaculate Conception or God. He called himself an atheist. To his sons, Burroughs, who did not attend church, had often expressed his dislike for any form of organized or sectarian religion."

A letter (December 10, 1929) from ERB to son Hulbert contained a severe condemnation of the church:

"I was pained to discover how sadly you misinterpreted my attitude toward religion. I have no quarrel with religion, but I do not like the historic attitude of any of the established churches. Their enthusiasms and sincerity never ring true to me and I think that there has been no great change in them all down the ages, insofar as the fundamentals are concerned. There is just as much intolerance and hypocrisy as there ever was, and if any church were able to obtain political power today I believe that you would see all the tyranny and injustice and oppression which has marked the political ascendancy of the church in all times."
http://www.hillmanweb.com/reason/1434.html

And then there was Edgar Rice Burroughs the real estate developer – most notably, the founder of Tarzana.

The Tarzan swim scene certainly upset the Xtians! No garden of Eden allowed on the silver screen. (actually, the silver was silver nitrate - in the film stock).

Anonymous said...

Idiocracy: "Monday Night Rehabilitation"

..... a similar concept to Hunger Games, but probably a lot funnier

Mysterion said...

Speaking of "Star Wars..."

http://vestalmorons.wordpress.com/2011/12/04/star-wars-and-the-history-of-vatican-ii/

this analysis is 60% correct, IMO.

this study is a bit more academic: http://blogs.usd.edu/anai/entry/star_wars_myth_vs_templar

The History Conspiracy...

The "truth" is not available - lost to the ravages of time. Of Star Wars, I do know this... I had a long discussion in Mill Valley with Lucas (and mutual friends) in 2002 and his plot parallels are not accidental.

He may not be so altogether different from ERB. He's just a bit more modern. and the special effects of ILM don't hinder his efforts.

Pet Rock said...

Mysterion, are you an atheist?

Mysterion said...

America has a rich tradition of remaking Japanese films...

Magnificent 7

Shall we dance?

Hachiko

many more...

All whitewashed.

thank god that in just 10 more years amerika will no longer have a white majority. perhaps I will live to see it. california no longer has a 'majority' population and I didn't notice any real change.

Four states are 'majority-minority' (e.g. no majority group) as of 2010: Hawaii, New Mexico, California, and Texas. WIKI

A "yellowwashed" Elery Queen:
Haitatsu Sarenai's "Santsu no Tegami" 1979

none of this matters...

Nothing to see here, move along, move along.

Mysterion said...

No.

I am not an atheist.

An atheist believes...

I take exception to the word "believes." (and the concept - belief)

I say:

"If god exists, let him."

or alternately:

"If a goddess* exists, let her."

a third alternative:

"If gods exist, let them."

&ct.

http://askville.amazon.com/god-make-man-image-likeness/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=30196054

* Isis:
http://www.amazon.com/Isis-Ancient-World-R-Witt/dp/0801856426

Anonymous said...

Hey Brad, you've got a typo near the end:

Sorry Tich Nhat Hanh fans...

It should be spelled Thich instead of Tich.



CAPTCHA = detypoti ecityls
(wow magic!)

Anonymous said...

Too weird to write about 'typo' and then see it in the captcha so I ran the captcha through an anagram generator to find this:

Let Dicey Typo Sit

$10 says it doesn;t get corrected :0)

CAPTCHA = essate ullne
(sullen tease)

buddy said...

The best thing that could come out of the suucess of the Hunger Games would be for even a fraction of its audience to seek out Winter's Bone, the excellent film about poverty in modern America for which star Jennifer Lawrence received an oscar nomination for best actress (the 2nd youngest ever).

buddy said...

The best thing that could come out of the suucess of the Hunger Games would be for even a fraction of its audience to seek out Winter's Bone, the excellent film about poverty in modern America for which star Jennifer Lawrence received an oscar nomination for best actress (the 2nd youngest ever).

mysterion said...

I found this and cut and pasted it for your edification.

"The best thing that could come out of the suucess of the Hunger Games would be for even a fraction of its audience to seek out Winter's Bone, the excellent film about poverty in modern America for which star Jennifer Lawrence received an oscar nomination for best actress (the 2nd youngest ever)."

Regular Buddhist Dude said...

Brad, you have a difficult time letting go, don't you.

I'm not a devotee of Thich Nhat Hanh. Just a regular Buddhist dude. 2 Observations:

1. You consistently spell Thich Nhat Hanh's name wrongly. I know he's Vietnamnese and all, but "Thich Nhat Hanh" is the English name he has chosen to go by. Not even bothering to get it right is sloppy and disrespectful. Imagine someone writing about Dogen and spelling "Doggone" or even "Dog".

2. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monastic. Calling him Mr Hanh is just plain rude. Etiquitte means a lot to Buddhists (esp Asians) who like or respect Thich Nhat Hanh.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Don't bother lecturing Brad about Buddhism. He's too busy being "hardcore" and "authentic".

Max Entropy said...

"But I wanted to mention that my friend Marc Rosenbush's movie Zen Noir is "now playing at select theaters" as they say. It's a good movie. The philosophy is mostly ripped off from that Vietnamese Zen Master guy whose name I cannot spell, Tikh Naht Hahn maybe. Any relation to Jessica Hahn, I wonder?" - Brad Warner 9/13/06

http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com/2006/09/zen-noir.html

Old Boy said...

Brady was just being flippant. It's all part of the cool, hardcore "bad boy of Buddhism" image.

Anonymous said...

Brad calling TNH Mr Hanh is like me calling Master Nishijima "Mr Jim". Brad, you're cool with that, right?

john e mumbles said...

I would argue that Jennifer Lawrence was nominated for her performance in the bland film version of a great novel by Daniel Woodrell titled WINTER'S BONE largely because of the strong acting of her co-star John Hawkes, [not surprisingly] nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

IMO she was sleepwalking (she has one facial expression: bored = boring) through WB, and I cannot imagine she is any better in The Hunger Games. Go see it and support American Pop Culture's rich heritage alongside other films like Twilight and other teen-ploitation drek.

Or get a very good psychological mind-bender now out on dvd titled MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE (also co-starring John Hawkes in an even stronger role as a cult leader).

Or get your hands on THE WOLF KNIFE an even stronger independent film by director Laurel Nakadate -check her early short films out on Youtube, especially the ones with her dancing with middle-age bachelors like Brad to Britney Spears Oops, I Did It Again ...brilliant.

Movie Critic said...

Speaking of movies John.. What did you finally think of the Justin Timberlake's acting in "Social Media"?

Anonymous said...

"Who is Brad Warner?"

There’s this Buddhist dude called Brad Warner. He likes monsters and music and movies and sex and cats and vegetarian food. He believes some whacky metaphysical ideas. He writes about all of these things. Sometimes he pisses people off. He seems like a mild mannered dude that believes Nishijima’s take on a dead-guy’s take on other dead-guy’s ideas is really helpful and important. That doesn’t stop him from being human, sometimes painfully so. I think that’s Brad Warner.

-Sam

Mysterion said...

"Who is Brad Warner?"

the test of time is still out on that.

wait three generations and see.

wait ten generations and maybe a council will be formed...

or not

in the meantime,

"Who is Brad Warner?"

is a koan - like "how does the water feel" about your disrespectful use of it in the washing of dirt off of your hands?

Barbara O'Brien said...

Sensei Brad -- I was a production editor/manager in the book publishing industry for 30 years, so I know a little about why books cost what they cost.

With books, the bigger the print run, the lower the per-unit cost. So, if a publisher can print and sell 100,000 copies he can price the books lower than if he prints and sells 20,000 copies, and make the same profit.

Almost of the cost of publishing a book goes into preparing the book to be printed, which is the same no matter how many copies are printed or how the book is bound. Especially if you're talking about books that are all black type on white paper, printing/binding is a relatively small part of the cost of publishing the book.

Mass market paperbacks are especially cheap because the printers typically print two different books together using the same printing "plates" and the same rolls of paper. The two books come off the press attached to each other and are cut apart before binding.

On the other hand, all other things being equal, there's not a huge difference in the cost of printing a paperback and a hardback book, unless you are looking at a really big volume. If you print, say, 10,000 copies paperback and 10,000 copies hardback of the same book, the difference in manufacturing costs could be just a few pennies per book, depending on exactly what materials you're using.

But people expect paperbacks to cost a lot less than hardbacks. So publishers often publish a relatively small first printing with a hard binding and a higher price, and if that sells really well they'll crank out a big paperback printing and lower the price, thereby reinforcing the notion that paperback books ought to be cheaper than hardbacks. But, again, at smaller quantities the costs to the publisher of paper vs. "case" are not that different.

john e mumbles said...

Wouldn't see "Social Network" if you paid my way in to review it or told me how to claim it on my taxes.

Justin T. will never top "Dick In A Box" IMO.

Anonymous said...

Mysterion said: "'Who is Brad Warner?' is a koan"

It is a koan?
It can be a koan?
It is intended as a koan?
You take it as a koan?

"Who is Brad Warner?" is a question. Specifically, my question.

The test of time fails every time.

Brad Warner is hopefully learning more about Brad Warner every day.

-Sam

anonymous anonymous said...

mysterion said,

"Who is Brad Warner?"

the test of time is still out on that.

wait three generations and see.

wait ten generations and maybe a council will be formed..."

He really said this.

jeasbed said...

Mysterion,

An atheist DOESN'T believe (at least a weak atheist doesn't). Lack of belief isn't belief.

Brad Warner said...

Regular Buddhist Dude said:

Brad, you have a difficult time letting go, don't you.

I'm not a devotee of Thich Nhat Hanh. Just a regular Buddhist dude. 2 Observations:

1. You consistently spell Thich Nhat Hanh's name wrongly. I know he's Vietnamnese and all, but "Thich Nhat Hanh" is the English name he has chosen to go by. Not even bothering to get it right is sloppy and disrespectful. Imagine someone writing about Dogen and spelling "Doggone" or even "Dog".

2. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monastic. Calling him Mr Hanh is just plain rude. Etiquitte means a lot to Buddhists (esp Asians) who like or respect Thich Nhat Hanh.

Hope this helps.


I know you won't believe this. But I keep trying to spell Thich Naht Hanh correctly. In this most recent incident, I was so concerned with getting the Naht part right that I got the Thich part wrong. What is up with the silent "H" in every one of his names anyway?

I used to go thru this with transliterated Japanese. In Japanese there are elongated vowels. But you can't really represent elongated vowels in Roman letters in ways that English speakers will readily understand.

The current president of Tsuburaya Productions is 大岡新一 which most of us would pronounce Oka Shinichi. But it's not Oka. It's O-o-oka. He insisted on spelling his name Ooka. I told him that people would tend to pronounce those double-o's like the double-o's in poop. Actually I didn't use that example. I just said it the way it looks. He was OK with that.

I imagine the extraneous H's in Thich Naht Hanh (did I get it right that time? I tried!) function in the same way.

Calling him Mr. Hanh is like calling the Dalai Lama Mr. Lama. I'm sure each of those men hear that mistake all the time. It's a comment on American ignorance not an insult.

Again, if I thought there was any chance at all Mr. Hanh or Mr. Lama read my blog, I would have reason to avoid offending them. But I am way below Mr. Hanh's radar. He is a Very Big Deal, a star. He doesn't have time for little people like me.

Brad Warner said...

Thanks Barbara O'Brien!

So you think the lower price is just because there are so many copies of the book? I was wondering if lowering the retail price of books was some kind of new trend.

Brad Warner said...

Thanks Indigo!

Mr. Hanh said...

"Calling him Mr. Hanh is like calling the Dalai Lama Mr. Lama. I'm sure each of those men hear that mistake all the time. It's a comment on American ignorance not an insult.

Again, if I thought there was any chance at all Mr. Hanh or Mr. Lama read my blog, I would have reason to avoid offending them. But I am way below Mr. Hanh's radar. He is a Very Big Deal, a star. He doesn't have time for little people like me."

Brad: That was so sarcastic and intellectually craven that it should embarass you say it publically.

Mr. Hanh said...

"Calling him Mr. Hanh is like calling the Dalai Lama Mr. Lama. I'm sure each of those men hear that mistake all the time. It's a comment on American ignorance not an insult.

Again, if I thought there was any chance at all Mr. Hanh or Mr. Lama read my blog, I would have reason to avoid offending them. But I am way below Mr. Hanh's radar. He is a Very Big Deal, a star. He doesn't have time for little people like me."

Brad: That was so sarcastic and intellectually craven that it should embarrass you say it publicly.

Trollnonymous said...

Wow, you fixed the typo!
Ok I owe you $10 ;O)


CAPTCHA = ollutter edsDi
ANAGRAM = troll edit Dues

Fred said...

put aside
the intellectual practice
of investigating words
and chasing phrases,
and learn to take

the backward step
that turns the light

and shines it inward.

Lone Wolf said...

When I first heard about "The Hunger Games," I immediately thought "Battle Royal." Although I do feel that HG was influenced by BR (unless the author grabbed the idea out of the great collective consciousness or something), I did enjoy reading HG and found the two stories to be quite different even with such similar plots. I took my nephew to watch the movie last night. He loved it. I thought it was pretty damn good myself, though I still have a soft spot for the original teen-duel-to-death-film...Battle Royal.

Trollnonymous said...

Great advice Fred!

BTW, what are you doing reading and commenting on blogs?

Mysterion said...

Real Buddhists® do not put too much stock in 'honours.' I use the Brit. spelling to emphasize the foreignness of the entire concept.

People are people - all on an even footing. Yes, elders are cut a little extra slack but that is not a Buddhist® tradition - quite the contrary, it is a tradition to which the Buddha only tolerated.

When Alan Watts elevated the Rev. Suzuki to Venerable Master (Roshi), Suzuki went off in "gales of laughter."

After all, what made Alan Watts so special that he could even think of such a thing?

However, rather than object (and threaten the credibility of AW), Suzuki just went with the flow.

I seriously doubt that Thich would spend a moment on the issue were he even aware that Brad misspelled his name - either accidentally or deliberately.

It's not about spelling. Brad respects the traditions of others - tedious as they may be. I have seen it for myself...

PEACE

Broken Yogi said...

I've been under the impression that most asians put their surname first, rather than last as in the west. So the proper reference would actually be "Mr. Thich" rather than "Mr. Hahn", just as it would be "Mr. Warner" rather than "Mr. Brad".

"Mr." is of course an odd title to refer to a Buddhist monk by, so when I refer to him, I just say "Thich", which is like referring to Brad as "Warner", which is the common way of referencing people in the third person one doesn't know well or is not on the home blog of. I don't think Thich is in the habit of using titles, unlike the Dalai Lama,. He's just a humble monk, after all. But correct me if I have this surname/given name usage backwards.

Khru said...

We should have a rule that each comment can be NO longer than three (3) sentences. If you can't express your idea that succinctly, than too bad. But that may just be the weed talkin'.

Anonymous said...

That's called twitter Khru..

Dick Cheney said...

Thanks for the heart M.. If only you had a brain.

Max Entropy said...

How do you pronounce Thich Nhat Hanh?
The English pronunciation is: Tik · N'yat · Hawn

However since Vietnamese is a tonal language, this is only a close approximation for how one would pronounce it in Vietnamese. (His name is sometimes misspelled as Thich Nhat Hahn, Thich Nhat Han, and Thich Nat Han.)

By his students he is affectionately known as Thay (pronounced "Tay" or "Tie"), which is Vietnamese for "teacher."

http://www.plumvillage.org/thich-nhat-hanh.html

Max Entropy said...

Born Nguyễn Xuân Bảo, Thích Nhất Hạnh joined a Zen (Vietnamese: Thiền) monastery at the age of 16, and studied Buddhism as a novitiate. Upon his ordination as a monk in 1949, he assumed the Dharma name Thích Nhất Hạnh. Thích is an honorary family name used by all Vietnamese monks and nuns, meaning that they are part of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thich_Nhat_Hanh

proulx michel said...

Max Entropy wrote:

How do you pronounce Thich Nhat Hanh?
The English pronunciation is: Tik · N'yat · Hawn.
Thích is an honorary family name used by all Vietnamese monks and nuns, meaning that they are part of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan.


Then it should be pronounced "Thik", like in "thick", if you want to approximate "Shakya"...

Yung Thin Ho said...

Dick Not Hung.

Mysterion said...

I enjoyed the exercise in PROJECTION with, in this case, the example of Mr. Nguyễn.

You must show YOUR RESPECT OF ME (mr. x y z) by paying proper homage to my great white father (Mr. A B C).

Furthermore, you must do as I say you must do.

To wit the chorus sang:

"or not."

Unfortunately, I see this locally with Neighborhood Church Jesus-bots. They have no developed sense of 'self' meaning they either did not attend or finish finishing school, lack a liberal education, and are unaware of Dynastic Egypt, Sumeria, and Akkad.

With such a narrow and shallow base, many of these local Jesus-bots have no other coping strategy than toting their KJV (which I have read critically many times) into PEETs and occupy a space (with a small herd of other sheep) for what seems like hours.

I wish they would just go back to wearing caps backwards, nodding their empty heads and saying:

"Ssss up?"

Currently I an reading The Cult of Isis in the Ancient World.

Should I expect all to fall on their knees and genuflect this prototypical "Queen of Heaven?"

I think not.

She is, after all, the mother of god &c.

Still not.

p.s. she is also known as Qwan Yin or Kannon in oriental Buddhism.

Malcolm in the middle way said...

Yeah, right. Kwan Yin is Isis, Jesus is Buddha and all Mexicans look alike.

Mark Foote said...

Fred said...

"put aside
the intellectual practice
of investigating words
and chasing phrases,
and learn to take

the backward step
that turns the light
and shines it inward."

I put it to my buddy the other day this way:

"did you ever think that maybe turning the mind around actually means looking at where the mind is, as opposed to looking at what's on the mind- Zen is such a grifter game, in that it's not possible to turn the mind around voluntarily, but for myself there's a feeling of well-being connected with the mind turned around that I can't escape pursuing. Nevertheless I just drop into it. I'm working on letting myself sleep through my mental takes, that's my imaginary practice now..."

Maybe Fred is here because there is a potential for something like this: I write words about waking up and falling asleep that someone in New York reads, and then they are able to get back to sleep when they wake up in the early morning and need more sleep. They apply what they have found to waking up, and they write as follows:

"I have taken it a bit further, experimenting with it during the day. Same practice, find the location of the consiousness.

It pulls me into the present. the feeling lasts 2-3 seconds, but it is something that I have never experienced before. Being really present, here and now. the mental projection into the future stops, the past stops. I am just here and now. no future plans or worries. no goals, no dreams that are waiting to be fullfilled. time stops. no where to go. I am just here and now."

If I describe my practice in words in a positive and substantive way, and someone else reads my words and discovers a practice for themselves, there's a proof of concept that it's possible to communicate experience in words if the need to have such an experience is tangible. Even when the experience concerns "turning the light around and shining it in", although that particular description I confess never spoke to answer my need.

Mysterion said...

Malcolm in the middle way said...
"Yeah, right. Kwan Yin is Isis, Jesus is Buddha..."

Jesus is NOT Buddha. He is a blend (ala veg-o-matic) of Adonis, Attis, Dionysus, Heracles, and perhaps 18 or 20 other dying-rising gods.

What is recorded in Occidental Scripture as "the sayings of IXEUS" are, in fact, recapitulations of the sayings of Buddha and most (but not all) of the parables are also borrowed from Buddhism. Scholars have been aware of this for 125 years* but Xtians, reading little and understanding less, have been kept in perpetual darkness.

So too, should you remain. Amen

(Amen is invoking the Egyptian Sun-god Aman-Ra)

1 of 1,000 references:
http://www.nazarite.net/king-james.html

*The miracles of Jesus
by L.K. Washburn
Published 1912

Broken Yogi said...

Hey, Mysterian, speaking of Isis, what do you think of the connection of these female deities to Dhyana, the mysterious female force at the origins of the Zen/Chan tradition, going back to India. It was originally called "Dhyana Buddhism", and can also be related to the Diane of the Greek tradition. Ever l;ooked into that one?

Malcolm in the middle way said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Christianity was based on Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism was based on Christianity and Zen was a Chinese invention based on Taoism, not Buddhism.

Poep Sa Frank Jude said...

Brad (and "Broken Yogi"):

Regarding Nhat Hanh's quote, his actual take is a bit more subtle than that stand-alone quote would lead one to believe. In "The Sun My Heart," he clearly points out that ideally, people would know what media for them is unwholesome and what might be 'dharmic.'

For instance, for some folk with PTSD, just watching the news might be unwholesome for their mentality. Hanh goes on to say that a practitioner can most certainly read what might seem an unwholesome, cheap novel or an exploitative film and see (unearth) the dharma within it.

Just saying....

Trollnonymous said...

My gosh. I'm totally getting caught up in "What Brad Thinks". Definitely time to repeat my purification mantra 108 times:

OHWAH ... TAGOO ... SIAM ...

captcha = sioda nerectio
anagram = codeine satori

Anonymous said...

Mary Poppins seems like the Ultimate Dominatrix to me...

Broken Yogi said...

Poep.

That sounds sound to me.

Also, what is "dharmic" really means "whatever reduces one's cravings (tanha)". A lot of media and entertainment is explicitly designed to increase our cravings, and even to become addictive in itself. Of course, that same media might end up being a warning to some that helps them see the suffering inherent in craving. The test would be if they keep repeating it over and over, or just be done with it. If one can be free of craving, one can participate in all kinds of things that might not seem dharmic. But it's also easy to fool oneself.

Trollnonymous said...

Regarding media, the life stream is already bringing pleasure and displeasure. Why not have the patience to receive pleasure when it comes?

captcha = ofewser yandow
anagram = now defeats yow

Broken Yogi said...

Most people don't necessarily enjoy or profit from their media experience. They are just addicted to it, craving some kind of satisfaction from it. Just as it is with the life stream in general. That's where Buddhism comes in and criticizes our cravings and attachments.

Mysterion said...

Hunger Games is playing on 3 screens and the line is long...

Maybe I'll catch it when the DVD is 99¢ in the Goodwill Store...

or not.

It appeals to me that "Hunger Games" is a metaphor for the generation caught in the wake of the Reagan/Bush debt orgies. There is certainly a lost generation - born with a $30,000 per individual debt as assets were transferred to the top .1% and liabilities to the bottom 99%.

Mysterion said...

Blogger Broken Yogi said...
"Hey, Mysterian, speaking of Isis, what do you think of the connection of these female deities to Dhyana... can also be related to the Diane of the Greek tradition. Ever looked into that one?"

Not yet. But the silk road certainly had two directions of traffic (to/from Greece and to/from China)!

Noah (of flood/ark fame) may be related to Nu Wa and Fu Xi

Despite the obvious borrowing from Gilgamesh, Tablet 11, the names were changed to protect the Sumerians (right!).

Mysterion said...

Malcolm in the middle way said...
Yeah, yeah, yeah...

These things were born in a blender, not in isolation.

And Xtianity certainly did not spring, fully formed, from the head of Zeus.

Neither did Athena - the feminine Aten.

Anonymous said...

Thich Nhat Hanh says
pay no attention to
unwholesome thoughts...

buddy said...

john e mumbles said: 'IMO she [Jennifer Lawrence] was sleepwalking (she has one facial expression: bored = boring) through WB, and I cannot imagine she is any better in The Hunger Games.' I didn't get bored/boring at all, just the resolve of someone more concerned with the survival of her family than with being entertaining or alluring to middle-aged men.

Leah McClellan said...

I keep a book by Thich Nhat Hanh next to my desk to check the spelling every time I quote him. I haven't been able to devise a mnemonic device for those aitches that sticks.

I haven't noticed your misspellings of his name, and I do copyediting. But you did have a rather horrendous typo somewhere in there. Something totally, dreadfully awful like "I've have" or something. I fell off my chair.

I don't watch movies with much violence in them, not on a matter of principle but because it's not good food for me, so to speak. I've seen too much violence in real life over the years (or have heard about it on the news etc) to find screen portrayals of it entertaining.

If it's not very "real" and just a short portrayal that's part of the plot, not a big deal. But nasty stuff--Silence of the Lambs way back, for ex.--makes me physically ill. Probably because I grew up without TV and continue without, mostly, and have never been much of a movie fan except the rare really good whatever. So I think I'm just not desensitized to it, and I think plenty are. I don't think that's such a great thing. It normalizes violence.

I agree with Thay (I seriously doubt he'd be offended if anyone calls him Mr. Hanh)--to an extent--that we/anyone should take responsibility for the kind of stuff we put out as far as film, writing, right speech etc. and violence. But I think there's a line between what's educational and what's bloodsport. Plenty of people are into blood for sport for real and call it entertainment, or they don't get the theme of a film, as you mentioned. I heard there was cheering in the cinema when someone got killed in the end of The Hunger Games, someone described as being an asshole the whole time. Is that supporting killing off assholes?

But I believe in freedom of speech, so I wouldn't want to censor. I'd rather encourage people to think about what they watch. I think viewing violence--even if portrayed in film--feeds violence, feeds anger/suffering, "waters it," as Thay would say. But I don't think eliminating it from film or whatever completely is a good idea because it's unfortunately a part of life and may be educational in some contexts. But as anyone knows, violence is often the main point of some stuff.

Also I was reading here: http://www.plumvillage.org/mindfulness-trainings/32-14-mindfulness-trainings.html
I think the Twelfth Mindfulness Training sort of applies (knowing you "hate" the word mindfulness :). But it all depends on what we practice, I guess.

And as for listening to the Sex Pistols etc and preventing you from committing suicide--could be. But I think if you really wanted to kill yourself, you would have.

You wrote in a comment "Again, if I thought there was any chance at all Mr. Hanh or Mr. Lama read my blog, I would have reason to avoid offending them."

Do you really think it matters? If I shout in the privacy of my home "Brad Warner is one big dumb goofball" or whatever about anybody and nobody ever hears it, does it matter? I think it does. Besides, if I'm truly disrespecting someone, it's me who’s suffering, nobody else, though I can spread it, of course. And isn't working toward non-suffering a good thing?

"But I am way below Mr. Hanh's radar. He is a Very Big Deal, a star. He doesn't have time for little people like me."

Pfft. Not sure if that's all sarcasm or serious. I don't know him personally or even enough from reading about him to say this--it's just a feeling or impression--but I wouldn't be surprised if you are in his radar. And I'm 100% sure he'd be really super nice to you—even if he’s been reading your blog all this while—but "nice" in a much deeper way than that word conveys. The stuff that guy has seen....horrible war stuff...phew.

Leah McClellan said...

One more thing: the answer to your question a few posts back "Who is Thich Nhat Hanh?" popped into my head just now after rolling around in the background for quite awhile.

Thich Nhat Hanh is you. He is me. He is all of us and we are him.

The other question you asked "Who is Brad Warner?"

Brad Warner is Thich Nhat Hanh. He is me, he is all the commenters here, he is everybody just as we are him.

Now of course a Beatles song started playing in my head...can't remember the name...Ah yes. I am the Walrus lol

And that concludes my contribution to HCZ for the first half of the year or so, at least :)

Max Entropy said...

"These things were born in a blender, not in isolation." - Mysterion

The human brain is very effective at recognizing similarities and patterns and making connections between different things. It is so good at it that it sometimes (often) imagines connections that do not actually exist.
Human psychology is very similar even in cultures that are separated by thousands of miles and thousands of years and have no verifiable evidence of ever having had contact with each other.
Every god, goddess, religious concept or philosophy is not necessarily based on an older god, goddess, religious concept or philosophy that appears to be similar. They are all based on human psychology which accounts for the similarities and also for the affinity when disparate cultures actually do come into contact with each other.
Just because you can connect the dots doesn't mean that the dots are, or were ever, really connected.

Anonymous said...

each connection is also a dot

Anonymous said...

Buddha was a dot head.

Fred said...

Mark wrote:

"Maybe Fred is here because there is a potential for something like this: I write words about waking up and falling asleep that someone in New York reads, and then they are able to get back to sleep when they wake up in the early morning and need more sleep. They apply what they have found to waking up, and they write as follows:

"I have taken it a bit further, experimenting with it during the day. Same practice, find the location of the consiousness."

The quote was from Dogen.

Mysterion said...

Max said:
"They (gods) are all based on human psychology..."

The evolution of the gods, from cave paintings to Rome is a subject unto itself.

But ATTRIBUTION is a good place to start. The storm god of the Norse was Thor (Thuner, thunder), of Ugarit was Bal, of Israel was yhvh - yawnvay - etc.

At least Bal and yawnvay, being of neighboring tribes, had an Oden (an all-father) named El. The seven sons of El were Chemosh, Dagon, Baal, Yahweh, Milcom, Hadad, and Qos. The original seven tribes were Moab, Philistia, Canaan, Jacob (Israel), Ammon, Aram, and Edom. By the 7th cent. BCE, the changes we now recognize were harmonized by the Deuteronomists.

Gods evolved from shamanism through astrology and landed in religions. Gods represent part of the emergence of consciousness - the part that is most primitive.

So, yes, I will make the claim that Isis, Qwan Yin, and Virgin Mary are all one and the same concept - blended in time by the veg-o-matic.

Fred said...

The location of the consciousness
is the Tao which when given a name
isn't the Tao.

The Ineffable is doing the looking
past the fiction of the "I".

Whether real awake or asleep apply,
can't be said. They are generally
metaphors for choiceless awareness
of the now, or the sticky web of
maya.

Sea Gull Rimshot said...

man who fart in church

sit in own pew

Anonymous said...

great stuff Fred :)

Mark Foote said...

hey, Fred, I was actually responding to:

"Trollnonymous said...
Great advice Fred!

BTW, what are you doing reading and commenting on blogs?

12:44 PM"

Who was in turn responding to your quote of Dogen:

"put aside
the intellectual practice
of investigating words
and chasing phrases"

Thinking about:

"...metaphors for choiceless awareness of the now, or the sticky web of maya."

Makes me recall part of the description of mindfulness of the body:

"...(mindful of the body is one) who acts in full awareness when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, and keeping silent..."

(from Pali Canon Online MN 119)

I would contend that the backward step that turns the light and shines it inward shows us where consciousness takes place, and I describe this as the practice of waking up and falling asleep because where consciousness takes place is most easily witnessed falling asleep. It's the same waking up, and I would say walking, standing, and sitting. Talking and keeping silent- now the state of mind that is waking up and falling asleep comes in, for me.

Leah McClellan, I agree with you. The practice comes around to including every thing, and my words speak to me more clearly when I reflect that. If you're listening late at night, you might think that Brad is not quite right... you're correct, he just writes it like that.

Anonymous said...

80

captcha = laymenio niumb
anagram = baloney mini mu

Moni said...

I want to watch Hunger Games too. Did not even know, that it was made based on a Japanese movie.

I am not afraid either that it would turn out so bad in the future as this movie envisions it. It might be that environmental pollution or/and some nuclear bombs/bio weapons will destroy the Earth much faster, before we could go so down socially that rich people watch poor ones killing each other just for the sake of entertainment.

john e mumbles said...

Aren't they doing it in one way or the other already? Hasn't this pretty much always been the case?

And w/ the hunger games the rich movie studio execs, directors, & "movie stars" are selling the whole concept back to us!

Occupy Wall Street? occupy your own mind and way of looking at things!

Man, am I in a pissymystic mood today...

Anonymous said...

Eh, the Battle Royale/Hunger Games/Surviving the Game/Running Man trope is a time-honored archetype in story-telling. We'll see another one in about 10 years. THough I have a friend who just finished Battle Royale and said he can't read Hunger Games now because it feels like a light version.

Suzanne Collins has stated that she has a lot of influence from even Greek Mythology, so this has been going on awhile.

Lastly, I'm very hopeful that kids get the satire. I think the smart ones will. They will be employing the dumb ones :)
--matt

Anonymous said...

John said: "Aren't they doing it in one way or the other already? Hasn't this pretty much always been the case?

And w/ the hunger games the rich movie studio execs, directors, & "movie stars" are selling the whole concept back to us!"

It might be a vast right wing conspiracy.
Or, it might be petty prole-troll bitching about things they do not understand.

john e mumbles said...

At some point its not hard to notice how various trends in pop culture are recycled, co-opted, and resold to the masses who think they're on to the next cool thing, whatever it may be. And of course the whole process always preys on youth, or the gullible old who want to regain their cred (or their lost youth/naivete/"innocence").

As Lou Reed sang so long ago, stealing the line of course:

"They'd eat shit and say it tasted good."

Moni said...

@Anonymous: well it can have something to do with Greek history not only the mythology, since in Sparta it was a ritual of becoming an adult that they had to go to the forest and make a slave-hunting and the slaves had to run in front of them and try to escape. If they could kill one/some they became a man officially.

Kalki said...

Human cattle should not understand that that they are being exploited as a source of cheap labor and are basically a type of product in themselves. Cattle should be unable or unwilling to organize themselves. Their social functions are simple: to work and then to buy the products they make and contracts to use them. They care little about anything but immediate family, fighting with strangers, games, videos, cheap wine, beer and drugs and gambling. Artistically they produce meaningless songs, meaningless novels, (all now more increasingly made by machines.) Even the pornography of the cattle is now being made by machines. It is compiled by cattle for cattle. Cattle wear trendy uniforms designed to be replaced seasonally. They over use cosmetics and faux health products and can have multiple body tattoos. Cattle have free sex lives albeit severely unsatisying, uninterrupted by law. Among the cattle Marriage is discouraged in opposite sex couples and encouraged in same sex couples. Frequent partner changing is expected. Despite the personal freedoms enjoyed by the cattle, the Thought Police moves among them unnoticed, spreading false rumors and marking down, menacing and subverting any individuals deemed capable of causing trouble. Cattle live alone, in couples or in groups in rundown apartments, rented huts and art studios mainly in urban areas.

Anonymous said...

The 7 basic plots in human stories:

[wo]man vs. nature
[wo]man vs. [wo]man
[wo]man vs. the environment
[wo]man vs. machines/technology
[wo]man vs. the supernatural
[wo]man vs. self
[wo]man vs. god/religion

pickles! said...

8. [wo]man vs. pickles!

pickles! said...

Yo Kalki!

Try substituting 'the traumatized' for 'cattle' and see how it reads.

~ pickles!

Moni said...

I watched this Battle Royale tonight.. I do not know how can be Hunger Games lighter and more lame, because already this was quite hmm...."interesting"..

Every time when someone died, he/she was killed by the one who he/she was secretly in love with. Before dying he/she confessed it to the person who killed him/her and the beloved person started to say things like: "Oh nooo, but you did not say anything about this before. How could I have known it". Ah, and of course people were always in love with someone else than the one who loved them. Real high school feeling.

The book must be way better I guess.

Hugo_vH said...

No no no! Peace of mind = Sex Pistols,
utter dukkha = Carpenters.

Anonymous said...

Udder dukkha = lactose intolerance

Anonymous said...

This zazen just isn't doing it for me --
time to hook my brain up to a car battery!

boubi said...

Hi Brad

I was wondering lately about the main promise of buddhism AKA the end of suffering from illness, old age, death.

Now i really appreciate your effort in trying to show that zen masters are just common dudes (or girls), that the "aura" is most of the time a marketing stunt, but still could you tell something about the basics, like in 101 buddhism? Like in what it helped you or your teacher or your "brothers" in lineage?

Because it's very nice to know that it makes people a bit better persons, that things get a bit brighter, but what moves us was that promise.

thanks

boubi said...

About John Carter.

I loved it, it reminded me of those dashing adventure movies like Flash Gordon. Some scenes were used in Star Wars too.

The movie was a beauty.

Raymond said...

Ive been reading your book and your blog for several years and I have been a real fan of your candor and some of your deep insights.

With that said, I have to say that your recent passive aggresive snipes at TNH radiate insecurity and really look like a ploy for attention. By all means, please prove me wrong.

Mysterion said...

Zazen is not for those seeking instant gratification.

Patience develops patience.

Silence develops silence.

Is it ever really silent?

Do we ever really become patient?

Wait, and see.

Anonymous said...

mysterion loves to say, "Wait, and see." He's a wanker.

Anonymous said...

"I have a hard time agreeing with this. I do think that there are forms of entertainment whose sole purpose appears to be to excite people in unhealthy ways and generate profits. But almost every time I think I've come up with the perfect example of this, it turns out that either the makers of the thing had a higher purpose in mind than I'd imagined or that the fans of the thing got more out of it than I ever would."

A perfect example of this is a movie called "Megan is Missing"... it's one of those found-footage movies about two 13 year old girls and a internet predator.

(i warn folks... this movie, I have not seen it because I am afraid I will be unable to un-see it. The last 22 minutes, by all accounts is horrifying - especially if you have teenage daughters.)

sam said...

brad. you probably won't read this but....

I'm a fan of yours. Your books. Your attitude towards Western Buddhism.

However, Battle Royale was first a book, then a film. I've read both Battle Royale and The Hunger Games and seen both adaptations. Other than kids fighting to the death and there being thematic undertones commenting on the societies the authors inhabit, they aren't all that similar.


The real reason I was commenting was to say that, for whatever reason, your blog attracts an enormous amount of commenting idiots. I guess these people are practitioners or Buddhists or whatever, but I think they are idiots.

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