Saturday, May 24, 2008

Birthday Wishes

Readers, it's my birthday tomorrow.

And that brings me one year closer to no longer being a 'teen' author. What will happen when I leave teenhood for good to become a 'real' adult? Will this blog still exist? Will it have to become 'Blog of a 20-something... normal person... who is uninteresting...'?

Anyway, Happy Birthday to me, and I suppose we'll find out in the coming year whether I make it... or not.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Kōan -accomplishing the purpose of writing in one sentence!

A kōan is part of Bhuddism. It is generally a statment that contains aspects that may not make sense logically, yet are understood with intuition. (Rephrased from this Wikipedia article.

For example:

"Two hands clap and there is a sound; what is the sound of one hand?"

Get it?

The purpose of kōans is to bring two people to the same plane of understanding; to allow their minds to come together by sharing the same thought. In the instant that you really understood the kōan above, you and I shared the same mental leap from logic to intuition.

I am so excited about kōans because they are, my friends, the purpose of writing condensed.

When you boil it down (shapes with pens stand for sounds which form keywords that unlock pictures in our brains), the whole purpose of communication is to get people to think the same thoughts.

Stephen King demonstrates this in his fantastic autobiography/instruction manual called On Writing (I would recommend this book to any aspiring writer). In one part of the book he asks the reader to envision a white rabbit.

Now we are all sharing the same thoughts. We are all thinking of a white rabbit. our rabbits may differ a little, but in general we are all imagining the same basic concept.

Then he asks the reader to imagine that this is a rabbit used in magic tricks, and it has the number 8 printed on its back.

We may all be envisioning different types and colors of 8's, but again, I repeat, we are all sharing the same basic concepts.

That's why I'm so enamoured of the kōan. What is the sound of one hand clapping?

We are all sharing the same headspace.

Further research into the history of kōans reveals that they are not supposed to be approached intellectually; they are a spiritual excercise undertaken in person, lessons from master to student, but we don't have to be too bothered by that. I recommend more research into the history of kōans, but unfortunately listed examples of them on the internet aren't as cool as that hand clapping one.

If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands... now try it one-handed!