David K. Reynolds
2011 (see Creative Commons Deed below.)
If a writer puts enough in print for others to read nearly everyone will find a line or more that appears to be wrong. That line may be different from person to person, but the result is that each reader will then conclude that, having found what appears to be an error, he or she is in some way deeper than the writer, that the writer's thinking is flawed.
When the first three of my books went out of print there were still twenty or so in print, but there was some nostalgia and sense of loss when there are no new progeny from a book. The copies already out there will age and find themselves recycled perhaps, but eventually discarded, returning to the earth. The ideas they have spawned, and the memories they have created, may reverberate for a time. In small ways the world was changed through those books, like any books. Rest in Peace. And thank you.
Advice to new writers: Don't work on one project at a time. There are several advantages to keeping more than one project going at once. Ideas from one project may stimulate ideas for another. When you are tired of working on one project there is some relief from turning to another one. When one project is finished there is another one ongoing so the difficult task of starting from scratch is averted.
Writing is a life-devouring occupation. It is also a self-enriching discipline, a form of meditation, a pump for inflating the ego.
Being a writer is a strange sort of pastime. The job is that of a word arranger. I use words that are "owned" by everyone. I put them in an order not particularly different from the order many others have utilized, and I get paid for it. Marvelous!
I write giving life a quarter turn so it can be viewed from a different angle
I walk through a minefield while writing, making it appear as though I walk a straight line. My word-steps are very carefully placed.
While writing one learns, at last, to be alone and quiet and to let the thoughts appear. They emerge in rushes and pauses from nowhere. They are not my thoughts. Hardly. They are borrowed, rather observed as they pass along some contiguous stream. When I have rare bouts of despair that my contribution won't be recognized by scholars and the public it is helpful to remind myself that I am nothing more than an elaborate printing device for ideas that float through Reality. A printing device is worthy of praise only if it performs reliably over a long period of time. I must be a dependable channel for the hard-copy embodiment of Constructive Living ideas. 10/83
Where do all the people go while I sit on this park bench writing? I mean this question in both senses. When I stop writing, there they are again.
My writing and speaking tend to be in compact style. There are few filler words. Both require attention in order to follow the flow of the argument. A moment's daydreaming and it may be necessary to return to some earlier point to catch what was missed. I write in nubby little chunks. Perhaps some writers can write smooth pudding outlines, but my style is to blurt out an idea then grind down the edges to fit it into the uneven wall of the creation I've been given.
I try to seduce people into understanding through my writing style. It looks unadorned, plain vanilla, effortless. But I do make efforts to avoid currently overused (and, so, meaningless) words and mental health jargon. I retreat at times to what might be considered "old-fashioned" terms in order to further the vehicle of plain talk. The words are simple. The practice of Constructive Living is difficult. People won't begin a difficult undertaking without a clear perception of the purpose, the goal.
I am not driven to write in the sense that I love writing or love to express my ideas in written form to others. I am obligated to write; it is one way I work to repay my debt to Reality for my existence.
I find that I am better able to write intimately when far away than to speak intimately when close.
Ideas for the content of these writings bubble up from nowhere. So does the idea to write. My actions, too, are gifts.
Writing is a stupid job. It involves arranging the cheapest of ingredients in rows, hoping that other people will praise your arrangement with other cheap ingredients.
I was stricken with writefluenza this morning at 3 AM
Do readers realize the weeks and months that go into the book they read in a few hours? Do they see the condensation and reworking of ideas? Their speech is relatively effortless, popping forth easily. The struggle to produce groomed sentences that appear effortless may be difficult to surmise.
You don't make changes in the world by writing what most editors want to accept for publication. They want what is safe and proven to be sellable. They want the ordinary with a slight touch of difference. I write with the goal of making big shifts in the way ordinary people and mental health professionals think about living everyday life. And I write with the goal of translating those shifts of thinking into behavior. It may well be that the shifts of behavior come before the changes of thinking. Can you see it?
In some ways writing a book is like planting a crop. Once the intial writing/planting and editing/weeking are completed the book/plant grows on its own, producing harvest long after the work is over. Being an author or a farmer takes patience and includes risk. Whatever the inherent value of the product it will be affected by market fluctuation. Is this the year for tomatoes and allegory? for soybeans and popular science reporting? One can hold the fruits of one's labor in one's hands. One can nourish others, sustain the self, practice a measure of independence and voluntary isolation. No time clocks, no salaries, no uniforms, no certainty.
I am listening to the hundreds of individual drop sounds that make up the pattern of rain-sounds. No, I'm not; I'm writing. When I begin to think about the words to use to describe this experience, the rain itself fades away. Words become my world. I wonder if people realize how much a writer or any artist gives up to ply his craft. He can only brush reality much of the time, engaging it only when he forgets his trade. The rest of my days are spent in a fairy world of stiff reflections, clumsy order, flat part-truths. From these scraps I can sometimes create beauty and meaning. It is a mistake for the artist to believe that his product is the reality in which he lives. It happened to Mishima, I suspect, and Kawabata, though they should have known better. Words are part of what is, but only a small part. They are indicators, not equivalents.
And yet, to sketch with words is foolishness in this era. For words are too many and crowded beyond their capacity to inform. They cry helplessly from each billboard, masking, distorting reality, twisted at the whim of the rich and powerful, tools for gaining gavels and votes and purchases. They tumble from sportscasters, videoed busts describing not the contest so much as the spectacular fantasied plots of their directors.
Now is the time for painting or pottery or carving, for shaping new reality from that which was before. The reality of words today is wispy haze blown about by crosswinds, soon sunwarmed into nothingness. And yet, by these uncertain foggy draughts I must try to invogorate or chill you and outline the ephemeral shapes that I can make out. A chisel biting air, a brush dipped in mist, an empty spinning wheel. Spinning, spinning. Still the words drift forth.
One reason why I wanted to become a writer was that writers present a clever facade, always appearing in their writings as though they had thought deeply or from some unique angle. I came to see that sometimes even the wittiest of writers are dull, mundane, suffered from gas and got traffic tickets. But to many readers of the writer's work, the author's mind gleamed sharp, perceptive, flashing with illumination. I wished to be seen that way by some, and so I began writing...or, hopefully, I began gleaming.
I can recall sitting in a barber chair as a boy marveling at my reflections turned in on one another over and over until they sank from sight in the mirrors. Why do I write? Is it a kind of self-therapy? Do I enjoy reaching and probing into that jumble of mental toy blocks? Is there something about bringing the blocks together in a new pattern that requires new probing?
I sometimes hate writing. But it is a way to live and a way to live on. And it is consistent with other elements of my life--probing within, awareness of awareness, sensitivity to cues from others, curiosity, opening alternatives of living for myself and others. I do not bare myself to others; I can only reveal blurry outlines of myself even if I write for a lifetime. And the blocks tumble in on themselves. Anyway, burdens can't be dumptrucked on paper.
I can't explain why. There came a time when I had to write. For much of my life I resisted the discipline of writing, even while doing it. It was my job, my obligation. I learned from the Japanese to wait for time to ripen. Events can't be pushed or controlled without their spinning away in unpredictable directions like an oppressed gyroscope. But when the time was ripe for writing, when I was ripe for writing, nothing else could satisfy my restlessness. Even the mild urge to watch the hackneyed patterns of television plots and characters yielded to the drive to create additional complex interpretations of human reality/my reality.
I had absorbed for so long that I thought it was my forte. To take in, to reorganize, to forget, and to reabsorb in endless cycles, I was the ultimate spectator of the game of social science and its raw material, human life. But there came a time in which ideas crowded out on paper in spurts and blobs. I became so critical of what I read that reading ceased to be enjoyable--she should have written that! no! the point to be made is thus! Ideas were clumping together. If people read such gruel as this, how would they respond to a more thoughtful meal of my preparation. What foolish arrogance!
So you see it came to pass that I had to write. And then to have my writing read by others was sweet, but not essential. I am ready now to write. Better yet, I have been readied now to write. Thoughts shuffle and push to find their destiny on paper.
It took me quite a while to realize that I'm not a social scientist, whatever that might be. Rather, I paint pictures of people with words. But I'm not an artist either, for my word products can be judged right or wrong in terms of reality in a way an artistic production should not be judged. Exegesis, interpretation, is not quite what I am about either. Although it is rather closer than the other two above. Exegesis takes what is given as a start and abstracts meaning from it. How much meaning is there to begin with and how much do I create or ascribe I cannot really tell. So, perhaps, in the end my work lies somewhere between exegesis and art.
Then what is it for? In the first place I intend it to be a sort of memorable summarization of experience. He saw things this way. Second, I wish to teach others something about humanity. Whether what I teach is "true" in some strict philosophic or scientific sense I do not know. I do know that much, perhaps all, of human behavior (whether the person be old or crazy or Japanese or suicidal) makes sense when one understands the context in which it occurs. "Makes sense?" "understands?", you say, tricky words, these. For what makes sense to some does not to others, and what one understands at one time may be incomprehensible later.
Writing is a way to make thought visible for others' evaluations, criticism. It is a kind of undressing the self. Sometimes when writing I lose myself and emerge minutes or hours later having written.
If I were to do my writing of the Water books again I would not set up CL as an adversary of Western psychotherapy, but an aid to refining it. Perhaps my adversarial writing led some therapists to reject CL and withhold the books from their clients.
How arrogant and prideful that I believe that I have so much of importance to speak and write about each day. What foolishness! I'm a cricket in the night.
Interpretations of Dogen's Kajo
David K. Reynolds
Reality is simple and straightforward.
Everyday it offers teaching in simple and straightforward matters.
Why do you think you need complex analysis and interpretation?
Wandering around in the labyrinths of mind is for those with time on their hands.
Only minds carry time.
Only minds carry words.
Watch the words slip through your mind fingers.
Only minds watch words in this manner.
Eyes don't know how.
What is your need for special powers and insights?
If you overeat and undermove you grow fat.
If you fail to look you fail to see.
If you sleep little you grow drowsy.
If you avoid meaningful activity you become bored.
You can die, you know, while still breathing.
I am here writing these words.
Or so the words go.
But where am I now, really?
Am I not next to you, inside you, you?
Are you not next to me, inside me, me?
Who Hello'd just now?
Ordinary is extraordinary.
Noticing this truth is satisfying.
Fact as Fiction
Facts are not Reality.
Facts are interpreted Reality,
Groomed, molded, puzzle-piece Reality.
Facts are clipped out Reality-coupons,
Word-printed in multicolors.
Before buying facts please take in the whole publication.
Bargains, specials, and discounts are offered
To those who read the ads.
Have you ever been engulfed in a car crash?
Have you ever lost yourself in work?
Have you ever transcended yourself in victory?
Where do you go when you sleep?
There is a lot going on.
When you come to,
You fit right back in.
As though it were there all along.
I put the trash out today.
It will be gone by noon.
Of course, the trash guys pick it up.
With life stories and aging and health conditions.
With life stories and aging and maintenance conditions.
With life stories and aging and environmental conditions.
All these connected to other life stories
The trash and me, too.
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