Anyone who examines the Zen arts is immediately struck by how modern they seem. The ceramics of 16th-century Zen artists could be interchanged with the rugged pots of our own contemporary crafts movement; ancient calligraphies suggest the monochromes of Franz Kline or Willem de Kooning; the apparent nonsense and illogic of Zen parables (and No theater and Haiku poetry) established the limitations of language long before the theater of the absurd; 400-year-old Zen architecture seems to be a copy of modern design ideas such as modular sizing, exposed woods, raw materials, bare walls, uncluttered space and a California marriage of house and garden. Zen values experiencing things over analyzing them. Perhaps if we can take the power of direct perception, sharpened by the devices of Zen art, back to everyday activities, we will find a beauty in common objects that we previously ignored.
The notoriously grumpy Kirkus Reviews said, “Thomas Hoover has a considerable gift for expressing his appreciation and understanding of various arts associated with Zen. . . . These are deftly treated, with a concise synopsis of the historical development of each; and together Hoover’s discussions provide an excellent introduction to the aesthetics of Japanese culture.” Library Journal said, “Hoover covers the ground in an easy and informative way, describing the origins of Zen itself and the Zen roots of swordsmanship, architecture, food, poetry, drama, ceramics, and many other areas of Japanese life. The book is packed with facts, the bibliography is excellent, the illustrations few but most appropriate, and the style clear and smooth. A most useful book for all collections.”
Asian Studies declared, “Highly recommended. ZEN CULTURE moves easily from the political climate that gave rise to Zen to the cultural areas – art, architecture, theatre, literature, flower arrangement, design, archery, swordsmanship – where Zen has manifested itself.” As for the influence of the Zen aesthetic, theHouston Chronicle said, “Hoover suggests we need only look around. Modern furniture is clean, simple lines in unstained, unadorned woods. And that old fad became a habit, houseplants. These are all expressions of ideas born with Zen: understatement, asymmetry, intuitive perception, nature worship, disciplined reserve.” “Highly recommended,” said The Center for Teachers of Asian Studies. “Western intellectuals have tried to represent the height of Buddhist mysticism within the pages of mere books, reducing an ineffable experience into a written report. Predictably such attempts have failed miserably. ZEN CULTURE by Thomas Hoover comes the closest to succeeding,” saidHark Publishing.
“ZEN CULTURE, concerned as it is with the process of perception as much as with actual works of art, can open our sense so that we experience anew the arts of both East and West, ancient and modern.” declared the Asian Mail. And to go multi-media, NYC-FM in New York said, “Hoover takes us on a grand tour of Zen archery and swordsmanship, flower arranging, drama, food, gardening, painting, poetry, architecture. His book is essentially one by a connoisseur.”
BOOKS BY THOMAS HOOVER
Major Chinese Periods
THE BEGINNINGS: PREHISTORY TO 1333
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.
The Chronicles of Zen
Zen Archery and Swordsmanship
The Great Age of Zen
The Zen Aesthetics of Japanese Architecture
Hi-to-ri ko-ge na-mu
Chapter 5 Zen Archery and Swordsmanship
Chapter 6 The Great Age of Zen
Chapter 7 Zen and the Landscape Garden
Chapter 9 Zen and the Ink Landscape
Chapter 11 The No Theater
Chapter 1 2 Bourgeois Society and Later Zen
Chapter 13 The Tea Ceremony
Chapter 14 Zen Ceramic Art
Chapter 16 Private Zen: Flowers and Food
Chapter 17 The Lessons of Zen Culture
General Arts and Culture
Buddhism and Japanese Buddhism
Zen Archery and Swordsmanship
Flowers and Food
Zen and the Ink Landscape
Zen and Haiku
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The Great Round World and What Is Going On In It, Vol. 1, No. 60, December 30, 1897 A Weekly Magazine for Boys and Girls