The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

December 18, 2003

swallowing inert organisms
leaching biospheres
exemplary carbon cycles
deep-sea chimneys and artificial life


Review                                                  Alan Sondheim

Ryotaro Shiba, Kukai The Universal: Scenes from His Life, trans. Akiko
Takemoto from Kukai no Fukei, Muse ICG, 2003:

9th-century Kukai founds esoteric Japanese Buddhist Shingon after
traveling to China, the book a brilliant account of physical/body and
philosophical transmission, virtual carried on the shoulders of desire and
flesh. Saicho, founder of Tendai - both travel together to China, known to
each other only later. Later still, Ennin, translated by Reischauer, who
also writes a commentary on him, two books: Ennin's Travels in Tang China,
and Ennin's Diary: The Record of a Pilgrimage to China, which occurred
838-847. Kukai was deified, more tendrils described in George Tanabe, ed.,
Religions of Japan in Practice. Accounts are endless, for example Bai
Letian (Bai Juyi), Waley's favorite, appears in Shiba for his Chang'an (NW
capital of Tang) descriptions - I found his work elsewhere in several
transliterated volumes complete w/ the Chinese. There are meanderings back
and forth, everyone crossing from Japan to China and back on ill-equipped
and poorly-designed boats, many of which never returned. These journeys
read like spirit-journeys of skin and soul; Ennin goes in Search of the
Law, and his diary records Tang's Wu-Tsung's search for immortality,
complete with Taoist tower, as well as his persecution of the Buddhists,
almost to extinction. Later Ennin continued Saicho's work; Saicho and
Kukai had a problematic relationship, with the former declaring himself a
student of the latter - in Shiba, Saicho is presented as hurrying through
the Sutras (much as I do), not as therapeutic (in the Freudian sense), but
as knowledge; Kukai refused him a loan of some manuscripts, and, rude, the
falling-out intensified. Kukai was at Koya, Saicho at Hiei, later
destroyed. Of Kukai, later sainthood, legends, including his survival
beneath the tomb, eternal meditation, mummification. But then there are
accounts of cremation. Kukai wrote The Ten Stages of the Development of
Human Mind, 830, described in Shiba, and certainly critical in the rising
up and annihilation of world and consciousness; all these agreements and
disagreements are a far cry from monotheism with its tired and dogmatic
narratives necessitating loyalty, violence, and belief. There is always
space, such as the liminality within the sculptural mandala at To-jo,
founded by Kukai - who has also been credited, rightly or wrongly, with
the hiragana and katakana syllabic characters (that appear related to
Sanskrit, a language he knew well). Kukai also founded a university,
dammed a reservoir, built on top of Mount Koya, organized and reformulated
the Sutras he brought back with him from China. And within his writings
and travels - and within those of Saicho, Ennin, and others - one can
almost envision the origins of vision, invisibility, the accompaniment of
absence, the horizons of enlightenments. Not to return primarily with the
relics of Buddha (although these were also carried), but to emphasize the
inscription of the world - all those sutras brought from China - as well
as the necessity of transcendence. It's the letter and its erasure, a
semiotic formation that has never been equaled, I think, anywhere else -
and a formation that's neither Chinese nor Japanese, nor of this world,
nor of any other. One might move from these books to the sutras themselves
- as much as possible, I recommend the translations of Bill Porter / Red
Pine, and at least glance at the Chinese and the weights and absences of
the characters themselves.


more or less, during my sickness

I am Nikuko.  Please, describe yourself.  Each time you are finished,
type RET twice.
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elsewhere.Why do say elsewhere?
within.Is it because of your desires that within?
breaks through
desires.Maybe and now adjust my panties - life have to with some
girl related this.
fucks life.Are afraid sex?
falls into
sex.Tell me about something sexual history.
began coming forth going
out.What makes yearn cry out?
scream fills the
universe.boys hang around universe?
replies all boys.nakedness this?
is utter in which i will be perfect
reply.believe that?
fever fahrenheit.Could should make love someone cooler, so hungry for
fucking would appreciate very much if turn on,
continue sickness illness
disease.don't understand oh want to.
telling do.Can elaborate on look at me?
looking throat default.How reconcile any fantasies suture skin mine.sure
high fahrenheit panties.Do get often?
getting fucking.Perhaps could please expose yourself sex body...
penis testicles body head.Earlier said were high?
Discuss feelings partner.

I finished, am I Jennifer.  am Please, Jennifer. describe Please,
 elsewhere. this came this from came elsewhere.from Why elsewhere? do Why
say you elsewhere? from within.from Is within? it Is because it of because
your of desires your that desires within? from breaks this through breaks
desires.through Maybe some and Maybe now and adjust I my adjust panties my
- panties life your have life to have with do some with girl this. related
girl this. to fucks this life.your Are sex? afraid you sex? of falls this
into falls sex.into Tell history. me Tell about me something about sexual
your history. sexual began this coming with forth coming going and
out.going What and makes What yearn you cry and out? going scream this
fills scream the fills universe.the boys the hang you around hang
universe? the replies this all through boys.the nakedness your this? all
is this utter my in nakedness which in i which will i be will perfect your
reply.perfect believe you that? believe fever my Could for
should you make should love make someone with cooler, someone so am hungry
so for hungry you. you. fucking is would I appreciate would very so much
very if it turn so on, me continue! continue! continue would sickness
through illness sickness disease.illness don't I understand don't oh and
want I to. want telling is Can me? elaborate you on elaborate look
and at look me? at looking is throat my How me? reconcile you
any reconcile fantasies any suture is skin your sure you yours? in
high at fahrenheit high panties.and Do often? get you often? high getting
is fucking.and Perhaps and could you please oh expose please yourself
expose sex your body... body... penis my testicles and body and
head.fahrenheit Earlier high? said you were you high? were Discuss
partner. feelings your partner. sexual _ _


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