Now Reading: Seinfeld and Philosophy

by William Irwin.
Designed for philosophers as well as readers with no particular philosophical background, the essays in this lively book are grouped into four amusing acts. Act One looks at the four Seinfeld characters through a philosophical lens and includes Jerry and Socrates: The Examined Life? Act Two examines historical philosophers from a Seinfeldian standpoint and offers Plato or Nietzsche? Time, Essence, and Eternal Recurrence in Seinfeld. Act Three, Untimely Meditations by the Water Cooler, explores philosophical issues raised by the show, such as, Is it rational for George to do the opposite? And Act Four, Is There Anything Wrong with That?, discusses ethical problems of everyday life using Seinfeld as a basis. Seinfeld and Philosophy also provides a guide to Seinfeld episodes and a chronological list of the philosophers cited in this book.

More details
Seinfeld and Philosophy: A Book about Everything and Nothing
By William Irwin
Contributor William Irwin
Published by Open Court, 2000
ISBN 0812694090, 9780812694093
224 pages

Now reading: Zen ist the biggest lie of all times

Kodo Sawaki
Kodo Sawaki (1880-1965) is considered by some to be the most important Japanese Zen master of the 20th century. His parents died early and he grew up being adopted by a gambler and an ex-prostitute. When he was 16, he ran away from home to become a monk at Eiheiji, one of the two main temples of Soto Zen. At first unsuccessful, he was finally ordained as a monk and began his Zen studies. Later, he started to give lectures and instructions in the practice of zazen, and during the 1930s he was called as a professor at Komazawa University. At the same time, he also took responsibility for Antaiji, a zazen temple in northern Kyoto. Because of his continuous travels throughout Japan to practice zazen with people everywhere, he began to be called “homeless Kodo.” Sawaki Kodo Roshi died on December 21st, 1965, in Antaiji. He was succeeded by his closest disciple, Kosho Uchiyama, who also collected many of Sawaki’s sayings, which have been published under the title The Zen Teaching of Homeless Kodo. (source wikipedia)

To you who thinks Buddhism is the greatest idea in human history
Religion isn’t an idea. It’s practice.

Dont get lost in thoughts about the buddha-dharma.

Be careful that you don’t handle the buddha-dharma like some canned good which has nothing to do with reality.

Your explanations and your anecdotes are foolish like everything that comes out of your mouth. The expression on your face has already said how it really is.

You can express reality completely freely with words. Yet these words are not in themselves reality. If reality were in the words themselves, we would burn our tongue whenever we said “fire”. And whenever we talked about wine, we would get drunk. In reality, it isn’t so easy.

What isn’t real is useless, no matter what we call it. And no matter how we use theories, we don’t make any progress through them. Words are nothing more than words.

New books:

Za-Zen – Taisen Deshimaru-Roshi
Seinfeld and Philosphie (A book about everything and nothing) – William Erwin (Editor)
The Simpsons and Philosphie (The D’oh! of Homer)- William Erwin (Editor)

Now Reading: Zen Mind, Beginners Mind

Shunryu Suzuki
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind is a book of teachings by the late Shunryu Suzuki-roshi, a compilation of talks given to his satellite Zen center in Los Altos, California. Published in 1970 by Weatherhill, the book does not get caught up in academic idolatry. These are frank and direct transcriptions of Suzukis’ talks recorded by his student Marian Derby. Trudy Dixon and Richard Baker (Baker was Suzuki’s successor) edited the talks by choosing those most relevant, arranging them into chapters. This book has become a spiritual classic, helping readers to steer clear from the trappings of intellectualism.


Finished Reading: Blink and The Tipping Point

Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking – Malcolm Gladwell and The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Differenence – Malcolm Gladwell.

Blink is about the first two seconds of looking–the decisive glance that knows in an instant. Gladwell, the best-selling author of The Tipping Point, campaigns for snap judgments and mind reading with a gift for translating research into splendid storytelling. Building his case with scenes from a marriage, heart attack triage, speed dating, choking on the golf course, selling cars, and military maneuvers, he persuades readers to think small and focus on the meaning of “thin slices” of behavior. The key is to rely on our “adaptive unconscious”–a 24/7 mental valet–that provides us with instant and sophisticated information to warn of danger, read a stranger, or react to a new idea.

The Tipping Point: “The best way to understand the dramatic transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life,” writes Malcolm Gladwell, “is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do.” Although anyone familiar with the theory of memetics will recognize this concept, Gladwell’s The Tipping Point has quite a few interesting twists on the subject.
For example, Paul Revere was able to galvanize the forces of resistance so effectively in part because he was what Gladwell calls a “Connector”: he knew just about everybody, particularly the revolutionary leaders in each of the towns that he rode through. But Revere “wasn’t just the man with the biggest Rolodex in colonial Boston,” he was also a “Maven” who gathered extensive information about the British. He knew what was going on and he knew exactly whom to tell. The phenomenon continues to this day–think of how often you’ve received information in an e-mail message that had been forwarded at least half a dozen times before reaching you.

Gladwell develops these and other concepts (such as the “stickiness” of ideas or the effect of population size on information dispersal) through simple, clear explanations and entertainingly illustrative anecdotes, such as comparing the pedagogical methods of Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues, or explaining why it would be even easier to play Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon with the actor Rod Steiger.

at Amazon: Blink and The Tipping Point