From there it was a short step to Paul Zeps translation of Nyogen Senzaki's 101 Zen Stories, released as Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. Like going back to re-read Robert Louis Stevenson and Lewis Carroll, it's an abiding, enduring pleasure. These days of course you can find more koans on the intertubes than hot cups of tea.
One of my favourites involves a man walking across a field, only to stumble across a tiger. He flees, with the tiger chasing after him. Coming to a cliff, the man has two choices - stay and be eaten or jump. He jumps, but as he falls, he grabs hold of a bush, and dangles in the air. Above him is the tiger. Terrified, the man looks down below, to the bottom of the cliff. There another tiger appears, looking up and waiting for the feast to fall into his lap. At that moment, two mice, one white, one black, suddenly appear and begin to gnaw away at the roots to the bush. That's when the man sees a luscious strawberry dangling from a vine growing amongst the rocks. He reaches out and plucks the strawberry, and eats it. How sweet it tastes.
Now what, you might ask, has this got to do in any way shape and form with a blog crusading against gibbering right wing idiots, unleashed by feral lick spittle lackey editors on an unsuspecting world in a bid to harangue and berate it into submission?
Well clearly you understand nothing grasshopper. Whenever I open my digital content in the morning I smell the virtual new mown grass and I contemplate the ethereal blue of the sky and then I read whichever curmudgeon has launched an assault on the middle ground of sanity, respect and human decency, and I smile. How sweet it tastes.
This morning poor old Kevin Rudd, that conniving intellectual socialist with leftist leanings designed to create more conniptions in a right wing columnist than catnip in a pussy, cops a battering from all sides. But the message isn't entirely clear - it seems the commentariet haven't been talking to each other.
Over at the Daily Terror the fat owl is distraught - Rudd is plunging us deep into the red.
A responsible leadership team would seek a bipartisan approach to the crisis. Rudd has destroyed any possibility of building that consensus.
(Perhaps the most amusing part of the a very short and lazy blog entry are the comments below it - it seems the fat owl is now being flamed regularly by his readership, and has taken alternately to abusing them and indiscriminately praising the Howard government. Poor unhappy fat owl, go avenging angels).
Okay, let's ay that Rudd read the fat owl and had a life changing revelation and decided to seek bipartisanship as a result of reading the fat owl's wise and moving words - it's a stretch, but let's say it, as the fat owl, always inflated with self-importance would think it entirely possible.
What then would the evil, conspiring Ruddster make of Janet Albrechtsen over at The Australian, that American owned institute for right wing thought: PM dumps facade for ideological dream.
Even those in favor of stimulus spending and budget deficits (like Ronald Reagan?) should accept the need for vigilance to ensure Rudd's latest $42 billion package is rigorously justified on economic, not political or ideological grounds. The very last thing we need at this time is bipartisanship.
Indeed, and the very last thing we need is someone who paid any attention to the cawing and crying of the loons.
Along the way, as she gets to her final desperate act of verbal hostility, Albrechtsen manages to lead with all the talking points that justify the current stupidity of the Republicans, now a mean southern rump of dumb resentment.
So what caused the current great crash? You guessed it (and isn't it amazing that a human bean could write this kind of nonsense with a straight face):
One of the more wicked myths perpetuated by Rudd is his cheap attack on bloated corporate salaries and lack of regulation. Great politics but economically irresponsible: neither caused the crisis. Instead, it was loose money and wrong regulation in the US: utopian social planning by Democrat administrations stretching back to Franklin D. Roosevelt, continued by Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton who sold a dream of government-mandated, taxpayer-funded home loans for all.
That's right, you stupid wretches, it was all the fault of the peanut farmer from Georgia, not to mention FDR way back into the thirties, and Bill Clinton, who was more interested in a blow job than public policy.
What's that you say? Didn't George Bush and the neo liberals run America for eight years? Didn't Ronnie Reagan come after Carter and FDR and sweep all that vile democrat dung under the carpet?
It's at this point of course you realize that Albrechtsen isn't after truth, she's a hysteric wanting to burn witches on faggots heaped in a bonfire. So her attack on Roosevelt's New Deal (and the Deal itself), along with her plug for an article in the flailing, failing Quadrant, and a rant based on Amity Shlae's wretched, one sided polemical broadside entitled The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression shows she's actually a simple minded revisionist who would have found a job in Stalinist Russia, if Stalin had wanted a hackette to do his bidding.
As always, the truth is more complex, the solutions more complicated and human than could ever be allowed to enter Albrechtsen's two legs good, four legs bad, black and white, 2D world.
Funnily enough, she can actually analyse and describe her own condition:
So why all this 21st century worship of false idols? Part of it is simply myth-making, a romanticisation of leftist ideals.
Substitute rightist for leftist ideals, and there you have it. As a worshipper of false idols, and as a promoter of deluded causes and as a writer determined to simplify and abuse, the right in Australia has no greater myth-maker or idol-worshipper than Albrechtsen.
On the other hand, sometimes reading her, she's so predictable and dumb, it becomes a total pain. Actual real interesting and complex history doesn't need her stupid distortions to be interesting. Sometimes when you look through a glass darkly, you don't actually manage to see or say anything interesting.
Before we go, here's a few poems from Basho, active in the seventeenth century.
all that remains of great soldiers'
Eaten alive by
lice and fleas - now the horse
beside my pillow pees.
O bush warblers!
Now you've shit all over
my rice cake on the porch.
Nothing in the cry
of cicadas suggests they
are about to die.
To which I can only add, oh Akerman and Albrechtsen, now you've shat all over my pie with sauce. Thank god, I have some strawberries in the fridge and maybe at least one of them (thank you oh thank you Woollies fresh food people) hasn't gone mouldy just yet.