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Zen's other offspring

Posted by Herb Victoria, B.C. (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 30, 05 at 13:38

Zen style and Zen-inspired gardens, seem to be a topic guaranteed to raise some peoples' blood pressure.

So, keep your blood pressure monitoring devices handy and let us have your appraisals of this derivative of Ryoan-ji. Is it 'Zen' and if not, why not, or if it is, how 'Zen' is it? Is it a 'garden'? Etc.

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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Zen's other offspring

chuckle.. you're goading in the title... oh transparent one.
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it is.
:.
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not unusual as the stone setting of Ryoanji is the mirror image of the Cassiopeiea constellation. Seeing it from the top is normal and has been a common image with us for-- as long as we have been here-- :. very hauntingly familiar.


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Flight of fancy?

  • Posted by Herb Victoria, B.C. (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 30, 05 at 18:40

Edzard,

First the BBC announces that the rock arrangement at Ryoan-ji represents the branches of a tree, and now you tell us that it's based on the Cassiopeia constellation.

Actually, I was wondering if there might be something in common between this sort of thing and the $35 desktop executive Zen Gardens that you order by e-mail. It's all "Art" isn't it? eh? Or is it?

Herb


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RE: Zen's other offspring

...:))), hmm, up to the person that wishes to call it what they will & here I was going to remind you about those wonderful little market landscapes, but thought I'd be kind...

-- and Ryoanji, both are possible. Things do not have to be just one thing...
Is not the duck swimming in a box of its own making?
edzard


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RE: Zen's other offspring

  • Posted by John_D USDA 8b WA (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 30, 05 at 20:55

Art is art is art is art . . . .

(Or is it?)


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RE: Zen's other offspring

  • Posted by Herb Victoria, B.C. (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 30, 05 at 21:57

The idea of the duck 'swimming in a box of its own making' sounds as outlandish as the chicken taking a dust bath in it's own home-made pond, though no more bizarre than this Royanji in the sky.

I wonder what everybody makes of the web site's comment - "....we need to set aside any tendency to find amusement in someone else's lack of knowledge or trying to protect our own superior position."?

I must say that despite this stricture, I find it very difficult to set aside my own tendency to find amusement nearly everywhere, but especially in this forum..... Click here...


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RE: Zen's other offspring

  • Posted by Theron Z5b/6 Indiana (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 31, 05 at 10:59

A story tells of a fish who asked of another fish: "I have always heard about the sea, but what is it? Where is it?" The other fish replied: "You live, move and have your being in the sea. The sea is within you and without you, and you are made of sea, and you will end in sea. The sea surrounds you as your own being." The only true answer is the one that you find for youself.


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RE: Zen's other offspring

All this talk of "Zen influenced" makes me wonder about the whole notion of making a sect of Buddhism into an abstract concept.It is not right. I just don't get it. I think we had better use some appropriation when it comes to others cultures.


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RE: Zen's other offspring

That was superb Theron!!!!

This little fishy thinks you hit the nail on the head.

Cheers Jando


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RE: Zen's other offspring

Yes, the truth is fishy.


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RE: Zen's other offspring

  • Posted by Herb Victoria, B.C. (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 1, 05 at 12:17

Isn't the idea that we shouldn't refer to a garden as 'Zen influenced' a bit like being told that me mustn't call Australian, Californian and Spanish Champagnes "Champagne"? Sensible people are going to go on calling them Champagne no matter what the snobs say.


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RE: Zen's other offspring

Herb - Your cheerful pragmatism carries many arguments, but I think you have cast your net a bit wide here. "Sensible people" all over the world use the word Champagne to mean only one thing (sparkling wine from a small region in northern France) when they are speaking to people who care about the difference. How about Cognac? Bordeaux? Do you substitute cheap brandy or any old red wine? If you use the word Koi for any carp, you are missing the chance to communicate more clearly. If you are selling Zen Meditation Retreat Spa Expereinces to tourists, the word Zen probably get across the feeling you want, but if you are talking to people who care (or care to learn) about the difference, Zen Gardens obscures the point. Any discipline or art or business will have language that is used carefully to help communicate the differences that seem subtle to people outside the field. Learning that language can help to learn those subtleties.

So if a restaurant offers Champagne by the glass, is it OK to fill them with Cava?


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RE: Zen's other offspring

  • Posted by Herb Victoria, B.C. (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 1, 05 at 14:43

LouisWilliam -

I grant that I'm casting my net wide - but I think you're equally casting you own net pretty narrowly - as is shown by your reference to 'speaking to people who care about the difference'.

For my part, when I'm among people who care about the difference I deliberately use the word "Champagne": and I like to rub it in by pointing out that the French versions are much over-rated. If I want good Champage I order a bottle of one of the Korbels.

As for Cognac and Bordeaux, I think you're setting up a straw man. English-speakers aren't in the habit of referring to other brandies and red wines by those names: So I think that there, your analogy doesn't apply.

And if a restaurant ever offered me Champagne 'by the glass' I'd most certainly reject it.

Cheers!

Herb


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RE: Zen's other offspring

Mon Dieu ! et Korbel? Je suis vraiment desolete cher Herb. You would reject good Champagne because it is offered in a glass or because it is real Champagne? Michelin gives three stars to some restaurants who offer this elegant apertif, et por quois pas?

More to the point, yes, I narrow my net to "people who care about the difference". And if this forum doesn't narrow the world to people who might care about the differences between Zen Buddhists and Zen Gardens, then what is the point of forum topics?


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RE: Zen's other offspring

chortle...
what!?-- Herb, and now the legal French term Champagne is reduced to a 'French version'... but not an original, eh... only a version. A noteworthy tilt of the teetertotter... to a superior position, no doubt?

presumably the difference is such that one can clearly see how the Japanese garden was reduced to a version by those seeking superiority? to become influenced when in reality it would have happened anyway...
yet, no doubt they were inspired by Champagne... even though Sekt and sparkling wine happen anyway wherever fermentation occurs...

I wonder if a new Zen Sekt would sparkle?
indeed, as humour is everywhere, this forum does offer its amusing moments.
edzard


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I'm sure that serving sparkling wine instead of murky tea will open up new spiritual depths. Sparkling Sak anyone? LOL.


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RE: Zen's other offspring

  • Posted by Herb Victoria, B.C. (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 1, 05 at 17:05

1. My appreciation of the excellence of some of the less dry Korbels disappoints you? Cher LW, moi aussi, je suis un peu desole.....quand meme, chacun a son gout, n'est-ce-pas?.

2. Et apropos le Champagne par le verre - d'apres moi, et malgre trois etoiles et le Guide Michelin - half-flat Champagne of any sort - which is what to expect when it's sold by the glass - is an even bigger rip-off than the French stuff.

3. But back to this important matter of outlawing use of the word 'Zen' in relation to gardens. My fear is that if we in this forum do that, we will be cravenly climbing on board another bandwagon of political correctness. Is it not likely to stifle legitimate discussion by confining it to the more sophisticated and making those who are less so feel unwelcome?


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RE: Zen's other offspring

Herb,...
re: #3, speak plainly for a change. 'Who is' "outlawing use of the word 'Zen' in relation to gardens." ?
and who are the more sophisticated that might make others 'feel unwelcome'??

would the unwelcome political correctness involve using a word correctly ? or abstaining from using Zen incorrectly?
or is it something that is politically incorrect such as ascribing a 'sophisticated' group which after repeating it often enough indicates that somehow there is something politically incorrect here?

-since i find it very politically incorrect to ascribe anyone as 'sophisticated' when indicating that others may lack the same, -- (I find that your suggestions by using these words to be very negative and non encouraging for those that wish to pursue a Japanese garden.)

what are you on about? why be so negative? explain. specifically.
edzard


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RE: Zen's other offspring

  • Posted by Herb Victoria, B.C. (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 1, 05 at 23:08

Edzard,

1. You ask - 'Who is outlawing use of the word 'Zen' in relation to gardens... and who are the more sophisticated that might make others 'feel unwelcome'?'

Well, a quick round-up of various remarks made in various recent threads answers that one. I have put the most relevant bits in bold italics -

Metal Halide - "All this talk of "Zen influenced" makes me wonder about the whole notion of making a sect of Buddhism into an abstract concept. It is not right. I just don't get it. I think we had better use some appropriation when it comes to others cultures."

Inky - "'Zen' as a euphemism for 'minimalist' may work as a design concept but remember that for some Zen is a way of life and for them your annexing this word as a vaguely spiritual way of arranging sand and rocks may not be up to snuff.."

Edzard - "If this is a gardeners place, then perhaps we should rethink the terminology used to better express what is being discussed, since the one currently used, the style, the Zen, all that is far too vague for educated gardeners...."

2. You write - "..would the unwelcome political correctness involve using a word correctly? or abstaining from using Zen incorrectly?

You are, I take it, imputing to me the assertion that the 'correct' use of words (by which I have to assume you mean "correct use in Edzard's view") amounts to what I've labelled "political correctness". Nice try, but no that is not what I assert. What I am saying is that some of the objections to the use of the word Zen appear to be based on an assertion that the 'wrong' use of it is offensive to other cultures - which no sensible person can believe for an instant.

3. Next you say -

"...or is it something that is politically incorrect such as ascribing a 'sophisticated' group which after repeating it often enough indicates that somehow there is something politically incorrect here?"

I have no idea what "ascribing a group" means - nor indeed what the the entire question means - it's incomprehensible.

4. Now for your other bits - "speak plainly for a change.... what are you on about? why be so negative? explain. specifically."
The most appropriate first response to that insult is to suggest that it would be appreciated if you were to practice speaking politely for a change. The second response is to add that if you would start writing clearly, that too would be a welcome change. And the third response I have already made clear - it is that the notion that 'incorrect' use of the word "Zen" is wrong on the grounds that it is "offensive to others cultures"' is a load of crock. That ought to be plain enough.

Herb


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RE: Zen's other offspring

And here I thought the term "zen" was rather catholic. . . .


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RE: Zen's other offspring

Herb,.... Herb...
I've raised an eyebrow,.. me? impolite? in these last exchanges?
I was very polite... and for once very direct, which are hardly the same.

you've raised the bar to ass/u/me. Congratulations. The next stop is Disneyland.
So,.. are also you 'assuming' that I think you are uneducated? which would be totally wrong for so many reasons.

Actually, I suspect you understand me well enough, however I suspect the understanding does not fit your perceptions of Japanese gardens...
whereas, in your blithe assumption that 'it should be in Edzard's view'... think on that a moment...
after the now decades of work in this field, level of work, rather public involvement - return to community, relationships that have developed that I would be responsible to, who I have represented, --do you think that I am stupid enough to air MY views... in such a manner to annoy my Japanese associates?
--especially since your views do not affect me at all.
It is more the question from my associations that ask why I would trouble to respond here, when response is so patently undesireable... considering that I annoy them by responding at all, rather than choosing to avoid confrontation.

However, I'm Caucasian, you're Caucasian, we are confrontational as a people, and sadly, I seem to be asked to answer for people that respond as you have. It is therefore, in my interest to understand why we are the way we are.

therefore, as I am not Buddhist, nor follow Zen religiously, I would suggest that you ask the Japanese on this forum whether or not the word Zen is capable of being used as 'offensive to others cultures'.
(personally I wouldn't say 'offensive' since it's casual use only embarrasses the user, --at least that is the main impression I get from the averred answers and that its misuse is incomprehensible to others that do use the word with its intended meaning.)

:), Now see if you get the same reaction with devaluing Shinto as a load of crock... sprinkling salt, offering sake and a prayer to the tree kami...

chuckling,.. really, Herb, with all due respect, I do not need to be involved with this conversation.
Ask others.
You can readily have your version of marketed Zen (specially since it has been marketed for centuries... as one monk reflected,.."did it get the word out?,.. yes, please,- say what you will, any exposure is good exposure") use whatever you wish for... have fun, enjoy the journey.

thank you for speaking plainly.

edzard


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Herb - I for one have no interest in limiting anyone's vocabulary; I just think it is interesting to share our perceptions. My own view of the Zen/zen discussion is colored by my experience as a child. I grew up hearing about all my relatives constantly meeting in the Bohemian Hall. Growing up in a different area, I assumed they were flamboyant artists,poets and beatniks who gathered to discuss le monde artistic. I was dissapointed later to find they were capital B Bohemians who gathered to drink beer, dance polkas and talk about the relatives back in Prague. When I see discussion of today bohemians (see article in Slate this week) I still find myself thinking "I bet he doesn't even drink beer".

Illiterately yours, LW.


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RE: Zen's other offspring

  • Posted by Herb Victoria, B.C. (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 2, 05 at 12:36

Edzard,

Your view of people as 'uneducated' isn't confined to me. It comes across as being directed at most forum participants. It may of course be true - but it is tactless when it emerges so often.

Your attempted analogy to devaluing Shinto as a "load of crock" is a complete red herring. What I object to is the idea (to which I attach the label 'politically correct') that - on the spurious grounds that any western usage of the word "Zen" must be offensive to other cultures - we ought not to use expressions like "Zen inspired" and "Zen style".

And when you say that I can have my version of marketed Zen, you are firing at the wrong target. It is not my version. It would be just as accurate, judging from this site, and the Zen-in-a-box item that they're peddling, to describe their version of Zen as yours, would it not? -

Herb -

Click for the close-up

Click for the site


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Words.....

  • Posted by Herb Victoria, B.C. (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 2, 05 at 12:52

LW -

Well said.

Many years ago I had a very perplexing time in a pharmacy in Ontario. I told them I wanted some cotton wool. They had no idea what it was.

It took several minutes discussion before it emerged that I could get what I wanted by asking instead for cotton balls or cotton batting.

The amusing thing was that if they'd asked for cotton batting in England - it would have been equally incomprehensible. I don't even like to think what would have happened if they'd asked for cotton balls.

Herb


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RE: Zen's other offspring

well Herb,..
for kindness, though I agreed not to, I'll give you one last response.
you twist my words in your own mirror.

'educated forum' refers to the objective of the participants on this forum, as they often come here for information. Iow's, the objective is to provide the best information or education that can be found so that the forum is an educated forum... we, the regular writers, one would hope, attempt to provide the best information we can, we, then have a responsibility to be educated.

this has nothing to do with terming people undeducated, though if you wish to be remain uneducated, this is your perogative.

Zen style, Zen inspired, influenced is also a response which I can only presume is in your mirror, not mine.

The point that has never been asked is why I prefer not to use the terms. Since the responses have been taken as negative the response to the subject has been on the dictionary level.
Yet, to which if asked, the response is akin to telling someone that they can not hope to achieve a Zen garden, rather they must settle for the lesser and have a 'style' or only have one that is 'influenced' by Zen.

Invariably you miss the greater picture.
A Japanese garden or a Zen garden or a Buddhist garden... a garden if only the 'solution' based process is used, sans any cultural beliefs,.. needs to start somewhere, with something. I suggest by not using the phrasing that people be empowered, validated, to understand that a Japanese garden is very possible for them. The Japanese garden is a spatial solution. Nothing more, nothing less unless desired to be otherwise.

Why aim for less?, because of marketing?

Why not indicate that a Japanese garden has been begun. Of course the start is influenced by something. Yet why use a verb for a noun? Realising that it will take many levels of refinement to become something is part of the journey of the garden.
Knowledge comes in layers and with successive refinements as ones education, knowledge increases, the garden matures only over time
. The empowerment is that people can stop wherever they like. In the end, if it is to their definition of beauty, their definition of comfort then it is a Japanese garden. It is a solution.

Why would you tell them that a style or an influence is all they can hope for? When in reality the spirit of the Intent, they as the Authors are completely capable of achieving a Japanese garden.

By continuous market use, (you + people) devalue their efforts by relegating them to believing they can not achieve anything better, when the (Japanese) garden will happen anyway. mankind always refines, always learns, always adapts to what their needs are. And in their own forms. Why else would the Sakuteiki admonish that the client should be listened to?

Therefore Herb, you twist my words in the mirror of your own non-belief, non-education, when in actual fact this forum can educate, can inform, can benefit people, when people stop advising them that only style, inspiration, influence are all they can hope for.

This is akin to telling a child they can never achieve anything, amount to anything, never be able to complete something. Yet if you ask them to try, knowing that it will happen anyway, it will enable them to be empowered, to succeed, when so many (people) would rather have them believe that it is all smoke, mirrors and mystery.

Your persistence only devalues their efforts, their intelligence, and the inevitable result.
In otherwords, you need more information, more understanding of what the Japanese garden is, ... as was once recommended to me, you need to open your mind.

you seem to be at the cusp of being one of those that simply doesn't know that they don't know anything, and won't admit it... comparative to those that freely admit that they have more to know and seek it.

Japanese garden is, as mentioned before, is the interface of nature and human existence, shown as beauty and comfort, in the pattern of how we feel these things.
This can be anything, in any expression, with any materials, in any belief or none at all. The techniques apply.

And the garden is always getting there, it is never finished, and that experience is the journey of the garden education.

Like a broken record, I repeat, by using style, influenced by, you tell people that they should aim for less, devaluing their effort, indicating they can only achieve so little, when they should really feel empowered to understand that they can achieve a good garden, whenever they choose. All they need to perceive is that they have started a garden, -- what makes it a Japanese garden is in their mirror imaging, and these 'Japanese' pieces, are not required, simply that the sensitivities of space, nature and humans applied as techniques eventually evolve into a (Japanese) garden.
You apply failure, rather than success.

basically, you are pimping failure, rather than encouraging people to achieve what is inevitable.

I'll pass on viewing your recommended sites as a waste of my time.
be well Herb.
edzard


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RE: Zen's other offspring

  • Posted by Herb Victoria, B.C. (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 2, 05 at 15:11

You've just made it obvious that you have indeed looked at the sites - and your clumsy description of me as a 'pimping failure" indicates that the world in which you move and think has much in common with the politically correct world of the officialdom and the unfortunate waitress who's the subject of this news report - Click here


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RE: Zen's other offspring

Edzard:
I'm curious. What exactly -- besides the ability to shout -- gives you the background to set yourself up as an arbiter elgantorum?

Calling someone a "pimping failure" is an uncalled for insult.


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RE: Zen's other offspring

Herb wins


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Typo

Oops! Make that elegantorum.


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RE: Zen's other offspring

Reality check: this forum is a forum of discovery and it attracts those who want to find out about Japanese Gardens/Gardening. We are fortunate to have members with a background of study and experience as well as those with knowledge of Japan and others with a passion for the subject and a willingness to learn. I see this as a win/win situation as long as we remain civil. Those who have willingly given so much do not need the kind of provocation we have been witness too recently and when it turns personal we gain nothing. There is no need of an umpire when we are all on the same side which is the way it has been here until recently. You are a newcomer John and lacking in humility which I would humbly suggest is a pre-requisite for the understanding of anothers point of view.


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RE: Zen's other offspring

  • Posted by Herb Victoria, B.C. (My Page) on
    Wed, Feb 2, 05 at 19:17

Inky -

You are quite right to say that we have a win/win situation so long as we remain civil. However, keep in view that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

If we do want to encourage a new spirit of civility, is it really appropriate to dismiss a consistently polite fellow poster of several years' standing as " a newcomer and lacking in humility"?

Herb


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RE: Zen's other offspring

John is a newcomer to this particular forum Herb. Without testing the water he has asked this of edzard " What exactly -- besides the ability to shout -- gives you the background to set yourself up as an arbiter elgantorum?" Is this polite? I think not.
You will no doubt come back on this with something or other to extend the argument ad nauseum but after this post you are on your own. Sad, but I think that you have altered the course of the Japanese Garden forum.


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RE: Zen's other offspring

"You are a newcomer John"

Inko -- get a life. I've been here a lot longer than you have. And I have written about gardening while you constantly voice off and challenge people and have given me little proof that you are qualified.

But I won't ask you what kind of work you have actually produced, or if you are merely a hyper vocal dilettante, since it seems to be frowned upon on this forum to politely ask people about their background.

Oh, well, back to writing.


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RE: Zen's other offspring

John_D...
you're a writer, by the look of things with no training in gardens. You are a newcomer to this forum. INKcognito has been here a long long time, longer than I in various guises. Perhaps you've been elsewhere in the meantime, but,.. not often here, at least under John_D.
one of us is a Landscape Architect, the other is a Japanese gardener. Being professionals, we are not allowed to provide details, nor C.V.'s, as this is in contravention of Spikes Garden Forum Bylaws that we have agreed to as professionals with businesses - which you'd know if you were one. instant trip to Disneyland, unless, that was your objective.
.. and I do not remember meeting you at the recent International Symposium of Japanese Gardens in Seattle... let me see, I don't seem to see your name as having been a speaker... let me see, not under garden designers/builders ... no listings in the Directories...
funny, I've been on the west coast since the 60's, and don't remember your name anywhere related to the green industry... or books, or magazines, articles... research somewhere?? hmm, not affiliated to the Uni's..
obviously then, you're qualified to write about gardens because...
you write... ?
so,.. politely asking to satisfy your need for waving testosterone,.. what have you written??


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RE: Zen's other offspring

Edzard:
Since this seems to have turned into a forum for soi disant professionals only (who don't appear to know how to spell properly or form complete, comprehensible sentences), I am dropping out. But just for the record. I have contributed to this forum in the past (long before some people now posting signed up for GW), and I have never had to change my name because my old one had left a bad taste.

But you have given me great idea for a story -- about Japonique garden nerds and pseudo philosophers.

Adieu.


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