Monday, September 5, 2011

Infinite Nostalgia

In my library I have a book The Way of Zen, by Alan Watts. It had been inscribed to my mother: to Jackie Scott, professor, from W.R.L.  She has been gone for more than 10 years, so I wondered what became of her elder friend, whom I remember was named William Lindley. (So tenuous are words and letters! Had I not remembered his name, the initials would have lead to a real dead end, being too cryptic.)

Lindley had been her journalism professor. She mentioned him often, so he must have had a big effect on her. But as is often the case with people whose work preceded the internet age, Lindley is fairly obscure if googled, being cited a little in old journal PDFs and the like. Nonetheless, I was able to dig his obituary out; he died only 5 years ago.

His obit was curtailed in the online newspaper, however. The paper asked for a donation to reinstall it, establishing a memorial of various grades, depending on how much you want to spend.  I have to laugh again at the constant refrain of fear I often hear, "the internet is forever", admonishing people to be careful of their privacy and what they post.  The internet is quite far from forever, certainly more transitory than a printed sheet of paper.

I wonder what Alan Watts would have said about this. My adventure that concerns itself with digging in the past and examining loss seems to travel very far in the opposite direction from the Way of Zen. Zen is about experiencing the moment fully, not metaphysical obsessions built on citations and research. I have a feeling that a devious, smiling monk might clobber me over the head, or whisper a koan as he pours sumi ink on the keyboard of my computer.

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