Friday, April 24, 2015

stocktaking 3

a spread from Heart Sutra, issued in 2009 - a response to being caught up in this most extraordinary of Buddhist Sutras, one of the toughest documents in the philosophical canon - I first read it in the mid-1960s in the translation & commentary of Edward Conze, a little book with both the Heart and the short form of the Diamond (or the 'Diamond cutter') Sutras - as with a number of works that are primary for me as a writer/thinker I had wanted to print Heart Sutra for many years, but was held back by having no qualifications for doing so, and it always seemed to me that reproducing a version that was still commercially available didn't make a lot of sense - when I later found that there were many versions of the work, most of which were translated and on-line, I wondered whether a kind of crib might be possible by comparing every translation I could find - the job was compounded by there being a number of 'originals', versions in a number of other languages that had been made centuries ago - I eventually had about 15 of them spread out on the desk - roughly, what I did was to strip (some of the versions were somewhat flowery in their language & the amount of religious reference they contained) everything that seemed to me to be unessential to the core of the work, to see if it were possible to show a writing that could be read, understood, and accepted by even the most rabid atheist - even so, I wanted to personally be in the background, my name's not on the titlepage, a way of saying that the work chose me, not the other way round, and there is no black ink in the book at all - the poem is printed in silver - there is one copy for sale - the photo was taken by Bruno Leti -