Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Sound of One Hand Clapping

There’s a chance that the author of the article shown below—or the editor that wrote or approved its headline—is a deep thinker making a sly reference to a famous Zen kōan:
Two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the sound of one hand?
—Hakuin Ekaku
This kōan, after all, was referred to in a 1990 episode of The Simpsons, which in this part of the world1 may be the only sure way for your average centuries-old philosophical tradition to get any sort of publicity.

Lisa: No, Bart, it’s a 3,000-year-old riddle with no answer.
It’s supposed to clear your mind of conscious thought.
Bart: No answer? Lisa, listen up! [Pat pat pat]

So, sure, we’re willing to admit the possibility that the author is slyly opening our narrowed Western minds to broader and livelier veins of thought. Our sources, however, suggest he’s just a bit of a dope:

1. Excluding Boulder County.

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