Where the Buddha Resides

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“Steel Horse”  |  Anthony Satori

“The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower.  To think otherwise is to demean the Buddha — which is to demean oneself.”

— Robert M. Persig,  Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Walden: Life in the Woods

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“Walden House”  |  Anthony Satori

“My dwelling was small, and I could hardly entertain an echo in it; but it seemed larger for being a single apartment and remote from neighbors.”

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“Walden House II (Interior)”  |  Anthony Satori

“All the attractions of a house were concentrated in one room; it was kitchen, chamber, parlor, and keeping-room; and whatever satisfaction [one may] derive from living in a house, I enjoyed it all.”

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“Walden House III”  |  Anthony Satori

“The snow had already covered the ground… and surrounded me suddenly with the scenery of winter.  I withdrew yet farther into my shell, and endeavored to keep a bright fire both within my house and within my breast.”

— Henry David Thoreau  (Walden: Life in the Woods, 1854)

Long Live Atticus Finch

“Long Live Atticus Finch”  |  Anthony Satori

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.  They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.  That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”  — Harper Lee

The “new” book attributed to Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman, purports to be the long-delayed release of a “sequel” to the literary masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird, but I find the entire situation dubious. 

First of all, the timing of the “discovery” of this previously unpublished manuscript, and its presentation as a novel that Harper Lee “always wanted published,” seems highly questionable to me.  I find it difficult to believe that Harper Lee, one of the best-selling and widely-adored novelists of the 20th century, could not have had anything she wished published at any moment in her long life.  If she wanted this book out, it would have been out years ago, even decades ago.  The timing of its release, following the death of Harper Lee’s sister, a staunch defender of Lee’s legacy and work, smacks to me of a manipulative money-grab by people around the 89-year-old author, and it is unconscionable, in my opinion, because it is at the expense of nothing less than her legacy.  

Which brings us to the second point: the content of the book.  The story takes place 20 years after the events of the original, and purports to describe how, later in life, the virtuous hero of To Kill a Mockingbird, Atticus Finch, eventually conforms to the petty, racist narrow-mindedness of the world around him.  This, however, in my opinion, is something that Harper Lee would have never wanted.  My evidence of this?  If you read the original To Kill a Mockingbird carefully, you will see that it is not written from the viewpoint of the child “Scout,” as many people think.  The book is actually written from the viewpoint of the adult Scout, looking back on her childhood.  The key here is that she not only holds her father Atticus Finch up as a character of heroic virtue, kindness and strength from the perspective of a wide-eyed child, but that her love and respect for him remains unabated into her adult years.  This was no accident.  It tells me that Harper Lee wanted to secure the notion that the virtue and character of Atticus Finch never changed, never faltered, even later in life, as this “new” book seems to suggest that it did.

We readers, however — we lovers of literature, we champions of culture — can help preserve the legacy of a great writer and an amazing book by merely choosing to relegate this “sequel” to the status of the false work that it is, and by choosing to retain the original masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird as the final word on the world created by Harper Lee.  Because, while it is a sin to kill a mockingbird, it is far worse, in my opinion, to attempt to kill the very heart and virtue of the defender of mockingbirds, Atticus Finch.

There are two things, then, that we can learn from this situation.  First, if you are a writer and you have work that you do not wish to be published, destroy it.  Don’t imagine that it will be looked upon in the proper light and/or reasonably presented at some future time.  You cannot count on this happening.  And second, we must cherish our classics in literature.  We must appreciate, preserve and celebrate wonderful books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, The Old Man and the Sea, The Fountainhead… any work that presents virtue as a truly heroic, yet humanly attainable character trait.  Books such as these represent the height of what literature is capable of doing, presenting us with higher versions of humanity to which we can aspire, and giving us a blueprint from which we can forge the mettle of our own character and become better versions of ourselves.

Long live Atticus Finch.


Animal Spirits

It was suggested to me that a proper introduction was in order for my recent book Animal Spirits: A Collection of Nature Photographs.  So, please enjoy the short film above! (run time: approx. 2 minutes; video has sound)  All of the images in the video are featured in the book, plus many more… in fact, it contains almost two hundred color and black-and-white nature photographs of animals from around the world.  If just for the Emerson texts alone, however, it is easily worth the price of admission: the book features a generous selection of mind-expanding quotes carefully curated from the writings of noted transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson.

To find the book on Amazon, please click the Animal Spirits image in the right hand margin.  Or use the link here:  Animal Spirits by Anthony Satori.


Two Cheetahs

"Two Cheetahs"  |  Anthony Satori

“Two Cheetahs”  |  Animal Spirits  (pg. 36)  |  Anthony Satori

It was mid-afternoon, and I had been hiking for most of the day.  I came around a hill and spotted two big cats at rest under the shade of a tree, most likely trying to escape from the heat of the afternoon sun.  They were near enough for me to identify as cheetahs, but they were still quite some distance from where I stood.  I had to get closer.  I began to hike around some trees and rocks, slowly making my way toward another section of the hilly terrain.  I trudged across a dry riverbed and up over a mound of dirt on the other bank.  As the two big cats came back into my view, I realized that I was now at a perfect distance to capture the image that I wanted.  I also realized, however, that there were no longer any topographical  barriers between myself and these incredible animals.  I had hiked rather deep into their territory, and I now found myself standing a mere stone’s throw away from hundreds of pounds of teeth and claws and killer instinct.  Just as this thought crossed my mind, one of the cheetah’s ears perked up.  He turned his head and looked directly into my eyes.  It was thrilling.  Adrenaline shot through my body, but for some reason, I remained calm and still.  It is an intense moment for a nature photographer to realize that you have just been noticed by the fastest land predator on the planet, and that you have no place to go, no truck to jump into, no barrier to hide behind.  If this cat had decided that I was dinner, I was easily within no more than four seconds reach.  My heart pumped, my breath deepened.  It was exhilarating to have such a direct moment of connection with such a majestic animal.  I calmly raised my camera and took a photograph, and then another, both of which are in my book, Animal Spirits.  I lowered my camera and took a quiet moment to feel my awe toward these amazing creatures.  I then slowly turned and began to hike my way back into the hills, leaving the cheetahs to enjoy the leisure of their afternoon under the shade of a tree.