Thursday September 25, 2008
Three posts in as many days: it’s uncommonly busy here on the thinkBuddha blog. But I do want to write a brief post to say that my review of Ralph Flores’s book Buddhist Scriptures as Literature has been published in volume five of the Western Buddhist Review. The link to the review is here, and explores some of the themes that I have taken up on this blog, in particular in my recent post where I argued that one of the best ways of reading religious texts may be by thinking of them as lies in which not everything is false.
One of the themes I’m interested in thinking about in the review is that of laughter. If one reads texts as literature (i.e. as lies in which not everything is false) then – as I wrote in this earlier post – it allows the possibility of laughter to return, causing havoc amongst the high-seriousness of interpretation, just as Monkey, in the Journey to the West, caused havoc amongst the many berobed officials of heaven. It is striking how little good, subversive fun there is in most interpretation of religious texts. But it should come as no surprise that the Gate-keepers of Truth often seek to abolish laughter and play: they have done so ever since the Greek gods banished the god of laughter, Momus, from Mount Olympus. However, this does not come without a cost: for in so doing, they also threaten to abolish much of the power of the texts that they claim to be speaking for.
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