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8-21-05 -   This is not a note on the sutra but on why I, a historian and member in good standing of the Institute for Historical Study, at times date things falsely.

Today's entry in What's New said: Thanks sutra buffs who found what I was looking for on the 19th below. I'll get that in here in a jiff.

The request actually was put up on the 18th of August, but sometimes I redate past entries so each has its own day rather than several bunched into one day and then a few days skipped. It looks better, crisper, with each date having a nice little entry of its own. It's what I wish I had done but didn't quite get around to.

I like doing this. I think I may go back and add entries daily to fill up some of those months when I put nothing on the site so that it will look like I have always been attentive to it. I could write an account of my travels through India and other places a couple of years ago when I was gone for nine months and post them for the days that they happened. And I could make up travels or some sort of exotic entries for the long blank periods when I was wandering around in a confused stupor and make it look like I was most on top of things and clear-headed and even at times brilliant and dashing.

I actually have a history of mis-dating. Crooked Cucumber is dated as accurately as I could - some of the dates took a lot of effort to figure out. But as I remember it, after I'd done all I could to, say, figure out at what age Shunryu Suzuki went to study with Gyokujun So-on, weighing what his older sister said against what he'd written down with Kobun Chino (and Suzuki was not a stickler for details) and considering the Japanese and the American ways of counting ages I finally made a decision and stuck with it. I didn't include the reader in on the doubts and thises and thats of it. I hate scholarly writing - I wanted to make a book people could read without being bothered with all sorts of trivial conjectures about dates and ages. Also, my principal advisors, my agent and wife (now ex) weren't interested in beatings around the petty details bushes either.

But I am interested in writing what I call "Notes on Crooked Cucumber" and in that I could go on about stuff like this.

So that's not really mis-dating. In Thank You and OK! I actually mis-dated. It was a story and the dates didn't matter and so I dated each chapter and arranged them according to the flow I wanted. I dated chapters with the birthdates of friends and relatives. My son Clay's actual birth date occurred too late to be in the book where I wanted it so I gave him my mother's birthday eight months earlier. I've received birthday cards and emails for him on that wrong date. I used the correct dates for some things such as the days of arrival and departure and Elin's and my wedding date because it was the Emperor's birthday which was neat.

I am confidant that James Hillman and Thomas Moore would sympathize with my method.

In closing, and I write this on 5-15-07, I'd like to say that the way I see the past, it changes like the future - there's only the present and each present has its own past and future. Of course I'm mixing levels there - using the absolute as an excuse for some relative shenanigans. Dogen screwed around like that. He'd say that firewood doesn't become ashes, like each has its own past present and future but then he'd say things like the painted dragon is the real dragon - really screwing with the absolute and the relative - the history of Zen chatter is like this. So what the heck.

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