Friday, November 13, 2015

Reader, R.I.P.

I posted the following  on the Cormac McCarthy forum this morning as one of our participants passed away.

I don't even know how long or when I met Martin....just...years ago. I've been a participant with him in at least three different book web boards since the 90's. You know  kindred we are in our offices and homes in our cars on our phones...miles away from each other...with....but to feel like I know Martin and Martin's kids and his crazy humour, his losses his good days, and his absolutely rabid reading and online book reviews as if we had met in person. This loss is just another reminder of how incredible the internet and book reading are together and how they just seemed to be made for each other. I can not imagine the thrill and joy of reading online and sharing books without Martin the past 20 years.

For a couple of years I participated in one of Martins own book clubs online...where his interests and different topics of discussion were so massive. His knowledge of aesthetics and art was really amazing. His interest in so many different topics. His humour about relationships was something so funny and wise and sometimes painful. I also was lucky enough to have many email correspondences with Martin. He was so level-headed about many things. He talked off cliffs many a time and was so personal and generous with his anecdotes. He and I also share practicing meditation and study of buddhism. This was very inspiring to me especially when it came to a kind of perspective he could bring to studying characters and novels.

I've lost track of the books or movies I've seen from Martin's recommendations. He always had something up his sleeve to lay down on others to read. I could say the same for many of you all here too...and this is important for me to share...just how fantastic my experience of sharing literature and culture has been with this forum and the participants. Ups and downs...agreements or disagreements. How much it has informed and inspired my life. It's just mind-blowing. Martin being a special mind-blowing force reminds me to say this now out loud here. (poor Stagg, he just woke up and came into the kitchen to find me crying insanely here at the computer) If two technologies were ever meant to be together it had to be books and the internet. And I believe that Cormac McCarthy's timing of popularity in the 1990's corresponded with domestic computers. What a fucking ride! It's been a pleasure to ride this midway with Martin Zook.

I feel so bad for his kids....he was just such a good dad. He really really was such a good foundation for them and loved spending time with them and talking about them ....if either of his children happen to pass by here...I am so sorry for your loss. He really really loved you and I hope you find comfort in knowing he was never shy to share his pride and love of you to online pals like me. I loved hearing about what he thought of movies and he often saw a lot of movies with his kids.

Martin was an inspiration to me when it came to practicing meditation and mindfulness. His exploration of philosophy and Buddhism was an inspiration to me. I took a quick look around post some quotes from book readings or reviews...I mean Zook and Takei were born for the internet!!! You can find Martin everywhere....but he had so many great things to say and observances it would be crazy to post them all here...but I found a simple excerpt  comment he wrote at the end of a book review on Amazon that I thought really summed up his mindfulness, humour and style:

"Nagarjuna's teachings on perfecting the paramitas are accessible, detailed, and almost each page contains a metaphor that expands this reader's experience in deepening my recognition of the process of at least clarifying obstructions. For instance, while I was in a doctor's office waiting area, TV blaring, I was reading the section on perfecting meditative concentration. In introducing the various dyanas, Nagarjuna asked why the various levels of concentration are necessary. To answer the question he introduced the metaphor of an oil lamp representing wisdom. If the lamp is outside in a raging storm, it is rendered useless. But if the lamp is in a secluded room, its light shines fully. That there was a fair breeze (the blaring TV) in the room in which I read this made me chuckle and better appreciate my space reserved for meditation at home.

In the chapter on perfecting wisdom, he makes abundantly clear the significance of understanding the various connections of phenomena during the perfection of wisdom. He also offers a claim completely new to me that focusing on perfecting one of the paramitas, because they are all connected, will lead to the perfection of all six.

This is dharma that's worth consulting across lifetimes. Too bad we can't take our texts with us." Martin Zook


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