Snark Attack!

I have a new favorite piece of Buddhist snark!

I think a lot about the writing of seemingly uncomposed things—restaurant menus, instruction manuals, catalog copy, and all those things we assume are not the work of artists. They are, of course. I have been moved by a fine and readable terms of service (google writes the best ones) much like a poem describing a summer day. I enjoy good writing, and all the more when it is a type of writing we ask very little of, because such composition is an intense act of caring.

The Seeker’s Glossary of Buddhism, put out by the now websiteless Sutra Translation Committee of the United States and Canada, tries to come off as an uncomposed text: it is a amalgam of entries from different sources, indexed and cross-referenced. The selection of articles is extremely broad, though sometimes lacking in depth, and I keep one by my desk to turn to when more scholarly references works fail me.

If you begin to appreciate the writing of uncomposed things you realize two things: one is that a sentence describing vacuum cleaner assembly can be beautiful, and the other is that everyone, everyone everyone exerts authorial intent, and it is there to see for those who look.

I needed to look up something in the Seeker’s Glossary today and found this heading:

For you mobile folks the text reads:

> FADS IN BUDDHISM
See: West (Buddhism in), particularly Note.

Well, I laughed.

2 comments

  1. Everybody needs to understand they are contributors (authorial intent) and notice that we live in an ‘appreciation of the law’ not by some sort of materialistic definition. . . (Writing will do that for you!) Thanks!

  2. John says:

    Thanks for the comment Janghanda Kaune– I think that one of the wonderful things that comes from writing, and one of the reasons that it is so important to teach writing, is that it teaches people what goes into the writing process, which hopefully makes people more active, skeptical readers.

    Cheers!

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