Well, I read misterskank 's missive to a friend in the Summer 2006 Praire Wind. That brought me some solace. So too did finding out I received an A in the graduate class that I managed to finish last semester.
Regarding Nonin's and Bob's writing, I can see them picking up on the "basic" or "simple" literary style that many poets and writers within Buddhism have brought about. I wonder how much of this is a posture. I am interested in coming back to a religious practice, yet I am drawn to an artistic projection that is evasive. I don't think there's a qualitative difference between a writing style and a thinking style--the two are really linked--that would be idealistic/subjective versus one descriptive/objective. One thing that I enjoy is using post-structuralist/postmodernist thought to think about Buddhism. I imagine Nonin saying, "You're an idiot," or something like that in response to this, or writing, as he did to Bob, "How about just 'shoveling?'"
I daresay that my flights of fancy make me just as happy as does seeing things clearly. Here's a sentence in Bob's letter:
...like everybody else, I fall asleep and slip back into ego and daydream all the time.
"Daydream, G-d damn it," I want to say. "There's a part of imagination, memory, and human emotional scope that you're denying!" The narrative of the Middle Path leads us not to suppression but management, with the use of discipline. And anger and confusion can lead us to be better, to act better, to be more warm in the face of challenges. That's an introduction to my thoughts on these things.
And there are things that anger me. A bad, idiot driver pulled out in front of me on the road and I hit the car. I got my road bike fixed. Cost: $316. I went to her house, showed her the receipt, she said she'd pay. Now she's not paying, and may be out of town. She was SO distraught at her traffic blunder, too, that day. I need the money that she promised to help pay for a monster $2200 credit card bill, the result of a number of things also out of my control. People are assholes, they screw up my plans, I become angry. misterskank writes on nonviolence, omitting one word: "control." Control is what Buddhist practice is about: the self is disciplined to the point of its erasure. Nonin is so disciplined that he has no interest in desires like money or fame, but wishes only to be a good teacher and abbot. His skills show through control; violence has the same core motivation, directed in a monstrous, horrible way.