From the March 2018 issue of Lion’s Roar.
Long Strange Journey
On Modern Zen, Zen Art, and Other Predicaments
By Gregory P. A. Levine
University of Hawai’i Press 2017; 344 pp., $62 (cloth)
Long Strange Journey offers the first critical analysis of Zen-inspired modernism and its ubiquitous legacies. Gregory P. A. Levine is a professor of Japanese art and architecture and Buddhist visual cultures at the University of California, Berkeley. So it comes as no surprise that this is a dense, academic work with careful footnotes and a lengthy bibliography. That said, Levine clearly relishes his material and is having fun with it. Long Strange Journey begins with the first contacts between Europe and Japanese Zen in the sixteenth century and then moves on to such topics as Zen and the art of iconoclasm, the commodification of Zen, and Zen humor. Ultimately, Long Strange Journey explores two essential questions: What is authentic Zen art and who gets to lay claim to it?