Hunger Mountain: A Field Guide to Mind and Landscape

David Hinton, Author
David Hinton. Shambhala, $14 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-61180-016-6
Reviewed on: 11/19/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
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Whether in his poetry, prose, or translations, Hinton, a leading modern translator of classical Chinese poetry, explores landscapes and consciousness and their inseparability in Chinese art and philosophy. In these 21 personal essays, Hinton burrows into China's protolingual Paleolithic Age and the 6th century BCE origins of Tao and Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism. Eschewing any hint of the dualism encoded in Western thought and religion, Hinton reverently unwraps the deep meanings of primary Chinese pictographs until only the vibrating word-seed lies exposed. "The primary word for poetry is written using pictographic elements," writes Hinton, "meaning ‘spoken word' and ‘temple'." He pairs his own metaphysical insights from living, working, and walking around Vermont's Hunger Mountain with those of China's classical sage-poets (K'uang Su, T'ao Ch'ien, Tu Fu, and more) to masterful effect. While this may be rigorous reading for those unfamiliar with Hinton's specialized topics, there are wonderful stories for all to enjoy, especially that of poet Summit-Gate, who made a library of autumn leaves with her poem written on them and, at first snowfall, released them one by one to the mountain wind. (Nov. 13)
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