New Books! Wabi-Sabi and Tibetan Buddhism

So I swung by the Spoonbill & Sugartown Bookstore in Brooklyn today while running errands and some cool books. The bookstore itself was fascinating and had a lot of cool, eclectic titles, including the Atlas Obscura and the new Non-Stop Metropolitan. There was a surprising amount of stuff on magic and mysticism, which caught my eye. In the end, though, I picked out these two to help me with my Buddhist-inspired fantasy worldbuilding.

Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, and Philosophers

“An updated version of the seminal 1994 classic volume on the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.”

Wabi-sabi is something I’ve always wanted to read more about, but all I could ever find was the Wikipedia page. I’m really interested in its connection to Zen Buddhism.

Wabi-sabi, as I understand it right now, is an aesthetic and life philosophy that centers on incompleteness, flaws, and authenticity. It has a lot in common with Daoism and Buddhism, and can be extrapolated to everything from dishware to clothing and architecture. I’ve always thought it was cool how people found ways to turn living into an art, especially when the that ‘art’ is tied up with the inevitability of death and decay.

 

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

“A newly revised and updated edition of the internationally bestselling spiritual classic, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, written by Sogyal Rinpoche, is the ultimate introduction to Tibetan Buddhist wisdom. An enlightening, inspiring, and comforting manual for life and death that the New York Times calls, “The Tibetan equivalent of The Divine Comedy.”

I’m kind of wary of bestselling books written by self-identified Buddhist monks (especially the Dalai Lama), but I thought this would be a good reference point for creating a philosophy about life and death for my world. One of the things I’ve realized is that I don’t have much in mind for burial procedures or rituals, let along day-to-day philosophy.

Tibetan Buddhism also produced the Bardo Thodol, which I still haven’t read, but want to.

New Books! Wabi-Sabi and Tibetan Buddhism

The Nokizi: A Fictional Necromantic Manifesto, Part 1

I was playing through TES III: Morrowind recently, and I came across three books in a necromancer dungeon: Darkest Darkness, Arkay the Enemyand N’Gasta, Kvata, Kvakis. I remembered these from years ago, and was excited to see them again: these are necromantic books you can actually read in-game–they’re short, and they give you a bit of insight into the beliefs and ideologies of the black mages you’re going up against. My favorite was A Game at Dinner, which was a sort of epistolary novel from a spy to their dark lord.

I’m writing a new story about the necromancer Yute, who I spoke about in my last post about the psychopathic mind, and one of the main plot points of the story is his own manifesto, The Nokizi. The Nokizi is meant to be a book similar to Arkay the Enemy: something to be passed around and read by the initiated members of the necromancer community.

But ever since I first conceived Yute, I wanted his necromancy to be at odds with the popular ideas of the day–I imagined him as an unorthodox figure, a radical other necromancers would be wary of, like Malcolm X or Timothy Leary. As soon as I imagined him, he needed an establishment to rebel against.

The Nokizi is Yute’s critique on the current state of necromancy and the major figures whose work has influenced it. These figures include Amassad, Togorun, and Banasail, all three of whom have achieved a different kind of immortality and huge followings of acolytes. These three are sort of like Hindu gurus who promise their followers eternal life and enlightenment if they follow their teachings. Yute, meanwhile, is based off the Bodhidharma, the iconoclastic founder of Zen in China.

I imagined that Yute brought all of his new ideas before the gurus first, expecting to gain praise and recognition from the masters and cement his position as a new master. It would be a sort of “look at me, I found a new path that is undeniably better than all of yours, and now you must admit it.” Instead, he was laughed and jeered out of their temples and abodes and derided by all their students, one after another. Yute, not one to take humiliation well, devised his Nokizi as a critique of the establishment that rejected him, and a manifesto for his new method and philosophy.

The actual critique is a blend of mathematics, paradoxes, parables, German philosophy, and Rinzai Zen, with the goal of showing that 1) Amassad, Togorun, and Banasail are all going about immortality in the wrong way, 2) the current conception of time and the self are wrong, and 3) that immortality seekers should employ mathematics, not body-modification or other techniques, to achieve immortality.

At the very end of the Nokizi is an encrypted portion, along with the promise that anyone who solves the cipher will gain the secret to his new method. The idea is that, though the necromantic community rejected him before, he is willing to allow converts into his new method if they are clever enough. But it’s all a trick–the insanely complicated cipher encrypts only a bunch of gibberish and nursery rhymes, as a giant, spiteful fuck-you. “You had your chance to be my acolytes, and you laughed me down,” is Yute’s internal reasoning. “So I’ll show you what you’re missing, offer you my secrets, then laugh at you.”

Yute’s a twisted kind of character.

You can read the first part of the Nokizi here.

The Nokizi: A Fictional Necromantic Manifesto, Part 1