Zen & the Arts - Field Notes

J. Randall

I’m an artist based in New York. The child of a traveling apocalyptic evangelist and a Gospel singer, I grew up in most of the states along Interstate 10. I discovered koans as a teenager, trying to learn about the mind in a science book I found in a mall. My awareness felt like a tangle and I was looking for anything that would help. The text had both a grave suspicion of and reserved admiration for koans, and they stuck with me. Taking perhaps the wrong lessons from the book, I became a musician, and came to a Zen practice in my early twenties. The koan tradition was the most richly-drawn and sustained observation of the materials of consciousness of which I was aware, and unlike some traditions on offer, it had an empirical method. But more importantly, it helped, tangle and all – and wasn’t precious about it. That seemed like a good idea and still does.

Pieces by J. Randall