IN-ZEN-SITIVE - EMusician

IN-ZEN-SITIVE

I've been a subscriber for 12 or 14 years, and I'd like to make a comment about the October 2000 cover line: "Zen and the Art of Surround Mixing."Zen,
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I've been a subscriber for 12 or 14 years, and I'd like to make a comment about the October 2000 cover line: "Zen and the Art of Surround Mixing."

Zen, (Japanese, from the Chinese Ch'an, from the Sanskrit Dhyana, from the Pali Jhana) is one of the main branches of Buddhism, a religion that precedes Christianity by half a millennium. I've practiced it for 38 of my 53 years.

The title "Zen and the Art of x" comes originally, I believe, from Zen and the Art of Archery, which actually was about what its title described. Later came the much more popular Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. The latter was less about Zen, but its writers were practitioners, so it had some real connections to Zen. The backpack success of that book in our culture, however, has engendered a flood of other books with similar titles. A casual search reveals Zen and the Art of Murder and Zen and the Art of Standup Comedy, among dozens of others. Frankly, they tick me off.

Looking at the EM article ["You're Surrounded"], I see no mention of Zen or any related concepts, so my conclusion is that the magazine's cover was an attempt by the editorial staff to sell more newsstand copies. May I suggest that a procedure be added to your style guide? Whenever the opportunity to slip in the term Zen arises, do a quick check: substitute for it the term Roman Catholicism or Shiite Islam, and see whether it swings. If, however, it seems stupid, irrelevant, or demeaning to one of those religions, it just might seem the same with mine. Thank you for your attention.Paul Weissvia e-mail

Paul - Point taken. We apologize to all concerned; we certainly did not mean to demean or take lightly anyone's religion.