chapter  8
Cracking Culture
Pages 15

What is a correct understanding of the Zen arts? How is it to be identified and demonstrated? By its structural aspects, by its register of aesthetic values, or through the experience of participants? In this work I have used ethnography and history to fashion an account which stresses plurality and to argue against the notion of a singular, authentic version of the Zen arts. This account has aimed to articulate some of the experiences of participants and the contingencies of different contexts, while at the same time recognising that the most powerful idea of authenticity, that which consistently represents the practice and experience of practitioners, is the idea of culture as aesthetic form. This idea of authenticity is rooted in a rhetoric of pure experience and discourses about Japanese cultural uniqueness. In the last chapter, I demonstrated that the singularity and originality of authenticity has been brought into question by the aesthetic and economic forces of mass culture which accentuate re-enactment (films for example) and repetition (copies of valued objects).