Synopses & Reviews
Gorgeous and unique, Where the World Does Not Follow
captures an almost-hidden China. Acclaimed translator Mike O'Connor and photographer Steven Johnson uncover a world rarely seen by outsiders even as they capture it in its everyday beauty. O'Connor's translations of poems from China's Tang Dynasty sing in the present day, while Johnson's photographs reveal a modern-day China that seems almost unchanged by the passing of centuries.
Chinese authorities are only now allowing access to ancient Buddhist sites and many writings and devotional objects are being made available for the first time in decades. These poems written by Zen and Taoist hermit-sages, together with the crisp yet almost dreamlike images, capture the aesthetic, literary, and spiritual roots of Buddhist China. Where the World Does Not Follow provides insight into a world that very few have been able to visit and a time difficult even to imagine. O'Connor and Johnson's book is a hymn to nature, to the art of photography, and to the common beauty of humanity that extends to us like a silk thread from another time and place.
"Photographer Stephen Johnson and poet-translator Mike O'Connor team up to provide a beautiful marriage of word and image....These haunting poems are paired with Johnson's stark black-and-white photos, offering a visual cue to the loneliness and rugged splendor of the hermit's life." Publishers Weekly
"O'Connor and Johnson provide dual glimpses of Buddhist culture in ancient and modern China. Photographs of the landscape and people of modern China complement the ancient poetry in juxtapositions both surprising and literal. From a row of teacups to misty cliffs to a hermit's retreat, here is a literary and visual tribute to a land where religion and daily life are inseparable."
"Poetry and pictures combine in Where the World Does Not Follow: Modern photography is married to ancient verse....The genius of this book is the timelessness that emerges from juxtaposing modern photographs with T'ang Dynasty Buddhist poetry. The photos or the poetry alone would make this a wonderful text. The two together are something truly special. Adjacent to a striking picture of Cold Mountain Cave near T'ien-t'ai Shan. Chekiang, is the poem 'On Hearing A Bell,' whose final verse captures the spirit of this work: 'In the long night of Zen meditation, when the clear bell sounded, it was my mind.'" Shambhala Sun
"Where the World Does Not Follow is splendid. Not only is it aesthetically beautiful and elegantly laid out but I feel that it fills an important need for Western Zen practitioners. Most of us have not visited China and so our experiential grasp of the landscape and culture that the great Zen teachers of the Tang dynasty is limited, if not non-existent. The photographs, complemented by the poems, allow us to experience the world of Joshu and Rinzai as never before. That, surely, can only enhance our grasp of their profound teaching....We keep the book prominently displayed in our sangha room." Janet Jiryu Abels, sensei, Still Mind Zendo, NYC
An exquisite gift book that includes dozens of previously unpublished photographs of remote areas of China.
Buddhist China in picture and poem.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 137-138) and index.
About the Author
Mike O'Connor is a poet, translator, and co-editor of The Clouds Should Know Me By Now: Buddhist Poet Monks of China
. Mike O'Connor has published three volumes of his own poetry in addition to translating two volumes of the work of Buddhist poet Chia Tao. He lives in Port Townsend, Washington.
Steven Johnson is a leading photographer, specializing in landscapes of China and his work is included in books including The Road to Heaven.