Fire-Poker Zen

Hakuin used to tell his pupils about an old woman who had a teashop, praising her understanding of Zen. The pupils refused to believe what he told them and would go to the teashop to find out for themselves.

Whenever the woman saw them coming she could tell at once whether they had come for tea or to look into her grasp of Zen. In the former case, she would serve them graciously. In the latter, she would beckon the pupils to come behind her screen. The instant they obeyed, she would strike them with a fire-poker.

Nine out of ten of them could not escape her beating.



transcribed by Nyogen Senzaki & paul reps


I am no Marxist but I probably love Marx more than many Marxists who only believe in him. I made it my duty to use the Marxist lever to develop insights: to enter the thinking LABORATORY on a daily basis; and what do I find? money is not CAPITAL at all. CAPACITY is CAPITAL.

Joseph Beuys ‘What is Money?’

sanguine on paper, 110 x 130 mm, 2014
sanguine on paper, 110 x 130 mm, 2014

blast and ruin

watercolour & graphite on paper, 110 x 130mm, 2014
watercolour & graphite on paper, 110 x 130mm, 2014

It is we [the workers] who built these palaces and cities, here in Spain and in America and everywhere. We, the workers. We can build others to take their place. And better ones! We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth. There is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world here, in our hearts. […] That world is growing in this minute.

Buenaventura Durruti, spoken during the Spanish civil war to Pierre van Paassen.



graphite in sketchbook, a5, 2014
graphite in sketchbook, a5, 2014

dancing demon.

inspired by kiefer – and a serendipitous find in a local charity shop – i’ve been reading about lillith. lillith the she demon fabled to haunt the ruined cities.

demons and ghosts seem very real  to me, and ruins i find inspiring – a lot of people find ruins inspiring – peculiar structures. like the hand peeling back a coffin lid from the inside; in those spanish blind dead films. whether it be ancient or contemporaneous ruination. (question: can one be analogous of the other? now we document the destruction of living structures the digital arenas fill with ruin.

and we are haunted; our lives and our civilisations are broken apart constantly before us and ghosts loom over us)

like fossils of cultures. when is culture not imposed?

Sanskrit Poem by Amura

Churn water to get your butter,

And squeeze a bit of stone and hope for honey;

Or else your fevered frame perhaps you’d cool,

Washed in the waves of a mirage’s pool?

Perhaps you’d rather try to get a drink

Milking that worn-out she-ass? What do you think?

It’s not so foolish as to earn the money

To live upon, by service to an utter

Knave and fool.

Amura (translated by John Brough)