Painting Mountains and Rivers: Gary Snyder, Dōgen, and the Elemental Sutra of the Wild

Research in Phenomenology 44 (2):240-261 (2014)
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In this essay I hope to make some new contributions to the philosophical opening occasioned by John Sallis’ articulation of an “elementology” more broadly and by his turn to Guo Xi’s exquisite Song Dynasty shan-shui scroll painting, Early Spring more particularly. I do so by bringing the remarkable writings by the American poet and thinker Gary Snyder, especially in relationship to his reading of the great Kamakura Zen Master Eihei Dōgen, directly into the fray of contemporary Continental discourses on the elemental and the ecological. At the heart of this project is Snyder’s development of Dōgen’s elemental discourse of “mountains, rivers, and the great earth.” Like Sallis’ own efforts to recast language into a more elemental discourse, this essay will also focus on the manners of speaking specific to the philosophical and poetic self-presentation of the elements, including the relationship between the philosophical and the artistic as such.



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Jason Wirth
Seattle University

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