Wednesday, April 16, 2003


The new benches on the sidewalk near NW 12th & Couch (Portland, OR), though comfortable and attractive, sit on the part of the sidewalk nearest the street, but face away from the street. This creates an odd, almost claustrophobic sensation. You feel as if at any moment someone could reach out the window of a passing car and smack you on the back of the head, just for fun. Instead of providing a view of the unfolding scene on the street, the benches invite you to contemplate storefronts and -- in at least one case -- a brick wall. Consider:
Bodhidharma traveled to the recently constructed Shaolin temple in the south of China, where the monks refused him admission. Bodhidharma sat meditating facing a wall for the next 9 years, supposedly burning holes into the wall by staring at it. Only then did the monks of the Shaolin Temple respect Bodhidharma and allow him inside. There, he found the monks so out of shape from a life of study spent copying scrolls that he introduced a regimen of martial excercises, the foundation of all later schools of kung fu. (link)

Could these benches create a new type of kung fu master?

No comments: