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Bargainin' for Salvation: Bob Dylan, a Zen Master? Paperback – 1 Jul 2009

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Genuinely enlightening. --Times Higher Education Supplement, 29th July, 2010

About the Author

Steven Heine is professor of religious studies and history and director of the Institute for Asian Studies at Florida International University. Heine's research specializes in the life and thought of Zen master Dogen (1200-1253), the founder of the Soto sect in Japan, and he has published twenty books and dozens of articles on Japanese culture. His publications include Did Dogen Go to China? (Oxford, 2006), The Zen Poetry of Dogen (Tuttle, 1997), Dogen and the Koan Tradition (SUNY, 1993), Shifting Shape, Shaping Text (Hawaii, 2000), and White Collar Zen (Oxford, 2005), which has been reviewed in USA Today, The Washington Post, Harvard Business Working Knowledge, and elsewhere.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good concept, but falls short 21 Aug. 2009
By Kathryn - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I actually heard Steven Heine speak about this book, which is why I decided to buy it. He made some very interesting points and I thought it would be a new approach to Dylan's work.

However, I am at once satisfied with the concept and disappointed with the execution. First of all, the book is filled with mistakes. I really do not believe the book was edited for either grammar and spelling or verity of information. For example, in the last paragraph of page 124, the author quotes a line from "Gates of Eden," and attributes it to "It's Alright Ma (I'm Only Bleeding)."

Second, Heine has a way of stringing together bits of lyric or song titles in an attempt to make a point which only comes off as confusing and nonsensical.

That being said, the concept of the book is very interesting and he does make insightful analyses of many songs, although in regard to some works, it seems he is way off the mark. I don't like to criticize anyone's conception of what any work of art means to them because the meaning of any decent work is in the perception of the observer. But in some cases, it seems he hasn't even read the entire work.

The most interesting part of the book is the breakdown of "Dylan Discology in Relation to Career Periods," which makes sense and provides a believable explanation for many questions about the wide-ranging positions reflected in Dylan's work. The identification of the last several years as Dylan having found the Middle Path is an intriguing concept of his latest work. But, if we know anything, it's that Dylan's music will eventually take another direction. So, where to from the Middle Path?

All in all, it is a good way to pass time, but I don't think I'll be picking it up a second time.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A marvelous study of the meaning in Bob Dylan's works. 27 May 2009
By Richard L. Pangburn - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I liked most everything about this one except for the title. Bob Dylan is certainly no Zen master. A lot of his music yields to a Zen interpretaion, but it just as easily yields to a Christian interpretation, or a Marxist interpretation, or to any other school of thought based upon human universals.


That said, this is a marvelous rendering of Bob Dylan's music and meaning in a scholarly and well-written book. It includes abundant annotations, a complete bibliography, and a useful glossary of Buddhist mystical terms.

Highly recommended.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You will always hear Dylan in a new light after reading this book! 28 May 2009
By zhuang zhou - Published on
Format: Paperback
I agree with a number of others I have talked to that once you read this book explaining the full history of Dylan's songwriting, you will always hear the music in a new light. This book explains how and why Dylan has moved in so many different directions over the years based on his spiritual quest, and how he has found a middle way perspecive in recent times. Now it is clear why Dylan has been so successful with his records since Time Out of Mind in 1997, because he has found a creative way to balance the various attitudes he has held based on either making ethical judgments (which the author calls Duality) or acknowledging relativism (or Non-Duality) into a harmonious, yin/yang pattern.

In response to another reviewer who loved the book but commented on the subtitle, it should be noted that this ends with a question mark. The author is not dogmatically asserting that Dylan is related to Zen, but in an inventive Zen-like way he uses the Buddhist approach to comprehensively examine Dylan's life work. It is also great that the author does not dismiss but instead fully engages other religious influences on Dylan, as well as the role of the Blues and the Beats which he ingeniously compares with Eastern culture. Another intriguing thing about the book is the way it shows how Dylan has woven Asian imagery about karma, nothingness, and illusion into his songs, especially in the 1970s before his fundamentalist phase.
5.0 out of 5 stars great customer service, great book 31 Dec. 2010
By musicfan555 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book took much longer than I expected to arrive, almost 2 weeks. But I received an email from the director of the supplier apologizing, explaining the supply problem, and expressing concern in case it did not arrive in time for holiday gifting. It did arrive in time, and I think it's wonderful that the supplier contacted its customers in that fashion. And my nephew, the recipient of the book and a huge Dylan fan and prolific reader, says it's really cool and interesting.
5.0 out of 5 stars fabulous book 19 Dec. 2010
By MDcares - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
any serious dylan scholar must read this book. it was extremely entertaing, thoughtful, well-envisioned and constructed. truly a unique and astouding accounting of dylan's creative output and career.
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