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Monday, January 4, 2021

A Corrective Comment

About Hoitsu Suzuki's Introductory Words for Magatta Kyuri, the Japanese edition of Crooked Cucumber - which was featured Saturday Jan. 2.  [the following comments are there too]

In it he wrote in Japanese: Stanford University Professor Carl Bielefeldt in the United States was the first to attempt to depict a personal history and biography of Shunryu Suzuki, but his work seems to have been premature in various aspects, and it did not reach completion.

Nope. I checked with Carl and, as I thought, Hoitsu was thinking about the interviews that Carl, his wife Fumiko, and Peter and Jane Schneider did following Shunryu Suzuki's death. Actually some were done before he died with his visiting family and temple godfather at the City Center. Later in Japan more interviews were done with family and with Noiri, a teacher who revered Shunryu and whom Shunryu greatly respected. Noiri maybe assumed they were doing research for a biography because he talked about how to do a biography of a Zen teacher. So reading what Hoitsu wrote, it looks like he too was thinking they were doing research for a biography. Actually, Peter Schneider had talked some about that. He did the 1969 interviews with Suzuki about his life and encouraged Suzuki to speak to us in a lecture about it. And Peter did other historical research and writing that was reflected in the Wind Bells. When I was working on Crooked Cucumber he mailed me his tapes from Japan. Thanks Peter! Some were damaged in the mail and the tape had to be mounted into new cassettes - but they were all audible. Except for Peter's 1969 interviews with Suzuki, this audio is not on If I ever get back to the US I'll have all the other interview tapes digitized - if they haven't deteriorated too much. But they've all been transcribed and translated. Anyway, all of these interviews were extremely helpful in doing Crooked Cucumber and all can be found now on on the Interview lndex page

 I appreciate the kind words that Hoitsu said about me and the research done in Japan and I think the conclusion is correct if the credit goes to a team of us, as it wasn't just me. It was a number of us who did interviews in the mid 1990s. All are given credit in the Sources part of the End Matter for Crooked Cucumber though. - dc

Carl Bielefeldt cuke page