On a recent Washington Post list of best sellers, the predictable line-up of The T-Factor Fat Gram Counter and Revenge of the Baby-Sat was unpredictably followed by The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Published by Shambhala, this Thomas Cleary translation of a two thousand-year-old classic offers "wisdom in the palm of your hand." Measuring 3 by 4 1/2 inches and selling for $6, this paperbound edition introduces the Shambhala Pocket Classics, which include Chogyam Trungpa's Meditation in Action and Lao Tzu's The Tao Teh Ching (translated by John C. H. Wu). According to Shambhala's publisher, Sam Bercholz, the exact dimensions were invented in Halifax, Nova Scotia, "when my wife and I spent one foggy day cutting up pieces of paper." But the idea of miniature classics harkens back to the European tradition of bookmaking to keep the likes of the Bible and the writings of Tolstoy in shirt pockets. Recasting the size in contemporary terms, Bercholz compares the attributes to a Sony Walkman: "mobile and intimate."
SOMETHING TO CHEW ON
Another classic in a small package: Bazooka bubble gum, that old intractable children's favorite, on the candy counters with this classic misconception: confusing the meditation process that empties the mind with complete awareness, and bubble gum Joe's kind of bazooka blankness.
UPDATE: MS. SERENITY MEETS MONSIEUR ÉGOISTE
Hard on the scent for catchy labels with exotic overtones, perfume manufacturers have long plumbed the ancient mysteries of the Orient: to wit, Guerlain's Samsara, noted in the last issue of Tricycle. Guerlain's bid for Asian supremacy is packaged in Tibetan temple settings for the perfect woman in search of serenity. However sincere her search may be, the chances are that sooner or later she will encounter the West's Égoïste just out from Chanel. But not to be alarmed, for we are assured that: "To assume he is uncaring or aloof is to misread him. . . ." For "he walks on the positive side of that fine line separating arrogance from an awareness of self-worth." Pretty fine line.
Image 1: Shambhala Pocket Classics.
Image 2: Bazooka cartoon.