Alibi V.12 No.30 • July 24-30, 2003 

Art Article

Silence and Noise: Growing Up Zen in America

Ivan Richmond
Atria Books
paper
$13

In a lot of ways, the United States of America is anti-Zen. Our society revolves around materialism, speed, impatience and noise, while Zen advocates—if it can be said to advocate anything—anti-materialism, slowness, patience and silence. Ivan Richardson grew up in the '70s among a bunch of Zen-practicing hippies in Northern California. His parents were both Buddhist teachers. When his family decided to leave the Buddhist community in the mid-'80s, Richardson felt like he'd been transported to a foreign country against his will. Silence and Noise documents this young Buddhist's journey into the maw of an American society poisoned by money, television, advertising and omnipresent popular culture. Anyone interested in an honest account of Buddhist practice in America might want to get hold of this book.