The following is an excerpt from his recent book, The Art of Setting Stones.
The garden is a simple rectangle of coarse, white sand, now mellowed by the afternoon sun. . . Raked into the sand is a circle, small ridges making patterns of white on white, which in this waxing light are tinted russet on one side and light blue on the other, the hues of shadows on snowdrifts. The lines in the sand radiate outward, like ripples from a pebble thrown into a still pond, yet these go nowhere. Enjoying the mildly hallucinatory effect of watching them, I recall another circle, drawn just this morning in my studio far back down the mountain, in the center of Kyoto.
The sun had risen over the hills that border the city not long before, and a strong, clear light filled the room, palpably, like scented air. On one high, white wall I hung a large sheet of paper, set the point of a long bar-compass in the center, and drew a circle, slowly, carefully, watching the silver pen-tip as it moved across the blank page. Concentrating on the pale blue line flowing from the pen, I became detached from the action, as if just lying back on a grassy riverbank, watching contrail from a jet circling very high up in a cloudless sky, but with the colors in reverse.
As the line drew out, a story revealed itself; one that I now understand led me here, to this garden. It began at the top of the page, where the line, newly drawn and glistening wet, was no more than a dash—a mark enticing to the curiosity but without immediate or tangible meaning. As the line lengthened, however, drawing out across the page, it formed a small crescent, like a bent bow or the curve of a satellite dish. Line becoming object.
Arcing down to the bottom of the page, then rising again in a pendulum curve back toward the top, the line changed in quality again. Unlike the crescent (a thing more opened than closed) it began to define the edge of an object, an area becoming enfolded by slow degrees. What had seemed so wide-open was becoming partially shut, the uniform field of white beginning to have within it a separate space that had not been there before, divided ephemerally yet unmistakably from its surroundings, like that part of the ocean encircled by a fisherman’s net. Line becoming object becoming space.
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