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Patriarchs on PaperA Critical History of Medieval Chan Literature$
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Alan Cole

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520284067

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520284067.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Making History: Chan as an Art Form

Making History: Chan as an Art Form

(p.11) 1 Making History: Chan as an Art Form
Patriarchs on Paper

Alan Cole

University of California Press

This chapter highlights several important elements at work in the process of writing history. The first thing to see is that writing history represents a doubling of reality: in addition to the everyday world that one lives in, where one's senses are engaged in a fluid and continuous manner, the writer of history works to evoke scenes and events that, though invisible, can be made to appear to the reader as integral parts of reality, albeit in the past. Put this way, one can appreciate how the skills needed to write history reflect the growing human ability to artify the world. Why this matters for understanding Chan literature is that one wouldn't be far wrong in describing Chan as a gradually solidifying set of literary gestures designed to enhance—and organize—the present, by carefully designing and curating images of an imaginary past.

Keywords:   writing history, Chan literature, Chan, imaginary past

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