Zen and the art of creative things
Jack's uncompromising therapist is Doctor Nyodai who lives near Whittington, Shropshire (the 'White Castle' of Grail legend). Born into an old samurai family, Doctor Nyodai became a Zen nun at the Seigan-ji temple in Kyoto before training as a Jungian psychoanalyst in Vienna. She is a keen exponent of naginata-do and gardening. In 2011 she underwent partial gender reassignment at a Bangkok clinic and now likes to be called Quentin outside of office hours. Doctor Nyodai uses her knowledge for the good of humanity - with a ten percent discount for desperate writers .
It was Doctor Nyodai who suggested Jack set up a website for his creative work. She would probably describe this page as a form of release, a stream of consciousness to heal psychic wounds. Another small step on the hard road to enlightenment.
Mind you, Jack would probably say it's just about all the different things that have bounced around in his head and found their way into his books.
Whatever the truth, this month Jack reflects on the influence of cowboys, samurai and Teddy Boys on Man in a Zen Ambulance:
The Four Noble Truths are the samurai hit men in Zen Ambulance who shoot it out with the monk in an extended gunfight across the burning town. Their name is taken from the Buddhist concept of four fundamental truths. The 4NTs have a penchant for giving their victims a chance to live if they can successfully answer a question on film trivia. They dress in the style of classic British Teddy Boys. Very smart, very cool.
On the right is a photo of 1950s Teddy Boys similar to the 4NTs, wearing Maverick ties, drape jackets and waistcoats. Actually, the look certainly owes as much to the classic cowboy gunfighter as it does to Edwardian gentlemen. Compare these Teds to this iconic scene from the 1957 classic western, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Staying with film connections, note the striking resemblance of this 1970s Ted to Robert Mitchum's evil preacher in Night of the Hunter, including the tattoos on the hands.
The Teds, Steele Perkins
Night of the Hunter (1955)
And here’s an excellent article I found written by Steven Garrard a few years back when I was researching the book, about how the samurai films of Kurosawa and Westerns influenced each other. For example, Seven Samurai remade as The Magnificent Seven. I was really interested to learn about A Fistful Dollars and Yojimbo, which I now realise also had a big impact on the Zen Ambulance's action scenes and sensibilities.
Garrard doesn’t mention Once Upon a Time in the West but that’s surely another samurai-cowboy fusion, especially with the visual settings. The scene with the cowboys waiting at the railroad station is simply brilliant and was the inspiration for the dramatic shoot-out at the climax of Zen Ambulance. Well, except for the flamethrower...
Seven Samurai (1954)
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
The Edwardian Teddy Boy