There is an early photo of Gary from his student days in Berkeley in which he is sitting, Japanese style, wearing a simple Japanese kimono. He is cradling a bowl of tea and staring at the camera in a reprimanding manner, as if disturbed by the photographer.... When I first encountered this photo in a book about the beats, and before we had even met, I was impressed that he had allowed himself to be photographed at home while drinking tea from a small bowl, dressed in robes, with no evident suggestion whatsoever of being prepared for the photographer. Today, it might appear "a bit much" to wear Japanese clothing and live on a tatami-mat floor while pursuing Asian studies at a university, but at the time, I perceived his apparent total immersion in his subject as a form of exemplary commitment.
The quote is from Peter Coyote, taken from Dimensions of a Life, the excellent distributed biography on Gary Snyder. The photo (Berkeley 1956) is from Ann Charters biography of Jack Kerouac, easily the best biography on any of the beats ever published.
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