A dialogue between Merton & Zen, West & East. Also contains one of my favorite passages on Western culture:
“The point is that facts are not just plain facts. There is a dimension where the bottom drops out of the world of factuality and of the ordinary. Western industrial culture is in the curious position of having simultaneously reached the climax of an entire totalitarian rationality of organization and of complete absurdity and self-contradiction Existentialists and a few others have noticed the absurdity. But the majority persist in seeing only the rational machinery against which no protest avails: because, after all, it is ‘rational,’ and it is ‘a fact.’ So, too, is the internal contradiction.
The thing about Zen is that it pushes the contradictions to their ultimate limit where one has to choose between madness and innocence. And Zen suggests that we may be driving toward one or the other on a cosmic scale. Driving toward them because, one way or the other, as madmen or innocents, we are already there.
It might be good to open our eyes and see.”