Tony, Artie, and the Lords of Materialism

At one point during Luxury Lounge, Artie calls Tony a bodhisattva. A bodhisattva is a Buddhist saint, a highly realized spiritual being who, though on the cusp of enlightenment, vows to remain behind in samsara (the realm of ego-centric suffering, e.g. North Caldwell or the Bada Bing or Melfi’s waiting room) in order to help sentient beings trapped by the “lords of materialism,” passion, aggression, and ignorance.

Buddhists stress that peace, which is the absence of struggle, can only be found when one awakens to the brilliance that exists in the phenomenal world, as degraded as it can be. In Zen Buddhist monasteries, acolytes begin their training in the kitchen. Only when they begin to appreciate the profundity that seemingly banal or “low” practices like washing dishes and mopping floors can be, do they proceed to “higher” practices like sitting meditation and visualizing deities.

The pith Buddhist instruction is to view life first from the kitchen sink level. This is the advice that Tony gives to Artie: get back to the kitchen! It’s pure Zen. Perhaps Tony is channelling the saffron-robed monks from his coma experience.


Re: Tony, Artie, and the Lords of Materialism

The Buddhist monks have manifested themselves elsewhere. I’m thinking here of Perry Annunziata and the would-be-health-care-giving mobster (both bald like the coma monks). In Mr. and Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request, Tony takes “real” world revenge on the monk who slapped him/Finnerty for being arrogant; Perry, in this case, is the surrogate. The medicine-giving mobster reminds me of the Yoda-like, older, gentler monk. The slap in the face is a traditional Zen means of breaking through habitual patterns of mind. Taking it on the chin, as Perry does, allows the boss to snap the shark-like group mind of his circling associates.


Re: Tony, Artie, and the Lords of Materialism

<blockquote>Quote:<hr>Very interesting Buddhist stuff Avellino... I like that starting from the kitchen stuff - something I've always kind of appreciated about the mob actually, how everybody's gotta put in their time almost 'irregardless' of capability<hr></blockquote>

Great topic and great responses. I too caught Artie calling Tony "bodhisattva". I recognized the term from an old Steely Dan song, but was not aware of it's true spiritual connotations. Now that you have put it all into some fabulous context, I love the the quote above from CJS;it reminds me of Godfather I, when Clemenza is teaching the young Michael Corleone to make spaghetti sauce in his mother's kitchen; Michael was still at that time only a beginner in the mob!

Who knew that Clemenza was a bodhisattva?

</p>Edited by: <A HREF= ... ac72261</A>
at: 4/25/06 9:12 am

Re: Tony, Artie, and the Lords of Materialism

amazingly good thread.

and so apt since the entire episode was all about the 'lords of materialism' (in an even more overt way than the typical sopranos episode)

I was already thinking about Buddhism in this episode (even though I thought Artie said 'buddy' in that scene!) because I have a couple audio books on Buddhism narrated by Ben Kingsley (who is a Quaker, best known obviously for playing Ghandi - Kingsley also is part Indian)

buddhism/quakerism/hinduism: all associated with pacifism and the idea of how we are all interconnected

and maybe I'm reaching with the Ben Kingsley associations ... though I did find his presence intriguing given the context of the christopher story. same with lauren bacall, someone from America's 'good times' gone by .. someone, in fact, from the age of Gary Cooper, who co-starred with Bacall

the indignity Bacall suffers in that scene (with the added kick that she herself refuses to give up the loot) was such a great comment on the `lords of materialism' in the post gary cooper world, and in no small part because the audience at large is left with nobody to truly sympathize with ...

sure, you may feel bad for Bacall, but more for sentimental reasons than anything else. if they had mugged, say, paris hilton instead of Bacall, a lot of people would be cheering christopher, IMHO.

Chase again showing us two sides of the same coin

</p>Edited by: <A HREF= ... daMaria</A> at: 4/25/06 2:13 pm

Re: Tony, Artie, and the Lords of Materialism

Ben Kinglsey is not at all a throw away character in this episode. He plays a chintzy version of his Gandhi-esque self pool side, as Christopher and Little Carmine trip over themselves in vain to ingratiate themselves to the star of Sexy Beast. Think of it: Gandhi the ascetic sage and Don Logan the sexy beast. Don’t these polarities represent Tony Soprano’s burning oscillation between alexythymic mob boss and self-actualized (and perhaps dead or imprisoned) wise guy? Kinglsey as caricature of himself represents the psychological dilemma that so pains Tony.

Thanks for your kind words everyone. You have lucid minds and big hearts. Fly, I’m a big fan of yours.

Post Reply

Return to “Episode 6.07: Luxury Lounge”