Scott Bradley reads, lives and breathes the spirit of Zhuangzi with his blood—not to mention with his eyes and his ears as they open into the world, with his knowing consciousness as it plumbs and unravels both its other and itself, and with all the cells in his body: he reads the Zhuangzi as Zhuangzi tells us the Genuine Person breathes: from his heels.
A bystander can only sigh in gratitude to see that this is still possible, heartened that the pulse of Zhuangzi finds its channel in the world yet: in his many years sailing the watery part of the world—the Daoiest part of the Dao, according to some—led only by the radiance of drift and doubt, Bradley has floated his craft safely past both the Scylla of know-nothing New Age enthusiasm and the Charybdis of scholarly forestblind literalism, past both theomorphic piety and complacent humanism, producing a highly accessible, spirited and subtle interpretative rendering and evocation of the Zhuangzi which at the same time communicates the living spirit and the lifeblood of its argument with a rigor and attention to crucial nuances and distinctions which is heartbreakingly lacking in most works on the subject. Bradley’s work makes sense of the Zhuangzi, and rides that sense true and close, all the way out to the refreshing life-giving open sea of its sense-preserving senselessness.
Professor of Chinese Religion, Philosophy, and Comparative Thought
The University of Chicago Divinity School
Basho, the great Japanese haiku poet and traveler, never left home without it—it being his copy of the Zhuangzi. You’ll feel the same about Scott Bradley’s adaptation and commentary on the first seven books, the so-called Inner Chapters, of the great classic. This frisky little book is so light and clear and lively; be careful, it will wriggle out of your hands. Bradley’s observations make you want to jump around the room—lucid, nimble, and gratifying. Brook Ziporyn’s translation “Zhuangzi: The Essential Writings: With Selections from Traditional Commentaries” pairs very nicely with Bradley’s ‘All Is Well.’ Highly recommended. —Rupert Peene
The title and central theme of Scott Bradley’s book, “All is Well in the Great Mess”, is an incredible message that he has unearthed in the writings of Zhuangzi. Though Scott is obviously a well learned and scholarly philosopher, you can sense that his observations on this ancient text have been wrought from a life of personal engagement. With such clarification and impact this exposition embodies Zhuangzi’s writings. This book is a real treat and a must read for those that have an interest in Daoism. —Mark Hill