Evanescence & Form

I was taking the T back from Boston College on Friday night when I noticed that while there were about a dozen people on the car, the only sound that could be heard was the clacking of the train tracks.

The subway lights flicker–

A man sleeps in the corner

Total silence

In our first week of class, we began our discussion on evanescence and form by considering what a first glance seems to be a glaring contradiction. How can I be always changing (evanescence) while simultaneously staying the same (form)? “While Japanese embrace the notion that life is evanescent…they also demonstrate a predilection for formality” (Inouye 1).  In our minds, we must realize that chaos and structure are not opposites in the minds of the Japanese, but two sides of the same coin. The changing of the seasons can help to combine both ideas in my mind, as the constant change of season conveys the ephemerality of nature while conforming to a set pattern of seasons (Inouye 2). In the words of the poet Dogen, “In spring the cherry blossoms, in summer the cuckoo” (Inouye 1). The seasons always change, yet there is a form to that change. With this constant change comes a sadness of nothing remaining the same. Our body, our friends, even our very identity is constantly changing without our control. To a neophyte of Japanese culture like me, this notion of uncontrollable transformation does not sit well. Not being able to control what happens to me is not a comforting notion. As Professor Inouye said, I could walk out the door and immediately get hit by the Joey (Lecture 1/21). I hope that through this class I can begin to understand how the Japanese are not constantly on edge, wondering if the next moment is going to be their last.


-Griffin Quasebarth




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2 Responses to Evanescence & Form

  1. Avatar of Michael  Chu Michael Chu says:

    Really impressive drawing! I like your poem because I can visualize the scene. It could be a little more concise though if you cut out “the” and “a” on the beginning of the two lines. I also agree with you that not being to control what happens is not a comforting notion. I guess we just have to learn how to embrace this and live in the present!

  2. I liked how your lyrical moment was something that, even though it didn’t pertain to something completely natural (rain, snow, leaves), it still gave you the feeling of needing to write it down. Your image is also incredibly well-drawn.

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