hedonism

I was on the bus from New York to Boston on Saturday night, and saw the trees and unmelted snow in the dim light.

Fleeting trees

Illuminated by the snow

Stretching into night sky

 

Last week we talked about hedonism and mono no aware, the sad nature of things. The fact that the former concept puts so much weight on pursuit of short-term pleasures makes me feel like it’s a desperate attitude towards life at first glance, but I became more comfortable with the idea after knowing more about its historical background through the readings. According to Norinaga, mono no aware is the core of modern Japanese identity, a “priori” condition of Japanese people’s thought. (Norinaga 1) To me, both mono no aware and hedonism are rooted from the realization of evanescent nature of life. A Buddhist solution to this sadness is to forgo our desires and to do good deeds so that we can suffer less in our next life, whereas hedonism asks that if we are already so powerless, why bother inflicting more pains on ourselves? Why don’t we go out and have some fun? As we discussed in the class, with money but no political power in their hands, merchants and other citizens don’t have the legal rights to determine their own livelihood for themselves. (lecture 2/21) (Norinaga 10) Given that, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the bourgeoning of hedonism from this choking insecurity and powerlessness. Also from Saikaku’s reading, we see the life of a beautiful, fragile woman, who devoted her life to love but ended up becoming a wilted blossom (Saikaku). I also found the description of her relationship with men interesting. Whether she liked the man or not, she treats them as “fellow-passenger on a ferry boat before it reached the opposite bank. (Inouye 73)”

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