I suck. You suck. We all suck. This post sucks?

I went on a long run with a friend to the other night and saw the sunset over the ice-covered Mystic Lakes.

Sun setting

Frozen lake cracks

I catch my breath

A true monstrosity.

Why not pursue the pleasures in life before all else? How can the fact that everybody sucks be a relieving reality of our human existence? We focused on these ideas of hedonism and mono no aware this week. During Japan’s Tokugawa period, a strict social hierarchy developed whereby the emperor, shoguns, daimyo, and samurai carried the majority of political power while peasants, artisans, and merchants lived on the low end of the spectrum. However, samurai were often forced to borrow money from the merchants, giving society’s lowest class a great deal of wealth. Since virtually no social mobility existed at the time, merchants did not need to worry about saving money to move up the social ladder; rather they could spend it on immediate sources of enjoyment (Lecture, 2/20/13). As Inouye puts it, these hedonistic tendencies were just another way to respond to life’s evanescence with a “sense of urgency to the pursuit of pleasure” (Inouye, 70). To me, Saikaku’s use of a prostitute as a protagonist in The Woman Who Loved Love exemplifies this shift in Japanese society. While we have specifically written our poems with as little detail and description as possible, Saikaku goes over the top with images of ideal women and courtesans in the pleasure quarter (Saikaku, 166). Though the story also harks back to evanescence and the impermanence of success as the protagonists quickly falls from the high ranks. He gives the readers paradigms and symbols that they understand, like the cherry blossom, the floating world, and life’s impermanence, but adds a modern twist. I was also able to grasp the concept of mono no aware through Saikaku’s protagonist. Though I am still working to internalize this “sadness of things,” I can easily understand the relief that comes from knowing that we all suck. Just as Saikaku’s prostitute falls from grace, so too do we all fail at points, but that fact should be a beautiful component of life and should not bring us sorrow. I don’t think I can fully buy in to living life in a purely hedonistic way, but occasionally giving up consequences and living life to the fullest right here and right now can easily resonate with anyone, myself included. I look forward to exploring these ideas more in the coming weeks.

~Ezra Dunkle-Polier

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One Response to I suck. You suck. We all suck. This post sucks?

  1. We all suck. This notion makes me feel a lot of freedom. I think it is because it sends out a message of acceptance. Its speaks past our mistakes and failures by speaking directly of them. We are equal in our standing, and this gives us a humble satisfaction and sense of community. Our pursuit for individual identity and our tendency to self- judge move aside; we are more awakened to the truth, not to made up notions of ourselves and others.

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