I was walking downhill through President’s Lawn one day when I felt I saw glistening sea waves that turned out to be reflections from the melting ice that covered the lawn.
On President’s Lawn
This week our discussion starts off with a new type of reaction to evanescence, namely hedonism, that thrived in the Edo period (Lecture 2/20.) Ihara Saikaku’s Woman Who Loved Love no doubt captures the sorrowful pleasure of such a society; further, as Professor Inouye points out, the work also pinpoints the prostitutes of the time as prominently modern, whose become acutely aware of the issue of their identity as they are set against the traditional expectations of women (Inouye 71.) I read this work last semester, but even as I revisit it, the unnamed lady’s ironical discovery at the temple strikes me nonetheless: the sadness of her hedonistic life begins with her innate beauty, develops with her involuntary involvement with the pleasure quarters, and culminates here with this failure of finding salvation even in the Buddha (Ihara 213-217.) The next point of discussion is mono no aware, which can help explain the Edo period hedonism. This “national consciousness” of “the sadness of things” fledges in the Edo period despite its much earlier origin, because during the political oppression and economic prosperity of the Tokugawa era, the masses developed “a sense of fated acceptance” (Momokawa 2; Inouye 81.) To me the situation seems totally imaginable, although it also makes me think what mentality the contemporary Chinese developed during a similar “close-the-country” policy imposed by the Qing government. It is also intriguing to know in advance that mono no aware would establish itself as the Japanese “national consciousness” and live till this day; I cannot wait to see how this comes by. The third point of discussion is the “shifting point of view” of the Japanese (Lecture 2/21.) This lack of perspective comes as no surprise to me, for in the Japanese film class I took last semester, I have seen numerous examples of early Japanese films that refuse to use visual depth to signify perspective, and rather create flat shots where every element within is treated equally and with intense attention.
- Zesheng Xiong (George)