Walking back from Dewick after dinner on Calbot Avenue, looking up and spotting the chimney attached to Pearson.

White smoke

rises up and away,

blown by the night wind.







The point made at the end of Thursday’s class by Professor Inouye was an interesting one – regardless of whether or not you are interested in partaking in a hedonistic lifestyle, desire is a good thing because it makes us interested in each other (Inouye Lecture 2/21). I raised a similar point in my response two weeks ago in questioning the Buddhist perspective in pursuing an existence devoid of any desire – would we have any motivations to do anything at all? Yet, as illustrated in Ihara Saikaku’s The Woman Who Loved Love, a complete abandon to the capricious winds of temporal desires is likely to lead to ruin – “I let myself be swept away to ruin. There was no way for me to stem the current” (Ihara 159). I suppose though, in the absence of any transcendent power that would allow one to escape from samsara or the ukiyo (憂き世), it would be so easy to embrace the ukiyo (浮き世) in its entirety and lose oneself in physical pleasures. It seems however, that even those who have lost themselves in it may not necessarily find happiness therein, as again illustrated by Saikaku’s heroine. There seems to be a sort of irony in the way that an individual pursuing hedonism (a total embrace of the fundamental motivating force of human beings) – appears to be more passive than one actively seeking to kill desire (and therefore the motivating force) in the pursuit of Buddhism. Lastly, I found it interesting how even the pleasure districts – the locus of hedonistic abandon and symbol of evanescent pleasure – were bound strictly by form in the codes that courtesans were compelled to obey.

This entry was posted in Week 5: Hedonism, Mono no Aware, Monstrosity. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Hedonism

  1. Avatar of Ya Qing Ya Qing says:

    I like the scene you’re portraying in the poem.
    also i think its interesting that you said individual pursuing hedonism actually appears to be more passive than one seeking to kill desire. i would say that as an alternative solution to deal with evanescence, hedonism is not as easy and straightforward as it seems to be

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