I was lying sick on my bed this friday night and I was contemplating how to get up and reach to my water bottle with intense feelings of self-pity…
Stands there everyday,
Never felt further.
-troubles uploading the image , will try again from my other computers -
The well established form and way of living that thrived and set its roots firmly benefiting the isolation and regulation that Tokugawa period enabled Japan faced a challenge after the fall of Tokugawa in 1868 and with the advent of Meiji period which defined itself with Japan’s westernization and globalization. The west influenced almost every part of Japan’s system but the strict abidance to form that had set the backbone of Japan’s tradition ensured to keep this power of globalization on the positive side and instead of ”expelling the barbarians” they chose to ” learn from them” (Lecture 3/6) setting a beginning to face pace age of progress and innovation. Yet Japanese way of living come to completely contradict or defy the western perceptions of normal at many cases and perceptions of worldly dealings. Even though not all Japanese are Samurai as Inazō wants his western readers to see, Bushido codes a way of living that is unconsciously inherent in Japanese way of living.
In the chapter discussing the value of self-control in a samurai’s way Inazō quotes few lines from a young samurai’s journal in order to show how the western habit of expressing almost every thought contradicts with the reticence that following Bushido entails…
“Dost thou feel the soul of thy soul stirred with tender thoughts? It is time for seeds to sprout. Disturb it not with speech;”
no poem this week.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North was particularly impressive because of Basho’s simple yet incredibly expressive way of describing his simple feelings and interactions with the nature. Still having Saikaku’s A Women Who Loved Love and the conception of hedonist woman as the bad woman on my mind, the part where Basho described spending a night under the same roof with two prostitutes caught my attention. Mostly because of what they tell to Basho before they leave. Women ask Basho and Sora if they could follow:
” We feel so uneasy and depressed at the thought of the difficulties that may await us on the way to an unfamiliar place that we would like to follow behind you” (Basho 119).
What is simply and overtly phrased here is the feeling that makes us dread the present for the fear of future. I believe it is this very feeling that keeps us in the burning house. Although it burns at least we know it burns. The feeling of control and familiarity becomes preferable to a looming, unknown alternative. Yet in the face of constant changing world, these woman’s depression seems to stand the completely against from the logic of Here and Now.
Yet as opposed to the discussion of hedonism, making present pleasurable In this week’s lecture The Bodhisattava Cycle wants us to leave the house, wonder, traverse through the path of sorrow so that we can learn to value what your initial position. (Lecture 3/25) . It is so that to go through two part and achieve the zen on the order of here and now, we must practice a sort of abstinence by saying no to the enlightenment, turn away from the truth we have been seeking, to settle down. But why say no to an higher order if we are focused on experiencing the present. It might be because in the world of Mono No Aware, enlightenment and truth are not the things that makes one necessarily happy. Truth is dangerous. That is why sometimes we ignore the truth.
Also on a random note, it is incredibly intriguing to know that there is a town (page 131) called:
“Parents Forget Their Children, Children forget their Parents, Dogs Turn Back, Horses Return”
Posting on HEDONISM;
I was biking from West Hall to Carm for breakfast..
A familiar path
wriggly tire mark
In the beginning of Saikaku’s characters story of downfall, she says “ “I began to feel strangely restless”. This restlessness is what drags her through multiple social statue changes and to her path to retribution. This restlessness is present in every one of us, in almost every detail of our daily lives. We are conditioned to suppress and “don’t yield” to it though. It is present in the glance that we give to the extra piece of cake that we are not supposed to eat or to the lover of a friend. Hedonism is the only cure to ailing that strange feel of restlessness and unfortunately it is the most evanescent of all the cures. As Saikuku’s character does we can do whatever pleases us but we usually don’t. Why? Probably it is because many doesn’t want to end up like the Women who loved love. Saikuku’s story is some sort of a cautionary example of why are we not doing whatever we want to do. Yet in a world of Mono No Aware, where everything is sad and autumn is better -more sentimental- than spring, Saikaku’s woman gets the be the one with a sucky life, at least having experienced many sorts of pleasure.
Professor Inouye gave an example for us to understand this “We all suck” / Mono no Aware world by saying ‘‘It is like being dressed up with nowhere to go” . This example strike my girly self from the bullseye and made me understand the true nature of ukiyo-o. If you want to dress up so much, creating places to go is in your hands – just be an hedonist. Woman who loves love chooses hedonism as her path because pursuit of hedonism is all about self awareness and being aware of what gives you pleasure and what not.
Also for this class it was really interesting to learn how in the isolation of Edo period Japanese aesthetics tended to utilize vertical and atmospheric perspective rather than the linear perspective of western. I tend to connect this artistic tendency with the importance of Here and Now that we discussed earlier. Since Japanese culture value presence and this here and now logic fits the single-plane vision of their paintings. When looked directly, the vertically perspectives painting presents everything at once in equal detail, whereas the western linear perspective may seem to offer a deeper / unlimited point of view but it actually offers limited detail. It is as if you have to wait, to go through the image, to fully see the window detail drawn in the background.
I was trying to roll a film in the 35 square inch fully light proof room in the photo dark room for my photography class..
behind the door
still very far
In this class’ discussion of nothingness I have got introduced to a different aspect of nothingness or a different way of seeing mu. Understanding that there is no central truth to our existence that would give it a meaning but the reality of evanescence and nothingness is a challenge for the modern mind. As Professor Inouye was discussing nothingness, he gave raking the gravel in the ground as an example of nothingness. “The lack of separation between me and the gravel is nothingness” (Lecture 2/13). This means nothingness is the immediate presence, it is neither waiting for something to happen nor another world that would make today worth putting up for. Embracing nothingness – though I hardly manage to embrace it, I start to understand what it is- is to be aware of one’s surroundings, be receptive to everything because there is nothing ‘old’ that would block us from taking all in -no old friends, no routines. Much to my discomfort I’ve started seeing routines, familiarity as obstacles that prevent me from experiencing something or someone new. Something Professor Inouye quoted from a fellow professor Elizabeth Ammons “We get in troubles because we seek comfort” (Lecture 2/13) struck me in this point that I noticed that trouble in this case is not allowing ourselves to experience nothingness since we are on a constant strive to hold on to things, objects, people. What Merton (109) says upon this : “Nothing to gain, nothing to lose; nothing to give nothing to take; just to be son , and yet to be rich in inexhaustible possibilities” is what sums the conflict between modern mind who sees having things as a richness and the japanese sensibility that would see the real richness in the nothingness that clears us for everything. Wish I could leave the people or the constants I hold on to for newness and nothingness, then I would have 85 percent of my brainpower free to make wonders…
This weekend of the snow blizzard, I was studying in the lounge of West Hall, in front of a window looking to the Academic Quad and listening an old playlist when the chorus of a new song started playing..
flying flakes vibrate
like a wave
but not on the sea.
After third week’s class I actually decided to add the class and catch up with the readings… Certainly one of the most noteworthy things happened in the class was the “The House is on Fire” rap/chorus fusion. Still the melody of the the idea of leaving the house, or shukke (出家) in general is not a one that can be internalized that easily. How can we abandon the life that we have spent so much time on building/ forming/ perfecting. It is true that “We suffer because we hang on to the things that we want to last” (Lecture 02/06) but how can we persuade ourselves that those things won’t last. “To seek security and permanence by attaching ourselves to that which is unpleasant and floating is to be deluded” (Inouye 40). I tend to enjoy being deluded at times because the other option seems too frightening and conflicting to my constant need for a one constant anchoring truth. In this context the concept of anataman is really new and seems to solve a lot of problems, a self-concentrated life might have. Though I completely acknowledge the idea of evanescence, I believe in working hard in order to reach a target yet I am aware that a fleeting experience of happiness is a moving target. We have talked in the class about the Japanese saying “If a dog walks, he finds a stick”, although we know that due to the cyclic nature of happiness and sadness, the dog will lose that stick, -eventually. Still It is better than not finding it at all, Its the experience that counts yet its the memory that haunts.