1 Luna-Smith Wesley

I am on a charter bus that is behind schedule going to Boston from New York; it is nighttime and I can’t really tell where I am through the bus windows.
Street lamps’

reflecting on the Charles.

My destination nears.


This week’s readings address the balance between evanescence and form in Japanese culture. In the readings, we learn that the cicada shell “characterizes the world as perceived by the ancient Japanese. The cicada-shell world is understood as being empty, frail, and quickly passing” (Inouye 19).  I grew up in the Midwest, so cicada shells are something very commonplace to me. However, to think of a cicada shell within the context of Japanese culture is very humbling. Furthermore, I was intrigued by how Buddhism affected Japanese culture, in that “It balanced Confucian form with an equally insistent appreciation of change” (Inouye 18). While this duality is not unfamiliar to me, it is interesting to see how these concepts have influenced Japanese poetry. As I discover more about the complexity and depth of Japanese symbols, I feel that I am already learning to appreciate the passing of seasons in a new, more personal way inspired by the early Japanese who “took it for granted that there existed a continuity and correspondence between the capriciousness of human life and the swift change of the four seasons” (Kitagawa 48).

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2 Responses to 1 Luna-Smith Wesley

  1. Kristen Menard says:

    Hi Wesley,

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the cicada shell and it’s comparison to the Japanese culture and how you perceived the Japanese culture’s embrace of the empty cicada shell as a humbling and symbolic idea that expresses evanescence and Form. I believe the cicada shell is a perfect example of what we discussed last week.. The empty shell of the cicada perhaps symbolizes nothingness. A perfect symbol for a culture that believes in the idea that one should be an empty shell so as to be open to what the environment can teach oneself. The shell itself symbolizes the form which encases the emptiness within. In addition to that, we can also look at the shell as a shedding of the old self to make way for the new self.

  2. Amanda Greaves says:

    Hello Wesley,
    I like that you took such artistic claim on your drawing. I didn’t see the connection between the cicada shell and nothingness as a theme until I read, “…perfect symbol for a culture that believes in the idea that one should be an empty shell so as to be open to what the environment can teach oneself.” I saw life as either having or not having. I didn’t see that having nothing could mean that you have something. That it has the ability to bring more, by not being filled with things that only distract you from finding yourself.

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