Sitting at my desk in my room, watching the snow pile up on the tar-finished rooftop outside my window.
Snow piling up
On the rooftop
While reading Hojoki: Visions of a Torn World, I could not help but confront the overtness with which Kamo-no-Chomei describes the transience of his reality. I am not sure why, but I had expected the text to be more mysterious. I had expected myself to have to dig for allusions to constant flux. But the verse “The place does not change, nor do the crowds” (Chomei, 32) connotes an obvious situational constant. I had had a Classics teacher in high school that had forced us to dive deep into Plato’s Cratylus, and as such we had been required to write a paragraph on our thoughts concerning the panta rhei. Granted, at this point I do not remember the majority of my 16-year-old insight, but the idea that “ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers” (Heraclitus, in Eusebius’ Praeparatio evangelica, 15.20.2) seemed incredibly relevant when I went back and looked over my response (yes, I save high school essays on my computer for a keepsake). There is a heavy dose of Westerness to it that made me skeptical of a viable comparison at first, but the more I read of Chomei, the more I began to acknowledge the relative parallels. For example, while individual entities “fade away…to be replaced” (Chomei, 32) “the place itself does not change, nor do the crowds” (Chomei, 32). This notion (transient entities passing through and being replaced in a permanent space) is echoed by Heraclitus. While the entities are transient, so is the essence of the permanent space that they are passing through. In other words, the content of the space is in flux, while the space itself maintains the perennial structure necessary for such content to hold a degree of similarity as it changes.