4 Sacks Adrienne

4 Sacks Adrienne


I was laying in bed at night on my side, looking out the window.


The moon shines between two clouds

A tree sways back and forth in the wind

I ponder my decision

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During this week’s Monday lecture, I found myself especially interested in the practice of etiquette and how it relates to the Japanese notions of evanescence and form. I had not given etiquette as a whole much thought once my years of exhausting etiquette training ended as a young girl. After that class, however, I found myself thinking about why people, my father and many Japanese people included, insist on this type of form. Professor Inouye defined etiquette in a way I had not heard it described before, “how to move through space properly.” (Inouye, February 10) But, this definition begs the question, “What is proper?” Why is the one way that has been deemed correct in fact correct if many other people would find the intricacies to be completely arbitrary? More broadly, I believe etiquette could be defined as a set of practices that assert a deeper belief. For the Japanese, this deeper belief could be a religious Buddhist belief, as many of the practices that have etiquette are in fact at their core religious. Second, when things that are seemingly trivial, such as how to hold a glass, are given a proper form, one is freed from thinking about these things and able to do other things. The lack of thinking about these actions creates “mu” or nothingness and the void is able to be filled by other thoughts, either passing thoughts or those that stem from conversation. However, many would assert that etiquette is important because it implies a sort of meditative respect to the action. That is, the practice itself has intrinsic value. When one holds a glass in the way one ought to hold a glass, they are connected in a small way to not only the times they have done it before, but the times everyone else has as well. In an ever changing world, this simple type of form is perhaps one of the most effective and comforting.

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One Response to 4 Sacks Adrienne

  1. Profile photo of Karen  Lee Karen Lee says:

    I liked your analysis of etiquette a lot, especially the part about how one is being connected to others through the way they “move through space” in the same way. Perhaps the way etiquette itself however changes over time could be another example of the tension between change and form?

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