HAIKU: When I walked out of one of my classes on Tuesday, it had started snowing.
IMAGE: Japanese lord doll
PARAGRAPH: On Evanescence and Form (pp. 51-69), Atsumori, and Zen and the Birds of Appetite (Thomas Merton)
The biggest idea that resonated with me with this week’s reading is that of form and the role or function it plays in relation to and within evanescence. In some senses, mostly on a personal level, I understand the importance behind form. Growing up, I was often teased by my peers about how “OCD” I was, and how unnecessarily fussy and meticulous I was about a lot of things. Granted, such experiences taught me to prioritize and to divide up my energy accordingly so that I wouldn’t burn myself out or drive myself crazy from this futile pursuit after perfection. However, what always upset me was not so much embarrassment over this “idiosyncrasy” of mine, but rather that people couldn’t comprehend that the energy and effort I was putting into the task was an expression of how much I cared about it. Just as bowing one’s head is a concrete sign of respect, trying to drive a task to perfection is a concrete sign of your respect and care for the task itself, regardless if you’re doing it for yourself or others. Unlike words, which are only so much air in the end, form concretizes the abstract like thoughts and feelings so that you can “move through space in ways that displayed [them]” (Inouye, 59). Yet, on other levels, I still can’t quite grasp how form gives rise to meaning. I see through the example of kata and the Kougetsudai how the “constant reaffirmation of form within the here-and-now . . . counterbalance[s] the equally persistent truth that all things are changing all the time” (Inouye, 65), yet I fail to see how this counterbalancing creates meaning. Continually reforming the platform counterbalances the formless nature of sand, yet the activity itself is meaningless. Thus, isn’t all form arbitrary, and thus meaningless in the end? Or is it as Inouye rhetorically questions, “does this very meaningless not mean something important?” (62) I feel so close to understanding, like a tip-of-the-tongue sort of sensation. Is it that the contextual nature of form, of kata, gives rise to momentary significance, and that through some transformation, process, or connection, “the logic of the moment prevails” so that, like in Noh theatre, the momentary significance “becomes an expansive and inclusive mystery” (Inouye, 68)? In other words, can significance, importance, and meaning be both momentary and lasting?