5 Miller Samuel

5 Miller Samuel

I went out to breakfast in Chinatown with my father this weekend and noticed a child put chopsticks up her nose.


A little girl

With chopsticks up her nose



I was very interested in our conversation last class about mono no aware. I can see how recognition of a universal sadness, however beautiful sorrow can be, would lead to an upheaval of hedonism among the socially oppressed classes.  We talked about how when the woman in Saikaku’s The Woman Who Spent Her Life in Love is touched by her master she says, “I forgot everything then, except to make sure his wife was snoring loudly.” (Saikaku, 211) The images of infidelity, along with her observations that men are becoming increasingly picky about the physical qualities of a woman very well reflect the hedonism of the period. What I don’t understand is, as hedonism became more and more prevalent, why does mono no aware remain, at least for Momokawa, to be the “guiding principle of solidarity”(Momokawa,  12) among Japanese people? While it is easy to understand that sorrow can be beautiful, it is difficult for me to understand why the realization of universal sorrow is “what makes Japan, Japan.” (Inouye Lecture, 2/20/14) Momokawa ends his writing by saying, “I have the feeling that Japanese people are living with a somewhat strangling notion of uneasiness.” (Momokawa -14)I think I understand how sorrow can be beautiful and that the understanding that all people suffer can bring people together, but I fail to understand what is beautiful in having a “strangling sense of uneasiness” be the source of solidarity among a group of people.

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