5 Maman Philippe

Listening to music in my room:

As the record spins,

The needle reads,

Another record.


week 5 image


The very first line from The Woman Who Spent Her Life in Love by Saikaku argues that it is impossible for the self to remain connected to reality and to be happy at the same time. He writes that a beautiful woman is exactly what causes us to die young. Our temptations and awareness of self will be the end of us. As professor Inouye said in class, men want a sense of self or some way to avoid getting lost. And Saikaku argues that independently defining a sense of self is too saddening. In Saikaku’s story, one man argues that, “I who have lacked for nothing, wish only that loves elixir flowed as inexhaustibly as this river.” His companion replies, “My own wish, he said, is for a country without women. I’d go there and lead a completely idle life, and a considerably longer one, observing the endless variety of this changing world” (Saikaku, 154). The difference in view here is giving in to desire and letting yourself become exhausted by the sadness that comes often as a consequence, or to separate oneself from the world and act as the observer, never connecting life’s disappointment with one’s existence. These are two ways to define a sense of self and from a western perspective the separation of the inner and outer self as Takahito phrases it seems impossible. Letting a schism form between our actions and thought would create a cognitive dissonance difficult to suppress. And for some, like Mishima Yukio, it was (Momokawa, 13-14). It seems to me that a middle ground is appropriate. A ground where we are aware of our actions and their effects on others, yet able to appreciate that we have no control over the evils that befall us. Takahito speaks of the paradoxical nature of mono no aware. The citizenry closes away the sadness of subjugation in their inner lives allowing for an outwardly emancipated consciousness (Momokawa, 11). If we so choose, I think we are able to remain happy and connected as long as we emancipate ourselves from our moral systems from time to time.

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