Author Archives: Jiabin Zhang

7 Zhang, Jiabin

Nothing this week because I am preoccupied with midterms and papers. This week our study of Japanese culture turns to the Transcendental Order from the Order of Here-and-Now. This shift, of course, came within a context, that is, the “opening” … Continue reading

Posted in Week 7: Bushido and the Transcendental Order | 3 Comments

6 Zhang, Jiabin

When I walked past Tisch, a flock of geese flew over my head. Loud honks Shadows on the ground– Canadian geese This week we talked about Matsuo Basho, arguably the most well-known Japanese poet. He is described as a “pre-modern” … Continue reading

Posted in Week 6: The Order of Here and Now | Leave a comment

5 Zhang Jiabin

I came out of Olin and walked downhill, noticing the snow melt and water flowing along the road. Ice gone Snow melted– Spring? This week’s classes introduced the start of Japan’s modern period. Unlike Europe where Enlightenment and Renaissance gave rise to individualism, Japan began the search of the “self” in a quite different way. Tokugawa unified Japan in … Continue reading

Posted in Week 5: Hedonism, Mono no Aware, Monstrosity | 1 Comment

4 Zhang, Jiabin

I walked in the snow to Dewick for lunch, noticing the trees besides Asian American Center. Snow Falling on the tree White on the green To quote D.T.Suzuki, nothingness or emptiness is a state of “seeing into the nonexistence of … Continue reading

Posted in Week 4: Nothingness | 2 Comments

3 Zhang Jiabin

On Thursday, I passed West Hall and suddenly some snow and ice fell from the roof. Snow Falling from the roof Like aurora This week’s readings seem to tell two distinct stories: Hojoki is about a noble who chose to be a hermit in the woods whereas The Tale of Heike is full of war stories. Nevertheless, they shared a evanescent view of this mortal world. Chomei left the world after witnessing disasters and “senseless man’s doing.”(Chomei, 22) Fires, drought and flood repeated themselves in 12th-century Heian-kyo. Yet people managed to rebuild afterwards. Kiyomori was so powerful that he put his son on the throne. Yet, the dominant Taira clan was replaced by the Genji clan. Nothing lasts. Even the great city and family are impermanent. Success and failure alternate. As the saying goes, failure is the mother of success. Success is like the top of the mountain. One can go nowhere but downward which would be failure compared to the summit. However, when one appreciates evanescence, realizing the world we live in is a illusion, why bother to achieve success? After all, pursuing success and mourning failure would prevent us from seeing the truth that we all live in a house on fire.

Posted in Week 3: Failure, Success, and Leaving the World | Leave a comment

2 Zhang Jiabin

I was on my way to Olin and heard the sound of birds on a tree besides Metcalf Hall. Birds chirping– A tree without leaves In the freezing gale If the world is ever changing, then how should we deal with it? The women writers of Heian period chose to dream, reflecting a shift from utsusemi to hakanasa which means the evanescence of the human world. Since the reality and dream share impermanence, for these female writers, they became complementary to each other. For some, like Lady Sarashina, dreams even became the substitute for reality. She “lived forever in a dream world” and she was so obsessed with romantic tales that her only hope was that a handsome man would visit her once a year (Sarashina, 71-2). However, as her life progressed, she changed her view on dreams. After realizing the futility of dreams, she regretted her obsession with dreams and fantasies when she was young and devoted herself to religion (Sarashina, 119). From a Buddhist perspective, given that the world we live in is an illusion, how can dreams possibly be anything close to truth? According to Nagarjuna, in order to obtain truth, one must be kept away from impermanent and deceiving external things (Tsunoda, de Bary and Keene, 94).

Posted in Week 2: From Hakanasa to Mujo | 3 Comments

1 Zhang Jiabin

1 Zhang, Jiabin On Thursday when I walked out of Hodgdon, I slipped on ice and almost fell over. Ice on the road Reflection on the snow I miss home                     … Continue reading

Posted in Week 1: Shell of the Cicada | Leave a comment