By Charles Shirō Inouye

ISBN-10: 0230615481

ISBN-13: 9780230615489

If we inspiration that fact have been changeable, fragile, and fleeting, could we take existence extra heavily or much less heavily? This ebook contemplates the thought of hakanasa, the evanescence of all issues, as understood by means of the japanese. Their lived responses to this concept of impermanence were a number of or even contradictory. Asceticism, fatalism, conformism. Hedonism, materialism, careerism. What this array of responses have in universal are, first, a grounding in hakanasa, and, moment, an emphasis on formality. Evanescence and Etiquette makes an attempt to light up for the 1st time the binds among an epistemology of continuing switch and Japan's formal emphasis on etiquette and visuality.

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The formalism of Japanese poetics is astounding at first encounter. Could it be possible that all elements of the natural world could be so consistently and so conveniently straightforward as cicada shell = evanescence = reality? What kind of cultural patterning encourages such a convention? This is the first difficult conceptual challenge of the semester; and it is one that takes some time to comprehend. A fifth formal characteristic of tanka, made obvious by Yakamochi’s example, is the use of imagery as a means of saying a lot without having to say much.

We live because the world makes us respond continuously, spontaneously, and emotionally to change. Change is everywhere evident in the spatial context in which we live. Building upon the already existing sensibilities of utsusemi and tsune nashi, Buddhism helped to mold spontaneity into a foundational cultural premise, even as the ancient roots of this predilection were being compromised by the vast and impressive metaphysical apparatus that eventually undermined the immediate power of the makura kotoba as a vessel for the 36 E va n e s c e nc e a n d For m kotodama.

This epithet occurs in thirty-nine poems of the Man’yˉoshˉ u, and suggests that even prior to the advent of writing, the Japanese might have already been developing a feel for evanescence as a fundamental quality of reality. If we look at the poems in which this pillow word (makura kotoba) occurs, we see a fairly wide yet coherent range of meaning. By association, the term suggests both the fleeting and fragile qualities of human life and an awareness of life’s formal structures. Social mores, powerful hierarchies, unavoidable conflicts, sickness, and other mundane realities add to a mortal sense of disappointment, difficulty, and loss.

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Evanescence and Form: An Introduction to Japanese Culture by Charles Shirō Inouye


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