Literature in troubled times – hojoki 3

 

A) McCullough’s introduction to “Medieval Recluse-Memoirists” in Classical Japanese Prose pp. 377-379

B) Kamo no Chomei’s text from the year 1212, Hojoki (An Account of My Heritage,) in McCullough’s Classical Japanese Prose pp. 379-392.  Kamo no Chômei creates a hermitage that is both a refuge from the world and an expression of the world of sensitive aesthetics that he has left behind.  It is also eerily resonant with our own particular moment.

For discussion:

How does reading the Hojoki (translated by McCullough as An Account of My Hermitage) resonate with your own experiences of covid-19 and living through a pandemic?  An early section of the text (section 2, p.380-387) describes a series of cascading natural and man-made disasters.  If you were to create an updated ‘Hojoki 2020’ what would you include on your list?  In response to personal career disappointments and societal deterioration, the narratorial voice of the text chooses voluntary isolation and simple living; how does this compare with your experiences of living in “safe at home”https://www.homeworkmarket.com/”shelter in place”https://www.homeworkmarket.com/”safer at home”/etc. conditions?  From the point of view of your own experiences, what do you think of the narrator’s lifestyle choices in the face of profound suffering and historic changes that he experiences personally and witnesses in his society?  Did you feel a sense of beauty, pleasure, wisdom and clarity in the ending of the text (section 4, p.390-392) and can you envision such a resolution for our own pandemic moment?  If not, why not?  If so, how?

Two things to make sure you include in your work this week:

  • You can and should definitely use “I” in your response. I want to hear what you think and feel!
  • Quote from Hojoki to help substantiate and enrich your response. When doing this, be sure that you do not leave the quotations hanging alone to do all your analytical connections; examine and interpret them thoroughly.

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