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intro to japan essay 1

intro to japan essay 1 - Chris Bostick Asian 211...

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Chris Bostick Asian 211 5/7/2009 Assignment #1 Beauty and Ambiguity The two Nobel laureates Kawabata and Oe lived during times of important changes in Japanese society where the culture was rapidly changing due to western influences and the aftermath of World War II . However, although both lived in these times you see a dramatic difference in the focus of their acceptance speeches for their awards . The choosing of their speech titles is evidence of their approaches to defining their experience of what it means to be Japanese . Yasunari Kawabata’s title, “Japan, the Beautiful and Myself”, appears to show a deep appreciation for the Japanese aesthetic and the richness of its culture . In contrast, Kenzaburo Oe’s title, “Japan, The Ambiguous and Myself”, plays on Kawabata’s title and asserts a dual focus for the rest of his lecture . He acknowledges the beauty of Japanese culture but at the same time focuses on the negative aspects of their recent history such as the war, and also looks at the rapidly changing now modern Japan . I feel that the analysis each laureate offers in his speech can be directly attributed to the inspirations that helped shape their writings and life . In analysis of Kawabata’s lecture, you are exposed to a myriad of ancient Japanese poems containing profound wisdom . Each poem he cites as a representative of his own personal collection of art that defines his beliefs . The poems are surrounded in an aura of Yugen, each piece containing early mysticism from legendary Zen priest and Buddhist monks . Oe describes Kawabata’s reasoning for these examples stating, “After those years of his pilgrimage, only by making a confession as to how he was fascinated by such inaccessible Japanese poems that baffle any attempt fully to understand them,
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Chris Bostick Asian 211 5/7/2009 Assignment #1 was he able to talk about 'Japan, the Beautiful, and Myself', that is, about the world in which he lived and the literature which he created . ” By delving into these works Kawabata shows what he believes is the “Deep Quiet of the Japanese spirit”, which he describes as warm, deep, and of delicate compassion .
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