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ever changing, and any effort to impose too much rationality upon them
is bound to fail and is in itself a false or dishonest act on the part of an
artist. Such an attitude enabled Kawabata to exhibit a striking “sensitivity
to things,” and in the larger sense joined him to the aesthetic tradition of
mono no aware that permeated the classical literature with which he, like
Tanizaki, was so intimately familiar. But whereas Tanizaki had, in The
Makioka Sisters, explored chiefly the intimacies of human relations, Kawabata in his writings also used mono no aware to deal with the subtle responses of people to the natural settings within which they lived.
An example of Kawabata’s poetic handling of perceptions—like the
linking of verses in a renga sequence—is the following passage from The
Sound of the Mountain:
The moon was bright.
One of his daughter-in-law’s dresses was hanging outside, unpleasantly
gray. Perhaps she had forgotten to take in her laundry, or perhaps she had left
a sweat-soaked garment to take the dew of night.
A screeching of insects came from the garden. There were locusts on the
trunk of the cherry tree to the left. He had not known that locusts could
make such a rasping sound; but locusts indeed they were.
He wondered if locusts might sometimes be troubled with nightmares.
A locust flew in and lit on the skirt of the mosquito net. It made no sound
as he picked it up.
“A mute.” It would not be one of the locusts he had heard at the tree.
Lest it fly back in, attracted by the light, he threw it with all his strength
toward the top of the tree. He felt nothing against his hand as he released it.
Gripping the shutter, he looked toward the tree. He could not tell whether
the locust had lodged there or flown on. There was a vast depth to the moonlit night, stretching far on either side.
Though August had only begun, autumn insects were already singing. He
thought he could detect a dripping of dew from leaf to leaf.14 Culture in the Present Age...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at UBC.
- Spring '13