*AotPE: Art of the Personal Essay
After Seneca’s “On Noise”, I decided to read Kenko’s “Essays in Idleness”. It was not the whole essay, but rather selections from the essay, and despite this, it was still a pleasure to read. In terms of readability, I found “Essays in Idleness” to be a lot more readable than Sei Shonagan’s “Hateful Things”, which had a bunch of “one's” in one sentence.
According to the head note proceeding “Essays in Idleness”, the original Japanese name for “Essays in Idleness” is Tsurezuregusa of Kenko, meaning “with nothing better to do.” The essay employs a Japanese technique called “zuihitsu”, meaning following the brush. Due to this technique, the essay lacks form, but is still enjoyable.
The selections from “Essays in Idleness” can be read on its own, or as a free flowing whole. If one chooses to read each selection on its own, it can become quite bothersome, since some selections are only a paragraph long.
The selection chose to end with this quote (from essay 149), “You should never put the new antlers of a dear to your nose and smell them .They have little insects that crawl into the nose and devour the brain.” Personally, I found this quote to be amusing and humorous yet random. Despite the lack of form, it still doesn’t justify going from essay 137, a reflective essay where life, death, and beauty are contemplated, to essay 149, where the idea of sniffing new antlers is advised against. (I have to digress, it was quite funny, but still random.)
The most prominent selection that stood out to me was a snippet from Essay 22. The essay is not only easy to read, but also pertains to culture today. The selection (a mere paragraph) was about things that were done in the past are much more pleasing. Kenko brings up the idea of shortening phrases. Although I can’t see how saying “Let the men of the palace staff stand forth” is better than “Torches! Let’s have some light”, I do believe shortening phrases is quite deplorable. (I suppose in Kenko’s time, people were more eloquent and polite.) Nowadays, people shorthand words. I dislike reading messages that begin, “OMG. R U going to the things l8r tonite?” Although I’m a high schooler, I can barely read text messages that use shorthand for every other word. It’s annoying, and it seems like people can’t spell. It won’t kill someone to just write out “tonight” or “you”. (Rant over.)
Now, go read “Essays in Idleness”. It’s great.