Zuihitsu: A 10th Century Case

All this technology confuses me, such a great many choices at such a speed!  I know how quaint that sounds, like those first people who road in automobiles, reporting the terrifying, head spinning sensations of moving at 30 miles per hour.

When my head starts spinning, I remind myself to sit on the bed with a notebook and pen.

Sometimes I feel guilty, noticing that the boys are watching another movie.  Maybe I should have taken them to the Y.  But time is limited so here I am, spending it selfishly, sitting on my bed, following the line that falls onto the paper.

Sei Shonagon, a courtesan in 10th century Japan, kept a journal that she hid in the drawer of her wooden pillow, taking notes on court trysts and annoyances, making lists of "very tiresome things."

Here's what Dennis Washburn says in the introduction to Arthur Waley's strange and much abbreviated translation of Sei Shonagon's The Pillow Book.

The Pillow Book is an early example of an extremely important genre in Japanese, the miscellany, or zuihitsu (literally, "following one's brush") - a form of jotting or literary wandering.  Zuihitsu gives the writer considerable freedom to use a variety of forms and touch on a wide range of subjects.  

Sounds to me like a terminal case of whimsy.

Ha!  There she is, on the other side of the planet, one-hundred and one decades back, inking little nothings on paper, dreaming that someone might read them.

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