Sunday, January 30, 2011


This week in shuuji 習字 we did four diads in renmen 連綿体の「けふ」(今日)、「みゆ」、「やま」、「ゆき」—やまの「ま」は「万」だった—then four forms of を (not お!) in hentaigana 変体仮名, then 大きい習字, single characters from the current sousho 草書 on larger paper with larger brushes. I did two sousho forms of 寒 (because I enjoy its drama—it's a beautiful character and very Annie Lennox, "cold, cold, cold...."). The larger brush (実は先生のお筆) is even harder to control, but I found it helpful to keep my elbow up and write from my entire arm. 寒、寒、寒、寒。。。。 My ウ冠 is more successful in sousho than in gyousho, but still I keep extending it too far on the right side and holding it too long. Cさん,僕の習字の友達, didn't like anything she'd written and had problems with kozatohen (阝偏?), but I still think her work is much better than mine. (I did kozatohen with 陰 and really love it. 木の陰や。) I'm in awe of 習字の先生; I don't know how it's possible to know so much. I asked her about choosing hentaigana when writing poems, and she said you choose the characters per your line width, the shape, など—ie, as seems so often to be the case in Japanese (and maybe in other languages), You Just Have to Know what to do.

書きにくい. I was thinking about a 小筆 (kofude, thin brush) that I bought a few weeks ago that's very difficult to use because the cut of its bristles is such that with consistent pressure it gives you a wider horizontal than you want. I was practicing with it because it's my most difficult brush. Can we call that 書きにくい筆? Or is it only 書きにくい漢字? Ie, does Japanese make the distinction that English does between a thing that is difficult to *write with* and a thing that is difficult to *write*? この漢字は、書きにくい漢字だと思う。この漢字は、大きい筆を使って書きにくいね。Or should I just say about the brush that it's 使いにくい and leave 書く out of it?

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