Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth!

It's Independence Day here in the US, the day on which we both perpetrate and endure many platitudes about democracy while in fact we continue to erode politically the very cultural narrative (populism, progress, pursuit of happiness) that the holiday is meant to celebrate. Just sayin'. But happy Fourth! 今晩は花火ですね—"fire flowers" this evening. Tomorrow tea practice with a friend and, later, 日本語のレッスン, and then on Friday 休み and then Tanabata 七夕祭り in Fairmount Park. Hopefully, tea class on Saturday and 習字 on Saturday or Sunday. Then, on the 14th, Bastille Day, which we celebrate with much enthusiasm here in Philadelphia (which considers itself the "sister city" to Paris; our own Ben Franklin was ambassador and, it seems, rather a rake).* A good time will, undoubtedly, be had by all. 夏の祭りは大変楽しいと思いますね。酷く楽しいでしょうね。(笑) ガハハ

今朝習字を練習してみましたよ。 I did some writing practice this morning, first 俳句 and 習字 (行書で「澄懐」) and then, in honor of the day, 独立 (dokuritsu, "independence" but, more literally, "standing alone"**) and 自由 (jiyuu, "liberty", but because it derives from 自 self + 由 rationale I like to think of it as "thinking/choosing for oneself"). My holiday writing wasn't very good, but I'm giving myself a by for household ephemera. (Is "give a by" the phrase? 英語はアメリカ人にもときどきちょっと難しいと思いますね.***)

Tonight in theory I am at an event but really I'd rather continue trying to read and translate the rest of the summer haiku from 「俳句編」.

I discovered today that we have a giant Asian grocery store right here in Center City—which is great because it means I can get some things I need for tea without taking buses or trains. I was looking for wagashi for tea tomorrow, and though I didn't find what I really wanted (artisanal wagashi—not likely this side of New York), I found some 良さそうな抹茶, macha that looks like it'll work at least for usucha, and then various okashi and lots of random things that I'm just looking forward to exploring. (I've never in my life had an entire fish in my freezer, but a milkfish resides there now.)


*The tradition here for the Quatorze is to have someone dress as Marie-Antoinette and toss Twinkies or some substitute ("qu'ils mangent de la brioche", which probably she did not in fact say) from the ramparts of Eastern State Penitentiary, which is the closest building we have to the Bastille. 

**ですが。。。「独」というのはね。Per Henshall, 独 derives from kemono-hen, the (wild) dog radical, and a caterpillar, formerly written as 属 (and older forms) but now written as the indefatigable mushi 虫, generic insectness. Dog and caterpillar together came to mean unity, fighting for a single cause (which would be what, exactly?) and then, eventually, singularity. It also means Germany; I can't even begin to engage that.

***In saying this I'm making a reference to an interesting point that bikenglishさん made in his blog, about problems with prepositions when they refer to unusual physical situations—behind the yellow line? below it? beneath it? In the train, or on it? (When I was studying literary critical theory we'd have thought of it as intertextuality.) Last week at 習字 we read a little from the 古今和歌集, to practice reading hentaigana, so since then I've been thinking about 本歌取り honkadori, the poetic practice of alluding to a classical poem, in order to both demonstrate erudition and link one's own work to a larger tradition. I wrote something about it, I think, involving Sosei and 袖ひちて むすびし水の こほれるを 春立つ今日の 風やとくらむ dipping kimono sleeves in freezing water and 春たてば 花とやみらん白雪の かゝれる枝に うぐひすのなく nightingales on branches in the remaining spring snow, and Princess Shikishi waiting in vain for her lover, but it seems that I now have more drafts than actual posts. Story of my life!

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