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haikaiTALKS: a saturday gathering! mono no aware

haikaiTALKS: Japanese aesthetics - a saturday gathering_under the banyan tree


host: Kala Ramesh

2nd September 2023


Japanese aesthetics: mono-no-aware

Pronounced as a-waa-re (like in Hindi.)

Yeah! Another exciting week ahead!!


Mono no aware: the Pathos of Things

The meaning of the phrase mono no aware is complex and has changed over time, but it basically refers to a “pathos” (aware) of “things” (mono), deriving from their transience. In the classic anthology of Japanese poetry from the eighth century, Manyōshū, the feeling of aware is typically triggered by the plaintive calls of birds or other animals. It also plays a major role in the world’s first novel, Murasaki Shikibu’s Genji monogatari (The Tale of Genji), from the early eleventh century. The somewhat later Heike monogatari (The Tale of the Heike Clan) begins with these famous lines, which clearly show impermanence as the basis for the feeling of mono no aware:


The sound of the Gion shōja bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sōla flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline. The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night; the mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind. (McCullough 1988).


And here is Kenkō on the link between impermanence and beauty: “If man were never to fade away like the dews of Adashino, never to vanish like the smoke over Toribeyama, how things would lose their power to move us! The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty” (Keene, 7). The acceptance and celebration of impermanence goes beyond all morbidity, and enables full enjoyment of life:


How is it possible for men not to rejoice each day over the pleasure of being alive? Foolish men, forgetting this pleasure, laboriously seek others; forgetting the wealth they possess, they risk their lives in their greed for new wealth. But their desires are never satisfied. While they live they do not rejoice in life, but, when faced with death, they fear it—what could be more illogical? (Keene, 79).


Insofar as we don’t rejoice in life we fail to appreciate the pathos of the things with which we share our lives. For most of us, some of these things, impermanent as they are, will outlast us—and especially if they have been loved they will become sad things: “It is sad to think that a man’s familiar possessions, indifferent to his death, should remain long after he is gone” (Keene, 30).


The most frequently cited example of mono no aware in contemporary Japan is the traditional love of cherry blossoms, as manifested by the huge crowds of people that go out every year to view (and picnic under) the cherry trees. The blossoms of the Japanese cherry trees are intrinsically no more beautiful than those of, say, the pear or the apple tree: they are more highly valued because of their transience since they usually begin to fall within a week of their first appearance. It is precisely the evanescence of their beauty that evokes the wistful feeling of mono no aware in the viewer.

Notes taken from Britannica and other sources.


Keiko Izawa has this to add:

According to a a Japanese philosopher, Tetsuro Watsuji, Mono no aware is essentially a fundamental longing for eternity in impermanence. It cannot be judged by the intellect or reason, but can only be felt with heart and intuition. One of the most representative symbols is the Japanese cherry blossom. They are beautiful, but fall within 3 to 5 days after blooming.



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I have a request and a suggestion to make.

Can you share a haiku that employs mono-no-aware & tell your readers why you liked it and how you understood it?

Example: my poem


a falling blossom ...

the breath between what was 

and what will be 

 


Presence Haiku Journal – Issue # 49, Fall 2014

I'll get back with more examples soon.

First post: You search and find a haiku that has mono no aware.

You'll give your reason/s why you think it has this aesthetic nuance. Second post: This will be your first haiku with mono no aware


Third post: This will be your second haiku with mono no aware

Please give your feedback on others' commentary and poems too. _()_


Have fun! Keep writing and commenting!

456 views155 comments

155 komentarai


Anju Kishore
Anju Kishore
2023-09-07

#2

Revised


fallen parijat

the family picture filling

with those no more


*****


fallen parijat

a smile wafting

from the frame


(Critique most welcome)

Patinka
lakshmi iyer
lakshmi iyer
2023-09-21
Atsakymas:

maybe


fallen parijat

the family potrait

with those no more


just tried

Patinka

lakshmi iyer
lakshmi iyer
2023-09-07

I feel that :

mono no aware celebrates the beauty of dying things reminding us of the impermanence. The celebration of 'cherry blossoms' and also 'neelakurinji'

wabi-sabi appreciates the beauty of old and worn out things which also reminds us of transience. The appreciation of ancestral rusted lock, etc which brings us to that status of being that life has its own way of growing old.


Just my thoughts!!

@Kala Ramesh

Patinka
lakshmi iyer
lakshmi iyer
2023-09-08
Atsakymas:

Loved that, 'contemplates' !

Patinka

Kala Ramesh
Kala Ramesh
2023-09-06

NOTE:

Keiko:

The notes say: Mono no aware refers to “pathos” (aware) of “things” (mono), deriving from their transience.


If we say - mono no aware is beauty and pathos (the example given is cherry blossoms) then it gets clearer and we know how to understand this nuance and differentiate it from wabi sabi.


Otherwise, both mono no aware and wabi-sabi are about transience, aren't they?

Does anyone have any views about this?

Patinka
lev hart
lev hart
2023-09-08
Atsakymas:

From my standpoint, mono no aware suggests sadness. Sabi suggests tranquility.

Patinka

Anju Kishore
Anju Kishore
2023-09-06

#1


Ah! Summer grasses

All that remains

Of the warriors’ dreams —


Bashō (1644-1694), translated by Blyth, Haiku, vol. 3, 309


The beauty of life, the pathos of loss so well depicted here. Even if the 'Ah' were deleted, and its alliteration with 'all' were lost, the emotion comes through. Perhaps the repeated m and s sounds in the translation add to the effect.


Is my understanding of this poem as an example for mono no aware correct?

Patinka
Anju Kishore
Anju Kishore
2023-09-07
Atsakymas:

Thanks 🙏

Patinka

Rupa Anand
Rupa Anand
2023-09-05

Post 3 ~ 06/09/23

Revised ~ as advised by Keith, thanks.


sitting and chirring

on their fallen tamarind

barbet fledglings


[with a deep bow to Bashô]

****

Original

perched on

a withered tamarind bough

barbet fledglings


feedback is welcome

Patinka
Anju Kishore
Anju Kishore
2023-09-06
Atsakymas:

Very interesting conversation around this haiku. Nice one Rupa

Patinka
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