Thursday, June 7, 2012

Form and space

I am supposed to be sleeping, but instead I am thinking about Japan.

I started musing about what it was I learned while I was there, as a very raw 16 year old. I thought of space, and silence. Japan can be very loud, and very busy, full of tchotchkes. But there is still usually space in the form, and often you can only hear what is being said by ignoring what is actually being said, and listening for what is not. That sounds awfully mystical, but you only have to think of the stereotype of the perpetually nodding, acknowledging, supporting Japanese conversation, and remember that "hai, hai, hai" often means no, rather than yes.

And the game of Go? Empty territories.

Tea ceremony? Silence, then the "toc" of a bamboo ladle, and waiting.

Of course, the ultimate example of calligraphy, with space in form and form in space...

Sounds ideal, as a society, except that I don't remember much true individuality. More like comic book sketches of individuals. Which I'm sure allows for more space, as a mask permits you to make whatever face you want. Still, I like the bravery of honest individualism.

Which the US has. But it isn't very elegant. The form of our dialogues, and buildings, and infrastructure, is not usually beautiful. And we have space, but that often bleeds into neglect, and numbness.

France, on the other extreme, has very precise, energetic, frequently elegant form and activity, but zero interest in spaciousness. Fill that pause right up. Sattori, gap moment? Fill that sucker up.

Sleep, now? I hope so. I have an exam tomorrow.

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