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  • Sidebar book cover thumbnail pictures are affiliate links to Amazon, and the storefront links to Blackwell's and The Book Depository are also affiliated; should you purchase a book directly through those links, I will receive a small commission. Older posts may also contain affiliate links to one of those bookshops. I am not paid to produce content and all opinions are my own.

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Margaret Powling

I wonder whether this might be a little other-worldly for me? I really don't comprehend about turning a year into five-day segments ... how can a year be chopped up into five-DAY segments? And how does a segment of a year have a 'character'? I'm totally mystified (it doesn't take much to do that to me these days!) But I'm all at sea as to a segment of a year having a character and a year being divided into five-day segments ... does it mean that Janaury is Wednesday or February is Sunday? (and a couple of days have been despatched altogether?)

 Barbara MacLeod

In the preface of her book the author explains the nature of zuihitsu (a traditional Japanese short prose piece on a miscellaneous topic). It means "literally – following [the dictate of] the brush". She helps to clarify the meaning by looking at the difference between writing a Japanese zuihitsu and an English essay.

She states: "The word 'essay' comes from the French essayer, 'to attempt'. The writer's attitudes and sensibilities flex and stretch as they grapple with some subject or concept. They play with it, wrestle with it, try to pin it down. An essay is different from a purely logical argument, for the attempt does not have to be definitive. The reader enjoys the spectacle of the writer's personal dance with the subject.

The zuihitsu is a more passive affair. The conceit is that the 'brush' (that is, the writing implement, of whatever kind – including a word processor) has a mind of its own. Writers are supposed to let go of their conscious urge to control the direction of the piece and instead follow a meandering path suggested by the brush itself.... Of course ... it is still drawing on your knowledge and experience. But rather than plotting out the path in advance, you let yourself be open..... So it is not really following the brush so much as following your thoughts."

sherry

Fascinating. I look forward to hearing your thoughts, Karen, after you have had an opportunity to do some reading and reflecting.

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Please note

  • Sidebar book cover thumbnail pictures are affiliate links to Amazon, and the storefront links to Blackwell's and The Book Depository are also affiliated; should you purchase a book directly through those links, I will receive a small commission. Older posts may also contain affiliate links to one of those bookshops. I am not paid to produce content and all opinions are my own.

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