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Zuihitsu

In writing about traditional Asian aesthetics, the conventions of Western discourse - order, logical progression, symmetry - impose upon the subject an aspect that does not belong to it.  Among other ideas, Eastern aesthetics suggests that ordered structure contrives, that logical exposition falsifies, and that linear, consecutive argument eventually limits.

     Itoh Teiji: “the dilemma we face is that our grasp is intuitive and perceptual rather than rational and logical”.

     For any consideration of aesthetics, East or West, the quality of apprehension is sensibility - an awareness, a consciousness, a sensitivity. It is alive and often unfriendly to interpretation...We thus should not strive for logical conclusions.  Rather, we ought to define those perceptions and variances of aesthetic appreciation through a style that conveys something of the very uncertainty of their description.

     Many Japanese writers prize a quality of indecision in their work...something too logical, too symmetrical is avoided. It is then, not the assumptions of the writer’s controlling mind that are followed but, as the Japanese phrase it, the brush itself.  Zuihitsu implies just that - following the brush, allowing it to lead.  The structure is the multiplicity of strokes that make up the aesthetic quality - one which they imply and which we infer.  


-Donald Richie  Preface to: “A Tractate on Japanese Aesthetics”

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