Go-Daigo would be ousted and driven into exile by the regime of the Ashikaga shoguns. Kenko withdrew to a cottage, where he lived and composed the essays of the Tsurezuregusa. It was believed that he brushed his thoughts on scraps of paper and pasted them to the cottage walls, and that after his death his friend the poet and general Imagawa Ryoshun removed the scraps and arranged them into the order in which they have passed into Japanese literature.
The wallpaper story was later questioned, but in any case, the essays survived. Kenko was a contemporary of Dante, another sometime public man and courtier who lived in exile in unstable times. Their minds, in ways, were worlds apart. The Divine Comedy contemplated the eternal; the Essays in Idleness meditated upon the evanescent. Dante wrote with beauty and limpidity and terrifying magnificence, Kenko with offhand charm.
They talked about the end of the world in opposite terms: the Italian poet set himself up, part of the time, anyway, as the bureaucrat of suffering, codifying sins and devising terrible punishments. Kenko, despite his lament for the old-fashioned rack, wrote mostly about solecisms and gaucheries, and it was the Buddhist law of uncertainty that presided over his universe.
The Divine Comedy is one of the monuments of world literature. The Essays in Idleness are lapidary, brief and not much known outside Japan. Such persistent pessimism almost gives one hope. Kenko is charming, off-kilter, never gloomy. He is almost too intelligent to be gloomy, or in any case, too much a Buddhist. Better asymmetry and irregularity.
To long for the moon while looking on the rain, to lower the blinds and be unaware of the passing of the spring—these are even more deeply moving. Branches about to blossom or gardens strewn with faded flowers are worthier of our admiration. A house should look lived in, unassuming. After an estimable career as courtier under Charles IX, as member of the Bordeaux parliament, as a moderating friend of both Henry III and Henry of Navarre during the bloody wars of religion, Montaigne withdrew to the round tower on his family estate in Bordeaux.
This may produce admirable results, if you are Kenko or Montaigne. I find both to be stabilizing presences. Sometimes I get the effect by taking a dip in the Bertie Wooster stories of P. He composed a Bertie Wooster Neverland—the Oz of the twit. The Wizard, more or less, was the butler Jeeves. Wodehouse, Kenko, Dante and Montaigne make an improbable quartet, hilariously diverse.
It is a form of vanity to imagine you are living in the worst of times—there have always been worse. In bad times and heavy seas, the natural fear is that things will get worse, and never better.
But otherwise It is also true that hell, contra Dante, may be temporary. Dante, Kenko and Montaigne all wrote as men exiled from power—from the presence of power. Death does not even come from the front. It is ever pressing on from behind. All men know of death, but they do not expect it of a sudden, and it comes upon them unawares. So, though the dry flats extend far out, soon the tide comes and floods the beach.
Action and principle are fundamentally the same. If the outstanding appearances do not offend, the inward reality is certain to mature. We should not insist on our unbelief, but honour and respect these things [i. The truth is at the beginning of anything and its end are alike touching. Ambition never comes to an end. Essays in Idleness Columbia University Press, Trns: Donald Keene [ edit ] If man were never to fade away like the dews of Adashino never to vanish like the smoke over Toribeyama, but lingered on forever in the world, how things would lose their power to move us!
What a foolish thing it is to be governed by a desire for fame and profit and to fret away one's whole life without a moment of peace. Great wealth is no guarantee of security. Wealth, in fact, tends to attract calamities and disaster.
They flock together like ants, hurry east and west, run north and south. Some are mighty, some humble. Some are aged, some young. They have places to go, houses to return to. If man were never to fade away like the dews of Adashino never to vanish like the smoke over Toribeyama, but lingered on forever in the world, how things would lose their power to move us! The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty. Consider living creatures- none lives so long a man. The May fly waits not for the evening, the summer cicada knows neither spring nor autumn.
What a wonderfully unhurried feeling it is to live even even a single year in perfect serenity. The pleasantest of all diversions is to sit alone under the lamp, a book spread out before you, and to make friends with people of a distant past you have never known. Modern fashions seem to keep on growing more and more debased. I find that even among the splendid pieces of furniture built by our master cabinetmakers, those in the old forms are the most pleasing.
Neither those who praise nor those who abuse last for long, and the people who have heard their reports are like likely to depart the world as quickly.
Before whom then should we feel ashamed? By whom should we wish to be appreciated? Fame, moreover inspires backbiting. It does no good whatsoever to have one's name survive. A craving after fame is next foolish. Nothing is worth discussing, worth desiring.
Does the new networking improve the quality of thinking and writing? If a man strictly observe the rules of his way, and keep a rein on himself, then no matter what way it be, he will be a scholar of renown and be a teacher of multitudes. The seventh, an avaricious man. The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty. Dante wrote with beauty and limpidity and terrifying magnificence, Kenko with offhand charm. Save How pleasant a world would be in which no man was allowed to operate on the Stock Exchange unless he could pass and examination in economics
Save A habit of finding pleasure in thought rather than action is a safeguard against unwisdom and excessive love of power, a means of preserving There is a tiny insect in it that will enter through the nose and devour the brain.
The truth is at the beginning of anything and its end are alike touching. In his preface Keene states that, of the six or so earlier translations into English and German, that by G.
Even a false imitation of wisdom must be reckoned as wisdom. Action and principle are fundamentally the same. You must always be determined to hit the target with the single arrow you shoot, and have no thought beyond this. Every moment readjusts the coordinates of hope and despair—some of the readjustments are more violent than others. Some are aged, some young. The most precious thing in life is its uncertainty… 72 Things which seem in poor taste: too many personal effects cluttering up the place where one is sitting; too many brushes in an ink-box; too many Buddhas in a family temple; too many stones and plants in a garden; too many children in a house; too many words on meeting someone; too many meritorious deeds recorded in a petition.
Consider living creatures- none lives so long a man. The earth was the ce As to the position of a certain august personage i.
The attempt to escape from pain dri But otherwise It is safest always to accept what one hears as if it were utterly commonplace and devoid of interest.
Tsurezure-Gusa Essays in Idleness [ edit ] The Tzuredzure gusa of Yoshida no Kaneyoshi as translated by George Sansom To while away the idle hours, seated the livelong day before the inkslab, by jotting down without order or purpose whatever trifling thoughts pass through my mind, truely this is a queer and crazy thing to do! He was a connoisseur of muted suspense, and that, coupled with his longing for the past led naturally to his greatest pleasure — reading. Precious writers are miraculously diffused through the Web, you fetch them out of the air itself. Modern critics today have rejected this account, skeptical of the possibility that any other individual aside from Kenko himself could have put together such an insightful piece of work. It keeps the relationship fresh to just drop in from time to time on impulse and spend the night.
This may produce admirable results, if you are Kenko or Montaigne. Does the new networking improve the quality of thinking and writing?
Save I want to say, in all seriousness, that a great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness of work, and th