mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Blameless pastimes

So livejournal goes down, ohh woe what is there to do? Well, I spent ninety minutes yesterday morning working through three pages of Soseki's Sorekara and writing down all his obscure (to me) kanji for future reference. Parenthetically, I can't remember why I bought Sorekara. I think because of all his novels that's the one that impressed me in translation as having the least there there and I wanted to see how it looked in the original. The main character turns out to be as much a dweeb in Japanese as I remember him from good god was it really twenty years ago? only more so, obscure kanji or no obscure kanji. I bought the book a good eight or ten years ago, and I fancy it'll be another eight or ten before I finish it. Sometimes I feel like I operate in sidereal time.

But remembering what most of the kanji were that I wrote down yesterday morning, I did something I've been intending to do for a while: pulled out my H&S kanji dictionary, opened it to the 'grasses' radical section, and spent another ninety minutes happily writing down grass radical kanji and googling the names for pictures. Botany was never my strong point so, you know, telling me something is vetch or a mallow or an oleaster is less than useless. But seeing pictures (of these truly undistinguished roadside shrubs) does help.

However, I must say this: English or Japanese, the field flowers and plants that get mentioned in literature are indeed scrubby little weeds to my city child's eye. No inherent beauty: nothing to get worked up about. I can just- just- see how they look different to someone who lives among them and has a reason to pay attention to them. I was astounded, many years ago, visiting an English friend and her three year old son, and going for a walk and accidentally touching a stinging nettle. My friend told the little boy to go find a dockweed for my hand: and he did, within minutes. Amazing. But still: dockweeds are nothing to *look* at.
Tags: japanese, reading_07, rl_07
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