Thursday, November 29, 2012

Kenko: "In all things I yearn for the past"


"In all things I yearn for the past.  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.  And as for writing letters, surviving scraps from the past reveal how superb the phrasing used to be. The ordinary spoken language has also steadily coarsened.  People used to say "raise the carriage shafts" or "trim the lamp wick,"  but people today say "raise it" or "trim it."  When they should say, "Let the men of the palace staff stand forth!" they say, "Torches!  Let's have some light!"  Instead of calling the place where the lectures on the Sutra of the Gold Light are delivered before the emperor "the Hall of the Imperial Lecture," they shorten it to "the Lecture Hall," a deplorable corruption, an old gentleman complained."

-- Kenko --
from Essays in Idleness

Sound familiar?  This was written sometime between 1330 and 1332 AD in Japan--almost seven centuries ago in a different culture.   I don't think human nature has changed much over the hundreds of thousands of years we've been around.  Oh, for the good ol' days.

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