The Way of Writing
So, I am a writer. Storytelling is an art. (A hard one.) But, unless I’m doing a very particular style of poetry, my words don’t generally look, yanno, artistic, on a page. But have you ever seen something like this:
Or this music video?
Japan, of course, isn’t without its use of writing as an art. That comes in the form of 書道, shodo, or “the Way of Writing.” (Similar to how 武道, budou, is the “way of the warrior.”) It’s often just called Japanese calligraphy 😛
Sometimes at my Thursday school, the Japanese teacher gamely lets me join in on the first year students practicing shodo. In Japan, writing shodo isn’t just about putting the words on paper, practically slapping them out. You have to hold your back straight. Your arm should curve at a particular angle. The weaker hand holds the special paper in place. Meanwhile, your brush sweeps across the paper, each line an extension of the last like a very purposeful, elegant cursive. The best shodo masters can give the impression that they never lift their brush, yet you still understand the kanji. They turn simple words, like the one I learned today, into true art.
Of course, being as I (1) haven’t been learning shodo for a very long time, (2) don’t know the stroke order for most kanji, (3) shake like the dickens, and (4) have a terrible fear of, yanno, being terrible, my shodo attempts tend to be a little on the…anticlimactic side. I try really hard! I swear I do. The Japanese teacher often says, “Oh, teacher Kat, you are really doing your best now.” And while that’s a compliment to a certain extent, it’s also Japanese slang for, “This is suuuuper bad.” Oh nooooooo…
Nonetheless, I have a great time doing shodo. It emphasizes my love for the order and serenity of Japanese culture. (Two things that can also be quite frustrating, depending. Hm. :)) And it also teaches me that culture is inherent in every piece of how we use language–and that writing is more than just getting words on paper, or even telling a story. The Way of Writing is an art in and of itself.
Oh. And here’s one of my many attempts at writing 無限、or infinite: