Hokusai and the Rokurokubi

Last week I posted about the Japanese master artist Hokusai.  I thought I’d post another sketch of his work as I found the original quite eye-catching.  At first I thought it was an interpretation of opium dreams, but apparently it is actually a kind of Japanese spirit called Rokurokubi.

hokusai 2 smallThere are some bizarre tales of what these creatures get up to, including that of the soul detaching from the body during sleep and various sorts of tomfoolery.

It’s also cool to see how he echoed the curve of her neck with the smoke from the pipe.  I didn’t see any reference to pipe-smoking rokurokubi, so I’m a bit suspicious of the inclusion of that in his drawing although apparently there wouldn’t have been much opium in Japan during his time.

Hokusai’s Carp, adapted

I recently came across an interesting book, The Hokasai Manga.  Given Hokusai was born in 1760, he was certainly ahead of his time when it comes to a current definition of manga, although at that time it simply meant “sketches”.  Sketches they certainly are, all 3,900 of them.

Here is a sketch of a carp I adapted from one of his works in the book (Gyoran Kannon).

Carp small Hokusai adaptationI’ve always loved his masterpiece The Great Wave off Kanagawa, and in particular his views on mastery, as espoused by the following words:

“At the age of five years I had the habit of sketching things. At the age of fifty I had produced a large number of pictures, but for all that, none of them had any merit until the age of seventy. At seventy-three finally I learned something about the true nature of things, birds, animals, insects, fish, the grasses and the trees. So at the age of eighty years I will have made some progress, at ninety I will have penetrated the deepest significance of things, at a hundred I will make real wonders and at a hundred and ten, every point, every line, will have a life of its own..”

Beautiful eh?  Talk about taking the long view.. makes a refreshing change to the 10,000 hour maketh an expert concept, which translates to about five full-time years.  That would make one but an infant in Hokusai’s book!

P.S. For more musing on these subjects, see an earlier two-part post – Flow, Meaning & A State of Grace.

S&F and Philosophy Now: Why Philosophy?

The following cartoon accompanied the print version of Philosophy in the Popular Imagination, a piece about modern perceptions regarding the value of philosophy, i.e. critical to self examination or time well wasted?

The article was written by Andrew Taggart, and repurposed by Finn. 🙂

S&F Philosophy vs Action FIN 1000 x 2100 V2 small

S&F The Great Debate

S&F The Big Debate smallI attended an environmental conference a few weeks back and this continued to be the issue of the day… no wonder environmentalists drink a lot.  On another note I can’t figure out why the resolution seems off the last few cartoons.  Hopefully it isn’t too hard to read.