November 10, 2004

Giri Giri

Since we've been on the theme of language in the past few blogs, or one could say every written or spoken text is somehow on the theme of language (Rilke says "a word is an elegy to what it signifies"), I'd like to bring up the vastly fasctinating world of giongo--a very distant cousin of English's onomatopoetic words like buzz, swish, and any other favorite terms sifted out of the dense vocabulary of the old Batman TV series (biff ! bam! sock! smash! bop! pow! blammo!). The word I'd like to mention is "giri-giri," which is what is called gitaigo (there are two types of giongo--gitaigo, in which there is no connection between sound and meaning (so they say), and giseigo, which are words that sound like what they mean--i.e.doki doki is the beating of one's heart when nervous, excited, turned on, etc.). Giri giri is used as an adverb to mean something that is half-assed, shabbily, shakingly, unstably, and/or wobbly done. I thought of this phrase for within all my thoughts in the last few weeks on divine providence, accompanied by the absence of anything good happening (i.e. me not letting myself see what is all around me, in me, or in which I am), I came to think that at best we can only expect this giri giri-ness to help us through. What am I talking about? My writing too is wirily giri-giri, like a dog out in the rain looking for some food on a trash-cluttered curb. Maybe that is how we find our voice as writers, readers, lookers, as humans. Maybe I am trying to get at wabi-sabi in an indirect way. We sense our way through the rich blindness of love, and hopefully find something good not in ourselves but in the fulness of our vulnerability. I think giri-giri sounds like the idea it represents, no matter how much my teacher is right. Well, time to keep on living giri-girily.

Watched an excellent film made by a huge collaboration of animators from all over the world. It is called 冬の日, or Winter Day. Each short is an animated interpretation of a haiku by Basho. It is quite an interesting, often puzzling and/or enchantingly simple display of life's immutable mutability. Above all, it retains the spirit of haiku, something hard to do in modern film, but which many people seem to succeed at these days (I guess it also depends on who is watching). I recommend it--one hand clapping!


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