We named it and now it’s known and is correspondingly supposed to be understood

There is a mediaeval Japanese story about learning which is quite revealing. A man turns up at a mediaeval court, supposed to be about 13th century, and it is noteworthy that the local lords are, in the cheerful, democratic, traditional Japanese way, often presented as  fools. Anyway, the local lord is there and the man turns up at his court and asks for a job of employment. The local lord says, ‘What can you do?’ The man replies, ‘I know the unusual things that other people don’t know’. ‘Oh, oh, well, that might be useful, mightn’t it?’ so the lord takes him on. Well, the man’s at the court and periodically there are court crises when the accounts are miles behind and they ask him to lend a hand. He says, ‘No, no, the accountants can do the accounts, clerks can do the accounts. I do the things that no one else can do. I know the things no one else knows’. In that way he gets out of pretty well everything! Then the time comes – the castle is near the coast – when the fishermen catch, as it’s described, a round slimy thing that doesn’t seem to have any mouth or eyes. …

Read moreWe named it and now it’s known and is correspondingly supposed to be understood

The old woman and the pencil stub

A Japanese master of calligraphy retired to the country and he took an interest in the schoolchildren in their education and there was one boy there who was being brought up by his grandmother because both his parents had died and the teacher of calligraphy saw this boy and saw his schoolwork and he told the grandmother, he said: ‘when the time comes he ought to go to college in the capital and sure enough the grandmother made great sacrifices for bringing up the boy and made it clear that she was making great sacrifices and that she did not have very many friends. People complain a lot if they don’t have many friends. When the time came, the teacher said: well now, he should go to the capital to study, and the president of one of the main universities is a friend of mine and I can write you a letter of introduction and he has a special hostel for students from the country who don’t have any money and I believe that with my recommendation he will accept the boy. So the grandmother said: well, I shall be very lonely of course but for the boy’s sake I …

Read moreThe old woman and the pencil stub

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