Chris’ blog

Well that’s ONE way to end my college career.

Friday. Dec. 10th

It’s fitting that I was late to my last class of my undergraduate career. Sorry again Travis.

While scrambling my brain through an ocean of papers this last week, I started thinking about the first few days of class and the emphasis Dr. Roemer put on using metacognition during our studies through the class. We were able to make goals that were what we decided was attainable. I think it is important to look through how I think my semester went in the class.

Looking back, the first aspect about my academic tendencies that I could still work on was turning in things late. Procrastination is a cruel mistress. If I had planned things out more through classes and didn’t see the due date as being the suggested time to turn something in. It was hard for me to keep focus with one foot on the way out of my undergrad.

Something I did well was talk up in class. This is more of a joke than anything because I do seem to have some sort of smart ass comment to Dr. Roemer, but I feel that is a sign of a very comfortable environment to be had by all. It helps that Dr. Roemer is used to me.

Something I actually feel I did well was do the readings. While some may not have been on time with the requirement, I would always read the articles and chapters in the book because this class is my haven from the droning information in my two other academic classes.

Yoga class was my haven from all classes.

I have known Dr. Roemer since before he worked here at Ball State (technically). I was in one of Dr. Brackett’s introduction to world religions classes and told us that someone was going to come in and talk about his experience with the Gion festival. I think in total I have had 3 classes (not including 1 dropped course and his introductory gig in my sophomore class) with Dr. Roemer. I am glad that I got to be in his class and be able to talk to him while I have been working through the challenges of graduation and my problems with truancy that comes to me as naturally as blinking.

Well this is the end of my blogs. I know there weren’t any citations in this one or anything, but I felt it was important to look at my own actions and what I know I could have done better in the class. If only the DeLorean was real…

What I ended up on for my paper and why Zen paintings are neat.

Friday. Dec. 10th

I ended up focusing on the art form of painting and Zen Buddhism’s influence on it in Japan. I would have to reword a lot of my paper to encompass everything with paintings and Zen, so I decided to just give examples from the Muromachi era.
I decided on the paintings simply the fact i could find the most information on it. Books by D.T. Sukuki and Nancy Wilson Ross had the most information and took the place of Buddhist Religions: A Historical Introduction (2005). I severely overused this source in my original paper, so it was nice to be able to use more names when citing the new paper.
This new paper opened up for me new concepts in Zen, like that of wabi, which became a main point in my paper. Wabi translates to “poverty”, but it has more to do with living in simplicity within the world (Ross 1960: 92). It seems like the action term for the asceticism common in Buddhist traditions. What’s nice is that there are a lot of sources that talk about wabi within the art of painting. Suzuki’s book Zen and Japanese Culture goes more into the reflection of what wabi represents within ink paintings done by Zen priests (Suzuki 1973). The simplicity of life is expressed in the actual technique of the ink paintings, instead of being a theme for a painting. It’s interesting though that it is also a theme for Japanese ink painting, as the ink and the use of papaer or silk made the use of a steady hand, like the one from a Zen monk, would take to use the delicacy for certain strokes, while also the affirmation from living in the present moment and being able to make strong, smooth strokes (Ross 1960, Suzuki 1973).
Other topics I bring up in my paper involve the use of nature as a subject in the paintings, also containing traits that go along with wabi. If I had knew about this term, I may have just ended up writing about it in the first place as it is such a universal term for an interesting philosophy in Zen. Using wabi in daily rituals would seem like a crucial term I would have heard before now, I’m glad I could learn a new word before the end of this semester.
Ross, Nancy W. 1960. The World of Zen. New York: Vintage Books.

Suzuki,Daisetz T. 1973. Zen and Japanese Culture. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

What do the Average White Band and I have in common right now? We’re “Pickin’ Up The Pieces”

Independent work on Wednesday, Dec. 08

I know that joke may be over people’s heads, but that works too well for what I’m working on.

I didn’t do so well on my 2nd paper so I’m reworking what I was working on with my first paper with a bit more precision.

My first paper was about “The History of Zen and the Arts of Japan”, An idea I had to look at the historical context that art had in the spread of Zen Buddhism. Looking back, that was pretty broad. Art? Yeah, that’s only a thing or two.

Too put it shortly, Buddhism had it’s fingers in a lot of art in Japan. In fact, Yoshiro Tamura claims that the foundation of Japanese culture and art was developed in the Muromachi period (2005: 116). I was able to come across this info thanks to Dr. Roemer lending me a few books as well as pointing on what the library might have to offer. Working on 2 other papers and a test will prove interesting while I start chopping away at this paper. At this point, even asking for an extension would be a joke because it would just mean putting this off a bit longer to work on other papers. Luckily I have a good (fresh) base for resources as well as enough content to get me started on this new hybrid paper.

Any thoughts on how I can narrow down my paper (A specific period of time? A specific art form? Both? something else?) would be awesome, but we all have things to do.


Shukyo and Bushido: What Fitzgerald and Nitobe Inazo have in common

Class day Monday, November 29

Being the first class since break, It was nice to come back to a class that wasn’t involving planning a speech. The speeches were fun, don’t get me wrong. It was nice to just have a normal class day with looking at the articles by T. Fitzgerald and Ian Reader.

it was interesting to see the sequence of a debate done through articles featuring an author even I know has precedence in the religious studies world.

Starting with Fitzgerald’s article, I feel a bit misleadingly called “‘Religion ‘ and ‘the Secular’ in Japan” Problems in history, social anthropology, and the study of religion”. I think it would be more appropriate would be “Why I think Ian Reader is wrong”. While I know Dr. Roemer skimmed down the content on the articles, I got a clear view of a battle of the nerds brewing…

What I want to focus on is the similarity of the comparison of Fitzgerald to Nitobe Inazo in the realm of Bushido in my work I’ve been doing in my last paper for this class. Fitzgerald methodologies seem a bit skewed which lead to most of his paper, which seemed a bit like a passive aggressive attack on Reader, thus leading to a misrepresented conclusion due to poor techniques in the field when gathering information.

This is also true of Nitobe Inazo. Nitobe is most famous for writing books on Bushido, “the way of the warrior” is of many things a combination of Shinto and Confucian beliefs that were seen in ways as the code of the samurai (Do I really have to cite this? Random, 1977). Nitobe wrote a book about it, but the only thing really tying him to the samurai and any possible code they had was the fact his dad was one (Hurst III, 1990). He was raised in a Christian household near the end of the Edo period, where he went to a special school and could translate better than some people could naturally speak English (1990…kind of). Nitobe’s background would be like me saying I’m a world class chef because I love watching the food channel.

So long story short, I think that Fitzgerald and Nitobe can go sailing in their lame boat to lame-land where they could get eaten by lameasaurs, lameadactyl’s, and…my favorite…Lamezilla.

Hurst III, G. C. “Death, honor, and loyalty: The bushido ideal.” Philosophy East & West 40, no. 4 (1990): 511-527.

Random, Michael. The Martial Arts. 1 ed. Hong Kong: Mandarin Publishers Limited, 1977.

I am way behind in my blogging, so there is no time to waste talking about Japanese Religions!

…My name is Chris; I’m a “super” senior and completing my last semester here at Ball State. This is either my third or fourth class with Dr. Roemer and I’m glad that this is one of my last classes I’ll take in my undergraduate career. I originally enrolled in this class (Japanese Religions) a year or two ago and had to drop because of a heavy course load. Now I’m back and ready for this course (which I was a bit sad didn’t have the same books as last time).

I’m looking forward to the readings and the presentations we will be working on throughout the semester. Being able to confidently present to people/kids is one way to really solidify the things I learn as it helps reinforce my previous understandings as well as make me verbalize information that I retained throughout the class.

Ok, enough kiss-ass, time to talk Japanese!


1 Response to Chris’ blog

  1. Doc Roemer says:

    Your 11/29 comments actually made me laugh. I wonder, though, what is it that made you so critical of Fitzgerald’s work…

    Here are the articles Chris references (they’re online–and quite good):

    There are replies from each if you’re interested in this scholarly debate!

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