Archive for the ‘art’ Category

Why should I read the classics?

It is not the fault of my many excellent English teachers that my exposure to the classics in high school and college was lean. In high school, I filled my electives with extra math and science. It wasn’t until college that I really started to love literature in all its forms. I made time in my engineering curriculum to read a bit of poetry and some fiction. I even seriously considered changing my major to English but that is another story.

Fast forward to real life. I didn’t remember my love of literature until relatively recently. I dusted off my library card and took a list of recommendations from a friend to my local library and recommenced my education.

This is the first of a series on specific classics of literature. It represents my taking a stand against the obvious trend cheekily intimated by Twitterature that contemporary society’s patience for meandering through beautiful prose or getting goosebumps over a great work of poetry is waning. I will attempt to explain why I think each work is worthwhile. If you don’t already, may this series inspire you to fall in love with the classics.



Chado, as my teacher at Urasenke Seattle, Bonnie Mitchell encourages me to call it in English, or sado as my Japanese friends encourage me to call it when I speak Japanese, is the art of Japanese tea ceremony.  Chado (茶道) literally translated means the way of tea: 茶=ちゃ=cha=tea, 道=どう=do=way=path.  The do in chado is the same do as in kendo, the way of the sword, and bushido, the way of the warrior.

Chado is an ancient practice which originated in China and was imported to Korea and Japan.  Chado was passed down through generations of Zen masters who dedicated their lives to perfecting the art of tea.  Its roots in Zen inform the minimalist aesthetic of the tea room, the meditative nature of the ceremony, and basically every other aspect of the art.

The ceremony itself can appear subdued or affectedly formal on the surface but every person in the tea room from the host, to his guests, to the last object in the room plays an active role in creating the experience.  The host must choose the objects in the room with a sensitivity to the environment, the season, and the occasion.  The guests must learn and follow the established protocol of the tea room.  The host imbues every motion with meaning and each guest gives purpose to the host by her participation.  Like in tennis, or anything for that matter, there is duality in the tea room.  Every query from either host or guest has a natural response.  Every motion has a counter motion.  Especially in this aspect, the Zen philosophy comes through.  The art of tea is an expression of harmony.  Yin and yang incarnate.