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Murmured ConversationsA Treatise on Poetry and Buddhism by the Poet-Monk Shinkei$
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Esperanza Ramirez-Christensen

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780804748636

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804748636.001.0001

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The Verse of Ineffable Remoteness (Yōon)

The Verse of Ineffable Remoteness (Yōon)

(p.145) Forty-Three The Verse of Ineffable Remoteness (Yōon)
Murmured Conversations
Stanford University Press

This chapter focuses on Shinkei's view of superior poetry and a medieval hermeneutic that, paradoxically, locates the poetic sublime beyond language. Shinkei laments the tendency of people to ignore verses whose diction and figuration have a certain ineffable remoteness (yōon. His emphasis is not the words or their particular arrangement, or even the sense they are (or are not) making, but rather their evocation of the ambiguity of things. This does not mean a rejection of the poem's diction, configuration, and meaning, but rather an attempt to highlight their combined effect as the place where value resides. In order to produce the ineffable, the mental/spiritual discipline and concentration of the seeker after Buddha-wisdom are required. The point is the temporality of phenomena, their relativity, and, consequently, their emptiness. Shinkei views the sublime, which he equates with the ultimate Dharma Body (dharmakāya), as the poem that is a meditation on emptiness.

Keywords:   Shinkei, ineffable remoteness, yōon, Japanese poetry, sublime, emptiness, temporality

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