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October 2008
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corvi [userpic]
Kanji II: Mu

maribou asked me to find a kanji for transient or fleeting. There were a couple of possibilities, but this one has by far the best etymology, I think, and word geekery is a vice of mine. One of the other 'fleetings' was derived from pale or wan, and one from assuming a false name. So.

This is Mu, dream. As an adjective, it means fleeting, ephermeral. It's in several parts. The very bottom piece is a crescent moon, and the arc over it conveys encircle/cover - night which encircles. The piece above that is a stylized eye. So, an eye encircled by darkness, that which is seen when sight is impossible, vision upon the darkness. The meaning of the top piece is unknown by scholars at present.

I found when calligraphing this one that I was flipping all the brush strokes, rounding all elements into crescent moons and the arc of the sky. The shift of the moon, the path of falling stars. Neat kanji, fun to paint. I'm reminded of a solar eclipse that occurred when I was in junior high, and how every tiny hole - between my fingers, along the strands of my hair, cast a cresent moon shape of light. Fleeting, transient, dream time, the sky black and the ground dotted with the footprints of the moon.

Current Mood: Zen
Current Music: Nobuo Uematsu - Prelude

It's lovely.
Thank you very much.
(And now I shall humbly put forward a thought I had just now: it would be very interesting if, in one of your people-painting moods, you used a human's eye as the center of this kanji - do you know what I mean? have the real eye replace the stylized eye, paint the cross-strokes of the top part across the eyebrow, and paint the bottom parts on the person's cheek. But I suppose that would require a person whom you knew well enough to paint, and for whom 'fleeting' was appropriate. Perhaps it is one of those ideas that works better in the mind than in the flesh.)

Note to jadine: I'm still trying to find a kanji to convey 'polyamory'. Difficult, that. Mmmm, challenge.

Only thing I've come up with so far is the Chinese double happiness character: the character for happiness repeated twice side by side. It conveys a 'your happiness is my happiness' sentiment, which echoes, uh, whatchacallit, compersion? Compersion has always seemed kinda fundamental to poly to me. (correct me if I'm insane or mispelling; poly has its own vocabulary; I'm only mildly familiar with it.)

The big problem with that character is that it's very, very strongly associated with marraige, and is displayed prominently at weddings, and frequently translated 'marital bliss'. I think the connotations are way too strong for me to wrest it away and make it mean something else. So I'm looking for something else.

(I'm also still taking kanji requests. I really enjoyed finding and painting the character for maribou; I might not have ever met this kanji otherwise, it's a rather archaic one, not in common use.)

I have another challenge for you too. But it's private, so I'll email it to you shortly.

Perhaps triple-happiness? Would that "break" the wedding connotation properly?

Note to self: the kanji for kinky has been requested by three different people. Put it up next.

Was it the same three people who were reading the book of kani at neuro's party? :)

Two of the three, yes.

My reaction to this thread brought to mind what ought to be an easy one: laughter.

The first kanji commission I ever got was to paint 'Redemption' on a paddle. Such one-track minds I'm surrounded by!

Continuing the other track, I suspect you have this one memorized: crow.

Does Japanese have mass nouns? And if so, what is the mass noun for a group of crows?

I really want to know what a murder of crows translates to in Japanese, yes.

Crow is 'karasu', which I will undoubtedly post sooner or later. (I also answer to the name Karasu, amoung others, offline. I doubt this surprises anyone.)
As for collective nouns, I'm really not sure. There's a kanji, gun, that means flock. It's prepended or appended to other kanji to express crowd or flock of sparrows or school of fish. However, there may be another way to say such things. I'll have to check on that.
Oooo, another puzzle.