PRINT November 1988


THE JAPANESE TERM IMAMEKASHI, which might be translated “of the moment,” was coined in the Heian court of the tenth century. It was a term of currency, emphasizing the present, and it was applied by a culture aware that it inhabited a transient world. The early Japanese novelist Lady Murasaki, observing the ritual of the Heian court, would describe every delicacy of the color or cut of cloth in esthetic terms. She filled her prose with the implications of imamekashi as astutely as any contemporary fashion journalist. This concentration on the present, the fleeting moment, is related to and exemplified in Eastern meditative discipline, and is the antithesis of the Western religious mode of suffering through the present to achieve redemption in the hereafter. The pronounced Western fascination with Japan over the last two decades has something to do with an attraction to or hunger for an

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