Pillow Book by Sei Shonagan
After reading this brief section of “The Pillow Book,” I believe that the things, events or situations she considers not good or proper are those that differ from the unique cultural value and concept of Miyabi. Miyabi is a refined courtly taste and a perfection of form and color. Many of the things, events and situations described directly differs from this concept and in ancient Japanese societies, this concept was very much valued and important.
This is especially shown in the 5th example of hateful things in which Sei Shonagon describes “the sight of men in their cups who shout, poke fingers in their mouths, stroke their beards, and pass on the wine to their neighbors with cries…” This example shows how Sei Shonagon has seen well-bred people behaving like this and violating the concept of Miyabi which has caused it to be distasteful. In my opinion, the concept of Miyabi and the reasoning of her evaluation is based on social aspects as Miyabi was formed upon a concept of how to behave socially. . A Man who has nothing in particular to recommend him discusses all sorts of subjects at random as though he knew everything. I agree with this example because I have met a lot of these types of people throughout my life and I find them absolutely annoying. They are perfect examples of what I believe to be jack of all trades and master of none. It especially annoys me when they talk about a topic in which I study or have done a lot of research on and they end up telling a lot of false facts which I know to not be true. . One is in the middle of a story when someone butts in and tries to show that he is the only clever person in the room. Such a person is hateful, and so, indeed, is anyone, child or adult, who tries to push himself forward. This example really resonated with me because throughout attending a lot of networking events, I have realized that these people are despicable. When a person is in the middle of saying something, I find it really rude to cut in and interrupt them.
However, this seems to always happen at networking events where all the students are trying to gain favoritism from the employer by interrupting and attempting to show that he is the cleverest person in the room. c. Ladies-in-waiting who want to know everything that is going on. Once again, this example really “pushes my buttons”. I find this to be especially true in high school settings where everyone wants to know everything. It seems that every person, especially girls in high school need to know the daily gossip and find it a personal objective to spread that gossip to as many people as they possibly can.
I really do not like these types of people, especially when it is none of their business or when you do not even know them. d. A newcomer pushes ahead of the other members in a group; with a knowing look, this person starts laying down the law and forcing advice upon everything – most hateful. This occurs in group settings and especially in team projects. One person will always assume that they are the smartest and try to take a management role to delegate work to everybody. However, I think that the reason you’re working in a group is to see the opinions of others and also to see how others think.
When one person tries to take over and stops everyone from giving opinions, this destroys the main point of working in a group. From reading this list, I think that she would consider anything that conforms to the concept of Miyabi would be good or praise worthy. In a western civilization, she would probably consider gentlemen behavior to be good or praiseworthy. Sei Shonagon sets herself up as an arbiter of good taste and most of hateful things are pronouncements of what she considers elegant or inelegant behavior in male courtiers.
Therefore, I believe that a man who acts as a gentleman will receive praise from her. There is definitely a bias in Shonagon’s evaluation of people. Firstly, it is evident that she does not really like old people. This is evident in her 4th example of how she talks about “an elderly person warms the palms of his hands over a brazier and stretches out the wrinkles. No Young man would dream of behaving in such a fashion; old people can really be quite shameless”. This shows that she is quite straightforward and almost arrogant in writing about her view of elders.
In addition, there is a gender bias as she seems to evaluate her male courtiers and makes explicit pronouncements as to what she deems to be elegant and inelegant behavior. Through reading her list of hateful things, I realized that Shonagon thinks that a man has to do everything perfectly and in accordance with Miyabi. An example would be the 8th hateful thing; “A gentlemen has visited one secretly. Though he is wearing a tall, lacquered hat, he nevertheless wants no one to see him. He is so flurried, in fact, that on leaving, he bangs into something with his hat.
Most hateful! ” To me, it seems that the male courtier was just clumsy and made a mistake of banging his hat on something but to Shonagon, it seems that this is the most inelegant behavior a male courtier could do. She wrote about how hateful it was and therefore, I think that there is definitely a gender bias in her evaluation of people. The only time she actually talks about hateful things that women does is in her example of “ladies in waiting who want to know everything that is going on. ” Her list of hateful things is mostly comprised of the male courtiers.