Sunday, March 13, 2011

Big Wave and the Tokai Earthquake

In this post, I include the image of a well known work of art by Hokusai (1760-1849).

The title of the painting is “The big Wave off Tanagawa” and is likely an artistic rendition of a tsunami. 

I have looked up Tanagawa on the map of Japan; it is close to Yokohama - far  from the epicenter of the earthquake that has occurred on March 11th. 

An article in a CNN blog talks of the Tokai earthquake, a devastating earthquake that occurs in Japan every 100-150 years, whose epicenter is situated in the Tokai region – not far from Tanagawa (where Hokusai places his “big wave”/tsunami). 

It’s a different epicenter from the one that caused havoc last Friday, an epicenter that is activated on a somewhat predictable  timeline: 1498, 1605, 1707, 1854….…every 100-150 years... the last one to occur five years after Hokusai’s death,  the next one -  still to be determined.
Did Hokusai learn of the tsunami from his ancestors, or did he witness such an occurrence first hand following seismic events in the area?
I’ve always admired this painting for what I thought it was: an imaginative and odd drawing, a somewhat exotic and deliberate creation.
Little did I know that I would come to look upon it as the essence of this week’s occurrences: Mount Fuji in the backdrop (the symbol of Japan and its people)  the surge of surreal walls of water, one more menacing than the other. Most tellingly, the waves appear to have sharp claws
Ready to rend and to grab everything.
As for poetry - Jim has posted a poem on the events in Japan as a reply to an earlier post

I found a link on classical Japanese poetry on the net, and I would like to share it:-->link
And here is a question from one of the poems, that its author asks and answers here:

“Our life in this world -
to what shall I compare it?”
Poetry, unlike earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear accidents, has no overwhelming force.
It’s all made of words.


Andrei Stîngă said...

I beg to differ. Words do have power, albeit no actual physical power... but they do have the power to sway people's hearts and minds to a certain extent. Words can change one man's life, just as much as a tsunami would (not quite as dramatic, though). I believe that Words do have meaning when they are spoken from the heart and generate a strong impulse for the betterment of all mankind.

Our life in this world? I wonder if it would not be appropriate to compare it to one Word... Would not one's life have meaning if one were to live by his heart and strive to generate an impulse for the betterment of all mankind?

The painting is very lovely, thank you for presenting it. In it I see the raw power of nature, a strong impulse. This, obviously, gives rise to one question... is it for the betterment of all mankind? for it certainly comes from the heart...


Irina said...

Hello Andrei:

It's good to disagree, I think, especially when it comes to words.

Words have power- especially under extraordinary circumstances such as the ones in Japan.

Words can/should articulate a vision towards a way out - if but we ask a long list of questions.

Perhaps poems can be made out of long lists of questions and it's an interesting challenge that we can take on. I've never tried it myself.

I simply think that in cases such as the one discussed in this post, time is better spent on finding solutions and taking action.

Poetry, if you will, can come in later in its full,luminous and healing sway.

If you like Hokusai's art here is a link to Alina's post that has a nice video garnered from youtube.

Thank you for stopping by and for your message!



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