Monday 29 April 2002


The Chinese character to the left of my name in the site banner is xin, heart. In Japanese it’s pronounced kokoro or shin, depending on the context. In Japanese it can mean mind, spirit, feelings, emotions, thoughts… Its diffuse “meaning” is one of the reasons I chose the character kokoro as the graphical title for my site.

It’s also the name of a novel by the distinguished Japanese writer, Natsume Soseki. At the end of the English translation of Kokoro, Edwin McClellan, the translator, explains: The best rendering of the Japanese word “kokoro” that I have seen is Lafcadio Hearn’s, which is: “the heart of things.”

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nice site, an interesting read... but i like to know more about the person behind it. i think you're in australia, but haven't found out much more...

Posted by monica on 10 May 2002 (Comment Permalink)

You are seriously confused. In NO way does "kokoro" mean "mind." And you misinterpret Hearn, the "heart of things" in Japanese would be "hara." Japanese people do not believe the soul is centered in the heart, they believe it to reside in the belly (hara). There is a duality between hara and kokoro, they are in opposition, the kokoro is the emotional irrational part of one's personality, and the hara is the deeper stable part.

Posted by C on 19 May 2002 (Comment Permalink)

C, if anyone misinterpreted Hearn, it was not I but Edwin McClelland (though I don't believe that he did).

Any standard Japanese dictionary includes "mind" in its definition of "kokoro." Moreover, there are dozens of compound words in which the "kokoro/shin" character carries the meaning of mind:

"kokokogamae" ("mental attitude")
"shinshin" ("mind and body")
"shinri" ("mental state")

But perhaps this is taking things a little too literally. My site description ("the heart of things") is meant to communicate to English readers the accepted meaning for that phrase: the "spirit" or "essence" of things -- while playing on the meaning of the Japanese character.

Posted by Jonathon Delacour on 6 June 2002 (Comment Permalink)

Jonathon, opening comments in an about page is about as courageous a thing as I have seen in independent publishing.

They make a site interactive, yes, but the commenter can also sully a good site, either with profane discourse or, simply, with twaddle.

You follow the blog format, though not writing a blog. Funny, I know several writers who keep websites that use the format while eschewing the label. One of my friends so abhors the term, he refers to it as 'blahg'. It just happens to be a format most suited to web publishing. If you wanted to write a book, you would. And so would he.

Great stuff. Thanks for listening.

Posted by Ray on 20 June 2002 (Comment Permalink)

Just a quick note to confirm that I, too, despise the pseudo-word 'Blog' with a passion.

I have conducted something of an internal inquisition in the cause of 'why is it so?' and have concluded that the aforementioned slang rhymes too closely with 'Snog', another descriptive, almost onomatapoeiac sound not associated with my adolescence.

I might sustain a position opposed to the overt laziness of those unwilling or unable to say 'web', but the glass house would prove bothersome in this instance.

Perhaps a deliberately ugly name for a potentially beautiful thing diffuses pompous pretentions but ultimately lacks grace - but enough of this drivel!


Posted by eloquentloser on 6 November 2002 (Comment Permalink)

I discovered your blog this morning while searching for "Pictures From the Water Trade"-- trying to recall the name of the author. And now I'm quite surprised and pleased... A blog that incorporates information and thoughts in an Asian vein while acknowledging Rilke! I'm very pleased indeed. I'll be reading here often.

Posted by Lohr on 23 March 2003 (Comment Permalink)

The debate about the word "kokora", reminds me about the way the sanskrit word "chitta" has been translated in ancient texts. Normally this is translated to "mind" when it should be more of "heart/mind". We don't really have this word in English, which is a pity! This has resulted in allot of buddhism being thought of as being about liberating your mind and not concerned about the heart.

Posted by Jake on 16 May 2003 (Comment Permalink)

This discussion is now closed. My thanks to everyone who contributed.

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