View Full Version : Gotta Love That Zuihitsu.

12-14-2009, 09:36 PM
So hey, I've decided my threads aren't too long.

I kind of feel like giving all you folks an inside look on how I process things, perhaps even how I fundamentally view the world.

Nah, only kidding. I probably couldn't do that if I tried. I am, however, going to go on about something I absolutely love – and that is zuihitsu. Zuihitsu is an inherent part of the way I think, the way I speak, and the way I formulate my ideas.

For those of you who don't know, zuihitsu was a form of writing conceived in Japan and most popular during the twelth century. It essentially consisted of a loose grouping of thoughts from beginning to end, organized as they arose in the author's mind. It was later ripped off and popularized by Europeans in the nineteenth century as stream of consciousness. I start thinking of something and, for the most part (minor dramatic liberties aside) I stay on the thought until I either finish or give up.

Note – this thread is actually coming as the act of some reflection, ironic as that may be.

But it's just how I work. I think, I work through the thought, I end the thought, then I move onto something else, and it isn't unusual for that to be the entirety of my psychological experience during that period of time – I don't think in terms of my senses, and in fact if something happens around me I'm generally startled. It's an interesting mechanism whereby I'm so involved in my thought process I forget where I am.

It's not an absolute, of course – nothing good ever seems to be. I think this way when I write, or when I talk, but each mode of communication is altered by their specific fallibilities. When I talk, I'm generally talking to someone, and thus my narrative thought process is prone to interruptions and breaks. When I write, periods are the enemy. They represent a mental breath, in which there's a chance I'll become aware of what's going on around me. Unsurprisingly, I often do. I can't be involved in a stream-of-consciousness internal monologue for hours, after all.

All the same, it's part of who I am. When I write essays, I mentally concept-map my essay and then simply begin writing, continuing until I'm finished, with at most one break in the process. This has remained true for essays up to eighteen pages long so far. It's the way in which I work – I can't drop a thought process and take it up again exactly where I left off. I know people who can, but I'm simply not one of them. It's also why I don't do particularly well on the spot. Give me ten minutes and I can spin out a complete (and actually half-decent) thought process, but give me fifteen seconds to answer a question that even touches on a complex concept and I can't do anything for you. I need to be given time to consider the angles. It's not that I don't know that 7x6=42. I do, almost immediately. I simply can't have a question that touches on a topic that has any substance at all without running everything I can think of on that topic into the question. Weirdly enough, as much as I like free-flow thinking, I can't give you an answer without forethought.

So forgive me if we're hanging out and I go silent for a few seconds. And if I start to speak, give me a little leeway, at least at first. Either way, I'm sure we'll have a good time.

12-16-2009, 05:47 PM
I shall leave you with some quotes...

“Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people” - Eleanor Roosevelt

"The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend." - Roberston Davies

And one of my personal favorites....

"Imagination is more important than knowledge." - Einstein

12-17-2009, 02:47 AM
I doubt this makes you particularly unusual. I'm very similar to that myself.

Interesting read though. I like that you are clearly interested in thinking about how thinking works and how your own particular mind operates. I always find that fascinating. It sounds somewhat arrogant or conceited to say that my own mind is one of the most endlessly fascinating things for me, but it's really not. Even the simplest mind is a fascinating thing.

I completely relate to becoming so absorbed in thought that the world around you disappears and sensory input goes entirely ignored by the conscious mind until something finally shakes you back to reality. I've had colleagues attempt to wake me up before because they mistakenly thought I was sleeping. One guy even thought I was asleep standing up once because he had apparently never seen anyone stand so still for so long. I was just thinking.

For me, losing myself so completely in a train of thought is one of the most enjoyable experiences.