My favourite kanji

Kanjis (Chinese characters) are to Japanese what paintings and sociology books are to Westerners, in many senses. In every kanji there is a small graphic story which shows their way of thinking, or at least, their ancient way of thinking. Let’s see an example, my favourite Kanji (picture above, 妄), which has a general meaning of illusion, delusion, obsession, etc, depending of its combination with other kanjis. This simple character can be split into two even more plain kanjis, meaning death (up, 亡) and woman (down, 女). What kind of relation can we find between an illusion and the death of a woman? Let’s think for a moment: an illusion means a wrong concept, something made up in our minds with no rational fundament at all. If we add the “obsession” nuance, we can imagine the whole picture: in our male minds (this would also be psychologically applicable for women’s minds but kanji are a little bit male-oriented, sorry) we meet superficially a woman and create an ideal image of her which fulfils all our needs and wishes, but which happens not to be true; it’s just an illusion that we created and that sooner or later, it’s going to die, the illusion, I mean, not the woman, kawaisou.
I guess that in Japan the illusion lasts more than in other cultures because of the ambiguity in communication –that’s called 曖昧 aimai-, the silences and the hiding of one’s real feelings, especially when it comes to women. And when the illusion finally ends up –it always does- a complex feeling of frustration but gratifying release shows up.


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