In The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, the eleventh-century Japanese poet and courtier created a series of lists based on her daily life. Her topics included “Hateful Things” (“A carriage passes by with a nasty, creaking noise”), “Elegant Things” (“A pretty child eating strawberries”), “Things That Have Lost Their Power” (“A large tree that has been blown down in a gale and lies on its side with its roots in the air”), and “Things That Should Be Large” (“Men’s eyes”), among others. The list form allowed her to celebrate, or denigrate, details that may have otherwise been passed by unnoticed.
Invent and populate four lists of your own—the more specific, the better. Think about how Sei Shonagon’s lists allow her to move from the abstract to the specific, and to create relationships between apparently dissimilar and unrelated things. (Two pages, double-spaced; approx. 500-550 words.)
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