Things that bring people together for a while:
— Collective originative pastime;
— a hashtag;
— a cup of coffee.
Those who gather to share a drink (even virtually) are often strangers, more or less. However, a coffeehouse has long been serving as a club of sorts. Some spot in space where occasional meetings happen. As a Japanese medieval Buddhist observed, «Even if two people dip out from the same spring, it has been determined by their past lives.» So, is there anything occasional in writing under the same hashtag? This is just one of the ways to share space for creative communication. To share the writing passion. After all, «passion» or «love» is how the Arabic kahva is translated.
So, once the arabesque Web paths have brought the WordPressers into «here and now», how shall we amuse ourselves? A creative literary game is what naturally comes to mind. Like it was at school when the deskmates could spend entire lessons composing «chain stories» on slinkies of paper from their jotters. A chain-like collective composition with one or few «links» from each participant.
OK, the «construction» seems more or less clear. But what about the topic? The source of inspiration? Should it necessarily be a story, or can it be just a bunch of impressions? Wait, there has already been something of the kind…
Things That Make One’s Heart Beat Faster
Sparrows feeding their young. To pass a place where babies are playing. To sleep in a room where some fine incense has been burnt. To notice that one’s elegant Chinese mirror has become a little cloudy.
To see a gentleman stop his carriage before one’s gate and instruct his attendants to announce his arrival.
To wash one’s hair, make one’s toilet, and put on scented robes; even if not a soul sees one, these preparations still produce an inner pleasure.
It is night and one is expecting a visitor. Suddenly one is startled by the sound of raindrops, which the wind blows against the shutters.
Yes, The Bedside Notes by Sei-Shonagon. A collection of seemingly miscellaneous impressions and musings, so captivating in their intimity. Yet, the Heian court lady, however gifted, literate and acute, was hardly the first to coin the pattern.
One has gone to a house and asked to see someone; but the wrong person appears, thinking that it is he who is wanted; this is especially awkward if one has brought a present.
One has allowed oneself to speak badly about someone without really intending to do so; a young child who has overheard it all goes and repeats what one has said in front of the person in question.
Someone sobs out a pathetic story. One is deeply moved; but it so happens that not a single tear comes to one’s eyes, most awkward. Though one makes one’s face look as if one’s going to cry, it is no use: not a single tear will come. Yet there are times when, having heard something happy, one feels the tears streaming out.
A quick investigation leads us to the Chinese literary genre of Zazuan (which, in its turn, owes its origin to the Chinese systematics tradition). Translated as «miscellaneous wordings,» the title terms an attitude when observations over this or that side of life are gathered in short citation notes under one topic. Originally a jocular genre, Zazuan developed into a more flexible one which may involve psychology, philosophy, social satire and publicism.
Back to business. The idea behind the Zazuan game is much like the one under the #haiku hashtag. Each weekend, the participants agree on a topic which becomes the header for a weekly Zazuan. It can be original as well as a «remake» from Sei Shonagon and other classics. Something like this:
Things That Arouse a Fond Memory of the Past
It comes as a surprise when…
Can’t wait for/ Can’t get enough of/ Can’t get used to…
…you name it. Afterwards, each participant shares at least one (better a few) association inspired (reminded, etc.) by the topic. Thus, the Zazuan game may result in:
— Creating a unique virtual text/picture patchwork;
— developping our writing and overall creativity;
— bringing us bloggaz closer together and letting us know ourselves better by adding unexpected touches on psychological self-portraits.
As an example, here is a link to my bilingual post.