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Perfumed Sleeves and Tangled HairBody, Woman, and Desire in Medieval Japanese Narratives$
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Rajyashree Pandey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824853549

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824853549.001.0001

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“Meditating on the Impure Body”

“Meditating on the Impure Body”

The Generic Transformations of a Medieval Topos

(p.119) Chapter Five “Meditating on the Impure Body”
Perfumed Sleeves and Tangled Hair

Rajyashree Pandey

University of Hawai'i Press

The chapter examines discursive formulations around one Buddhist practice, fujôkan (meditating on the foul and impure body) to demonstrate how medieval texts weave together widely divergent readings of the topos of fujô, and by extension, of the body, women, and desire. In the Genji, the experience of death and dying leads not to detachment and renunciation, but a reworking of a Buddhist theme such that it produces instead a heightening of erotic and affective intensities. Setsuwa collections such as Hosshinshû (Collection of Tales of Religious Awakening) by Kamo no Chômei, and Kankyo no tomo (Companion in Solitude) by Priest Keisei, follow the protocols of waka and monogatari, offering readings of fujô, which are often at odds with those found in canonical Buddhist texts. The body, woman, attachment, and desire, far from being stable and unchanging, are in fact products of the intermingling of a variety of generic conventions and protocols.

Keywords:   Kamo no Chômei, impurity, genre, Tale of Genji, Buddhism, death, dying, love, delusion

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