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Old 05-20-2007, 07:46 PM   #44
Peter Goldsbury
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Dojo: Hiroshima Kokusai Dojo
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Re: Parsing ai ki do

Erick Mead wrote: View Post
To me the issue is why the Founder chose those words.The language issues are more about what he intended to signify by using them. The connotations raised by the phrase are more important than their denotative meanings.
Cleary, our respective standponts are different. A person's intention in his/her choice and use of words used adds another, different, aspect to the question, which is even harder to answer than the initial post in this thread.

This morning, while having breakfast I opened my Asahi Shimbun and read the main story, about safety issues in foodstuffs imported from China. It was 'normal' newspaper Japanese: the usual blend of kanji compounds, hiragana particles and endings, with some katakana words. I did not need to break down any of the compounds to find the 'real' meaning, or ask the further question of what the reporter intended by the words he chose. The words themselves were enough. I think this is where we need to start, even with the discourses of Morihei Ueshiba.

Erick Mead wrote: View Post
This is revealed in some respects explicitly by his pun on "ai" ="love" and in the Takemusu Aiki lectures, if one takes the time to understand his points of reference. One cannot understand O Sensei well unless there is an element of poetic reading.
PAG. Well, I supplement my own studies of the Takemusu Aiki lectures by reading contemporary Japanese, mainly literature of a similar period and somewhat earlier. Punning is a favourite device, as is the practice of exploiting the nuances conveyed by the variations in kanji compounds, or even by the avoidance of kanji and the use of kana. In the Takemusu Aiki discourses Ueshiba mainly discusses 'aiki', as suggested by the title of the lectures.

Erick Mead wrote: View Post
On the poetic front, "ai-ki-do" 合 氣 道 is onyomi, meaning it is pronounced (more or less) as a Japanese pidgin of Classical Chinese. The connotations appropriate to onyomi in poetry are Chinese in origin, with whatever other gloss the Japanese have given it, not unlike Latinate words in English.
Like Josh Lerner, I think that 'ai' is a kun reading and that the compound is of recent origin, coined by the addition of 'DOU' to the 'ai-KI' already in use. This was done by the Japanese government around 1942, but Morihei Ueshiba could clearly live with the term, even if he did not himself choose it. Much of Takemusu Aiki lectures and also the Aiki Shinzui newspaper columns discuss the 'added value' given by Ueshiba to an established term. So I agree with you that we need to study how he used the term: an Augustinian theory of language is of not much use here.

But we need to be careful. Last Saturday I had a meeting with my kanji teacher, who is a retired professor of literature. He was reading Practical Criticism, by I A Richards and wanted me to 'translate' into English a nonsense verse offered by Richards. Richards took Verse XV of Milton's On the Morning of Christ's Nativity and made up a verse with the same rhyme scheme and very similar cadences. But it was nonsense: a poetic version of a Sokal hoax. My teacher thought that the nonsense verse had to have a 'deeper' meaning, that could be put into English. Richards' intention was quite clear: to argue that some poetry sounds good but does not make much sense.

Best wishes,

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 05-20-2007 at 07:49 PM.

P A Goldsbury
Hiroshima, Japan
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