Today we listened through a string of interesting lectures. The first lecture, presented by Professor Diego Pellecchia was about the various parts of Noh plays, and the the ones that we are going to go see in a few days. I was very drawn in by his presentation because he brought soooo much energy to it. It is clear to me that his interest in Noh goes beyond academia. Actually, I’m quite curious what makes a white male from Italy decide that they want to go to Japan to study and then join Noh plays as a chorus member forced to sit seiza for hours on end. From his description of the torture he feels during these plays, I imagine he asks himself the same question. Putting that aside however, I think that the depth of his knowledge on the subject of Noh is apparent. The exercise we did to imitate the musicians beat was incredibly informative and eye opening. I did not previously know that the musicians often cannot see each other and do not rehearse prior to shows. The fact that they are simply in tuned with the shouts of the other musicians and rely on those shouts to orchestrate complicated musical sections is nothing short of amazing and creates new sense of appreciation for the art of Noh.
We then had a second lecture with Catherine Ludvik, the same professor that lectured us on the first day about tea ceremonies and showed us around Daitoku-ji. Today she spoke about the buddha and different renditions of paintings regarding his death. She specifically drew attention to paintings that utilize the general format of the original (buddha laying down surrounded by 60+ mourning beings) and create new paintings and themes, such as the vegetable Nehan. I thought that these were interesting but what i was mainly thinking about was the difference between christianity and buddhism in how believers react to this kind of thing. Even with the best of intentions, the vegetable Nehan looks like a satire on an incredibly important religious piece of art. Yet buddhists not only accepted this but thought that it was very good, allowing it to rise to the fame that it has. Perhaps I am forgetting something but I can not think of a Christian equivalent to this kind of piece that was not met with substantial opposition.