I read a selection of writing by Kenko. He’s this fourteenth century Japanese monk. Never heard of him before but they’ve included him in the Penguin €1 books series. Beautiful stuff.

Reading him, you feel the lack of smells in the city. He talks of the “famously evocative” scented flowering orange and the plum blossom. Christ, I’d like to linger beneath the moon on a plum-scented evening.

  1. “If our life did not fade and vanish…but lingered on forever, how little the world would move us. It is the ephemeral nature of things that make them wonderful.”
  1. “In all things, the beginning and end are the most engaging.”
  1. And what about this: “In general, I find that reasonably sensitive and intelligent people will pass their whole life without taking the step they know they should.” He has in mind people who could become poets, painters, Buddhas, but who instead are “forever pondering pros and cons.” On the other hand, he says that unfinished things are “very appealing” because they are “a gesture towards the future.”

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