"A Preacher ought to be good-looking..."
It seems that it was en vogue for Court ladies keep miscellanies such as the 'Pillow Book' although this is the only one to have survived. The title is transliterated as 'Notes of the Pillow' and this was probably a generic term to describe a type of informal book of notes which men and women composed when they retired to their rooms in the evening and which they kept near their sleeping place, possibly even in the drawers of their wooden pillows, so that they might record stray impressions.
Not quite a diary, it is more a collection of these impressions, anecdotes, opinions, comments etc. As such, it occured to me that the style of the 'Pillow Book' was rather more akin to our modern-day weblog!
The following 'post' from Sei Shonagon's writings (translated by Ivan Morris) caught my eye and rather amused me. As you attend Mass this Sunday, you may want to keep her observation in mind!
"A preacher ought to be good looking. For, if we are properly to understand his worthy sentiments, we must keep our eyes on him while he speaks; should we look away, we may forget to listen. Accordingly an ugly preacher may well be the source of sin..."
I hope that she is not accurate in saying so though, for I would hate to be a source for sin, in the course of my preaching!!
Apart from Sei Shonagon's book, I am also reading 'The Tale of Genji', another Heian Japanese book by Murasaki Shikibu and reputedly the oldest existing novel in world literature. It is a fascinating journey into an ancient and lost world and I've found the writing to be poetic, touching and still very fresh.