I’ve been shopping for Japanese calligraphy scrolls lately. I wanted to purchase a scroll with a kanji “yume“, but instead ended up with “mu” instead. I purchased it without knowing what the character meant, just on the aesthetics of the brush strokes.
The concept of “mu” is touched upon in both Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and Gödel, Escher, Bach. I’ve read both books (even if skipping large chunks) and understood maybe 5% of what the authors had to say. I really need to reread them a few times.
In the past I really hated graffiti and abstract art because they seemed meaningless to me. Now I like both, because Japanese calligraphy taught me that art can be both abstract and super specific at the same time.
My new calligraphy scroll is both a character that conveys a very specific word which has carries a meaning that Buddhist monks and computer programmers find very special, but is also a multitude of Rorschach test shapes. I see a woman’s head with flowing hair, a jumping fish, a Daruma doll’s head.
I wish I could read the three characters on the left as well as the information on the seals, find out who made this and when. My guess is that it’s Showa era, after the war, and that the calligrapher is very skillful.