Was the Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon one of the first blogs ever?
Sei Shonagon was a lady-in-waiting at the court of the emperor of Japan at the end of the tenth century. One day the empress showed her a bundle of notebooks, asking her what could be done with them.
"Let me make them into a pillow", Sei Shonagon replied.
In her own words:
"I now had a vast quantity of paper at my disposal, and I set about filling the notebooks with odd facts, stories from the past, and all sorts of other things, often including the most trivial material. On the whole I concentrated on things and people that I found charming and splendid; my notes are also full of poems and observations on trees and plants, birds and insects. I was sure, that when people saw my book they would say, "It's even worse than I expected. Now one can really tell what she is like." After all, it is written entirely for my own amusement and I put things down exactly as they came to me. How could my casual jottings possibly bear comparison with the many impressive books that exist in our time?
Any of that ring a bell?
Sei Shonagon's Jottings will appear in these pages from time to time; for now, here is a taster:
A man who has nothing in particular to recommend him discusses
all sorts of subjects at random
as though he knew everything.
To envy others and to complain about one's own lot;
to speak badly about people;
to be inquisitive about the most trivial matters and to resent and abuse people for not telling one, or, if one does manage to worm out some facts, to inform everyone in the most detailed fashion as if one had known all from the beginning - oh how hateful!
An admirer has come on a clandestine visit, but a dog catches sight of him and starts barking.
One feels like killing the beast.
Text in Italics The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon