Mood, ki, humors: Elements and atmospheres between Europe and Japan

Lorenzo Marinucci

Abstract


This paper analyzes the theme of “mood” through a double genealogy of its underlying metaphors. Among the European roots employed today to frame this concept (or non-concept, we should say: but the haziness of moods is an important part of their environing force) I will focus in particular on the Latin one, humor, still visible today in the Italian and French. On a diachronic axis, I will highlight how the peculiar meaning of humThis paper analyzes the theme of “mood” through a double genealogy of its underlying metaphors. Among the European roots employed today to frame this concept (or non-concept, we should say: but the haziness of moods is an important part of their environing force) I will focus in particular on the Latin one, humor, still visible today in the Italian and French. On a diachronic axis, I will highlight how the peculiar meaning of humor, with its stress on a strange and non-objective materiality, bodily and cosmic at the same time, allows us to rediscover a surprising phenomenological insight even in the half-forgotten theories of elemental attunement that characterized most European history. On a synchronic axis, I will show how this hyletic approach to mood is also active in East Asia, where the “stuff” of emotions is qi/ki 気, literally “air”: the word kibun 気分, used in Japan as equivalent to the English “mood”, is “a partition/understanding of ki”. Underneath the veil of exotic- ness, the Asian notion too arises out of a qualitative observation of the spatial, hyletic quality of moods: not an internal state of the subject nor a quality of already objectified things, mood/humor/kibun points to the fundamental disclosure of both world and subjectivity in a dynamic atmosphere or, with its stress on a strange and non-objective materiality, bodily and cosmic at the same time, allows us to rediscover a surprising phenomenological insight even in the half-forgotten theories of elemental attunement that characterized most European history. On a synchronic axis, I will show how this hyletic approach to mood is also active in East Asia, where the “stuff” of emotions is qi/ki 気, literally “air”: the word kibun 気分, used in Japan as equivalent to the English “mood”, is “a partition/understanding of ki”. Underneath the veil of exoticness, the Asian notion too arises out of a qualitative observation of the spatial, hyletic quality of moods: not an internal state of the subject nor a quality of already objectified things, mood/humor/kibun points to the fundamental disclosure of both world and subjectivity in a dynamic atmosphere.

Keywords


Mood; Ki; Humors

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ISSN 0585-4733
ISSN DIGITALE 1825-8646

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