Zuihitsu: Or, Follow The Brush

Zuihitsu is a genre of Japanese literature consisting of loosely connected personal essays and fragmented ideas that typically respond to the author’s surroundings. The name is derived from two Kanji meaning “at will” and “pen.” The provenance of the term is ultimately Chinese… the native reading of which is fude ni shitagau (“follow the brush”). Thus works of the genre should be considered not as traditionally planned literary pieces but rather as casual or randomly recorded thoughts by the authors.


I have long had the notion that zuihitsu is, in fact, the sort of writing that weblog software best enables. That these are not diaries but fragments. Zuihitsu and fragment writing has fascinated me for a long time. I created the jotter category here to try and give myself permission for “casual or randomly recorded thoughts.”

I tend to re-read HOJOKI and ESSAYS IN IDLENESS once every year or two. A previous writing location of mine, Morning Computer, was intended as a home for this kind of fragment writing, but I found myself constrained by a place that was just that. I may be Full Hermit Forever, but I still need to be able to send signals out into the world, and it gives me pleasure to be able to draw your attention, reader, to the things in the world that I like.

We in the Isles of Blogging should consider ourselves allowed to follow the brush more.

The Isles Of Blogging 25jun19

Isles Of Blogging 15feb19

I’m trying to remember to list the blogs I read regularly, as new posts pop up, in order to be able to map my end of the scattered archipelago that is the Isles Of Blogging.

The term “Isles Of Blogging” comes from Nabil Maynard (nadreck.me), who most recently has been talking about social media diets.

Paul Graham Raven writes at Velcro City Tourist Board, and he’s got a new note up today about a piece at the LRB, himself noting that bailing out of Twitter ” continues, years afterwards, to ache and itch like a botched self-amputation.”

Sign of life from old lag Matt Jones at Magical Nihilism, currently a roaming Google director (recursive).

K at neonlike.blue/notes found these gorgeous imaginary-architecture drawings that are like Schuiten and Peeters doing Tokyo Gotham.