What's the name for the art of not talking about what you're talking about?
April 29, 2010 11:29 AM   Subscribe

In Japan, there was—and maybe still is?—a practice of communicating via allusion. I figure there must be a name for that, so tell me what it is.

I don't have a specific example at hand(I'm looking), but you see it all over The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon; she actually calls it out at one point, if I remember correctly. Someone will send a haiku or whatever as a love note, and in return will be sent an unattributed and often oblique quotation on paper of a particular color and all that correctly interpreted becomes an "obvious" response. Sometimes it's just done as part of conversation as a sort of intellectual game, or surreptitious flirting. Another form would have someone receive the first few lines of a poem, with them expected to provide(if quoted) or compose(if original) the next bit. Being able to play this game was an expected part of being cultured, and I can't imagine there wasn't a formal term for it.

Note that I'm not looking for the term for the allusions themselves, though that'd also be interesting, but the actual batting back and forth of the allusions.
posted by Su to Society & Culture (2 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Oh my GOD that waka you sent? SO honkadori!!
posted by Sebmojo at 7:57 PM on April 29, 2010

Response by poster: And pts gets it \m/ Thanks for that.
For those playing along, the WP article does seem to define the term as being just the allusions, but a little more digging's turned up other sources that place it in the larger context I want.
posted by Su at 2:04 AM on April 30, 2010

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