In a Cup of Tea
Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty ~ Henry David Thoreau
"In a Cup of Tea";
Kobayashi's award-winning film Kwaidon is made up of four ghost stories. The film won a Cannes Special Prize in the 1960s. This is the film trailer: -
The tea story lies at the end.
"In a Cup of Tea" is adapted from Lafcado Hearn's Kottō: Being Japanese Curios, with Sundry Cobwebs (1902).
A writer who is anticipating a visit from the publisher, keeps seeing faces in a cup of tea. He is writing a story
about a Samurai's squire who begins to see a face in his cup of tea. We only meet the writer at the story's end.
The film won the Palm D'or Special Jury Prize at Cannes in 1965.
The cup of spilled tea haunts the squire.
The squire sees the soul in his cup of tea. Eventually he drinks the tea with the image in it.
The soul about to be swallowed.
The meaning of the stories are left unexplained and is for the audience to determine. That the stories come from Japanese folk tales suggest a way to read such a story. All four stories are about the spirit world and the need to have a respect for the dead, the need to monitor personal behaviour and respect.
Musing on tea
Tea in 19th Century Culture
The affinity of female sympathy with tea-making has distinct class associations that Oscar Wilde, amongst others, sought to exploit in order to undermine the power of the tea sign. When William Thackeray praised nature for making the tea plant, calling it a ‘confidante’ for women, he has specific social scenes in mind.
The luxury back then was not in having tea – it was widely available by the 1890s and was a social inevitability, as evidenced by such columns as “Over the Tea Cups” – but in the exaggerated artistic inutility of tea drinking that that suggests how serious is the maintenance of exclusivity. To apply a definition from Terence Eagleton’s The Ideology of the Aesthetic, these tea ceremonies are commodified art forms. Artifacts become commodities when “ they exist for nothing and nobody in particular, and can consequently be rationalised, ideologically speaking, as existing entirely and gloriously for themselves” (Eagleton, 9). Thus art for art’s sake depends upon commodification. These tea ceremonies are art forms in that they are “conveniently sequestered from all other social practices, to become an isolated enclave within which the dominanr social order can find an idealised refuge from it’s own actual values of competitiveness, exploitation, and material possessiveness” (Eagleton, 9).
Of course this a very grumpy viewpoint and mean-spirited. It does not affect this writer’s enjoyment of tea.
In The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde ridicules these elite values whilst affirming their propriety as aestheticized behaviours, confirming the values that, ironically, underlie the “wide dominion of Great Britain” in the age of New Imperialism.
Do these behaviours persist in the tea bars and rooms of the contemporary era?
Or has the dominance of coffee everywhere removed these tea values?
One critic I read somewhere suggests that tea is both a feminine and effeminate pastime for elitists to demonstrate their mastery of taste. A way for women in particular to display their hands and arms in delicate movements of grace and precision. The same could be said of men as they prepare the tray as “tea master”.
This is tea as seen by Nikita Khrushchev but it is a viewpoint.
I do remember talking about drinking tea to people who drank only black tea from teabags. They looked at me as if I had dropped down from another planet.
I will certainly continue to pour water at 80 degrees onto some bac thai this evening.
Happy Tea Drinking!