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See Notes on Crooked Cucumber, just starting to prepare the files for it. I'll get rid of this page soon cause it will all be there. - dc, 1-15-12
On the term, Crooked Cucumber
It's either magatta kyuri or hebo kyuri and the meaning I'd say was something like "butthead," or "useless runt."
Throughout the process of writing this book, I inquired about Japanese terms for "crooked cucumber." All along I doubted that So-on would have used magatta kyuri, a literal rendering, as a teasing nickname for little Shunryu. I found a reference to "crooked cucumbers" on PBS in an NHK drama based on a book written for teenagers by a Japanese/American woman (The Best Bad Thing, Yoshiko Uchida, Aladdin Paperbacks, 1993.), which refers to full-sized crooked cucumbers as useless, so it seemed to fit. This understanding is reflected in the Introduction (p.xiii). After the book came out, Hoitsu Suzuki said he remembered that in his childhood he had heard old people (though not his father) use another term: hebo kyuri. Kyuri is cucumber and hebo connotes various types of imperfection: useless, failed, a mistake of nature, runty. Hebo, he said, may be used to modify various things, but in this case hebo kyuri meant the tiny, useless, weird, bent cucumber at the tip of the creeping, coiling vine (the vine as is represented in the typographical ornament used in this book). See also pp. 20, 27-28, 36.
From Gary Snyder: As for "Crooked Cucumber," people in Japan would occasionally say "Oh yes, we use that sometimes" -- apparently as a friendly, playful metaphor for a complex person. Goto Zuigan Roshi used it of himself, and later of me. His housekeeper referred to several other Zen Priests with that phrase. Nanao Sakaki says that country people use it. It was magatta-kyuri, didn't hear the term hebo. I'm pretty sure. That's all I know.
I'll put more notes in this section at some point. Right now I'm concentrating on getting the interviews and other source material on the site. I also plan to do an index, map, and name list as I have time.--DC
Ha ha - that was written over 12 years ago. - dc, 3-23-11
And I'm still planning to do a book or something major on the web
called Notes on Crooked Cucumber, but still only one note here, and a
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