Mishima, tetralogy, by god, the whole fucking thing!
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thank you, thank you very much
What book/s of M's do I need to purchase.
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
At the same time, he admired the West and studied Western art and literature avidly. The influence is evident, from the decidedly 19th Century British feel of his novel, Spring Snow,
17 years? Does reading Mishima help me? If you say so, I'll read.'
I saw him last 17 years ago.
What is militarism but phallus worship anyway.
So, I don't know how much Mishima was into fascism per se, and how much it's just guys, dicks and natty uniforms (not reserved for Nazis alone).
I have accumulated tons of Mishima and read but a little so far (Confessions of a mask was excellent), so I might get involved, peripherally probably.
I googled Mishima pics and I find him kind of creepy.
I can't find the reference now, but Ruth Benedict talks about a practice that I think was prevalent as far back as the Meiji era but certainly during the fascist period among juior officers and similar very-impressed-with-themselves types of carrying a hand mirror and looking into it not only to make sure there was nothing in their teeth but also so that they could gaze deep in their eyes and make sure they were still as pure and cold as a mountain stream or whatever. Like, as a form of self-care--making sure your one and only irreplaceable you was still clean on the inside.
So while Mishima's gayness (and early suffering at the hands of a brutal father) certainly would have supported his central tendency, I guess I see him as more of an aspiring, moderately bishonen(here are Scottish and Hong Kong and American anime fandom weirdo takes)-y too-beautiful-to-live solipsist. A literary Hide, a Japanese Kanye. Perhaps I am about to learn better?????????
Oh, god, please no anime references, I'm trying to keep my mind pure and innocent of that crap. ;)
*I*'m not chalking anything to "dick alone"--blame Rick's kind friend for immediately going "homo" at the drop of the name. I'm merely pointing out that "fascism" isn't necessarily the only thing Mishima likely found attractive about the army. See Sun and steel for his aesthetics.
Here is a weird thing: http://thisrecording.com/today/2012/10/24/in-which-yukio-mishima-disposes-of-him...
I'm not sure it's interesting to speculate on Mishima's 'gayness' any more than it is interesting to speculate on any other writer's 'straightness'. This kind of talk, although salacious and titivating, is a bit 'exoticising, isn't it? It's always seemed to me that looking for the reasons for gayness is a form of discrimination, unless we can also discuss with equal weight the reasons for someone's straightness. BUt i'll get off that high horse now, and chip in on Mishima.
I think it's essential to understand him in the context of what Japan had gone through during his youth. M narrowly avoided being called up on the Empire's last suicide missions at the end of WW2; he was personally awarded an honour by the Emperor, but the Emperor was a figure of national and global disgrace, and Japan had suffered its biggest loss of face in its history. Suicide is preferable to disgrace and loss of face, and I think this laid the seeds for an obsession with death that lasted his whole life, and which forms the backbone of all his writing. The army and militarism was thus an attempt to try to cling to some of Japan's military traditions , a way to staunch his deep sense of humiliation as a Japanese, and of course to be next to young men. As Lola n MArtini mention, gayness is a strong tradition in Jap culture connected with samurai, loyalty and comrades in arms. This theme is explored most strongly in the second volume of the tetralogy
M also had a deep love hate relationship with Western culture. One the one hand it fascinated him, and he was exceptionally well read in European culture, especially as a student of Goethe, and Dostoevsky. He loved all the trappings of Western consumerism: the cars, the telephones, the fashion magazines, western food and beautiful clothes, wine and so on. BUt he deplored it as the culture of the victor, and was always conscious while he was enjoying Western Consumerism that it represented the defeat and humiliation of Japan. Hence in interest in right nationalistic movements, the army etc, those elements which represented the most conservative aspects of the Japanese psyche.
Thirdly, his obsession with youth, which is one and the same time a part of his obsession with Western culture (ephebic Greeks, St Sebastian etc) and an obsession with ephemera, which is also very japanese. Many reasons have been put forward for his shocking and mysterious death, but my belief is that he chose to die right on the cusp of Youth and Middle Age, in order to prevent any taint of old age from touching his image. It was inconceivable to him that he should leave behind images of him as a middle aged or old man, so made sure that this would never happen by killing his body just at that moment when it begins to invite decay, or when decay can no longer be resisted by body building etc.
Keys to understanding Mishima are:
- humiliation, national transformed into the sexual, rather like Genet
- dialogue between Western and Eastern cultures
- critique of what he saw as the death obsession of Zen Buddhism
Sea of Fertility is very much a critique of those aspects of Buddhism that M saw as conflicting with his Western values: sanctity of life, self fulfillment and expression, individuality, etc versus the impersonality, detachment and joylessness of Zen. The Temple of the Golden Pavillion (not to be confused with the Temple of Dawn, the third book in the tetralogy) examines the mind of a Buddhist psychopath, for example.
In the third volume of the tetralogy, M develops his ideas on Buddhism in contrasting Theravada, Zen and Hinduism, in a voyage up the Ganges.
Warning, M is very like Dostoevsky, in that his characters express positions which are not Mishima's.
and here, just because M knew we would look at it, is a picture of his head, frozen on the cusp of life and death, manhood and maturity, a kind of Netsuke that refuses to decay:
Yes, exactly. "Youth" is the word that was missing from my drabbling above.
- critique of what he saw as the death obsession of Zen Buddhism
Sea of Fertility is very much a critique of those aspects of Buddhism that M saw as conflicting with his Western values: sanctity of life, self fulfillment and expression, individuality, etc versus the impersonality, detachment and joylessness of Zen. The Temple of the Golden Pavillion (not to be confused with the Temple of Dawn, the third book in the tetralogy) examines the mind of a Buddhist psychopath, for example.
This is something I'd not thought about. For somebody whose actual life was so vividly strange, Mishima's writing in my limited experience is serious and sad. Kind of "sex was invented in 1963"; someone who would have been at home amid the laughter and ideas and liaisons of Floating World Edo or Enlightenment Paris, but feels like he or his country or his times have picked up some taint of the old and tired and broken. Maybe?
My copy of Spring Snow is packed and none of our worthless local booksellers have it! I wanna start reading!
Punkt 2: As I see it, focussing on the REASON for gayness is not the point at all, rather, when and how and if said gayness becomes part of the work, and then even TYPE of gayness is open for discussion in the case of a whacky death like Mishima's. Taking it out of the bedroom why. And the military connection is definitely something to consider.
Punkt 3 _+++I have lost control of my keyboard//it went back to US settings,,, P3--fascinating to think that Mishi considered NY Tokyo in 500 years, for i have always been interested in the notion of urban decadence in Japan pre-dating US existence.
p4--why the hell am I leading this discussion/?
p5--dropping homo at the name of a hat...why? First, Taro is unfettered of mind entirely and it was on facebook. Second, among all gay writers, which are immediately associated with their sexuality? And why? e.g., why is Mishima-s accorded fascination, respect, and Hemingway-s such snickering. On the surface, hemingway embodied cliches buffooneresquedly, while there is clearly a conception of Mishima-s many/faceted deviance as one of integrity. I think the answer lies in the quality of writing, to make a long argument disappear. Hemingway-s aesthetic was limited///\'the brilliance resides in what he leaves unsaid" Right, same can be said of the novel I plan next...
(ignore my ranting about the reasons for gayness etc. just something I had to offload)
The reader was always rather cool with it, one way or the other.
It is a whole School of Literary Critics who draw our attention and pushed us into the writer's bedroom and into the writer's closet to have a look.
In the end, we started to think it did matter
It's deplorable that was the first characteristic we were invited to consider, but I don't think it's possible to ignore it either, especially in, say, an autobiographical work like Confessions of a mask. Not to mention the part that (male) body-worship played in his philosophy.
And, yes, I think straight authors stand to be examined from the POV of their "straightness", of course.
Regarding the black colour, maybe it was just the most lustrous? Red and black are by far the dominant colours in Japanese lacquerware (and plastic imitations)--you'll recall that distinctive red and black tableware they often have at Japanese restaurants. I think the red is cinnabar, but no idea on the black. (Apparently red teeth are also done in some places in Southeast Asia--perhaps this is related?) It's possible that they just got the same results with black. But google will show that the colour is quite aesthetically pleasing--deep and rich and even--and I'd like to be capable of referring to traditional Japanese aesthetics to provide a brilliant disquisition on this point, but I'm not sure it's required. Since the face was whitened, the "contrast/black hole" theory is plausible--face whitening among the upper classes in Japan, like other East Asian cultures, as far as I know comes from the anti-fieldhand suntan places you'd expect, later bolstered by global race relations.
One other point of interest, like many fashion practices, it was traditionally men and women, especially the nobility and samurai. According to the 'pedia, "After the Edo period, only men in the imperial family and aristocrats blackened their teeth. Due to the odor and labor required for the process, as well as a feeling among young women that they were aging, ohaguro was done only by married women, unmarried women who were older than 18, prostitutes and geisha." Now that I'm looking, I also see this: the lacquer was "a dark-brown solution of ferric acetate called kanemizu (かねみず), made by dissolving iron filings in vinegar. When the solution was combined with vegetable tannins from sources such as gallnut powder or tea powder." It doesn't seem like that should produce such a nice colour.
all of ya: I brought up the homosexuality because the tetra was his last work of fiction and he ended it right before his very public and dramatic suicide--and because it will be at least two weeks before we start.
Mac, I have had the strange experience of being an up and coming literary figure who remained on the cusp (briefly, before sliding into the swampmuck). What that means is that I was interviewed a few times, and the experience is by nature surreal, for as you are being interviewed you cannot help but be aware that what you say is for public consumption (one time it was live radio, so it was definitely in my mind) and whether or not you act or speak differently from what you believe to be your self (I always felt comfortable and thought I was spontaneous) acting and speaking, your awareness of the nature of the process--speaking to the future, instead of how we normally do, for the here and now of it--alters the experience essentially even if the change is not detectable...it is altered by knowing it has to be altered.
At the same time, we all have our notions of, degrees of need for, privacy. In my case it's my freedom that matters; if the public has an interest in my sexual circumstances they would be welcome to what information I can provide. Alas my star did not rise.
I think in most cases the sexuality of the writer, or rather the writer's incorporation of sexuality into the work, is decipherable. Certainly critics can 'put it there' when it isn't, but in the case of Mishima and the examples Lola mentioned and Rabelais and Henry Miller to name the obvious...The sexuality is part of the discussion or they can't be understood well.
Punkt 3_+++I have lost control of my keyboard//it went back to US settings
interesting experiment: turns out I was foiled by those less than greater than signs...now the rest of the post is up there
re: homosexuality. I have no problem in making this a point of discussion but these things tend to completely pass me by when I'm reading. Call me an innocent babe or an irreclaimable hetero, according to your preferences.
I agree with Lola here. I think in the case of gay writers, sexuality does matter very much because of the social status of the writer - outcast, taboo, often illegal - cannot help but effect the way they write, the subjects they chose to write about, the very language they use because they cannot write the way they want, they have to encode things, especially in earlier times. I'm thinking of Dorian Grey and the Well of Loneliness, for example. In Mishima's case, it's very important because it adds an element of understanding to his scenes of male bonding, friendships between men etc, which are an important part of his aesthetic and one of his major themes. To what extent, for example is the relationship between Honda and Matsugae a lover's relationship? Honda searches for his friend through successive incarnations: is this not love???
Anyway, perhaps it's all a red herring and I shouldn't have offloaded like I did in my post, I know everyone here is totally cool. But recently I was slumming it in the Pro and Con group and was confronted with this:
and the resultant discussion on the 'causes of gayness' filled me with horror, because once you start down that road, it's pretty soon that one comes to start to think of gayness as a 'condition' with a 'cause', and by implication, a 'cure'. and that's obviously fucked up. But I know none here thinks like that.
I was just venting. Apologies for derailing the thread.
Anyway, I found this, which has some rather shocking pictures of M 'rehearsing' his own suicide. WARNING: MAY SHOCK.
off topic but it reminds me of the minister of education (of all people) who made himself immortal for all the wrong reasons when he defended a list with 'early signs of homosexuality' that was presented to schools/parents so that 'actions' could be taken to 'remedy' the situation. The list was as insane as the whole idea by the way and rightfully ridiculed everywhere.
Since the lists are short, I post them here. It's probably best to laugh at them; they are too silly to waste indignation on:
"symptoms of gays":
- Have a muscular body and like to show their body by wearing
- V-neck and sleeveless clothes;
- Prefer tight and light-coloured clothes;
- Attracted to men; and
- Like to bring big handbags, similar to those used by women, when hanging out.
And "symptoms of lesbians":
- Attracted to women;
- Besides their female companions, they will distance themselves from other women;
- Like to hang out, have meals and sleep in the company of women; and
- Have no affection for men.
Henk, I did think of Tanizaki but couldn't recall anything applicable in it, it had a strong architectural/interior decoration slant. And the wabi-sabi, mono no aware aesthetics don't seem to fit cosmetics or clothes fashion at all.
Onward and upward!
Speaking of gayness, literature and things Japanese, I hereby flog Edmund White's Forgetting Elena, a Western novel about gay life on Fire Island written in the mode of Japanese masters (Tanizaki and Sei Shonagon were invoked in a conversation about it), with meticulous aesthetic detail on ritual and manners, landscape and suppressed feelings.
Oops, still derailiing. Does anyone want to talk about Mishima's friendship with Shintaro Ichihara, author of The Japan That Can Say No? We're all "oh, he wasn't a real fascist he just liked the boys in their uniforms" but this dude is a real fascist and he won 11% of the vote in the last election. Luckily he'll probably die soon.
who the fuck is 'WE' martini weenie?
Now I'm confused (again). Rick, but I feel like a disaffected teen. Haven't had one for a while......
So my partner (same sex, yesssss) coincidentally, happens to be reading Mishima at the moment, just finished Thirst for Love and started Confessions of a Mask, knows very little about Mishima, and nothing at all about this conversation, says to me last night, I love Mishima, he's so twisted and obsessed with death.
He read out to me over the breakfast table the long extract from Brothers Karamazov which serves as a epigraph to Confessions, you know the passage where Dimitry talks about God and Devil fighting it out in the human heart, and it occurs to me that this might stand as an epigraph for the whole of M's life and work.
More favourite bits from M:
What I discovered is that I was rather more asexual to most folks and I realized that I could never "have" or even "become" say Bridget Fonda so what the hell -- I tried to become a Catholic priest but the local bishop (a sly sort now in the pentagon er the Vatican) didn't "trust" me it seems.
So I've actually "returned" to my only REAL "love" (illicit AND otherwise) "the movies" and in the movies one may imagine some aspect of Gary Cooper for instance (I've become quite a "fan" of Mr Cooper lately) and his inordinate appeal to such as Jean Arthur, Barbara Stanwyck and one Lupe Velez, "the Messican es-spitfire!", who once observed that Coop's uh "equipment" was substantial but that his ass was too small to really get it "in there." She was a girl who knew a lot about such things -- "they" say.
Hollywood is/was of course a place of not only "rampant" sexuality but as per Tony Curtis ANYTHING and EVERYTHING -- well get a few hundred of the most beautiful people in the world together "by the sea" or "by the pool" and uh "imagine" what could happen?
(When the very young Shelley Winters came to sodom er SOUTHERN California with her mom no less, she was dated by Clark Gable in the early 1940s and her mother's apt advice was "Don't be TOO 'good'" -- I mean getting "it" via Gable was not necessarily to be avoided hmm. And as Marilyn Monroe remarked in "All About Eve" when her character mentions that a sable is something "a girl could make sacrifices for," the producer queries "Did you say 'sable' or 'Gable'?" and she prompts "Either one.")
Either one indeed...
I adore Hollywood gossip, especially of the Golden age. Have you read Gore Vidal's Myra books?
All about Eve is an AMAZING movie. how did they get away with it, I often wonder.
Otherwise, High Noon, and the old sheriff's 'It's all for nothin, Will, it's all for nothin.'
leading me to list Brando's great, but less known, films
Reflections in a Golden Eye
The Missouri Breaks
"Look, it's not the same hat."
"Look, he is hiding the flowers under the table."
"Hey, why are all the cards the Ace of Spades ?"
The magician was furious but couldn't do anything; it was, after all, the captain's parrot.
One day the ship had an accident and sank. The magician found himself adrift on a piece of wood in the middle of the ocean with the parrot, of course. They stared at each other with hate, but did not utter a word. This went on for a day, then another, and another.
After a week the parrot said: "OK, I give up. What’d you do with the ship?"
After a while the young man noticed that the captain was staring at him.
"What's the matter old timer, never done anything wild in your life?
The old captain replied, "Got drunk once and married a parrot. I was just wondering if you were my son!"
mac--check the good Brando. watch him clear the table in streetcar. watch his face when his brother pulls the gun in waterfront, watch him scream fucking god! at the beginning of last tang...and on and on and on...watch the gunfight scenes in One-Eyed Jacks, the way his face lights up when Johnny Fontaine shows up at the wedding...
ladies, I realize chuckie laughton was attractive, but looks mustn't cloud your judgment. I agree with MM that Gibson was a good Fletcher, but then the whole movie was better in its way. but if i had to see one and only one and one last time, it would laughton and gable.
Hard? Shit, I had no intention of reading anything suchlike and suddenly I was nominated leader. But I find the focus inspiring. And i got my friend Michael in. I don't know if he'll read the books, but he'll have some interesting contributions.
back to japan: Three cheers for Toshiro Mifune!
Oh, no, not another one... I was just reading about HMV closing. There will be nowhere left to browse for anything anymore... except rags and badly-made-in-China shoes.
Y'all keep Mifune, I'll take Tatsuya Nakadai all for myself.
What say you all out there?
An review of a book on Mishima, by LTer dcozy, that came up in the Suicides thread:
Also most famous people.
or this: "Gore Vidal once remarked that America is the only country that could have created a Hemingway and not seen the joke."
What about Hemingway? Are his books worth a shit? Were they ever? How could his personality be so strong as to turn Dos Passos conservative, writer of that excellent trilogy?
I love that Gore Vidal quote.
That, my friends, ought to be the true definition of bravery.
And I have no idea what it means for reading to be difficult. It may just be that sometimes I get confused and want to blame the book instead of revealing my own shortcomings.
Probably Hemingway would have some suggestions in that regard too. Calf carcass? The tears of the good and gentle and brave? I hear we're tastiest at the broken places.
not enough prepositional phrases. There needs to be at least 10 to make it truly Hemingwayesque.
The tears of the good and gentle and brave in the mountains by the hills across the river up the creek above the tree line under the skies under the stars under the CIA satellite beyond the village near the shootin' range almost done by the old rock in the pool on the dust of the plains.
There, one extra for the same price.
There is though a homosexual aspect to "Mutiny" in the tension between "Christian" and "Bligh" (in ALL the versions but especially "The Bounty" with Hopkins and Mel Gibson eh) wherein the "native girl" always gets uh "between."
MY favorite scene in the Brando film is when "the girl" swims to the now captured ship with Brando the desperate and self disgusted mutineer captain and she observes his uh "cabin" and rants "Pig! Pig! You pig all over!" which may on occasion been many a "wifely" exclamation re Brando and any number of husbands, Hollywood and elsewhere?
Van Johnson, a particularly popular and oft underrated (see him as "Maryck" in "The Caine Mutiny," another "mutiny" theme!) "quietly" gay actor, told Johnny Carson once how he used old toothbrushes to scour out the corners in cleaning his kitchen. Johnson to Brando: "Pig! Pig! You pig all over!"?
Reputedly there's a photo of Brando's friend and apartment mate in old New York, Wally Cox (no uh well "intended" huh), giving him a blow job -- Tennessee Williams' envy? -- and later Wally became "best friends" with Marilyn (she liked HIM better than Dean Martin and maybe even her erstwhile lover Brando hmm) in the making of "Something's Got to Give," MM's last (uncompleted) film.
I don't know where all this leads to -- "Kevin Bacon" somewhere? -- but homosexuality is ubiquitous and in particular in Hollywood where it resides also in a kind of bisexuality that has Cary Grant living for a time -- until "the studio" put a stop to that! -- with cowboy star Randolph Scott. "Gay brothers and sisters" Obama mentioned in his latest inaugural -- "Hooray for Hollywood!"?...
I use my old toothbrushes for my old teeth--I wonder what that says about me.
There's a joke here in Slovenia: What do you call a man between two Slovene women? In the way. I don't know how that was assigned...
What does it mean to you?
I've never lived anywhere where spring snow could be an actual event.
Here in Malaysia: Spring? Snow???
Seasons are an important element of Japanese culture, and the Japanese may indeed have a tendency to consider they have a monopoly on them. I remember that I amazed a Japanese co-worker when I told her that we had kouyou (紅葉 - autumn foliage) too in France.
Like everything else in Japanese culture, seasons are highly codified and ritualized. There is still, I think (?), a set day in the year when you are supposed to switch from winter to spring/summer clothing. In food there must always be a seasonal element. Even in the prepared food section in supermarkets, you will always find at least a chrysanthemum in the sushi in autumn, for instance.
And of course, spring is the Japanese season par excellence, yes? Where everybody goes in troops to the public parks to get drunk under the cherry trees.
Snow is also something that is very present in Japan in winter, but I don't think the Japanese consider they have a special claim on it.
Unique things we share.
The storm was called on various tv news stations an "haboob" (uh a term "pregnant" with possibilities?) which is Arab middle eastern and consequently (this is Arizona but then it isn't Arizona alone eh) some fuss was raised that "we" don't need no stinkin' A-rab words; we'll jus'n call it a "DUST STORM" pod'ner an' leave it at that you betcha!
(Interestingly it's been raining for TWO DAYS here now which is hardly rare for say La Crosse Wisconsin where Harsch and I first became acquainted and which he has uh "immoralized" in THREE novels. But "we" in Tempe had over ONE INCH of rain which is one uh seventh I guess of this year's rainfall!
(What is the rainfall I wonder in Timbuktoo where the French are and where we aren't -- at last? Anyway there is a movie -- and there always is! -- with of all folk John Wayne, Sophia Loren and Rossano Brazzi titled "Legend of the Lost" and directed by the prolifically competent Henry Hathaway which is set in first Timbuktoo where Loren runs about as a prostitute/pickpocket while the somewhat dour Wayne periodically bails her out of jail.
(They get taken up by Brazzi as a "humanistic" treasure seeker looking for old Roman ruins in which his father had disappeared while discovering. Seems complicated? But that's your "McGuffin" as Hitchcock termed it. Well the three end up in the great desert north or west of Timbuk eh and in trouble with Taurog rovers and Brazzi's inadequately contained lust for Loren. Things end up sort of badly but not quite; anyway it's interesting to have Wayne away from "the west" and among those not of his original tribe and it ain't a bad movie, "entertaining" and even a bit "odd" which I find appealing.)
Harsch often has defended me in the past from those who note that I'm forever off on a "tangent"; once RH said (I liked it although I myself don't know if it's really accurate) that MY "point" was usually that "tangent" after all. Well I was thinking of storms re "burja" and "haboob" and then Timbuktoo and the French and -- well I wrote a whole SERIES of "tangents" hmm...
I understand the Western version of the title, "Taboo", may actually be a misrepresentation, distortion. It certainly doesn't look like homosexuality is in any way treated as taboo--a problem, perhaps, because of the disruption in the ranks, but not in any way looked upon as law-breaking as such.
Easy to see where these attitudes could be idealised in later, more restrictive times.
Um, tangents, tangerines, Tangiers, another boring hole probably. Ok, I should probably stop here.
The French are in Timbuktu. There is now confirmation that the bastards burned a key library on their way out. It included a whole series of only recently unearthed twelth and thirteenth century manuscripts, ones that could be critical to studies of Islam and Africa in the period.
My impression is that Timbuktu is a hole with class, not just any hole.
Rimbaud was probably there--I don't remember, but he died west of Sudan, with his money belt intact, as I recall.
I have no doubt that Bacall ran off with a handsome Tuareg.
As for winds, I have long planned to make a list, beginning with simoom, but have yet to do so, I am such a haboob.
Yeah, they have a point here, WTF, what is all this bull of venerating saints ! Before we know it we will venerate pop-stars, soccer players, billionaires, movie stars...
Ah torch it all !
Read more: http://montreal.ctvnews.ca/religious-extremists-destroy-ancient-library-in-timbu...
I'm probably going to have to revise my interpretation of this heavily after finishing the text but I just wanted to share my thoughts. Anyone read this title? Anyone found it to make sense? How does it relate to the sea of fertility? To his suicide?
By the way, I don't think he likes his central character much.
Who would you have play these roles?
1sa.18.1 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 1sa.18.2 And Saul took him that day, and would let him go no more home to his father's house. 1sa.18.3 Then Jonathan and David made a covenant, because he loved him as his own soul. 1sa.18.4 And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was upon him, and gave it to David, and his garments, even to his sword, and to his bow, and to his girdle.
1sa.20.16 So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, Let the LORD even require it at the hand of David's enemies.† 1sa.20.17 And Jonathan caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as he loved his own soul.
1sa.20.30 Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him, Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion, and unto the confusion of thy mother's nakedness?† 1sa.20.31 For as long as the son of Jesse liveth upon the ground, thou shalt not be established, nor thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall surely die.
1sa.20.41 And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until David exceeded.
1sa.23.16 And Jonathan Saul's son arose, and went to David into the wood, and strengthened his hand in God. 1sa.23.17 And he said unto him, Fear not: for the hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father knoweth. 1sa.23.18 And they two made a covenant before the LORD: and David abode in the wood, and Jonathan went to his house.
2sa.1.26 I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
All quotations from the The Bible KJV.
Here's a page that explains it better than I can:
Do you admire General Nogi's example, committing suicide to follow the Emperor in death?
It seems silly to me. But on the other hand wouldn't it be nice to have the death of some power figure really mean something? We (the U.S. we) have an empire with a degrading process for determining who gets to be the emperor, and we have a political economic system that is a monster, a dragon far more powerful than the emperor...
>155 FlorenceArt: I will be so disappointed if there wasn't an underlying sexual tension in Greek man-friendships. Unless it's because the tension was broken by all the man-sex they were having. But seriously, this has always been right at the core of what the Greeks were all about, in my understanding. Buncha ephebophiles.
That link you posted, flo, is nonsense, sorry to say, and is a clear expression of suppressed homophobia - these dudes can't possibly be GAY!!!!!!. What you are looking at in many of the pics, is gay relationships, hiding under a cloak of an asexual friendship because openly revealing the love that dare not speak its name results in prison. simple as that.
The love of the Samurai
Male Colors, The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan
They happily did not have the disgust towards the expression of friendship through sex that has been engendered by Christianity and Islam.
makes me shake my fists at those reprobate faiths, this specifically
disgust towards the expression of friendship through sex
makes me mist up and weep for the folly of man. Right here in Earl's.
Of course I know that homosexuality was an accepted practice among the Greeks, but I'm not so sure that they associated it with love? Again, I don't think they had the same definition of love that we do.
The Romans on the other hand rather frowned on homosexuality I believe (which of course does not preclude the practice of it), but they did not hate it the way Christians and Muslim may do.
What I meant, really, is that reading a story about a passionate friendship between two men does not automatically mean that sexual love is implied, and especially not if we project our own definition of love on these texts. But maybe I'm wrong. I tend to be very literal and rather blind to everything that is unsaid.
Harsch and I share a fanship for Akira Kurosawa, the best known (in America) Japanese director ("the John Ford of Japan" even it seems according to John Ford) whose 1954 "Seven Samurai" is yet probably the best "western" ever made though copied as John Sturges' good but pale shadow of the original, the 1960 "The Magnificent Seven" with Yul Brynner as "Takashi Shimura" so to speak and Steve McQueen as an amalgam of Kurosawa's other characters.
"Ugetsu" is as per "Seven" set in the "turbulent" 16th century of Japanese civil wars and "failed statehood" I guess but it strikes me also as an attempt to address the second world war, something the Germans have apparently become pretty good at (to the point of boring their youth with Adolf, et. al.) but the Japanese STILL have difficulty with.
"Ugetsu" is about some town folk, specifically a potmaker and his rather noble wife plus his buddy who longs a la Toshiro Mifune to become a "real samurai," who decide "war is good for business" and set about making and selling pottery that goes like proverbial hotcakes because I'd suppose all these wars break a lot of crockery eh.
Anyway bad things happen to both "good" and "bad" people -- one being the potter is seduced by a ghost, "Lady Wakasa," who is portrayed by the lovely Machiko Kyo who also is the "raped" ("Legitimate" rape? Ah that's the question in this movie!) wife in Kurosawa's great "Rashomon" AND -- get this Brando mavens! -- she played "Lotus Blossom" in the American fairy tale about an Okinawa and US occupation of purest fantasy (but then what are the movies BUT --), the appallingly charming (hard to resist in spite I assure you) 1956 "Teahouse of the August Moon" in which Brando has his eyes pulled back and plays an Okinawan interpreter of unusually big muscles and well fed frame for 1946!
Kyo's awfully cute in "Teahouse" but she's very appropriately "ghostly" in "Ugetsu" as she is also appropriately ambiguous in "Rashomon." Since she didn't speak English there was no "career" ahead of her in Hollywood (unlike for Bergman's mistress-actresses Bibi Andersson and Liv Ullmann who probably both should have "stayed at home"?) but she might forever say that SHE did a pic with MARLON BRANDO!?
The discovery of samurai who behave like the barbarians who destroyed Timbuktoo and the fact that money made in war by small folk is just as easily stolen from them by men with swords and spears has at the end the would be samurai throwing his weapons in the river and vowing to be a "hard working" farmer as his much put upon wife demands.
War is well "ugly" in "Ugetsu" and the sense I have is that there'd have been MILLIONS of Japanese watching this "medieval" story who were able to place its events rather "exactly" in their own experiences? But "Ugetsu" is also beautifully filmed (in black and white of course by Kazuo Miyagawa), especially the uh "haunting" sequences of the two couples rowing across a local lake in heavy fog and in the ghosts of the nurse and the "Lady" leading the potter to another sort of Japanese fantasyland of the uneasy and yet lusting dead.
Well another "tangent" interrupting your discussion but I hope it might "add" something to the "atmosphere"?
Your "FRIENDLY" ghost, "Capsper" Mike...
RH, I like your title only I don't think the princess' glance was meant to be seductive, so I give my alternative:
1. The train of the princess.
please vote on or submit a title for chapter one.
dream analysis, why not?
symbolism? everything anyone notices or thinks of...
Chapter 2. Honda Brings Kiyo to Life
The Fastidious Beauty of Youth
First foreshadowing of death: a dream of his coffin, the water of the lake, and the autumn leaves of the maple. I think it's significant that they land 'where a single maple stood among the pines'
Kiyoaki was clearly impressed by the princess. Is his subconscious rejecting this by throwing out the coffin dream with the woman hanging on?
I sometimes wonder if I am hindered by being a writer myself and finding almost every review of my books, which were mostly positive, off the point, and so I am reluctant to determine what another author is saying. I will try to get past that. Meantime, Mishima is certainly a complex writer.
In fact, from the beginning I was asking for a co-leader.
A line from the beginning: "And so they stared from their hiding place like two young snipers."
A line at the end: "Kiyo, what would you do if all of a sudden I weren't here any more?" Satoko asked, her words coming in a rushed whisper.
Foregrounding, Foreboding, foreshadowing. For what? I don't yet know.
Going back to the suicide issue, I think it is hard in the context of my own cultural background to really understand suicide as an act of grief or mourning, but somewhat easier to understand it as a form of protest. I was just raised too much of an individualist to really comprehend making a statement of mourning through that kind of act. But I look at the Tibetan self-imolations or the self-imolation that touched off the Arab spring, and have some better emotional understanding of why the sacrifice. But is a suicide in mourning for the Emperor really that different, other than it being a sacrifice not to change the status quo, but to celebrate and reinforce it?
(Please grade using the gibberish quotient)
>183 A_musing:,184 (We are talking about that general right?) I think there might be an element of honour involved. If you say the Emperor is your life then it seems dishonorable to go on after he has died (and perhaps claim that the new Emperor is your life?). Or put it differently: if there's nobody left to die for, there's nobody left to live for.
chapter 3: watching the sky
(after reading sun&steel I couldn't help but be struck by that)
Also, this chapter introduces buddhism and the idea of reincarnation.
Kiyoaki really does need some clues, though, doesn't he?
I started after all talking about Gary Cooper and I rewatched a rather "obscure" Coop film the other night, the 1936 "Souls at Sea" directed by that "prolific competent" Henry Hathaway and featuring a lovely Frances Dee (married fellow actor Joel McCrea and ONLY Joel McCrea -- ditto JMcC re Dee -- a Hollywood "wonder" indeed!) plus a captivating -- get this! -- George Raft (ever hear of him?) as "Powdah," a refreshingly candid "prole" type, a mate on a slave ship, who nevertheless loves (love IS the word really) "Nuggin" (Cooper) who reads Shakespeare and recites various sort of popular poetry.
Dee is the English middle class who falls for Coop and the engaging Olympe Bradna plays the "lady's maid" headed off to America to escape her class consciousness and she of course falls for Raft who pretends he's a merchant prince of sorts.
The "story" deals with the slave trade though there's only one sequence with the hold full of chained black men ("bold" for a 1930s movie I'd say; probably didn't play uh "well" in say Atlanta or especially Savannah -- if at all; "Gone With the Wind" much more THEIR style) but also with the proposition of what is permissable in a life or death crisis. Coop ends up on trial you see for killing some (white) folks when a ship sinks due to an accident that will surprise you (if you ever see this film) in its uh "candor" is the best word I can find at the moment in order to save others in the one remaining lifeboat. (No especial nobility here as per "Titanic" eh.)
Anyway I saw the movie (by "accident") on tv oh a million (or at least fifty) years ago and it always "stuck" with me for its theme(s) and singular characters and performances. Oh and I rewatched the 1936 "The Plainsman," a Cecil B. DeMille pic with Cooper and Jean Arthur about "Wild Bill" Hickok and "Calamity" Jane and it's random "history" but vivid moviemaking. Harsch by the way once particularly impressed me by noting that DeMille, despite his tendency to the "corn," is superb at creating an "environment" which is not really oh ancient Egypt or Israel or the American west for that matter but DEMILLE's version of so that nevertheless has its own "living" reality. CB was a man who kept his eye on "detail" you might say.
Okay "Mike Interruptus" again -- a diversion from topic which I hope may, with some pleasure, "divert" for a few minutes?...
I've been catsitting for this couple who seemed really weirdly eager to get me using their Netflix account as some kind of make-yourself-at-home gesture (like, calling to check in: "How are things? I bet you've been enjoying the Netflix.") and I finally busted it pen the other day and I was all excited about de-ignoranting myself some on some classic film but it's all Disney and HBO and the exact same shit that's available everywhere on TV and for download. I am seriously disappointed. I get why the video shop has a billion copies of the Avengers and none of "Souls at Sea," but surely the rights for old movies are cheap and storage isn't an issue for Netflix ... I don't get it.
(Sure enough, no "Souls at Sea.")
Has anyone seen the 2005 Spring Snow? I don't know the director, but it stars Satoshi Tsumabuki from Waterboys as Kiyoaki and on the basis of the first two chapters I'd say that casting is as perfect as cherry blossoms floating on the still surface of a high school swimming pool.
The chapter ends with Honda perceiving that Kiyo is pleading that he not be faced with the real. The perverse relation between his self-perception and the world is the skull, and he doesn't want to find that out, even though it would lead through a web of irrationality to something real.
Chapter Title: The History of Gesshu Temple
Oooh, yes, true. Nice. It also gives Honda a darker cast than previously--he likes holding that power over Kiyoaki, sword of Damocles–style.
The interplay of story and religion is very deft and matter of fact here. We are being set up. I expect Martin's flashing white fangs to be bared eventually, but not yet.
Ch. 8. The Oppressive Real
"Yet he knew their (the Thais) thoughts were elsewhere, adrift on some broad ocean. But he was pleased by it, for to him the idea of human emotions remaining steadfast and inextricably anchored in the body, in the here-and-now, was unbearably oppressive."
Through the first half of the book there are three references to the saliva of horses!
This chapter is a fun one. The sadsack Iinuma ends the chapter with a surprise erection. Later we find out why, but it comes as such a surprise Iinuma fails to bring the book down.
>197 RickHarsch: Nice!
You put too much faith in me; my notes are so sparse! And no titles!
Ch4 The reader becomes aware that Kiyo has feelings for Satoko, but K is in denial.
Ch5 K realises his love for S; K rejects his father's offer to pay for sex (loyalty to S?). Development of what looks like love-hate relation
Ch6 The Thai princes flaunt their girlfriends and K feels obliged to organise a meeting with S in the theatre.
Ch7 Honda's study; incident with Fusako
Ch8 The play (theatre)
Ch9 Iinuma's disappointment
Ch10 Iinuma blackmailed to become go-between
My turn to have kurt contributions, I guess.
I'm also trying to really place the setting in Japanese history still. Mishima writes in the 60s, and is depicting the post Russo-Japanese war aristocracy. Japan is about to launch three decades of intense imperialism. The period we're in seems a bit of a lull in some ways, and certainly feels like it.
A blurb on the back of my book calls this an 'austere' love story? Is this an austere love story?
And for the Thais, probably, they'd be much happier if their thoughts were in the here-and-now--whether that means thoughts joining them in Japan or them meeting their thoughts back in Thailand.
I'm interested in Iinuma as the hatching of the protofascist spirit that will end the "lull." Taisho democracy seems like such a blip to us (me), with the telescoping that accompanies the passage of time and its placement in between the charismatic, politically mad mad mad mad Meiji and Showa eras. But it was fourteen years, in fact, and the "democracy" lasted somewhat longer. Plenty of time for a young guy like our sadsack to feel like the age of heroes had passed (he seems like the type to do something seriously fucked up later and come to a bad end, but if he sticks around I can imagine him having a gruesome career in the thirties doing blackshirt stuff).
Then blurb on mine is fantastic. I will reproduce it in full when I have book in hand.
Bit prosaic, sure.
Anyway, I don't remember enough about this, but I was struck in the past by Hindu philosophy's regard of the dream life as just as much a part of life as the waking life--or just as real. I believe even dreamless sleep is regarded as a reality on a par with the perceived daily life. This would make sense, of course, for the dreamless sleep is likely to be free of false perceptions, behaviours based on false perceptions. So I was struck by 'He could never be certain that these day-to-day emotions were part of his true self, but he knew that the Kiyoaki of his dreams, at least, was real.' And of course his behaviour is too often governed by maya, his false interpretation of the real...
In his dream he is wearing the ring Chao P. was given by his lover...
Wherein, during a ride in the snow, Kiyo and Satoko have their meeting of lovers before anything has been done to set a tragedy in motion (Kiyo's letter, at his point, could still have been forgiven and seems to have been, but...)
This chapter contains the following fine paragraph:
'A moment later, the shaking of the richshaw was about to force their lips apart, but Kiyoaki instinctively resisted the movement, until his whole body seemed to balance on that kiss, and he had the sensation that a huge, invisible, perfumed fan was slowly unfolding where their lips met.'
SUDDENLY, SHE SEEMED CONSUMED BY A MYSTERIOUS FIRE. . . .
Her lips, with an incredible, liquid smoothness, that intoxicated him, kept twisting one way, then the other, against his own. The firm edge of her resolve was melting away like a lump of sugar in hot tea, and now a wonderfully sweet dissolution had begin.
Her entire kimono swirled in revolt as he tore frantically at the folds of silk that bound her breasts. Then right before his eyes, he saw the tiny, well-guarded triangle of white before her throat spread into a rich and fragrant expanse of skin . . . .
"A love story, related to Romeo and Juliet. . . a work of superb, fantastically sensual, fictional art . . . ." –Mademoiselle
And then it has has what looks like Davy Jones in a turtleneck and white boots, embracing Faye Dunaway in a black wig, arms artfully draped to hide and yet reveal, her kimono swirling in revolt, just like it says on the tin.
Ayakura Satoko (綾倉 聡子) is harder--her given name means "sagacious/discerning child," and 綾 is "figure, design," which seems appropriate. 倉 is usually "warehouse," but kanji were adopted for the sound only in many cases; perhaps there is a small irony here too, since it's Kiyoaki's family that are the nouveaux riches. The Asakura were a major aristocratic family historically, so maybe there's an echo there. Actually, that's interesting--Asakura Yoshikage was handpicked by the shogun to lead the coalition against Oda Nobunaga, another rising upstart, and failed completely, and the family were destroyed--and it certainly wasn't typical for the nobility to partake in the samurai tradition; as far as I remember the Asakura were the only ones that did, and they were eliminated by Nobunaga after he marched into Kyoto. I've seen Yoshikage depicted in books and video games about the period as craven, effete, pompous.
Like with the book symbolism, the parallels are pretty obvious! Now somebody just needs to interpret the role of boners for us.
I'm too lazy to look up the places, but I've felt this a few times already.
What is the relation between the throne, ring and the girl's reflection? Why does she disappear when he shakes his hand? Why can't he be bothered to think such questions over for himself? I'm not his psychoanalyst...
Ch 12: Ride in the snow
Ch 13 Honda's philosophy
Free will vs determinism. A debate as old as the world, methinks.
I was also on the lookout for fascists, I mean, we all know what happened next.
I'm not entirely sure about the Thai princes. I don't think Mishima would introduce foreigners, even if they're Asian, to represent traditional values. I thought they represent the Buddhist element, rather.
Ch. 15 is remarkable. Satoko writes at the end of a genuine love letter, mocking Kiyo: 'Please be kind enough not to forget to throw this letter into the fire.'
Of course Kiyo still thinks his nasty letter was indeed thrown into the fire and he misses the mockery. He then spends a page or two twisting things around in his mind until he is moved to write another nasty letter,; but he can't manage and writes a boyish love letter.
Ch. 17 The Thai Princes Remind Kiyo that He is in Love
Perhaps my favorite excerpt from the book:
Any sort of serious thought was beyond the Baroness, who was amazed at the intellectual awakening among Japanese women. She observed it with the same excited curiosity that might have been aroused in her by hens laying eggs of some novel shape--pyramids, for instance.'
Please offer your interpretations of Satoko's remonstrance. Why then? Why the ride in the snow and then this? What is up with this woman?
ch14 Where Kiyo and Satoko have the innocent celebration of their love in the pure snow of a blizzard, in this chapter we find Iinuma consuming carnal love with a flipskirt maid in that corner of the library 'closest to the dirty snow'. Though Iinuma was manipulated by Kiyo/Takeshina I didn't notice him putting up any resistance at all. The phrase that stuck: 'is this my way of finding pleasure'. Well may Iinuma doubt himself.
Chapter title: dirty snow (and for ch12: falling snow)
ch 15 I liked the phrase 'it was the kind of letter that ought to transport a man into ecstacy' (my emphasis). The message is clear: kiyo isn't a man, he's an adolescent boy, overly romantic. And since the stuff of the romantic is unrequitted love, nothing is more deadly to it than an actual love affair, hence his reluctance to accept Satoko. But there may be a little hope for him yet as he apparently sends the boyish love letter instead of the nasty one.
Nice quote from RH, another one: 'Why can't I be on both sides of the pond at once' (the baroness lamenting her inability to view firsthand the impact of her dress...)
Let's see some contrasts:
baroness vs baron (chatterbox/scatterbrain vs studiedly silent fella)
geishas vs Satoko (shifting eyes vs serene look)
Some active/passive thing going on with passive coming out on top?
The thai princes pretend to be good school boys in front of the prince (well, who wouldn't?)
What's the fuss about Brits asking whether to pour the tea or the milk first if a Japanese tea ceremony takes hours?
Rick and Henk, I like your hints about revelations to come (the letter, the Thai princes). Regarding milk and/in tea, I think it has to do with the food history of the Meiji era--as Japan Westernized, it was decided that the European diet (along with everything else European, of course) was more nutritious, and traditional taboos on meat and dairy were done away with from above by means of ads: The Emperor himself enjoys meat! The Emperor drinks two glasses of milk a day for strong bones! My understanding is that the meat thing caught on pretty quick, but there was a lot more resistance to dairy, which was taken mostly quasi-medicinally. It's well known that lactose intolerance is normal in East Asians. Dairy didn't really enter people's diets until the sixties, according to the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Food, with the advent of Japanese wonderbread; it never made significant inroads into native Japanese food (you can get a cheese gratin (or a wrapped Camembert) at any Japanese restaurant (supermarket), but cream cheese in sushi, which is common here in Vancouver, I suspect would be seen as an abomination.
All of which is to say that the place of food in culture and the place of tea in Japanese food culture made the Baron's comment ring really true to me. I was living in Tokyo when Starbucks introduced matcha lattes a decade ago, and nobody bought them and everybody was horrified--although royal milk tea, which is black tea boiled with milk and sugar, was common. (And despite the normality of dairy by that time, some people still used to say that white people smell like butter).
So while the Baron is playing this pseudo-British global cosmopolitan, the tea story will be felt novel by the listener in a way that unites him and his audience in a presumed, shared Japanese reaction. It makes him (to people in his milieu) more relatable, less grotesque and less potentially funny, and lets him get away with his eccentric way of being. I thought it was a really good touch.
Jesus Martin, and I mean that, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Food?
Thanks, excellent stuff.
As for the writing being difficult to love...I have wondered often how Japanese is translated, rather whether a great translation is possible. With this one I stopped thinking about it, because I like Mishima's capacity to surprise me, usually with a comment or someone's behaviour that strikes me as perverse.
And yeah, With this one I stopped thinking about it, because I like Mishima's capacity to surprise me, usually with a comment or someone's behaviour that strikes me as perverse., I'm coming around to this way of thinking too.
I'm at the start of Chapter 19.
But thank you for your kind regard,
1.She read Kiyo's immature, wounded boy letter though denied it.
2. she subsequently went on a kiss ride in the snow with Kiyo that she instigated.
3. She told him off in Ch. 19
Pim, thanks for the pointer on the fascist link. Will keep that in mind, though I don't think I have the stomach read either of the books you mention.
ch 19 my take on it: Satoko, refined aristocrat that she is, enjoyed teasing Kiyoaki as long as it left Kiyo confused. But the boyish love letter brings their romance down to a level she considers below her, therefore she scolds him now for being a baby and leaves in a huff. (Of course Kiyo must be a baby; we have about 3.75 more books for him to grow up ...)
I like the image of darkness falling that opens the chapter. title, Darkening Blossoms
ch 20 Iinuma has become another person now he does not fight his urges day and night anymore. It makes him seem more human. He tells Kiyo that Satoko did read the letter and asked the kiyo's father for the truth about the brothel visit. She misinterprets the mention in the letter for bragging which, apparently, fits her ideas of refinement. Kiyo's darker, more destructive motive is beyond her grasp. The chapter ends with a faint echo of Satoko's snub of Kiyo when we witness, through Iinuma's eyes, an increasing near-erotic tension which Kiyo, characteristically selfabsorbed, dispels by curtly ordering Iinuma to leave. Title: post-script.
I read the entire novel so long ago that it doesn't count anymore (like Kiyo, I wasn't sure whether Satoko had read his letter ...) I'm commenting here as I'm rereading, I'm not rushing ahead.
Certainly despite Mishima's much-discussed love of bushido, I'm not convinced that Kiyoaki exhibits any of the finer virtues of his civilization or that his various counterparts--especially Satoko but also Honda and the Thais and perhaps even Iinuma--can be intended to do anything but play this up. He's pure yabo at moments, nothing but a magnificent body and a chip on his shoulder. This gets us into historical and cultural waters I don't by any means have a great understanding of, but I keep seeing something samurai-analogous-in-a-bad-way in Kiyoaki that is trumped at every corner by Satoko's eternal Japan. But this is the Taisho era, one of vulgarities that renders old elegance cheap, and one wonders if the boorishness that Kiyo and Iinuma (I'm seeing Iinuma at this point as basically a mine canary for Kiyo's development) exhibit requires to be forged as a sword. Maybe we're seeing the raw material that needs to be guided to its triumph of the will? As Henk says, he has a lot of growing up to do over four books, and a nuanced defence of samurai virtues has plenty of time to emerge. It'll be interesting to see how Kiyo and Satoko's relationship proceeds in that regard--I hope they stay human under all the historical forces wrestling through them.
I haven't read Chapter 19 yet, but the stuff with the letters is very Genji, isn't it?
Especially this from henkmet in #246:
"ch 19 my take on it: Satoko, refined aristocrat that she is, enjoyed teasing Kiyoaki as long as it left Kiyo confused. But the boyish love letter brings their romance down to a level she considers below her, therefore she scolds him now for being a baby and leaves in a huff. (Of course Kiyo must be a baby; we have about 3.75 more books for him to grow up ...)
I like the image of darkness falling that opens the chapter. title, Darkening Blossoms
ch 20 Iinuma has become another person now he does not fight his urges day and night anymore. It makes him seem more human. He tells Kiyo that Satoko did read the letter and asked the kiyo's father for the truth about the brothel visit. She misinterprets the mention in the letter for bragging which, apparently, fits her ideas of refinement."
So that is a very interesting idea of "refinement" - bragging about a brothel visit? Or am I misunderstanding this? Is she a likeable character? She sounds like a jackass from the weird partial ideas I am forming from the thread (esp Martini's comparison of her to Catherine from Wuthering Heights, who I absolutely despised)...
Satoko likeable? I see her as a bit of a cocktease; that doesn't necessarily make her unlikeable, but the way she carries on her own games regardless of how uncomfortable Kiyo is with it makes her appear very self-centered.
Martin, it's so long ago that I read wuthering heights ... I only remember I couldn't really get emotionally involved in the story. Maybe that's telling about my own character?
Spring Snow is so centered on Kiyo that I view Satoko through the lens Mishima creates through which we see Kiyo relating to others. In that light I find Satoko more sympathetically. Which is why her outburst genuinely puzzles me. I now thing that, all very good cultural and historical references aside, it was done to accomplish what it actually did, perhaps, which is deepen Kiyo's capacity for love for her.
I have some sympathy for Satoko, and for everyone stuck in what is clearly a kind of twisted albeit priviliged world. I think Anna's read on Satoko is dead on, but would go even deeper and say I see Satoko herself as someone torn by her dismissal of the pretty boy. Yes, she's above him, but she's also fond of him besides being interested in him and playing with him.
Mishima's art seems to be letting us half-inside his charcaters. He plays with us, too. We see some of them, we must guess at more. This is not the probing omniscience of Dusty. I think this is what you mean, Rick, about seeing Satoko through the lens Mishima creates.
Ch 21 Farewell Iinuma
Ch 22 Farewell Satoko: comedy of manners...
It is the perfect lead-in to her disclosure of the contents of the letter, resulting in a discussion of Kiyo's sexual education, the educating of Satoko that the letter was false bragging, the education of the father as to his son's relationship with Satoko and of Mine and Iinuma....
This is where the unraveling begins.
Ch. 24 Kiyo has the sensible thought: In his heart, he always preferred the actuality of loss to the fear of it.
This was the point in the book that I feared boredom: I know what's going to happen (I think): how is Mishima going to keep me interested when I am not even half through. He managed.
Horse saliva mentioned again.
Ch. 25 I love Satoko (and since he is Kiyo, the book will thus gather steam)
Count Ayakura was a hopeless coward in the face to the Countess at once, and when she in turn handed it quite a disturbance on the morning that Tadeshina did not get up. The suicide note left on her pillow was brought of such things as injury, sickness, and death. There was over to her husband, he opened it at fingertips' length, as if it were germ-ridden.
Ohhh, now I see. Hey, is it true Book 3's about assassins?
For real, one thing I find troubling about this book is the matter-of-fact way it dwells on the unbearably-tragic-beautiful human thoughts and feelings of its characters and then goes out of its way to make them unlovable the next. Like, Kiyokaki in the scene with his family is pretty unsympathetic for a guy who's getting beaten with a pool cue--so useless--but then we have him in despair with Satoko at the train station and I had to unbend a little. I guess that's part of what made me think of Flaubert and Proust, but Mishima strikes the balance better than them--I still basically rooted for Emma and for Swann, but I'm not sure what I think Kiyoaki deserves.
Ch. 29 Court observers use the long nails of their little fingers to dig sulfur-colored deposits out of their ears.
I want this on the back cover of every copy of Oedipus Rex, Spring Snow, and Jonathan Livingston Seagull from now on.
21 Kiyo keeps his cool when Satoko receives a marriage offer from a third party.
22 Satoko doesn't really like Harunori; empty pomp vs the over-the-top sensibilities of kiyo. Proceedings started
23 kiyo sees a beetle! Omiyasama festival in decline; seems only Iinuma really took it serious.
24 kiyo 'preferred the actuality of loss to the fear of it.' Two poems on the past but differently voiced; Kiyo's melancholy, Satoko's fond memory. Empty dreams, crossroads. Chao P is not ashamed of missing his girl friend.
That should be a whole book on its own.
I have to say, Satoko's shock move in 44 (ish?) really won me over. Don't usually get ravished by grand gestures like that.
I was quite impressed by the grandmother.
Kiyo's self-centeredness knows no bounds. When Iinuma vilifies his family in a right wing rag he thinks it's a ploy to let him know I's new address.
Water apparently has significance, like in western symbolism. It has something to do at least with death (the dead dog, the white cutesy that Kiyo flings in the water) but there are also many references to boats, floating...
I don't think a confrontation would have made much sense in the end. It would be flogging a dead horse IMHO.
How can anyone possibly change THAT opinion. Anyway, I hope that the next one goes down better. (I hope you'll read it.)
PS Oh oh! Runaway Horses is not available from BN.COM.
Change of subject:
Roger Ebert's refutation of the critics
Wikipedia on the film's reception
It was greeted as a long costume drama without sufficient drama to draw interest over the full course of a screening. It, however, held my interest. I didn't know that it had been rehabilitated; back from Kolyma for Kubrick.
I am trying to figure out whether Mishima has done the same here. Lot's of superficial beauty, a fascination with manners, perhaps a bit tableauish in places. Does it run deep below those still waters?
On Barry Lyndon, it seems that everybody agreed that it was slow and mannered, but some people liked that and some didn't. I have trouble imagining anyone actually thinking it's devoid of skill or craft.
Also the Buddhist stuff--the Abbess's two parables. I'm in no position to evaluate what's actually going on, but I keep coming back to the skull, and also to Honda on the beach. And the Thai princes, I just find them delightful. There's a bit of a "magic negro" thing with them that I wonder where it'll go.
This seems like a book that should be taught in high school--it's got teen love, and telegraphs a lot of its symbolism, and yet had depths. I sort of anticipate the tetralogy getting better, as each book builds on the one before it, but I enjoyed this quite well.
You should feel free to move on at any point, I may lag but I'll catch up.
The graceful cranes encrusted in shit, the beautifully composed waterfall broken by the carcass of a dead black dog--terrific, always that realistic enjambement of beauty and death and decay, no stinking Western transcendence.
And Pound is on record for being inspired by haiku, no? He wrote that famous one, about faces in a subway.
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
No verbs. I always thought Tang inspired rather than Haiku, but, yes, looks a lot like haiku, too. Published in Lustra, which stays near me on my kindle and phone. But Spring Snow is a book where the images stay with me more than the words. All the comparisons in the blurbs on the back to psychologically astute folks like Dostoevsky seem off, to me, you've got to focus instead on those who can spin wonderful images - Pound, HD, Eliot would be my comparisons.
You may be interested in Pound's comment, in "Vorticism":
Three years ago in Paris I got out of a "metro" train at La Concorde, and saw suddenly a beautiful face, and then another and another, and then a beautiful child's face, and then another beautiful woman, and I tried all that day to find words for what this had meant to me, and I could not find any words that seemed to me worthy, or as lovely as that sudden emotion. And that evening, as I went home along the Rue Raynouard, I was still trying, and I found, suddenly, the expression. I do not mean that I found words, but there came an equation ... not in speech, but in little spotches of colour. It was just that -- a "pattern," or hardly a pattern, if by "pattern" you mean something with a "repeat" in it. But it was a word, the beginning, for me, of a language in colour. I do not mean that I was unfamiliar with the kindergarten stories about colours being like tones in music. I think that sort of thing is nonsense. If you try to make notes permanently correspond with particular colours, it is like tying narrow meanings to symbols.
That evening, in the Rue Raynouard, I realised quite vividly that if I were a painter, or if I had, often, that kind of emotion, or even if I had the energy to get paints and brushes and keep at it, I might found a new school of painting, of "non-representative" painting, a painting that would speak only by arrangements in colour. ....
That is to say, my experience in Paris should have gone into paint ...
The "one image poem" is a form of super-position, that is to say it is one idea set on top of another. I found it useful in getting out of the impasse in which I had been left by my metro emotion. I wrote a thirty-line poem, and destroyed it because it was what we call work "of second intensity." Six months later I made a poem half that length; a year later I made the following hokku-like sentence: --
"The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals, on a wet, black bough."
I dare say it is meaningless unless one has drifted into a certain vein of thought. In a poem of this sort one is trying to record the precise instant when a thing outward and objective transforms itself, or darts into a thing inward and subjective."
This particular sort of consciousness has not been identified with impressionist art. I think it is worthy of attention.
Superficially there are similarities, but I think Japanese haiku has more depth than imagism. As you can see, Pound seems to want to paint with words, to capture the image for the image's sake. This, I think, is actually considered a trademark of "bad" haiku, if I remember my Blyth correctly. What the haiku poet sees is the naked face of truth, never a "representation".
P.S. Dammit, it's not the whole quotation of Pound such as I remember it--I guess he wrote about it more than once, see here for instance:
Oblique faces lure me in
Who is al Suzyu?
Fifteen chapters down: quite nice first kiss in the rickshaw on a snowy day--recalled Emma Bovary and Léon in the carriage (although the latter went considerably past the kiss); I continue to like this very much. Fine contrast between the two boys, Kiyoaki and Honda, so far, even their households. But the best thing, for me, is the convoluted relationship between Satoko and Kiyoaki, the tortured mind games and jockeying for power, so inexplicable to the outsider, so vital to the adolescents.
Hearing tones (or chords) as colours, some musicians have that (not me).
The library is used for illicit meetings because it is the one place in the house no one ever goes. Says all you need to know about the family, doesn't it? It's almost too easy.
So far, not much has been said about the relationship between these two (Kiyoaki and Iinuma)--I don't see how they stood each other for years. Well, okay--Iinuma worships Kiyoaki's perfect body, but surely he must be appalled at the boy's amorphous, enervated nature? And then the little SOB pwns him when he cottons onto Iinuma's weak spot.
I hope Honda doesn't disappear, I'm interested in his analytical approach to history and politics of the day. Not something that's going to be provided by the self-absorbed Kiyoaki, I don't think.
And I suppose Iinuma is the blinkered nationalist and self-sacrificing patriot.
And yeah, Honda rules. I hope it's not spoilering too much to say that my ending where everyone dies except Honda didn't come true, but I still might fanfic it.
Iinuma had no choice but to stand Kiyo. Like it or not, Kiyo was the master and Iinuma is programmed to adore his superiors. Kiyo cannot really stand Iinuma but he gets his revenge.
We begin today, then, chapter something by next Monday.
The first book should be read fast; it sets the stage, but things get much thicker in the second book.
Make the guests cook. It's the least they can do.
Someday, they will let us order electronic and dead tree version together. So can I download the Persona book here in France?