Less of a review but more a random hodgepodge of thoughts.
Masks - takes place in post WWII Japan and has at its premise a very curious idea: spirit poLess of a review but more a random hodgepodge of thoughts.
Masks - takes place in post WWII Japan and has at its premise a very curious idea: spirit possession. I think that's what made this book initially strange to me- this near academic attitude towards spirit possession. Two main characters study spirit possession in a University and spirit possession is a hidden hand that guides some of the characters actions- it is a metaphor for unknowable emotional compulsions, perhaps. Extreme emotions are controlled and hidden (like in a mask) and expressed supernaturally. The book has a controlled, gothic quality: a porcelain, romantically turbulent landscape.
I have been struck, by the few books I have written that has taken place in post WWII Japan- is the simultaneous alien and yet, familiarity. In this book- the character of Yasuko – in many American counterparts of post WWII nourish literature- would be a femme fatale. But in this book, although she seduces and has sexual desire, the reader gets a sense of her humanity. She has loves and fears and has sadness. Her seductions are an attempt to escape and less an attempt to destroy.
Reading this also made me look up abortion laws in Japan, since it was mentioned so pragmatically- especially for being written in 1958. I think that may be one of the more "strange" qualities of this story- how sex is handled. One may think Japan as being a very patriarchal and repressed society, yet sexuality is discussed very naturally- without a great moral weight. ...more
I haven’t read much sci-fi in the past number of years and in reading this I remember the different reading muscle one must use to read sci-fi. It isI haven’t read much sci-fi in the past number of years and in reading this I remember the different reading muscle one must use to read sci-fi. It is the muscle that forces you to completely submit to the writer’s world, since it is a world constructed by the writer- one can also make this argument about fantasy, but usually fantasy begin at some recognizable mythic point and leaps from there.
Like the main character, I started in a world I had to try to understand clue by clue. It allowed me to work my way into the story and discover, along with the character, this strange world that Butler has imagined. At the heart of it- is a story of intimacy and the other. Does a relationship with the alien other alter oneself so much that one almost becomes unrecognizable to one’s group? Does Lilith (the main character and initial character we encounter- the mother human) now inhabit some liminal not human/ not alien identity because of her time spent learning from and interacting with the alien? Are humans so belligerent that even after given a second chance (after destroying their world through war) they will stupidly band together and act in violence and aggression instead of learning and connecting together? These are the questions that pop up while reading this- I think my answers will not be very inspired. I suppose more will get worked out in this series.
I have heard of Butler for years, now I can say I have read one of her books. ...more