He took on the role of the psychologist, sociologist and anthropologist at the same time to write down this book.
Born in Greece, Lafcadio (1850-1904) He took on the role of the psychologist, sociologist and anthropologist at the same time to write down this book.
Born in Greece, Lafcadio (1850-1904), the son of a Greek mother and an Irish father, had a peculiar life trajectory. From Dublin he went to America at the age of 19. He served as a reporter in New Orleans; his prose-style was both “macabre and vivid”.
(What was he looking at??? you may wonder)
From 1896 till 1903 he lectured at the University of Tokyo. He would become a resident in the Japanese territory for 14 years. He married a Japanese woman; they had a son. Lafcadio became Koizumi Yakumo.
The book Japan: an attempt at interpretation is a way in, a deeper look into the Japanese life, way-beyond the surface. You cannot really know/understand a Japanese painting, or sculpture or even any decoration work, if you don’t understand the religion.
Just like understanding Shakespeare; you got to have some knowledge of the Christian belief. As for the language, Lafcadio said your knowledge of the European languages won’t help.
So, he was confronted with this “outward strangeness”, and “ethical charm”; plus this feeling of weirdness; this “queer odd small street”; this “odd small people”. “I cannot understand them at all”.
Fourteen years on Lafcadio still recalled the wonder and “delight of the vision” in his first encounters; yet, he could not understand them at all.
The houses' construction was strange; so were the foods, the emblems and masks and toys. Even the physical actions of the Japanese seemed "unfamiliar". All evoking a sense of “contrariety”, so well expressed by Percival Lowell: the Japanese “speak and read backwards”. Always: “the left is the right side”.
Back to the understanding of the language, the best solution would be to “be born again”. European languages don’t help.
“The whole of the Japanese mental superstructure evolves into forms having nothing in common with western psychological development; the EXPRESSION OF THOUGHT BECOMES REGULATED AND THE EXPRESSION OF EMOTION INHIBITED IN WAYS THAT BEWILDER AND ASTOUND”.
As for religion, Lafcadio’s thesis is that “the main religion of Japan is ancestor worship”, with three distinct rites, some influenced by the Chinese ceremonial.
Shinto may take three forms: State cult (for imperial ancestors, it’s the national religion), the communal cult (the clan or tribal aspect; for local divinities) and, finally, the domestic cult (for the worshiping of family ancestors). It's Shinto (meaning the ancient way), the common branch between those cults.
There’s the way of the Gods and Buddhism Butsudo (the way of the Buddha).
Surely funny, fighty enough and full of natural phenomena to tame.
But I’ve found pretty challenging the fight Ranma has to undergo with a new, beautifSurely funny, fighty enough and full of natural phenomena to tame.
But I’ve found pretty challenging the fight Ranma has to undergo with a new, beautiful teacher in school. She’s got the power to drain the battle-aura, rendering anyone unable to fight. Ranma has got to study the advice of the old Geeser: “attack the pressure points that will negate” her stealing power.
-How to reach those points without getting into a compromised,shameful position?
She’s got a powerful trick called the “8 treasures of the deadly 5 yen piece”.
It looks/feels like an Endo’s book; truly, a historical novel in the vein of Endo,Shusako* https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... recalling old timeIt looks/feels like an Endo’s book; truly, a historical novel in the vein of Endo,Shusako* https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... recalling old times of medieval Japan, times when other nations started arriving and brought new things in and….a new religion: Christianity.
Like Endo, Tsuji had some time of learning in France.
Tsuji’s, is a collection of letters sent by an unidentified Italian. These letters were found in southern France and translated into French. A comparison to other documents led to the conclusion that this Italian man didn’t belong to the Jesuits; he even had a critical view of the Church.
The calligraphy had been compared to the chronicles of Diego de Mesquita (1582) and the History of Japan by Luís Frois**. It seems that these letters never got to their destiny. They were written in the São Paulo seminar in Goa, India.
The author introduces the epistolary set, by saying he’s translated them because they offered a “brilliant portrait” of 16th century Japan, from a “different point of view”.
“I cannot recall exactly in what year I wrote you for the last time, I guess it was 1573, maybe a year later”….
So the Italian starts disclosing his “afflicted destiny” which started with his own (fair, he thinks) act of murder: he had killed his wife and her lover, back in Genoa. Then escaping to Lisbon…for 10 years in the sea;… till he reaches Japan in the summer of 1570.
Stationed in Goa he recalls those years in Japan, where he learned that “mellifluous” language. In Goa, while he writes down, he notices that it’s been 3 months no ships arrive, from Portugal.
He landed in Japan, in the village of Kuchinotsu, accompanied by priest Cabral and the “extraordinary” priest Organtino, whose security the Italian man has to ensure. Next, they depart to Shiki village where several Japanese friars speak Portuguese, fluently.
His first impression of the Japanese people is like this: “courteous and white-skin” people….with an “easy smile” and “extreme” personal hygiene. Yet, with a certain “disdain…”.
Meanwhile, they meet with “old and sick” priest Torres (who would die in October) who entrusts them with a mission: trying to spot and help priest Frois who had been left alone in Miyako.
So it goes the writing of this Italian midst the “eternal summer” of Goa: “here we don’t have winter nor a true spring or autumn”. In Goa’s seminar, priests get prepared to serve as missionaries ….and the Portuguese ships are “little reliable” regarding the correspondence, thinks the writer. He served as an officer in Nuova Spagna [Central America].
The book has got an introduction by Stephen Snyder***, who points the attention to the fact that, in historical novels, the text demands something else from the reader: (historical) Knowledge. Stephen mentions the case of Tolstoy and his Napoleon description. It only works (the reading) if you’ve got some prior knowledge of the French ruler.
But now I was confronted with this character called The Signore (the factual ODA NOBUNAGA),I had no prior knowledge on. It appears he was responsible for the unification of Japan. A man from the Owari province, he would be involved in the fight against an army of monk-soldiers, of the Buddhist sect Ikko. That fight took 20 years (1559-1580) until nearly 20 warlords (Daímos) were subjugated by Oda.
(Battle of Nagashino.June 28, 1575)
(The areas in purple show the areas controlled by the Oda in 1560, and the grey area were the territory Nobunaga controlled at the time of his death in 1582)
His successors Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa will usher in Modern Japan. After 200 years of civil war.
The book had its English translation as “The Signore, Shogun of the warring states”. I am reading the Portuguese version, translated from the English one.
A novel made movie (both by Eriko Kitagawa). It's mostly a romantic tour through the streets of Paris, La Seine, Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower..
A novel made movie (both by Eriko Kitagawa). It's mostly a romantic tour through the streets of Paris, La Seine, Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower...by a young Japanese couple.
Plenty of light and photographs. The girl plays the piano, takes photos of french delicacies...and has a sad story, of a lost child, to tell.
The boy came with another girl, his sister, but she went away. So he's introduced to Paris by the shoes´ girl. A simple, tender story, with good music by Ryuishi Sakamoto.
Ah! the shoes. When the young couple met for the first time, the girl just broke one of the high heels. By the end of the movie,the young man, who, meanwhile, left her, has sent a new pair of shoes,presumably from Japan.Thus the title of the movie:"I have to buy new shoes".
By the time I was reading this Murakami’s it just happened I watched a tape by famous Sleep researcher, psy
Sleep can be a blessing.
By the time I was reading this Murakami’s it just happened I watched a tape by famous Sleep researcher, psychiatrist W. Dement. His research on REM (rapid eye movements) and dreams had been long and very enlightening. He started in the 1950’s at the Chicago University.
One of the key concepts is that of REM sleep: though muscles are turned off, the brain activity continues. If people are awakened in the REM phase, 80% of them will have a vivid recall of the dreams experienced.
Dement read Freud’s Interpretation of dreams and acknowledged dreams can be psychologically significant. In that tape Dement pointed out experiments made in animals: cats deprived of REM sleep would become more aggressive towards rats.
What about humans? What would happen if a person had been for 17 days with no sleep at all? “Insanity” is the likely word that comes up to any lay or non-lay mind,…likely.
That’s what this book is about. An unidentified 30 year-old female goes through that experience and registers her own inner and outer life. The record is meant for the reader solely, since she tells nobody about. Neither to her dentist-husband, nor to her school-kid son. This is a kind of pre-scientific paper.
She reported having had a “kind of insomnia” prior to those 17 days. Some of her observations follow: “it’s hard to tell distance from objects or the weight of things”; she had lost 15 kg; she felt as she was “inside her own shadow”. But that episode was gone.
Later came the 17-days phase. Initially, she got worried and pondered a medical consultation. Then she resigned and came to the resolution: “I don’t care about sleep”. She knew all-too-well about the sleep positive side: “the excess of energy produced by thoughts is then eliminated via dreams”. She knew sleep could be therapeutic, refreshing. Yet it didn't happen.
Murakami surely had to read scientific papers about sleep; that’s obvious in some instances of the text. For example when experiments made by the Nazis are evoked. They used, in WWII, sleep deprivation as torture… coupled with “lights-on always”; insanity ensued; death next.
How about "she"?
She had a degree in English literature and a thesis on Catherine Mansfield. She’s been a housewife though. Now that sleep does not happen, she reads compulsively, over the nights; she sips cognac…and bites chocolates. She reads Ana Karenina…reflects on her image at the mirror, her perfect body well worked out.
At night she watches her husband sleeping un-interrupt as always (he looks like "an idiot"; she’s irritated by the fact that her son has got that type of face: like dad’s).
During daytime, she prepares meals for her family; does the shopping; and works out,… swimming.
No insanity reported. Only an “enlarged consciousness”. A sense of “über” woman; a sort of 1/3 life-amplification…”time was all mine”.
Nevertheless, the paper got interrupted. We don’t know the rest. In my view that's the negative side of the Murakami's paper. We got to know only that she went out, while family sleeps, for a car ride…she’s parked,she cannot start the car, she’s locked inside and two shadows are about to flip her car over.
No conclusions drawn, as they are in scientific papers; so, it’s just pre-scientific.
"Buddhism finds in a dewdrop the symbol of that other microcosm which has been called the soul..."
This is a collection of weird stories taken mostly"Buddhism finds in a dewdrop the symbol of that other microcosm which has been called the soul..."
This is a collection of weird stories taken mostly from old Japanese books. Lafcadio acknowledges that many of the stories may have a Chinese origin. Mind you, Lafcadio was a lecturer of English literature in the Imperial university of Tokyo (1896-1903) and a honorary member of the Japan society in London; and he lamented not reading Chinese.
My sensibility guided me especially to the last chapter of the book dedicated to “insect stories” (on butterflies, mosquitoes and ants). His reflections on those animals in parallel with the Buddhist beliefs will astound anyone.
"Deeper thoughts than memory may still be suggested to English poets by the sight of a butterfly and probably will be for hundreds of years to come" in Interpretations of Literature, by Lafcadio Hearn.
Most interesting (both for me and Lafcadio) were the butterflies’ stories, and his presentation of several HOKKUS (17 syllables poems). Just one ahead:
OWARÉTÉ MO, ISOGANU FURI NO; CHOCHO KANA! [Ah! the butterfly! The butterfly when chased it never has the air of being in a hurry].
An insect which deserves all respect, amazement, reverence…because of the Buddhist belief: if a butterfly enters your home it should be treated kindly, because it may be the soul of a dead person or of a living one.
Again Lafcadio stresses: most of these “marvelous” stories are Chinese.
As for mosquitoes, though bored at their number in the nearby Buddhist cemetery, they too deserve respect; any of them may become an incarnation of those dead.
Finally, the ants deserve a special place of evolutionary speculation on the part of Lafcadio, who exalts their practice of “horticulture and agriculture”, their skill in the “cultivation of mushrooms” and other feats.
Though a resident in the Japanese territory for 14 years, Lafcadio had a lot to learn from Japan,…. an immensity …from a different mind. The Buddhist mind.
"In one of his last essays Lafcadio Hearn said that he would like to be buried in the old Buddhist graveyard behind his garden" in: "Lafcadio Hearn" by Edward Thomas...more
It’s not the first time I encounter, quite recently, that scenario*. The British conspiracy theorist David Icke l Why a planet Earth with two moons?
It’s not the first time I encounter, quite recently, that scenario*. The British conspiracy theorist David Icke lectured on our planet having once a different moon…gone; this one we see, almost daily, being a planetoid.
Also recently, I was reading Whitley Strieber (2012-the war for souls): in his book there’s also this two-moons scenario.
Are humans unsatisfied with one moon only? Should the ebb and flow of sea waves change…and other phenomena?. What if, in fact, two moons were the usual sky landscape? What changes in humans would occur? Especially in their psychology?
I would add to the speculation this book: What If the Earth Had Two Moons?: And Nine Other Thought-Provoking Speculations on the Solar System by Neil F. Comins.
Murakami’s book is a book about questioning (Q). It has two great characters; I would call them the two pillars: they share a part of their childhood,the reader will conclude, but they never meet later in life; they are Aomame and Tengo.
They have also in common this personal/private vision of an earth with two moons, with different colors each. There’s some “disconnect” in them,compared to other ordinary human beings. Two worlds in their lives. Almost, two personalities in each of them.
I am not sure in what world I am,…or year; -we’re in 1984, Tokyo, Japan.
But there’s no great similitude with Orwell’s novel: ”whoever controls the past controls the future”; “whoever controls the present controls the past”.
The movie/book is a Stalinist parable: with a big Brother. In Murakami’s we read:”today there’s no place for Big Brother”; instead: the little people took over.
1Q84. I need to give you some characterization of the main characters of the book; you’ll connect the dots…of meaning.
“She [Aomame] was convinced she was no more living in year 1984, but in the transformed year 1Q84”. She had been a Jehovah’s witness while a child. But she left the association. Aomame, a physical education teacher and karate and acupuncture expert, had cut ties with her family. Now, on her own,she gets killing assignments, from an old widow .She kills men. She had to do research like the 1981 shootings involving the police versus the Vanguard sect. The case Tsubasa would, soon, get into her hands.
Tengo is a math teacher. Tengo had persistent flashes from two years old; images about his mother and someone else; he wonders if these memories are real or produced. He’s got doubts about the “father” who raised him. The collector of TV taxes, who forced him to go with him on Sundays: from house to house,collecting. The one who messed with his childhood.
Tengo had been fixing the book from a late-teen girl: Fuka; content is good, but the writing needs fixing. He gets to know of her past…and sects like Sakigake (Vanguard) ; the sect has a guru with special powers; and the guru has raped a girl called Tsubasa. From her mouth got out the little people, while she sleeps.
Tengo would think: I don’t want to attract a JINX on my writing”. The Fuka/Tengo book would later become a best seller; but Fuka would disappear. ...
At his apartment Tengo reads Chekhov to Fuka: the story of the Russian writer living in Sacalina isle for a while; there, Chekhov, a medical doctor, describes the life of the Guliaks (a near extinction people); the Guliaks apparently don’t use logical thinking but meditation and dream; they never wash; have no family authority; no notions on superior or inferior, or justice. Tengo wonders on why the Russian author made such an absurd thing; it was a peregrination to wash his soul of impurities. He wanted to visit the sick spot of his nation.
Tengo reflects on his own brain: time may twist/bend…; he wants to rewrite the past. What we call present is the result of one accumulation of the past. “I would like to rewrite the present…but if you would rewrite the past, present would change too”.
And Fuka asks Tengo about 1984,the novel. He explains: it’s about totalitarianism: people are controlled by a Big Brother. It’s about History being constantly rewritten; employees who work to correct words.
Fuka had been raised by sensei Ayumi; he reads Mc Luhan:”the means is the language”; he was ahead of his time. Sensei had a great force and deep wisdom. BUT THE LITTLE PEOPLE HAVE GOT A DEEP WISDOM AND FORCE AS BIG AS HIS. Tengo muses: “I’m in world which is not this one in the other world there are two moons”. Bizarre things would happen if this world would have two moons.
Someone in the novel had a degree in literature (about Dickens); there, she learned the difference between lunatic and insane; a lunatic is a captive of the moon; if he/she commits a crime than he/she’s not responsible. In Dickens time they acknowledged the moon got people insane**.
Two moons would make things worse.
Aomame is just a lunatic ...right? And Tengo: an Orwellian rewriter?
Jesuit priest Francisco Xavier called Japan “the light of my heart…the country in the Orient most suited for Christianity”.
Fact: Kakure or JPreamble
Jesuit priest Francisco Xavier called Japan “the light of my heart…the country in the Orient most suited for Christianity”.
Fact: Kakure or Japanese crypto-Christians, meeting in secret for 240 years…reciting a Japanese version of the “Hail Mary” and yet nobody knew what it meant for many years.
Estimate: 30,000 Kakure live today in Japan.
1587- Hydeyoshi started the persecution of Christians. 1614-26 priests punished in Nagasaki. 1614-expulsion from Japan of all missionaries; 70 went to exile to Macao and Manila; but 37 kept hidden, ignoring the expulsion decree, …priest Cristovão Ferreira included. 1629-under Governor Tanenaka Uneme the torture toll is around 600-700 victims per day. This was a report by priest Ferreira. 1632-a letter of 22nd March accounts for the attempt to make 5 priests (and two women, Beatriz and Mary) to renounce their faith; letter recalls how they resisted the torture period of 33 days in a secluded mountain. Only little Mary, apparently, renounced. 1633-no more news from Japan 1637-Portugal; 3 Portuguese (Sebastião, João and Francisco) start preparations to travel to Japan, to investigate about Ferreira. These three were once disciples of Ferreira, a professor of Theology. In Rome there’s a man (Rubino) willing, too, to investigate about Ferreira. 1638-25th of March; a ship (nau) called Santa Isabel departs from Lisbon, headed to India. 1638-23rd July: Cape of Good Hope. 1638-9th October, Goa, India. News say that there’s been a massacre of Christians; it’s the Shimabara massacre; 35,000 Christians had rebelled? Japan had broken all ties to Portugal. 1639-1st of May, Macao, China; at “colégio” of Macao, bishop Valignano tells Sebastião, João and Francisco that he will send no more priests to Japan. And yet the 3 Portuguese continued the voyage…. all but one who stayed in Macao due to malaria.
It’s against this historical backdrop that the story develops: the search for Jesuit priest Ferreira. He had been living in Japan for 33 years and then stopped sending letters. … Story goes that C.F., under torture, resigned to his faith in Nagasaki. In Macao, the Portuguese find a “weak man”…a drunken (with sake) Japanese who is willing to take them to Japan, by boat. Around 28 to 29 years old, Kichijiru was astute, though.
Some missionaries described then-Japan as “a nation whose people don’t even fear death”. Now on, the book is a collection of letters. First one is by Sebastião and it speaks about the Shimabara massacre and the complicity of the Portuguese; the torture of Suitaku…and the terrible persecution of Inoue, who once was baptized.
…Sebastião discloses on his religious feelings: how tender Jesus’ face appears to him in the painting Borgo San Sepulchre.
… Finally in Japan: in Tomogi, near Nagasaki….where almost all the population is baptized; and yet, there’s no priest it’s been 6 years; he’s been replaced by the elder of the place: Jiisama.
The Portuguese notice how poor the people are, too much agriculture work. Nevertheless, there are Portuguese words still spoken/heard. Like “padre” (priest)…”gentios” (gentiles)… and some words still sounding Portuguese…”parais” (paradise), “inheruno” (inferno). … Sebastião gets to know about Kichijiro story: his Christian relatives were burned alive while he renounced his faith. … Sebastião arrives to Goto Isle; two beggars in Tomogi asked for confession and help for their village. … Kichijiro had been an apostate: he renounced…while relatives were burned alive… yet he changed: he is not the same in Goto: now he is a hero (maybe because he brought the Portuguese priests): he had made the general confession of his past life,… he’s been “catapulted to the moon’s horns”.
Sebastião discloses more on his daily life in his letters: …“for the first time I have sang with the faithful ones several chants and prayed in Japanese”…”everyone stares at me so intensely and while I speak to them, quite often, it comes to my imagination the face of That One who proffered The Mountain Sermon…why do I dream so passionately with that face?...since Scriptures do not describe it one single time… I can remake it as it pleases my imagination….Here nobody knows about Ferreira”.
...and: though officially Buddhist, Odoma village and neighboring villages of Miyahara, Dozaki and Egami kept being catholic.
… Someone said that “Endo’s writing is intensely psychological (Catholic)”…and I do agree, totally. It’s beautiful. No wonder M. Scorsese wanted to make a film out of this book. Above all, it’s the European perspective of the Japanese people Endo managed to do so well. Endo, the novelist, said:”I became a catholic against my will” , when a child still; then, as a young man he departed to France and studied French catholic novelists like Georges Bernanos and François Mauriac.
Philip Yancey summed up well Endo’s life:”…a struggle to give his faith a Japanese soul”.
UPDATE: Now that the book turned into a movie, to be released on 23rd December.
Some of Murakami short stories are “flowers” he planted,… though strange ones in their colors and life span. Some, a blend of reality and dream. SomeSome of Murakami short stories are “flowers” he planted,… though strange ones in their colors and life span. Some, a blend of reality and dream. Some funny and absurd…,some playing tricks with reader’s mind, with westerners' expectations.
To have a glimpse on the “forests” Murakami plants, you've got to read his novels....more