Saturday, May 31, 2008

My Grandfather, 80, at Recent Anti-War Protest


The first to be interviewed in this Fox news segment, Grandpa Shaldjian appears about half way through. He's the old man with glasses and a yellow shirt, talking about the one million Iraqi dead. He is a die-hard Ron Paul supporter, but I still may be able to convince him to vote Obama.

He was also interviewed for the local paper. Here's the clipping:

Phoenix resident Michael Shaldjian, 80, a Ron Paul supporter, said he feared what could be next.“All Bush and McCain now want is to go to Iran,” Shaldjian said.“When is this madness ever going to end?” (Mesa Tribune, May 28, 2008)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Notes on Alastair Bonnett’s 『The Idea of the West: Culture, Politics and History』 (2004) (Part 5)


In the next chapter, “From Soulless to Slacker: Idea of West from Pan-Asianism to Asian Values: Asia and West,” Bonnett examines some more recent stereotypes of East-West, particularly the notions of the West as "scene of social anarchy and idleness" and the East as “the home of efficiency and selfless duty."

In Chapter Six, “Occidental Utopia: The Neo-liberal West,” Bonnett discusses how the concept of the West has been narrowed to a vision of economics and politics due to the influence of neo-liberalism, which he sees as a flawed ideology that is utopian in nature, and thus prone to failure. “I use the charge of utopianism,” Bonnett proclaims, “to criticise the mythic structure of neo-liberal ideology" (12). The concept of “the West” today, he argues, is more ideologically limited than "the West" of the past, which had a much greater variety of associations.

As I have pointed out, “the West” has served throughout history as a kind of undefined variable which can be defined in any number of ways. Benjamin Kidd, for example, defined the West in terms of its militant mission to civilize the world. Ramsay MacDonald defined it in terms of its superior legal and ethical traditions, which had unfortunately been "[of late] betrayed by the imperial powers." Trotsky saw the West as the "home of the socialist imagination." Though these definitions of the West are vastly different, what they do share is a faith in Western Europe as the center of world.

Yet "the West" of one hundred years ago was far more plural in concept than today's "neo-liberal West," which Bonnett sees as stubborn, inflexible, and unwilling to adapt to recent changes in the global power structure. Bonnett holds the ideology of neo-liberalism largely responsible for this narrowing of the West. Placing himself in the long line of alarmists such as Oswald Spengler and Pat Buchanan, Bonnett makes the prediction that the West— because of its devolution into “a Utopian political discourse”— is prone to collapse.

In the seventh and final chapter, “Western Dystopia: Radical Islamism and Anti-Westernism,” Bonnett sets out accomplish two things: “(1) to illustrate how anti-Westernism [of the old Left] has been recuperated by radical Islamism; and (2) to exemplify how radical Islamism constructs a dystopian model of West.” Bonnett examines how "dystopian images of the West developed within both radical Islamism and some of its putative forbears" (12).

First, he outlines the history of anti-Western utopias, dividing them into four types: Communist utopia, primitivist utopia (e.g., anarchist, pre-industrial, man in “natural state”), indigenist utopia (e.g., xenophobic nationalisms that oppose the Western powers), and transnational cultural utopia (e.g., Pan-Asianism and Pan-Arabism). Radical Islamist utopianism has absorbed these previous models, but has been “narrowed by religious radicalism,” much in the same way that the West has been narrowed by neo-liberalism (160). Focusing on two cultural critics— the leftist Jalal Al-e Ahmad and Islamist Maryam Jameelah— Bonnett shows how radical Islamism has become provincialized as it refuses to engage in a public economic policy dialogue with the West to address questions of alternative forms of modernity. Instead, it has put its head in the sand and retreated to private domestic matters and Sharia law— something that can lead only to further isolation, possibly allowing the West “to triumph”in the end after all.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Notes on Alastair Bonnett’s 『The Idea of the West: Culture, Politics and History』 (2004) (Part 4)


In Chapter Four, “Soulless Occident/Spiritual Asia: Tagore’s West,” Bonnett examines the origins of non-Westerners’ constructions of East-West stereotypes by looking at the two cases of Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), a Bengali poet and essayist who was at the forefront of the movement to invent Asia "as a space of spirituality" (80), and Okakura Kakuzō 岡倉覚三 (1862-1913), a Japanese scholar who articulated a similar view of East-West. These two cases show that the notions of “West-as-material” and “East-as-spirit” were to a large extent created by non-Westerners long before Bernard Lewis and other Orientalists were around to “other” them.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) was a Bengali poet, novelist, religionist, composer, and essayist who in 1913 became Asia’s first Nobel laureate. He was born into a Westernized elite class in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India. Though “pro-Western,” he saw the Western mode of modernization as "a misguided form of modernity . . . for it represented the despoliation of personality and individuality by an increasingly standarised and industrialised social system" (81). Tagore was heavily influenced by English and German romanticism, and much of his “Oriental-ness” might in fact have had its origins in his readings of Western poetry. Though critical of Western industrialism, he remained enthusiastic about the possibility of technology alleviating suffering. Throughout his life he insisted that there must be alternative forms of modernity, and he spent much of his life trying to discover and articulate these forms.

Unlike Gokalp and Fukuzawa, however, Tagore was highly critical of nationalism, which he referred to as the "cult of the nation." He was most alarmed by the case of Japan, which he saw as having adopted much of what is wrong with the Western imperial powers. Tagore thus spent much of his career trying to define and promote a “modern" that was distinct from what he considered to be Europe’s (and Japan’s) “misled” form of modernization.

Like Fukuzawa and Gokalp, Tagore too consciously employed forms of self-orientalization in order to advance certain political causes. Many of the East-West stereotypes that later took hold in the Western imperial imagination were in fact first articulated by “Rabi” (his nickname in the West). He described Asia as an ideal, remote and provincial space, while the West he presented as faceless, spiritually impoverished, and urban. He helped to create the negative essentialist image of Western man as soulless, murderous, enslaving, trapped by irreconcilable "good and evil," "inherently destructive," and incapable of "creative unity"— traits he observed from the behavior of the British during the Opium Wars.

Tagore draws an equally essentialist picture of “obedient” and “harmonious” Easterners, whose women are modest and chaste. And only in the East, he asserts, is individual and social creativity possible, since only Asians are capable of maintaining a balance between collectivism and individualism.

Tagore was loved in the West, where he was flattered and orientalized by celebrities ranging from Yeats to Einstein. By contrast, he received a far colder reception in Asia, where the bureaucratic elites faced problems far graver than the nebulous matters which concerned Tagore. Many in Asia— especially the Japanese— were skeptical of his passivity and "resignation." Tagore grew increasingly wary of the uncritical acceptance of the Western-style nationalism that he observed around him, and his three tours of Japan—in 1916, 1924, and 1929— proved to be the most difficult of his Asian tours. The Japanese people, he would later write, are “solely aesthetic and not spiritual,” and are therefore the least qualified of the Eastern peoples to lead Asia. Japan was a culture that lacked depth, he argued, citing this as the reason for their vulnerability to Western imitation.

Despite meeting resistance throughout Asia, Tagore continued to press for a non-imperial, non-national Pan-Asia, which he saw as Asia’s last defense against the imperial powers. Tagore's message, however, was increasingly ignored by the rapidly expanding and increasingly belligerent Japan, which looked at him as representative of a defeated, old, and conquered India. They dismissed his ideas as a "loser's philosophy" (90).

His 1924 trip to China, where the revolutionary Communists had moved ideologically toward a pro-Western position, was "even more bruising" (91). Their "revalourisation of [the new] West" left little room for tolerance for Tagore's anti-materialist and pro-spiritual message, which the Chinese blamed for enfeebling India. To the Chinese, Tagore's message was a recipe for disaster, and he was attacked by both conservatives and communists alike. Dejected, Tagore returned to India, disillusioned about the presumed "spiritual" nature of Orient. He lamented that Western alienation had pervaded the world, and that "Western colonialism had become the paradigm for all human contact" (94).

Okakura Kakuzō (1862-1913), a.k.a. “Tenshin,” was a scholar of the arts of Japan, most famous for his The Book of Tea (1906). Like Tagore, Okakura too was born into a Westernizing class, which allowed him to work his way through the elite schools until reaching Tokyo University, where he studied under Ernest Fenollosa.

In 1904 Okakura published The Ideals of the East, in which he argues that Easterners are concerned with the "Ultimate and Universal," while Westerners care only for Particulars— a very dubious claim, given that Confucianism tends to be an anti-Idealist and pragmatic philosophy. His notion of a unified Asia, too, met with skepticism to many who saw India, Japan, and China as historically and culturally distinct entities. Furthermore, his idea that Japan sat atop the "hierarchy of [Asian] authenticity" seemed rather odd to those who regarded Japan as the most Western and “least Asian” of the Asian nations.

The idea of Asia as a single entity was largely unheard of before the 20th century, and its introduction met with much skepticism. Pan-Asianists such as Okakura and Tagore had a rather hard time identifying unifying elements that could reach across the “Asian continent,” and they awkwardly tried to resolve the problem by linking the various cultures through the supposed common thread of Buddhism. The problem, of course, was that the Buddhist influence—where it existed— varied in importance from region to region.

From where and when did the concept of Asia arise? Bonnett points out that he word “Asia” has existed for centuries, and can be traced back to Babylonian roots (asu, sun's rising). It was eventually adopted into Greek, Latin, and finally the European languages. The word was then brought to China by Italians in the 16th century. However, the word axia (to which the Chinese assigned the characters 亜細亜“inferior-trifling-inferior”) was used by the Chinese to refer to “inferior” regions that surrounded China; so according to the Chinese, China was not a part of axia.

From the above two cases, and from further evidence cited from the histories of Bengal, India and Japan, we can see that the commonly held notion that “Asian spirituality” is "essentially a Western idea" does not match up with the facts. Bonnett shows that the notion of Asia-as-spirit was created first by modern Asians, and within the discourse of various projects of modernization (96). "Asia is better understood,” Bonnett writes, “to have been created, re-invented and re-valued by Asians themselves" (81).

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Notes on Alastair Bonnett’s 『The Idea of the West: Culture, Politics and History』 (2004) (Part 3)


In Chapter Two, “Communists Like Us: The Idea of the West in the Soviet Union,” Bonnett examines "how the idea of the West was employed and deployed by Soviet politicians in order to define the meaning of communism” (11). The West was originally associated by the Bolsheviks with socialist modernity, and, in fact, much of the non-Western world saw the West as socialist in the early 20th century. It was not until the 1930s that the West was recast as the polar opposite of the Soviet state— a change that occurred with Stalin and his condemnation of the West as corrupt, cosmopolitan, and capitalist.

In the next chapter, “Good-bye Asia: The Westernisers’ West, Fukuzawa and Gokalp,” Bonnett examines two cases of the Western-style nationalist agenda— one in Japan and the other in Turkey— in which we see a new positioning toward the West, and a distancing from Asia and its negative stereotypes. Bonnett argues, however, that the ultimate goal of these newly formed nation-states was not to join and imitate the West (as many claim), but rather to become independent and autonomous from it. These two examples thus offer a challenge to the hybridization hypothesis, and demonstrate how the East’s invention of “the West” was in fact "creative and original."

Post-colonial discourse has tended to divide the non-Western personality into two roles: slavish "colonial imitator" and “active resister." The non-Westerner could be one or the other, but never both or a combination of both. But the cases of Fukuzawa Yūkichi 福澤諭吉 (1835-1901) and Ziya Gokalp (1876-1924) show that the realities were often more complex, for both men were fervent nationalists who at the same time "deploy[ed] a form of Orientalism in which Asia [was] cast as a separate and primitive realm, to be distinguished from both the West and their own nations."

Fukuzawa Yūkichi was born in Nagasaki, where he was trained from a young age in rangaku 蘭学 or “Dutch studies,” the only European-style education available to Japan at the time. He was part of the famous Takenouchi mission to the West in 1862. Fukuzawa’s observations while abroad were formulated in his highly influential An Outline of a Theory of Civilisation 『文明論の概略』 (1875), in which he argued that Japan must recreate itself "for the sake of its own future" (67), and that merely copying the Western “surfaces” would not be sufficient. “We must first reform men's minds," he argued, “before we can begin to reform the nation.”

Fukuzawa was by no means a cultural essentialist, as evidenced by the negative attitudes he held toward his native culture, which he regarded as passive and weak. He advised that the Japanese do away with their native culture themselves, as it was doomed anyway to be erased by the unforgiving boot of the Western imperial powers. He was also critical of the influence of Chinese culture, which he held partially responsible for Japan’s current low status in the world. He saw a “static and passive” China to be representative of Asia as a whole, and urged Japan to move away from the lagging East and toward the West in order to fulfill its “new destiny.” In his essay “Good-bye Asia” 「脱亜論」 (1885), he urges the Japanese to shed their “Asiatic,” passive traits and abandon “our bad [Asian] friends,” so that they may advance the nation through the creation of a modern, Westernized nation-state.

To Fukuzawa, the most important task was the creation and preservation of a national polity. To create a new modern state, Fukuzawa thought it necessary to encourage an open, meritocratic system of public education that favored innovation and individualism, and that valued and nurtured cleverness. He insisted that the old, hierarchical feudal system based on lineage had to go, and that a degree of risshin shusse 立身出世 (“social mobility”) must be allowed for new talent to rise. (His statements about traditional Japanese culture being feudal and backward reveals that he was thinking mainly of samurai culture and not the plebeian chōnin 町人 of Edo, for whom a fair amount of social mobility was in fact permitted.)

Notably, Fukuzawa did not advocate the expulsion of the authoritarian Tokugawa government; rather, he foresaw that a powerful and potentially ruthless central government would in fact be needed for creating and maintaining the modern state.

Ziya Gokalp was a "Turkish nationalist and critical proponent of Westernisation," who served as "chief ideologist [for] Turkey's creation as a modern nation" (71). Aside from his political contributions, he was also a sociologist, historian, poet, and novelist. Like Fukuzawa, Gokalp advocated leaving Asia and joining the West, citing the example of Japan. Asians, he argued, had two choices: either westernize or become enslaved to the Western powers.

Like Fukuzawa, Gokalp too regarded “East” and “West” not as discrete realities to be exported or imported, but as "categories animated and employed in the service of an attempt to create a novel political identity and national project.” For Gokalp, this meant namely the project of cultivating “Turkishness," a new concept that sought to move Turkish identity away from the “backward and doomed” Ottoman culture (71). Gokalp, like the Zionists a generation later, took the lesson from recent European history that in order for the tribe to survive it must establish a mono-cultural nation-state.

Gokalp was a staunch anti-Ottoman, and was therefore against all that it represented: imperialism, cosmopolitanism, and pluralism. His vision for a modern Turkey consisted of the “cultural homogeneity of the modern nation state" (72). He saw Turks as the victims of a cosmopolitan elite that ruled the Ottoman empire by merely copying the West. He accused this elite of marginalizing Turkish culture and language, while promoting "Arabic, Persian, Russian, and Chinese" (73). As Bonnett points out, his pro-national, anti-imperial stance, however, conveniently overlooked the inherently imperial nature of many of the modern states.

Gokalp made an important distinction between “culture” (a sort of collective imagination of the tribe) and “civilization” (the institutions and techniques of power). He insisted that Turks should retain Turkish culture, but import Western civilization.

Both the Fukuzawa and Gokalp cases challenge "the political naïveté of contemporary theories of hybridisation" (70). About Fukuzawa Bonnett writes, "I would cast doubt on the utility of conceptualising his work as an example of hybridity at all. Rather than importing or translating a ready-made idea of the West, Fukuzawa actively fashioned a certain representation of the West to suit his own (and, in large measure, his social class's) particular political ambitions" (70). Again, the driving factor being Fukuzawa’s push to westernize was the desire to stave off subjugation. In this sense, Fukuzawa— like Kidd, Spengler, and Toynbee in Europe— can be seen as a conscious manipulator of East-West representations, which he used to serve particular political ends. Gokalp, too, defies the hybridization thesis, since he also "actively constructed, rather than merely mirrored, deconstructed or mixed, a series of stereotypes of self and other." Thus, these two cases illustrate how "the West" was creatively invented by the East for certain political goals.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

ごめんなさいは。

This just in from パパ:
パパは謝るのが好きだ。幼少時代からずっとそうだった。何も悪いことをしなくともすぐ謝るタチだ、僕は。

「誰がこのミルクを溢したんだ」と父に言われる度に、「ごめんなさい」とすぐ謝っていた。弟のせいだとしても。

昨日も、学校に向かって歩いていたら、一歩前に歩いている他人が落としたバッグを、拾って返した瞬間に「ごめんなさい」と口からぽろんと出てきた。おかしくないか。普通は、迷惑をかける側が謝るのに。

プロテスタントで生まれた僕は、最近カトリック教に改宗しようと思っている理由もそこにある。プロテスタント派が最初にカトリック派から分裂した一つの理由は、偉そうな司祭に向かって自分の罪を打ち明けるのが嫌で、人間の懺悔を聞いてくれるべきは神様のみ、という考えにある。でも、僕には神さまだけに謝るのがつまらない。人間に謝る方がよっぽど面白いから、謝罪の大事さをちゃんと認めているカトリック教に変えようかなと、いま考えている。

最初はなぜ日本に興味を示したのかとよく聞かれるが、やはり謝罪するのが好きだということと関係なくはない。このあいだ読んだ新聞記事のランキングによって、世界諸国の中で、謝罪を表す頻度が最も高い国は、日本だ。頻度が最低だったのは、いうまでもなく、米国であった。アメリカは、もう少し反省や謝罪の重要性を日本人から学んでも悪くないのではないかと僕は思っている。

Friday, May 16, 2008

明治・大正時代の文学における主たる人物についてのノート

二葉亭四迷 (1864-1909)   「小説総論」 (1886)

b. 江戸。小説家。

「未完に終わったが「浮雲」は「小説総論」のリアリズムを具体化したもので、言文一致で書かれた最初の本格的な近代小説である」(千葉、21)。逍遥の指導のもとで「浮雲」(1887-89)を発表。ロシア文学からの影響が十二分の主人公(いわゆる superfluous hero)に見られる。 1869年から1909年にかけてはロシア文学のさまざまな偉大作家を和訳。結婚二回。ロシアから帰国途中に定期船で死んだ。

ベリンスキーの「美術の本義」からの影響も強いとされる。 意(アイデア)を形(フォーム)より重視すべきことと小説の目的にすべき模写を指摘。「逍遥の素朴な写実論を批判する内容となっている。『実相を仮りて虚相を写し出す』ものこそが小説である」と千葉氏に指摘される。

「本論は坪内逍遥の「当世書生気質」を批評するために書かれた「小説本義」である。「形」に比して「意」を重視する立場を明らかにした前半部は、二葉亭自身も翻訳したロシアの批評家ベリンスキー「美術の本義」をふまえている。また小説における「模写」の重要性を論じた後半部は、逍遥の「小説神髄」の素朴な写実論を批判する内容となっている」(千葉、21)。

『其面影』は1906年に出版。主人公は 性的不能者。
『平凡』は 最後の作品。

Monday, May 12, 2008

Notes On "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote," by Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)


Pierre Menard never existed. He is Borges's fictional creation: a minor 20th-century French Symbolist writer who goes about the task of "writing" -- not copying -- Cervantes's Don Quixote for a modern audience. Such a premise might remind one of Joyce's Ulysses, which was also a "rewriting" of sorts. The difference, however, is that the fictional author Pierre Menard actually traces verbatim the source text to produce an exact, though unfinished, replica of the original. The story's narrator, a literary critic and friend of Menard, defends the work from the censorious detractors, lauding it as "perhaps the most significant [work] of our time" (65). Like most of Borges's writings, "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote," is a tightly-wrought miniaturist piece. Though not numbered with chapter divisions, it can be broken down into the following nine parts.

1. The Slanderous Catalogue of Madame Henri Bachelier

The story begins with the narrator indignant at the fact that Menard's Don Quixote has been slanderously omitted from Madame Henri Bachelier's catalogue. A "true friend of Menard," our unnamed narrator vows to restore Menard's memory and rectify his reputation by defending this newest version of the Quixote.

2. Two Other Testimonies That Support the Narrator's Thesis

The narrator, apparently not confident of his own authority, mentions "two eminent testimonies" that support his claim: one from the Baroness de Bacourt and the other from the Countess de Bagnoregion.

3. The Visible Bibliography and the Glaring Omission

Here the narrator provides a bibliography of the "visible work of Menard," which consists of nineteen works, some minor arcana, a few monographs, and jottings on Symbolist poetry. Judged on these works alone, Menard is damned to the status of minor writer; but when his magnum opus, Don Quixote, is included to the list, he is proclaimed by our narrator to be one of the great geniuses of the age. Still, his Don Quixote is fragmentary, containing only "the ninth and thirty-eighth chapters of the first part of Don Quixote and a fragment of chapter twenty-two" (65). But it is this very disunity, the narrator claims, which gives Menard a depth not found in Cervantes.

4. Menard's Inspiration

Two sources provide the inspiration for Menard's word-for-word "writing" of Don Quixote. The first is a work by Novalis, in which he advocates "total identification with a given author." The second is "one of those parasitic books which situate Christ on a boulevard, Hamlet on La Cannebiere or Don Quixote on Wall Street" (65). One wonders if Borges had Joyce's Ulysses in mind with this description.

5. Menard's Intent

The narrator then clarifies Menard's intent in rewriting the Quixote. "He did not want to compose another Quixote -- which is easy-- but the Quixote itself," he writes. "Needless to say, he never contemplated a mechanical transcription of the original; he did not propose to copy it. His admirable intention was to produce a few pages which would coincide-- word for word and line for line -- with those of Miguel de Cervantes" (65).

6. Menard's Two Methods

Having made clear Menard's intent, the narrator speculates that, in writing the Quixote, Menard has available to him two possible methods. The first method is, essentially, to become Miguel de Cervantes, i.e., to forget the three-hundred-year-plus span that lay between him and the original text, to gain a command of seventeenth-century Spanish, to "recover the Catholic faith, [and to] fight against the Moors or the Turk" (66). Menard soon realizes the impossibility of such a task, and abandons this for a second approach, which is to reach Quixote "through the experiences of Pierre Menard" (66). Apparently, Menard is successful in this second method, as the narrator is able to hear Menard's voice even in the parts of the Quixote that Menard never even penned: "I recognized our friend's style and something of his voice . . ." (67).

7. Menard's Letter

Addressing the question "why the Quixote?" our narrator quotes a letter received from Menard. "The Quixote is a contingent book," Menard writes, "the Quixote is unnecessary. I can premeditate writing it, I can write it, without falling into tautology" (67). Also, Menard's vague memory of the text resembles the vague conception of an unwritten work: "My general recollection of the Quixote, simplified by forgetfulness and indifference, can well equal the imprecise and prior image of a book not yet written" (67). The narrator posits that Menard's task was considerably more difficult than Cervantes's, because
To compose the Quixote at the beginning of the seventeenth century was a reasonable undertaking, necessary and perhaps even unavoidable; at the beginning of the twentieth, it is almost impossible. It is not in vain that the three hundred years have gone by, filled with exceedingly complex events. Among them, to mention only one, is the Quixote itself. (68)

8. The Narrator's Case for the Superiority of Menard's Quixote

Menard's version, the narrator claims, is "more subtle" and "infinitely richer" than Cervantes's. Menard, who is both historically and linguistically removed from the seventeenth-century Spanish setting, has a wider variety of subjects, forms, languages, and techniques at his disposal, and his knowledge -- of theory, at least-- is greater than Cervantes, who had access only to everything up through 1604. These extra three centuries provide Menard with a vastly larger reservoir to draw from, and his skillful selection of form and subject makes him the greater genius. Menard's work "points to a new conception of the historical novel" (68); Cervantes work, by contrast, is merely a satire of his contemporary world in the contemporary language.

Furthermore, Mernard is capable of ironic distancing, whereas Cervantes is not, as can be observed in the scene where Don Quixote declares his preference for arms over letters: a rather predictable conclusion, according to our narrator, given Cervantes's career as a soldier. Menard, however, "a contemporary of La trahison des clercs and Bertrand Russell, shows more artistry in his version by presenting characters and ideas who are so anachronistic and distanced from himself and his age. Having this resigned or ironical habit of propagating ideas which were the strict reverse of those he preferred" (69), Menard is, according to our slightly demented narrator, able to distance his own subjectivity from the work and its characters in a way that Cervantes could not.

Perhaps the most humorous section of Borges's work is the comparison of two identical passages, one taken from Cervantes's text and the other from Menard's. Menard's version, by virtue of being written in our time, is open to a whole host of interpretations that are not available to the original, including Freudian and Nietzschean analysis. (The problem with this joke, of course, is that there is no reason that the old texts should be disbarred from the same modern interpretations.) Comparing the "two" styles, the narrator writes:
The contrast in style is also vivid. The archaic style of Menard - quite foreign, after all - suffers from a certain affectation. Not so that of his forerunner, who handles with ease the current Spanish of his time. (69)

9. Conclusion

If it can be said that there is a "point" Borges wished to convey through this story, then it is this: A given text means or, more accurately, behaves only how the reader, or, more broadly, the particular society and age demand it to behave. Borges's essay-story can be read as a response to the supposed "universality" of literature, which presumes the existence of an ideal, mystical realm where canonical works rest shoulder to shoulder in some permanent and immutable state. Borges provides an alternate theory: A work should be seen within the borders of certain temporal and historical conditions; and only after being exposed to these original and particular conditions can the work-- if it is successful-- spread beyond its initially intended communities, and gather as it ages new interpretations and misinterpretations, the sum total of which form what we refer to as the work's "meaning." Therefore, a Don Quixote written today means something entirely different than a Don Quixote written four centuries ago, even if the words of the text are identical. Despite its parodic qualities and outlandish premise, Borges's story can be read as an early delineation of the reader-response theory.

Ultimately everything is corrupted by the passage of time, Borges seems to suggest. All great works of philosophy and literature begin their existence as a contribution to "knowledge" -- "as a plausible description of the universe" (70)-- but they are soon relegated to that dusty, unfrequented corner of the library called "history of knowledge." The only thing that can reinvigorate the work and return it to the library's "knowledge" section is the "rewriting" of it by subsequent generations. "The Quixote- Menard told me -" Borges writes, "was above all, an entertaining book; now it is the occasion for patriotic toasts, grammatical insolence and obscene de luxe editions" (70).

(This article is copyrighted © 2005 - 2008 by Beholdmyswarthyface. The story "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" first appeared in 1939, and can be found in the collection Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings.)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

明治・大正時代の文学における主たる人物


Notes on 坪内逍遥。1859-1935。    『小説神髄』(1885-6)

b。名古屋の近く。小説家、評論家、劇作家、翻訳家、教育者。

評論へ強い影響を与えた翻訳『シェークスピア全集』(1884-1928) を執筆。『早稲堕文学』を創刊・主宰(1891-1898)。現実主義をあくまで提唱。「幼少期より親しんだ近世文学の素養に西欧の文学論を学んだ逍遥は、「美術」としての文学の自立を説き、現実世界における人間の内面真理を客観的に模写する小説を近代文芸の中心に据えて、荒唐無稽な脚色から脱却することを主張」(千葉、日本近代文学評論選. 明治・大正篇、7)。

「二葉亭四迷(正岡子規・山田美妙らも入れてもよい)に創作の筆をとらせたばかりか、尾崎紅葉、幸田露伴らによる西鶴の再評価にも及ぼし、創作における人間心理の洞察を深化させた」(千葉、7)。

ドナルド キーンは、坪内逍遥の文学理論を実践した小説のなかで「当世書生気質」(1885)は最も成功したと主張。

鴎外との論争(1891-2)は、 近代文学の最初の本格的論争となった、いわゆる『没理想論争』だった。「理想」の意味がお互いによって定義の食い違いがあったせいか、論争が無解決に終わった。

半分 雅文半分口語の文体で書かれた『小説真髄』では、小説のジャンルを二つに分けられると主張。第一は、説教的小説。それから西洋文学に学んだ「人間の内面真理を模写する」ことを目指す美術小説は第二。第三目は、あいにく覚えておらぬ。

勧善懲悪に対して逍遥は抵抗し、本居宣長(1730-1801)の『玉の小櫛』を引用しながら「人生の批判と見るべき」ことと物のあわれを伝えるべきこと、その二つの役をすべき 後者の方を最上級と提唱。馬琴や江戸の戯作などを俗と批判。当時に発表された「新体詩抄」とEugene Veronの「L’esthetique」からの影響も見られる。

『小説神髄』の冒頭を引用します。

「小説の主脳は人情なり、世態風俗これに次ぐ。人情とはいかなるものをいふや。曰く、人情とは人間の情慾にて、所謂百八煩悩是れなり。 夫れ人間は情慾の動物なれば、いかなる賢人、善者なりとて、未だ情慾を有ぬは稀れなり。賢不肖の辨別なく、必ず情慾を抱けるものから、賢者の小人に異なる 所以、善人の悪人に異なる所以は、一に道理の力を以て若しくは良心の力に頼りて情慾を抑へ制め、煩悩の犬を攘ふに因るのみ。されども智力大いに進みて、氣 格高尚なる人に在りては、常に劣情を包み、かくして其外面に顕さゞれば、さながら其人煩悩をば全く脱せし如くなれども、彼れまた有情の人たるからには、な どて情慾のなからざるべき。哀みても亂るることなく、楽みても荒むことなく、能くその節を守れるのみか、忿るべきをも敢て忿らず、怨むべきをも怨まざる は、もと情慾の薄きにあらで、其道理力の強きが故なり」。

それから同じエッセーからの、写実主義についての引用を載せます。

「社会の現実および事物の実際をありのまま描写しようとする芸術上の立場。わが国では近世の井原西鶴、式亭三馬、為永春水などの文学にもそ のような特徴はみられるが、特にヨーロッパの写実主義の影響は明治二〇年代に顕著であり、坪内逍遥、二葉亭四迷、尾崎紅葉、樋口一葉などの小説にみられ る」。

そして最後に「没理想論争」(“submerged ideals”)に関する文書も引用します。

「理想や主観を直接表さないで、事象を客観的に描くのを主とすること。また、そのような態度で描かれた作品の特質。明治二〇年代に坪内逍遥がシェークスピアの作品をそのように規定したことに対して、理想派の森鴎外が論争をいどみ、いわゆる没理想論争が展開された」。

Friday, May 9, 2008

明治・大正時代の文学における主たる人物

Notes on 島村抱月。しまむら・ほうげつ。1871-1918.  「観照即人生の為也」(1909)

 b. 島根県の貧民で。1902年から1905年までヨーロッパで留学し、そのうち欧米文化・芸術に関する批評や記事を日本新聞に何度も投稿。帰国後、早稲田大学の教授になって、田山花袋の「布団」を好評、自然主義派の同人となった。ダンテにも影響された。ドナルド・キーン氏は、抱月は “Best known critic of late Meiji” (Keene Vol2, 531)だとしている。

坪内意逍遥の門下生であった。逍遥とともに研究団体「文芸協会」(1906-1913) を組織。

晩年に、愛人松井須磨子とともに現代演劇を支持する「芸術座」を組織。須磨子との熱烈な恋愛の話が流布。

早稲田大学で身につけた西洋小説用の批評基準を用いて、西鶴の作品を構造に乏しいと批判したが、西鶴の活発な描写や語りを称賛。島崎藤村の『破壊』も好評する。

「『近代文芸之研究』の表紙に刻印された「在るがままの現実に即して/全的存在の意義を髣髴す/ 観照の世界也/ 味に徹したる人生也/ 此の心境を芸術といふ」という言葉に尽きており、本論の主張とも重なる」」と(千葉、138)。

『乱雲集』短編集 は明治39年に発表。

随筆「囚われたる文芸」(1906)は、ヨーロッパ文化の頽廃・衰退を考慮した上、近代科学の鎖に囚われた自然主義への挑戦。 自然主義の代わりに表現主義を提唱。

批評「自然主義の価値」(1908-9)では『金色夜叉』と『多情多恨』に注目して尾崎紅葉の文学を内容に乏しいと批判。

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Sunday, May 4, 2008

明治・大正時代の文学における主たる人物

田山花袋1871-1930.    『露骨なる描写』 (1904)

田舎侍の家に生まれて、詩人・小説家・自然主義者。青春時代に『硯友社』にも関わっていたが、その後『硯友社』の文学を「白粉(おしろい)沢山」と判断し、「平面描写」を提唱。文学とは、何よりも露骨・自然・真相でなければならないとつよく主張。

『重右衛門の最後』 (1902)
「布団」1907.
「一兵卒」(1908, 日露戦争の舞台)
「田舎教師」

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Notes on Motoori Norinaga's "My Personal View of Poetry" (Isonokami no sasamegoto, 1763)


This just in from Cniva Albinus:
In this essay Motoori Norinaga (1730-1801) builds on his theory of aesthetics first put forth in “A Small Boat Punting Through the Reeds” (Ashiwake obune, 1757), an earlier essay which argues that art should be expressive rather than didactic, that the focus should be on the reader's response, and that moral or philosophical "correctness" is not relevant in determining the success of a given work.

Elaborating on these earlier themes, Motoori argues that only through a reciprocal relation with an audience can the poet can experience nagusame, which can be defined as a kind of consolatory catharsis. Only when the listener understands and sympathizes with the expressions of the speaker can "the poet’s heart . . . be cleared even more.”

Motoori's analysis is thus an implicit rejection of the Chinese tradition, which holds that it is literature's didactic rather than aesthetic or consolative function which is of primary importance. He that the critic should judge poetry on its own merits rather than by the standards of Confucianism and Buddhism. For Motoori, the mutual understanding and expression of mono no aware between poet and reader is the primary purpose of literature. "By making our deepest emotions known to others," he writes, "poetry serves to establish feelings of mutual empathy that form the basis of our relations with others” (Intro).

However, successfully evoking empathy in the reader is not such an easy feat; rather, it made possible through the development and refinement of technique, or what he refers to as aya 綾. Only language that possesses this aya can convey mono no aware. Like T.S. Eliot, Motoori points out that the direct expression of feeling alone does not make for poetry, and that only those who cultivate aya are capable of becoming poets.

Prefiguring the arguments made by Tsubouchi Shōyō over a century later, Motoori insists that the political and social benefits of literature, which had long been considered the sole benefits of art, are only of secondary importance.

Friday, May 2, 2008

明治・大正時代の文学における主たる人物

Notes on 高山樗牛。たかやま・ちょぎゅう。1871-1902.

1901年に発表した 『美的生活を論ず』は『日本近代文学評論選(明治・大正)』(千葉俊二編)に掲載されている。

b. 山形県。評論家。東大。『太陽』と『帝国文学』に発表。岩野泡鳴とともに日本主義を支持し、その後ニーチェと日蓮、それからロマンチック的な個人主義を主張して当世に影響を及ぼした。東大在学中に『帝国文学』の創刊に援助。『国民の文学』にもいくつかの発表。個人主義者であった高山樗牛は個人の開放をあくまでも支持。旧式の文体が特徴。

元禄文学・西国や旧派の和歌・俳句などへの批判。鴎外も含めて多くの批評家はただのおべっかにすぎないと批判。近松・トルストイホイットマンイブセンゾラらを各自の時代の真の批評家と好評。

従来、文学者は樗牛の作品を以下のように三つに分けられると指摘(千葉)。

理想主義の作品 (1894-1895)
日本主義の作品 (1896-1899)
近代主義の作品 (1900-1902)

長谷川天淫との議論は、いわゆる「美的生活論争」となった。「樗牛は、道徳や知識には相対的な価値しかなく本能にこそ絶対的な価値があると論じ、美的生活は本能を充足させるものであるから生活それ自身において絶対の価値を有すると主張した。日露戦争後に日本主義を鼓吹していた樗牛が個人主義に変貌した時期の代表的な論であり、いわゆる「美的生活論争」の発端となった」(千葉、75)。

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

"Ishikawa Jun and the Tradition of the Modern"

Beholdmyswarthyface proposes to translate Ishikawa's "On the Ways of Thinking of the People of Edo" and to use this important essay as the basis for a reconsideration of the meaning of "modernization" in the context of Japanese literary studies. For Ishikawa, the true Japanese modernization should be understood as Edo elaborations of parody of previous Japanese poetic forms and motifs, collected and analyzed in his essay under rubrics "haikaika" (modification of inherited form) and "zokka" (secularization), rather than as some supposed enlightenment achieved at a stroke by contact with advanced foreigners.

The Committee consider translation an activity to be encouraged if the humanities is to survive the current travail. We further believe that Ishikawa's essay is an important document for any student of the continuity of Japanese literary belief and practice. Beholdmyswarthyface has shown himself capable of carrying out such a demanding and quite worthy project, and fully understanding of the need to place the occasionally tendentious Ishikawa and exemplars in proper context.