Only Chikamatsu

Up now at Néojaponisme: the first part of Ryan Morrison's literally (YES, LITERALLY) dramatized History of Modern Japanese Literary Criticism.

Takayama Chogyū: The most we can hope for in this life, friends, is the satisfaction of desire. Ethics should be replaced with aesthetics, animalism, sex, love. Away with the tradition, with Saikaku, with Genroku haiku. Only Chikamatsu should be spared, for he espoused a kind of proto-individualism, and his young sensuous heroines were quite vivid. Where are the great critics of our age? Where is our Tolstoy, our Whitman, Ibsen, or Zola? We haven’t any, I’m afraid; here are only obsequious flatterers.

Tayama Katai: I dig your egoism, Chogyū, but I still detect a romantic sensibility in your style. In prose writing, let us have plain delineation (heimen byōsha) and scientific naturalism. (Which means, in practice, that I get to describe in great detail my obsession with pre-nubile girls (shōjobyō)!)

Funny story: When Ryan wrote this, it was ripped from the morning headlines. We really need to step up our edit process.

Another link! A dude named Gary asked me to post a link to his history of the kokeshi doll, and I thought, why not? (That All-Japan Kokeshi Exhibition must have been a pretty wild party.)

Popularity factor: 5


I can not believe you mentioned kokeshi! I was just reading the passage in Tawada Yoko's "Where Europe Begins" where she discusses the (supposed) origin of matroyshka dolls and the (rather suspect) etymology of "kokeshi."


Oh, to be clear, I meant the suggestion, apparently made by Alan Booth, that the name kokeshi refers to "snuffing out" (keshi) a "child" (ko), and that the dolls were originally used as supplications to unwanted children who had been killed after birth.


Here's a good page on the topic, by the way: http://homepage3.nifty.com/bokujin/gogen.htm


Yeah, I think Booth was insanely off-base there, and frankly irresponsible to spread that idea without, apparently, reading any of the existing literature about the word or doll's origins.

Ryan :

Thanks for the plug! My first plug ever!

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