Sunday, November 28, 2010

Verses on Reading Koshoku Godai Onna

Ihara’s lovers
Coming so oft to bad ends
Love falling like rain.

Gengobei’s woman
Pressing, clambering, climbing
For her happy end.

Osaka’s houses
Were pleasure-quarters then—hear
The songs of those days.

Lovers’ tears falling
Like innumerable scales
From a shaved herring.

Ted de Bary’s words
Enhancing intertextual
Pleasure in reading.

Gold and sex and death
Blossoms falling—in the sea
Dorados flashing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shadows of Yearning

Shadows of Yearning
An Oratorio

Kings of the Earth

CHORUS:      Hear the word of the Lord Incarnate
                        Made a man in Palestine;
                        Read in letters of gold and silver
                        Across the land from hill to brine
                        The Gospel of the distant saudade
                        Eternal on the lily-shore
                        Hear the words that shook the Temple
                        And its veil asunder tore:

Friday, November 19, 2010

Book Impressions: Kokoro

Kokoro, by Natsume Soseki, is not an easy book to read.
The basic plot of the book is as follows: young man meets middle-aged man, strikes up a pedagogical friendship. Realises that the older man is deeply depressed; asks his wife; she doesn't know why. Goes home, acts like a jerk to his dying father. Gets a letter from the 'sensei'; reads it; realises why he's depressed; helplessly waits for his train to get to Tokyo so he can deal with the aftermath of Sensei's suicide.
Sensei killed himself out of guilt for causing the death of another friend through his selfish and callous behaviour (which did not, of course, in the end lead to his own happiness at all), and he chose the time to coincide with the end of the historical era that his generation defined itself in relation to. The traditions he cannot escape fail him. The modernity that he tries to escape into fails him. Family is fatally compromised by his secret guilt. Faith brings back horrible memories associated with that guilt. This is a book about deracination: it seems lovely if you just look at the word qua word ('de-race'-ing the world, right? Or something like that?--but); no. It's just the word in the study of history and culture for what Marx called alienation.
There are, by my count, exactly two hope spots in this entire book. One is the narrator's family, which is hopeful in that it maintains a traditionally meaningful existence out in the boonies (though the narrator disparages this and considers himself, a bit superciliously, 'of Tokyo'). The other is Shizu, Sensei's wife, who is a competent, intelligent, sensitive modern person. The people caught up in the flowing change from 'non-modern' to 'modern', from periphery to metropole, are the ones whose lives are broken against history in this book--and that is indeed the main theme of the book. As Meiji passes into Taisho, the characters realise that they have to scrap the idea of progressive modernisation for something different. The optimism of the Taisho Democracy takes hold, but it wrenches out the heart first; Dai-Nihon becomes Japan, but the wars have to be fought again. Kokoro is the greatest fictional chronicle of the history of the human feelings that dashed against, and broke, the dreams that justified modernity; it is the tragic epilogue to the story that something like Rurouni Kenshin or Yojimbo purported to begin. It tells of the melancholy that overtakes you when you have modernised and have to figure out what to do with yourself as a nation once modern; the sins that are bred into the bone of people living in interesting times; yet the fundamental loneliness that sets in during a time with no change or driving purpose. Progress is a mad dance that breaks the dancers to mourning pieces, yet tradition is nightmarish in its lack of beginnings or ends.
The only hope comes from individual persons living together as communities of people who actually care and are honest. It's not a magic formula of marriage or family or nation or progress. It's a marriage with care and integrity; a family with care and integrity; a nation with spirit and vigour; progress into spirit and vigour.
Sensei's broken heart and waves of crushing guilt and melancholy say: Good luck.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Writing Project, Part III of God-knows-how-many.

Spooky Stuff
[Pre-Day 7—Day 10]

My Lords,
Murder is widely thought to be the gravest of crimes. One could expect a developed system to embody a law of murder clear enough to yield an unequivocal result on a given set of facts, a result which conforms with apparent justice and has a sound intellectual base. This is not so in England, where the law of homicide is permeated by anomaly, fiction, misnomer, and obsolete reasoning. One conspicuous anomaly is the rule which identifies the ‘malice aforethought’ (a doubly misleading expression) required for the crime of murder not only with a conscious intention to kill but also with an intention to cause grievous bodily harm. It is, therefore, possible to commit a murder not only without wishing the death of the victim but without the least thought that this might be the result of the assault. Many would doubt the justice of this rule, which is not the popular conception of murder and (as I shall suggest) no longer rests on any intellectual foundation. The law of Scotland does very well without it, and England could perhaps do the same. It would, however, be fruitless to debate this here, since the rule has been established beyond doubt by R. v. Cunningham [1982] A.C. 566. This rule, which I will call the ‘grievous harm’ rule, is the starting point of the present appeal. –Opinions of the Lords in Appeal for Judgment in the Cause: Attorney-General’s Reference №3 of 1994

Fatima’s Story


It began, as such things so typically do, with decolonisation.
            The end of the Fourth French Republic came in 1958, due to the perceived failings of the parliamentary system and ongoing mismanagement of the civil war (France’s position) or independence war (the position of the groups native to the area in question) in Algeria. After the newly-installed Prime Minister of France, Pierre Pfimlin, implied that he would try to negotiate with Algerian nationalists, the French generals in Algeria refused to recognise his Government. They took control of Algiers and threatened to conduct a parachute assault on Corsica and Metropolitan France unless retired General Charles de Gaulle was placed in charge of the country.
            René Coty, the President at the time, was in no position to point out that this was not how parliamentary democracy worked, chiefly because the anthropologist, technocrat, and all-around public intellectual Jacques Soustelle was by now essentially holding Paris hostage with a ragtag army of common men, dissident military officers, conservative thinkers (such as himself), and quasi-retired colonial officials. De Gaulle indicated that he would be willing to assume emergency powers, laughing off fears that he would dismantle civil liberties by saying ‘Have I ever done that? Quite the opposite, I have re-established them when they had disappeared. Who honestly believes that, at age sixty-seven, I would start a career as a dictator?’
            The people in Algeria took Corsica in a bloodless military action, de Gaulle orchestrated a referendum on changing France’s system of government from parliamentary to semi-presidential, and the Fifth Republic was born. All French colonies (Algeria was considered a département, not a colony) were given a choice between immediate independence and accepting the new Constitution. All colonies except Guinea chose to remain affiliated with the Fifth Republic. They gained independence two years later in a different circumstance.
            Djibouti at this time was the Territory of Afars and Issas and held the somewhat vaguely-defined status of ‘Territoire français d’outre-mer’. This meant that France could do pretty much whatever it liked with the area, including instituting a citizenship law that favoured Afars for unclear reasons (this was in large part why the Issas were so keen to seize as much power for themselves as they possibly could after independence). Even after de Gaulle changed policy on Algeria and granted its independence in 1962, France kept a death-grip on this tiny part of Africa because of its strategic location on major shipping routes. It took another fifteen years for the French to quit Afars and Issas.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A comment from

'There are alot of problems with the Dream Act.

1, 35 age limit too old.
2, It is ongoing - never ending.
3. Once these illegal aliens get to be citizens they will be busy sponsoring their illegal families into the country. So the number involved in the amnesty is a lot more than just the one student - you all are forgetting about their families members,

illegal families




I'm sorry. This person has just lost the right to hold forth on any issue of rights or dignities ever again.

I mean really.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Like Heidegger...but RIGHT!!!