A Quotation and a Comment

| | Comments (1)

Stop, reverse that. I'll start with the comment.

For me, the way to explore another culture is from the inside. No matter how many books I read by renowned scholars on Japan, I first came to know and love Japan through Basho, later through Lady Murasaki, and most recently through Kawabata, Oe, Endo, Mishima, Tanagawa, and Soseki. No matter how much outsiders tell me the "facts" of a society, it is what happens inside--in the arts--writing and film in particular, that really allow me to begin to enter and understand the culture.

Even so, I often hesitate. I know that when I read a Japanese novel I often don't "get it." There are symbols, meanings, things that are commonplace within the culture that I have no access to. And so, I'm often afraid to pick up the literature of other lands for fear that I will find myself completely at sea, unmoored, unanchored, unaware.

So it was with some hesitation that I first picked up Naguib Mahfouz. I must admit that I am not certain that I "get it" most of the time. However, I found this passage delightful:

from Miramar
Naguib Mahfouz

A jet-age traveler. What would you know, you fat moronic puppet? Writing is for men who can think and feel, not mindless sensation seekers out of nightclubs and bars. But these are bad times. We are condemned to work with upstarts, clowns who no doubt got their training in a circus and then turned to journalism as the appropriate place to display their tricks.

Refreshing to note that the press is ever with us.

Bookmark and Share


My favorite Japan is the constructed Japan of Roland Barthe's Empire of Signs, a Japan, as he himself points out, that is a much a part of the mind of Roland Barthe as it is a part of the empirical Japan.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 30, 2007 8:05 PM.

Insight from Brian Moore was the previous entry in this blog.

Brian Moore, Monsignor Cassidy, and Richard Dawkins is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

My Blogroll