Saturday, June 30, 2007

Il y a cent ans...

July already. Good grief. The first half of the year 2007 has passed. Hard to believe.

Here is what Gide wrote in his journal on 2 Feb 1907:

Ce matin, lettre de Claudel; lettre pleine d'une colère sacrée, contre l'époque, contre Gourmont, Rousseau, Kant, Renan... Colère sainte sans doute, mais colère tout de même, et douleureusement à mon esprit autant que l'aboiement d'un chien à mon oreille. Je ne puis supporter cela et me bouche aussitôt l'oreille. Mais j'entends tout de même et j'ai peine ensuite à me remettre au travail.

Claudel, Gide. It would be interesting to see two forms of sensibility (catholic, protestant) in them, but without generalizing too much. Claudel always seems to me to be Spanish, so to speak. Totalisant, passionant, ardent, épuisant.

Friday, June 15, 2007

When dogs come together

I had a moment of hallucination today walking my puppy (well, no more, as she is almost 10 months old). All the dogs from my boyhood came back to me, running, trying to join us, with a sheer look of delight on their faces. Toby, my bulldog, Lou, my dalmatian, but also Rock the German Shepard and Bonnie the Akita (to me they were simply too big)... I was struck.

Mometarily I was filled with a sense of reliance, confidence, and I was totally in tune with the world around me.

That's what keeping a dog is all about. A dog is a messenger, Hermes-like, between your miserable SELF and the world-as-it-is. It can save you. It always stands on your side.

Happy Bloomsday

And again it's Bloomsday... 103th since 1904, the original.

I remember vividly our event in Okinawa in 2003, when we read aloud Ulysses in more than a dozen different languages... Today it seems they are holding a similar event in Sapporo. I wish I could go!

Instead I'll be drinking a pint of Guiness, chez moi, sozinho com o meu cachorrinho.

Saying: Here's to you, Jim, Jimmy, James, my master impeccable!

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Here is what Werner Herzog remembers about Chatwin (from Nicholas Shakespeare's biography):

"He said: 'Werner, I'm dying.' And I said, 'Yes, I am aware of that.' And then he said: 'You must carry my rucksack, you are the one who must carry it.' And I said: 'Yes, I will proudly do that.' And I have his rucksack and it's such a dear thing to me. Let's say if my house was on fire, I would throw my children out of the window, but of all my belongings it would be the rucksack that I would save." (558)

We are discussing Herzog's COBRA VERDE (d'apres Chatwin's The Viceroy of Ouidah) tomorrow at the first meeting of the World Cinema Study Group.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Brodsky Revisited

The ABC bookstore has again asked me to name a title for its summer book festival. Thank you very much. The topic this year is "water scenery".

Without much hesitation, I chose Joseph Brodsky' s Watermark. The book is translated into Japanese by the late Hisao Kanaseki. The translator of Gertrude Stein, Gary Snyder, and Native Amnerican poetry, Kanaseki must have made a great interlocutor for me... but alas, without our meeting each other, he left this planet.

Brodsky is as good as ever. What a prose.

There is something in me, I suppose, that always respects the physical side of human utterance, regardless of the content; the very movement of someone's lips is more essential than what moves them. (72-73)

I have always admired his prose written (from the scratch) in English.

But then, this is the first time I noticed that his family name reflects a "sky", a broad sky, as if the name itself was the surface of the water... and both the water and the sky curiously resembling the quiet graveyard.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Master is Always Elsewhere.

Voici ce que Sylvie Germain écrit en matière de maître:

Le Maître est toujours ailleurs.
(Les échos du silence, 40)

Quelle phrase complète! Il n'y a rien à ajouter. On cherche, on se déplace, on est en mouvement perpetuel pour trouver ce qu'on cherche via une figure incertaine du maître... qu'on ne peut jamais rencontrer. Par définition. Il n'est pas là qu'on croit qu'il est. Cette inaccessibilité est constituante d'un maître.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

My reading journal

Starting with the latest issue, I am writing my reading journal in Subaru for three months. The first installment will be in store in a couple of days.

「読書日録」、「すばる」2007年7月号、pp. 318-319.

This month I am discussing three following books:

Friday, June 01, 2007

Neighboring the aboriginals

Nahoko Uehashi is an anthropologist-novelist whose fantasy novels are very popular in Japan. The literary journal Eureka dedicated its June issue to her work; I contributed an essay on her anthropologist side.