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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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A Möbius Striptease
Those who share my taste for Japanese occidentalism, please enjoy these nineteenth-century views of London.

It's no secret that part of my fascination with Japan lies in my instinctive (but poorly evidenced) belief that it and Britain were separated at birth and brought up on separate continents, as discussed here, here, here, here, here, and here, for example. But I do worry a bit about my interest in occidentalism, and whether it may be just orientalism in a half-lotus. Am I actually interested in Japan for its own sake (or indeed sake), or just as it offers a perspective on my own country?

And yet, looking at oneself from the outside is also estrangement, which is meant to be very good for us, n'est-ce pas, demonstrating how our customs and beliefs are really contingent rather than inevitable?

And yet, if Craig Raine had believed in Martians, his poetry would certainly have been appropriative.

And yet, I'm interested in Japan for its own sake too, or so I let myself believe...

You won't hear me arguing with this view but then I do live in the home town of Anjin Sama, aka William Adams.

Oh, those are fascinating!

Those who share my taste for Japanese occidentalism, please enjoy these nineteenth-century views of London.

If you have not already, you want to read Natsume Soseki's The Tower of London and Other Stories, a collection of the author's essays and short fiction written during and after the two years he lived in London (1901–1903). I lent my copy to rushthatspeaks, otherwise I would try posting it through the mail to you. The stories reminded me most of very early Bulgakov, when many of his characters were satirical versions of himself, but may read very differently to someone with an actual knowledge of turn-of-the-century Japanese literature. Anyway, highly recommended.

I haven't come across that, no - but I shall make that good! It sounds just my cup of tea.

It sounds just my cup of tea.

"Bicycle Diary," Soseki's account of learning to ride a bicycle at age thirty-five, is a masterpiece of deadpan cringe comedy. "The Tower of London" is a ghost story, sort of; it deserves its title billing. Enjoy!

Oh, that sounds lovely!


Oh, that sounds lovely!

Those are obviously the two pieces that made the most impression on me, but the entire book is worth it. I found my copy in the basement of the Harvard Book Store. It's conceivable they might turn up another someday.

I saw the triptych earlier, and adored it. And yes, twins: Sebastian and Viola-san.


Edited at 2015-03-21 04:43 am (UTC)

And featuring Commodore Perry as Antonio...