Haiku reflections on Japan

Art, War and Mystery

Propaganda and

art, respect for teachers and some

mysteries of old

Well, I haven`t written in a while and it`s back to literature again.   I mentioned reading a book of Kazuo Ishiguro`s called An Artist of the Floating World.    It was about what happens when art meets propaganda and the fall-out afterwards for the Artist involved.   It was an interesting subject.    The Artist involved wavered between acknowledging his wrongs and denying them along the length of the novel.      On another note, it`s interesting to see the respect people had for teachers back then.  You see this also in Madadayo, which is set towards the end of World War II and just after it, and the film I mentioned a while back with the actor from Tokyo Story.   The main protagonist and his  friends (and one-time classmates) in the latter film take their teacher out for drinks and help him out a little financially.    The former students of the teacher in the former build him a house!!  In a more modern novel I read lately, one of the novels on the long list for the booker prize, the teacher in the story seems pathetic, even getting involved in the bullying of the main protagonist by playing along with the game where the other students ignore her to the extent they pretend she`s dead.    Nothing worse than seeing a teacher who should be the senior person in the class lowering themselves to that extent, perhaps to protect themselves or if not just trying too hard to get students to like them.   The word sensei in Madadayo really fits the teacher involved, as you can tell he`s respected and likewise with the second film.   Some teachers really don`t deserve the title of Sensei though and it makes you think the word is overused.

I`ve since read another of Ishiguro`s.  A pale view of hills which was his debut novel.    Quite an interesting story with a not very likeable character who plays part of a very good twist at the end.   I wasn`t expecting that at all.

At the moment I`m reading a book of short stories in the mystery genre which again I was pleasantly surprised to find in my library.    Japanese Tales of Mystery and Imagination is the title.   The writer`s pen name is Edogawa Rampo which is the Japanese pronunciation of the American writer Edgar Allan Poe who the Japanese writer (whose real name is Hirai Taro) much admired at the time.     Having read Poe myself and enjoyed his short stories, I can see why he admired him so much but as much as he did, he then went on with other Japanese mystery writers to develop a mystery writing style unique to Japanese culture and history.

While I`m on Japanese writers, I watched Norwegian Wood lately for the second time, based on Haruki Murakami`s novel.  The first time I watched it I gave up on it at some point because I was too tired that one evening to watch what I thought was not that good a film.   Anyway, having given it another go I still don`t think it`s that great.   The book is far better (even though, as I said before, I`ve since tired of Murakami).  That said, I thought the acting was good enough.  The character Midori is very likeable both in the book and the film.

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