Marilyn Ivy

Marilyn Ivy - CHAPTER 'I'HREE Ghastly lnsufiiciencies:...

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Unformatted text preview: CHAPTER 'I'HREE Ghastly lnsufiiciencies: T6110 Monogatari and the Origins of Nativist Ethnology The most scandalous literary figure in tWentieth~ century Japan, Mishirna Yukio, once wrote a short contribution for a weekly newspaper column in which writers and critics commented'on prose masterpieces of their choice for the edification of the reading public. Mishirna chose Tone monogatari (The Tales of Tono), which, as we know, had come to be recognized as the founding work of Japanese folklore studies as well as a literary classic.1 He says this: “The Tales of Trina speaks, coldly of innumerable deaths. Taking those deaths as its place of origin, Japanese folklore studies is a discipline in which the smell of corpses drifts.”2 This chapter finds its own point of origin in Mishirna’s lurid assertion, unraveling its implications in an attempt to rethink the stakes of ethnographic representation within Japanese mo- 1. "Folklore studies" is the conventional translation for minzokugnkn. I sometimes translate this term as “nativist ethnology” (1-1. D. Harootunian uses the translation j’na- tive ethnology,” which I have also used in the past) because of its links with the natiVist scholarship (kokugaku) of the Tokugawa period (1693—1868) and its claims as a disc» piine of indigenous Japanese knowledge and practices. There are multiple connections between the disciplines of folklore studies and anthropology in Japan, not the least of which is the homoPhonic congruence of the two terms: minzakiigaku is also a standard term for "anthropology." It differs from the minzokngaku of folidore studies, however, In its graphic constitution (although both terms share the same Chinese characteriori: "min" the characters used for "zoku" are different). i shall use both "folklore studies and (Japanese) "nativist ethnology” to transiate minzokugaku in this chapter. in addition, although the sole published English translation of Trina managiztari, lay Ronald Morse, renders the title as The Legends of Trina, I have chosen to transiate it as The lines of Tina, believing that "tale" is in fact much closer to the import of monogntari than legend is. The title-mThe Tales of 'I‘iinowalso forms a link hetween so-called tale literature of the Heian period and after and Yanagita’s tales. 2. Mishima Yuldo, "Trina monogatari,” 198. 66 ORIGINS or NA'E‘IVIST ETHNOLOGY 67 dernity. What kind of discipline is founded on death and its aftereffect: the smell of corpses, a linked image both horrifically concrete and un— graspable? Indeed, Mishirna’s trope plays out in its very form the gen— eral contradiction of an ethnographic impulse that would want to doc- unith the punctual event, the unwritable (death), but must always displace that impulse through the vagaries of the figurative—mwhat some would call the literary The Tales of Tons emerged in the early twentieth century both to embody and to allegorize that constitutive contradiction of modernitywthat is, the difference between “science” and ”literature”—with its literary rewritings of oral tales of ghosts and gruesome goings-on in the Japanese rural remote. At the specific origin of Japanese folklore studies as a discipline (gakumon), as a field of scholarship, is not simply death, but a text that speaks, figurally of deaths. To anticipate my own end(s) here, literature and ethnography (in Japan, in modernity) are always in a ghostly complicity with one another. Even when one would most like to disavow that complicity (or conversely to insist on a sheer identity without distinction), the figure of the other returns to reinstitute the distinction, now made un— stable and tenuous. And this complicity is unthinkable outside the in— terlinked struggles about literary authority, speech and writing, and the status of representable reality in twentieth~century Japan. The textual birth of Japanese nativist ethnology is thus a strange one: a birth that is deathly, an appearance that is at the same time a disappearance. That doubleness is the necessary condition of folklore studies (and that necessity extends to a more generalized anthropol— ogy). "in the Beginning, at Death” reads a subheading in "The Beauty of the Dead: Nisard,” Michel de Certeau’s subtle reflections on the dis- cursive hirth of popular culture in nineteenth—century France and the internal exoticism it presumes.3 For, as he shows, the disappearance of the objectwwhether newly imagined as the folk, the community authentic voice, or tradition itself-is necessary for its ghostly reap- pearance in an authoritatively rendered text. The object does not exist outside its own disappearance. If its coming-tube is never simpiy punctual, a sheer event, neither is its death. There is always a temporal structure of deferral, of loss and recovery, across which the fantasy of folklore, of ethnography, stretches; thus the spectral status of the ethnographic object. it is only in the difference between those ino~ ments that the object of the fantasy can he said to exist. Susan Stewart 3. Michel de Certeau, with Dominique Julia and Jacques Revel, "The Beauty of the Dead: Nisard,” 119. 68 CHAPTER THREE has spoken of those genres that fantastically detemporalize the diffen ence between loss and recovery as “distressed”: Thus distressed forms show us the gap between past and pres— ent as a structure of desire, a structure in which authority seeks legitimation by recontextuaiizing its object and thereby recontextuaiizing itself. if distressed forms involve a negation of the contingencies of their immediate history, they also in« volve an invention of a version of the past that could only arise from such contingencies. We see this structure of desire as the structure of nostalgiawthat is, the desire for desire in which objects are the means of generation and not the ends} The generalization of that structure is, of course, inseparable from the claims of modernity itself. That Mishima, some six months before his own death, would choose to write about The Tales of T5110 is not insignificant. For the scandal of Mishirna lies not so much in his writ— ing, however much his interlinking of eros and ultranationalism shocks bourgeois sensibilities.5 The scandal resides rather in his own spectac~ ular death in November 1970, when Mishimaw—at the head of his own little army—briefly took over the Self—Defense Forces Headquarters in Tokyo and ritually disemboweled himSelf in front of a crowd of specta- tors. What Mishima opposed with his desperate, dangerously fascist, finally suicidal attempts to recover the spiritual core of Japanese culm ture (exemplified by the fallen symbol of the Japanese emperor) was modernity itself. In short, his was an attempt to regain the lost object of modernity at the post~’603 moment when there was no question that the Japanese economic miracle, the postwar civil society, and things American were here (there) to stay. It seems, then, retrospectively fit~ ting that Mishima would have been attracted to The Tales of Tour). For that text also demarcated a crisis of Japanese modernity in the early twentieth century. Civilization and Its Remainders In 1910, the Teles’ date of publication, Japan as a nation—state had ex- isted only some forty years. To grasp the implications of that statement ti. Susan Stewart, "Notes on Distressed Genres,” in her Crimes of Writing: Problems in the Containment of Representation, 74. 5. Masao Miyoshi has written of the Japanese rejection of Mishima‘s literature, declar- ing that "Much of Mishirna Yukio’s dazzling performance now looks merely flamboyant, or even kitschy. The list of his worics is long, but the list of those that might as well ORIGINS or NATIVIST B'I‘HNOLOGY 69 is to imagine the severity of the epistemological break that occurred with the Meiji Restoration of 1868 and the ending of Japan’s 250—year virtual isolation and its elaborate system of “feudal” rule.6 During that time (and during Japan’s long history before the Tokugawa period) there had developed enormously complex worlds of philosophy aes— thetics, and sociality—worids largely independent of concurrent de— velopments in the West. Tokugawa Japan had many of the ideal-typical marks of the European early modern, including a wealthy merchant class, a professional literati (and a vast publishing industry), and heav— ily populated cities (including Edo, the pre~Meiji name for Tokyo, the iargest city in the world in the eighteenth century). Yet its "forced opening” (as it is often called) by the United States in 1854 operated as perhaps the primary efficient cause in the decline of the Tokugawa order and the precipitate scramble for modern nationhood and its ac- coutrernents. In the interests of state power and development, not only the technologies and institutions of western capitalism, but hundreds of years’ worth of aesthetic theories, literary forms, and modes of rep- resentation were imported within an extraordinarily compressed span of time: not only railroads, but Descartes; not only finance capital, but Renaissance perspective; not only Prussian-style militarism, but Ibsen. Within the unequal relationship of power between Japan and the West transpired countless moments of intrusion and resistance, seduction and assimilation, but what the period following the Restoration meant in the largest terms was the construction of a modern nation~state at the same time that entire worlds of representation and thought were grafted onto existing indigenous ones, activating what one Japanese critic has called a veritable “overturning of the semiotic constellation” of pre‘Meiji Japan? remain unread is nearly as long." Miyoshi, Ofi‘ Center, 149. Mishima’s short review of The Tales of Tom remains a piece that bears reading. 6. The Meiji Restoration aimed to “restore” the emperor to his rightful place of au- ' thority after centuries of merely titular kingship under the military government of Japan, which held de facto power. For an analysis of the Meiji Restoration as the complex culmination of intellectual debates about authority and representation, see H. D. Haroo~ tunian, Toward Restoration: T he Growth of Political Consciousriess in Tokugawa Japan. 7. The concept is Karatani Kojin’s, developed in his Nikon kindai bungaku no kigen— translated as The Origins ofModem Japanese Literature. Karatani’s book is an examination of the formation of modern Japanese literature, in which he emphasizes the discursive production of the category and institution of literature {bungaku} itself in the Meiji pe~ riod. For Karatani, the written word shifts from its status as rhetorical instrument and assumes new significance in the Meiji period as a tool for reflecting reality through the innovations of the genbimitchi system, which sought to unify the spoken and written Ian- guages. 70 CHAPTER THREE Tone monogatari was written at a time when regional beliefs and prac— tices were being threatened by the comprehensive state ideology of "civilization and enlightenment” (bunmei kaika); this ideology was backed by fiercely ambitious policies and programs for inculcating modern habits and ideas into the populace. The widespread importa~ tion of western knowledge during the Meiji period led to a questioning and reassessment of native forms. The goal of parity with the West inspired the single~minded incorporation of western structures and institutions and a bureaucratization of power based on norms of obj ec- tive rationality; the formation of national compulsory education and conscription incorporated the newly emergent national citizenry {ico- kumin) into ever~widening circles of standardized participation and co— optation in establishing the body politic.8 The building of railroads and nationwide communication and transportation facilities, banking and finance, and foreign trade—nthe infrastructure of the modern state— advanced at a stunning pace, safely enclosed within civilization and its associated enlightenment. Modernizing rhetoric and policies were not uniformly received, however, and new kinds of political associations and groups arose in response to the state’s attempts to regulate the interests of the polity. The state became increasingly aware of the destabilizing social forces that modernization could unleash, and came to temper its calls for advancement with appeals to time-honored “tradition.” in a nation composed primarily of peasants (80 percent at the start of the Meiji period), yet with capital and political power concentrated in the cities, an increasingly valorized tradition (dEfltO') signified rural custom.9 Late Meiji Japan, particularly after the Russo-Japanese war (1904— 1905), witnessed a phenomenal increase in rural out~migration, largely in response to straitened economic conditions after the war. In 1908, nearly 60 percent of the population of Tokyo consisted of emigrants from the country; this flow to the cities only increased over the next ten years“) Migration to the cities, characterized as tokai netsu (city fever) was a major factor in transforming village life, as social and geographical mobility changed the character of farming household structure. The development of the railroads, improved material condi- tions, heightened demands for education, and accompanying philoso— phies of striving and material success contributed to the continuing 8. For a sharp analysis of the process of rationalization at the state level, see Bernard Silberman, "The Bureaucratic State in Japan: The Problem of Authority and Legitimacy.” 9. Mikiso Hane, Peasants, Rebels, and Outcastes: The Underside ofModem japan, 11. 10. Carol Cluck, Iapan’s Modem Myths, 159. ORIGINS OF NATIVIST BTHNOLOGY 71 transformation of rural life. Along with the transformations came in» tensrfying rhetoric from the central elite, praising the virtues of village custom, the beauty and purity of country life, and exhorting rural youth to stay put on their ancestral paddy lands in an elaboration of what Carol Cluck has called the "agrarian myth” of Meiji Japan. As Cluck states: Although the late Meiji ideologues did not regard cities, enter- prise, education, and reading as social ills in themselves, they were nonetheless unprepared for the consequences of their diffusion, especially when these were associated with the breakdown of the agrarian order in the countryside and the emergence of new forms of social conflict in the cities and fac~ tories. Confronted with a modernity that threatened to shake the social foundations of the nation, the ideologues turned to the verities of the past—the village and the family social liar»- mony and communal custom—to cure civilization of its fevers so that society as they envisioned it might yet survive.“ The amplification of the agrarian myth and the concurrent decrying of urban values was accompanied by concrete policies and plans, de- bates and dialogues, about how to insure stability in an agricultural arcadia on the verge of destruction. The state constructed the notion of jichz‘, self—government through local, officially sanctioned organiza- tions, as a means of social control in the regions. The Home Ministry developed its rural revitalization movement (chihfi kairyfi undo) from 1900 to 1918, a movement which sought to inculcate progressive prac— tices in the countryside. The government reorganized localities into new administrative units, consolidated the vast number of local shrines via the Shrine Merger Act of 1908, encouraged conservative youth organizations, and extolled "traditional" agrarian lifeways all the more effusiver the more its policies destroyed those lifeways. It is important to recall that there was a trajectory to this process of extolling tradition. The two decades immediately following the Resto— ration of 1868 produced a dominant rhetoric more explicitly moderniz— ing and renovationist in tone than traditionalist. In keeping with the reformist mood and the attempts to civilize and enlighten the masses in western ways, numerous "custom reform associations” arose. In this phase, concern with custom served essentially as the precondition for locating regressive aspects in need of reform and modernization. Yet as the more pragmatic and decisive nation—building years progressed, ll. [bids E77. 72 CHAPTER THREE and the welter of contending and contentious groups advanced their own particular interests, the government began to revalorize rural cus— toms as a means of stabilizing the nation. A preoccupation with cus— tom developed as the pretext for definitively locating the traditional. Although works describing peasant beliefs and the customs of remote regions can be found in nativist scholarship (kokugaku) of the Toku— gawa period, the earliest modern attempts to record folkloric data were the Ministry of Justice’s surveys of customary precedents (minji kamei raisin?) in 1877 and 1880, compiled prior to the first attempts to formu— late a civil code. These bureaucratic, legalistic codifications of custom as the basis of law were not far removed from the interest in custom emerging in the private sphere. In 1884, the Ethnological Society (jinrw igaku gakkai) was formed with ten members; in 1886 it changed its name to the Tokyo Ethnological Society and began publishing reports on manners and mores (fflzoku). Those of 1888, for example, detail re» gional variations in New Year's activities. The popular magazine Pfi— zoku garlic", published from 1889 to 1916, satisfied a larger public interest for descriptions and depictions of annual events and popular practices. The Tokyo Ethnological Society continued publishing reports, examin— ing such topics as “taboo words” (imi kotoba), "five—man groups” (genie gumi) as a basic unit of social organization, and Okinawan beliefs.12 Written at a moment (1909—1910) when it had become inescapably clear that western industrial capitalism not only would bring civiliza— tion and enlightenment but would efface much of the older Japanese world, The Tales of Tone thematized this effacement in its descriptions of Tono, an obscure region in northeastern lapan. Presented as an un— mediated transcription of oral tales and lore told to its “author” (the father~to—be of the nascent discipline of folklore studies, Yanagita Kunio) by a local storyteller, the Tales enscripted the uncanny remain- der of capitalist modernity, that which could not be contained within the nationalist, rationalist discourse of the maturing state system. The Tales took its place among numerous texts signifying the rediscovery of the rural countryside; in time, it worxld come to be one of the most famous of these late Meiji texts. The content of the "tales"—or, rather, the sequence of information that storyteller Sasaki Kizen gave to Ya— nagita—speaks of the same degradation and poverty that infused the ascendant form of the Meiji "naturalist novel” (shizenshugiteki shésetsu); i2. 1 have taken the above from a chronology of Japanese folklore studies prepared by the National Museum of Iapanese History and Folklore. Fukuda Ajio, "Nihon minzolcu kenkyfishi nenpyo.” OREGINS OF NATIVIST ETHNOLOGY 73 murder, incest, grotesque births, and famine are presented as common— place. This revelation of rural misery was in itself later seen as exposing an immense, hidden underside of Meiji japan, one com— pletely at odds with the official discourse of civilization and enlighten- ment. Yet Tono was a world not only of murders and incest, but of ghosts, mountain apparitions, deities, and monsters. Sasaki’s stories revealed a universe of fear, of splits in appearance, of the irrational and fantastic. it was this aspect of the Tales that indicated the frightening seductions of an older world that had seemingly escaped the intru~ sions of the central state. The surviving numinous became the roman» tic object of those caught up in the disenchantment of the world. So far we have a story that is not entirely unfamiliar. Anxieties about cultural transmission, valorizations of the unwritten, discoveries of the marginal, and textual constructions of the "folk" are the replicable con— stituents of modern cultural nationalisms throughout the world.13 Ia- pan is striking, however, for the lateness of its condensed absorption within the global problematic of national modernity and for the ex- tremity of its difference from the Euroarnerican context—a difference that was obsessively re-marked within the writings of Japanese nativ— ist ethnology. For the discipline was concerned with preserving the traces of a folkic world not only as a representation of the unwritten essence of ethnic lapaneseness, but also as the indication of a non—West that could never be subsumed under the dominant signs of western modernity.”L The Distance between Speech and Writing The difference between Japan and the West and the fear of Japan’s subsumption was imagined, above all else, as a difference in language. With new forms of literary representation (primarily, realism and natu- ralism) and techniques of description came a particular anxiety about language and its powers. It is not as if objectifying, rationalist, even positivist, forms of discourse were unknown to premMeiji Japan. The intricacies of Confucian and Buddhist philosophy incorporated many of the problematics of representation that western science took to be uniquely its own. But these discourses had not been systematized into 33. See Katherine Trumpener’s masterful work “The Voice of the Past: Anxieties of Cultural Transmission in Post—Enlightenment Europe.” 14. The search to find a domain of pure ethnic Iapaneseness merged with the nation- alisg Project culminating in the Concerted effort to overcome the mod ' ' em k d €h6k0ku) in the 19305 and ’40s ( 1“ a1 “0 74 CHAPTER THREE the powerfully coherent practices, technologies, and apparatuses of western science, art, and literature. Both for state politics and for litera— ture, the linkage of writing, speech, and external “reality” emerged as one of the core issues of the Meiji period, constituting what can he truly called a crisis in representation. This crisis appeared as a series of debates about the difference between speech and ertmg, truth and fiction, literature and its other in earlywtwentieth-century Japan. The Tales of Trina enacted these differences within a hybrid text that would come to be read as a mysterious suturing of the fissures between forms of representation. - I Meiji Japan’s program of state~sponsored reform and standardization extended directly into the realm of language. Intense debateson the ' formation of a standard national language (kokugo) accomparued de— bates on the formation of the national polity. For the Japanese of pre— Meiji Japan spanned an awesome range of literary styles—many quite distant from the world of everyday speech—~with a plethora of purely literary verb endings, formal conventions, Sinified compounds, and difficult Chinese characters. A hierarchy of delicate gradations sepa- rated different forms of literary Japanese: kanbun, written entirely in Chinese characters but read in Japanese word order; sdrdbun, the so~ called epistolary style, with its mixed use of Chinese characters and the Japanese syllabary; wabun, a revival of classrcal Japanese style which used the syllabary as much as possible; and wakankonkobun, prim marin kanbun with an admixture of classical wabun style.15 What might be thought of as the ideographic principle in‘Japanese writing determined that people speaking vastly different dialects could still read the same texts, because the Chinese characters used to write Japa« nese are graphic signs relatively independent of voicing: to those: who were Sufficiently literate their meaning was apparent to the eye.1 This principle lent itself to the tendency, particularly apparent in the Frat/than style, to create written worlds sharply distinct from everyday enuncra- tions. Apart from certain forms of popular fiction, and sermons and tracts transcribed for the common listener, which faithfully repro~ ducted colloquial dialogue, rnuch literary writing, then, distanced itself 15. See Nanette Twine, "The Genbunitchi Movement: A Study of the Development of the Modern Colloquial Style in Japan,” M3. 1 16. Of course Chinese characters—contrary to proposals by Derrida and others that they constitute a potentially nonlogocentric alternative to phonetic writingm-dp contain phonetic components that allow the reader to sound the character in many (if not all) instances. Nevertheless, ideographs allow the reader to read Without vorcrng to a lugher degree than phonetic writing normally does. ORIGENS O79 NATIVIST ETHNOLOGY 7‘5 from the direct reproduction of everyday speech. One of the primary tasks of the new state was to codify the written language and align it more closely with the contours of the colloquial, an endeavor the Meiji ideologues grasped as essential for creating a unified national polity. In this the phonetic scripts of the West served as models of efficiency, ease, and transparency (one minister of education, Mori Arinori, even suggested replacing lapanese With Englishi). But what was to serve as the standard colloquial language that the written language was to reflect? Hundreds of dialects existed through- out the country: spoken Japanese was fragmented and various and bore the marks of locale. The state sought to contain this diversity by establishing a standard spoken Japanese, then bringing written Japaw nese closer to this colloquial standard. In language as in everything else, the power of the center determined the result: the dominant dia~ lect of Edo gradually became the standard spoken language in Japan. Meiji writers and intellectuals, newly fascinated with European fic— tion, poetry, and thought, were also absorbed by this problematic. Their object was not, h0wever, the creation of standard Speech and colloquial writing as instruments for the formation of a unified polity; they instead were concerned with the representation of reality in fic— tion. At the heart of these debates, summarized by the expression gen- bunitchi, “the unification of spoken and written languages/i7 lay the question of literary verisirnilitude: How does one represent “reality” in prose fiction? The considerable difference between the spoken and written languages is the starting point for modern Japanese fiction.i8 Although Tokugawa-period writers had often reproduced dialogue faithfully, they still couched narrative passages in a formal written style. This split between dialogue and narrative was one of the first areas of debate among young Meiji writers influenced by western prose fiction. Many of these writers sought to increase verisimilitude in fiction not only by reproducing dialogue more faithfully, but by re- taining the vernacular in narrative passages as well. By reproducing everyday speech accurately in literature, it was argued, greater realism could be attained in the novel. Thus, many of these writers became associated with what is now called lapanese naturalisrn (shizenshugi) in their efforts to transcribe reality directly through a technique they termed shasei or “sketching,” a sketching from life. This visual meta- phor sharply describes the attempt at an almost photographic repro— 17. See Twine, "The Genbunitchi Movement." 18. Masao Miyoshi, Accemplices of Silence: The Modern Japanese Novel, SW37. 76 CHAPTER runes duction of external reality, including speech itself, within prose narra— tives. The debates over genbunitchi started in the late 18805 and continued throughout the Meiji period. Yanagita Kunio, then a young bureaucrat in the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce and a productive poet as well (and founder of the Ibsen Society of Japan), took an active part in these debates and was a friend of many of the leading luminaries of Meiji literary society: Kunildda Doppo, Shimazaki Toson, Tayama Katai, lzurni Kyoka. Coming from a line of Shinto priests, Yanagita was involved with state agricultural policy, traveling to villages and talking to farmers about rural uplift. His rural background and contin— uing concern with nonurban Japan meshed with his literary preoccu— pations through a set of circumstances that brought the problematic of oral narratives to his attention. In ” “Sketching Technique’ and the Essay” (Shasei to ronbun), an es- say published in 1907, three years before the publication of Tom mono gatsri, Yanagita came out in support of a colloquial literary style.19 The essay is an examination of the premises of shaseibun, the “direct de- scription" technique (again, modeled on "sketching’l advocated by Masaoka Shiki. Yanagita states that previously he thought that literam ture was something constructed with difficult characters and crafted sentences, not something natural or easily achieved. But since the ad« vent of the technique of direct description, literature is conceivable as something that "anyone can write,” since it is written “just as one has seen and heard, without any artifice.” Direct description destroys the notion that literature, as a means to express thought, cannot attain its object unless it is difficult. To write essays, to write literature, merely cultivate your own sensibility, and write what you see, hear, think, and feel just as it is, Yanagita admon— ishes his readers. This admonition, clearly anticipates his famous pref— atory remarks to The Tales of Tone, where he would aver that he wrote down the tales “as they were related to me without adding a word or phrase?” Yanagita continues in his essay on "sketching tech- nique” : ’19. Yanagita Kunio, “Shasei to ronbun.” Extensive passages from this essay are ana- lyzed in iwarnoto Yoshiteru, Ms hitofsu no Trina monogafari, 105—6 (the title translates as One More "Tales of Theo”). lwainoto examines the contradictions surrounding the writing of The Tales of T6110. 20. This is Ronald Morse’s translation of the famous passage. Yanagita Kunio, The Legends of Tom, 5. ORIGINS or narrvrsr ETHNOLOGY 77 Heretofore, if an essay [ronbun] were not written in literary style [bungateii it did not seem like a real essay, and it was said that its power was diminished. But that is a narrow view caught up in convention. It is natural to assume that since writ~ mg is a method for expressing thought, the style of that writing should be as close as possible to thought. . . . Both speech and writing [gengo to bunshd] exist as means for expressing one’s thoughts, but at present writing is not as close to thought as speech is. if speech is able to express eight thoughts out of ten, writing is only able to express six... . Just because colloquial style Egenbunitchitai] is closer to speech than literary language is i think it is able to express thought more intimately than liter- ary language.21 In this essay We find a theory of language couched primarily in terms of expressing thoughts (shiso). Thoughts are placed on the same plane as externals, as realities to be expressed via language; embodied speech, placed in intimate proximity to thinking, naturally takes its place as the more desirable mode of expression. A writing that mimeti~ caily traces the contours of speech will thus accede as closely as pos« sible to the transparent reflection of the object—whether conceptual Visual, or aural. And the writing that makes the closest approach td speech is the genbunitchi style.22 Yet something happened to Yanagita’s theories of literature and rep resentatlon between 1907 and 1909, a period in which he was begin- 21. Yanagita, "Shasei to ronbun,” 31—32; emphasis added. 22. Speech here occupies (at least} two positions. One is externalized speech— speech-m-the-world, speech as natural object. People talk, one hears their voices- thus the imperative for writers to record speech as perfectly as possible, in the objective lnode of the-natural scientist. But speech also occupies a second position, one determined b what is not said. That is, speech is the sign of “thought,” a vehicle for "exprr-zssing;f thoughts that are silent. hi this position speech indicates something other than itself something more original-y that it carries forward. A relay is instituted, originatin in thought, rnovmg first to speech, then to written colloquial style, than to literary stygles which become, by degrees, more distant from Speech. Because writing is viewed here as the graphic analog of speech, the dilemmas of "direct description” are more frau ht when‘speech, as opposed to the visual, is the object. That is, it is assumed that a textia] dESCIZIpl'XGI}. of a scene in nature will of necessity be farther removed from that scene than is a faithful, "phonographic” textuai transcription from the dialogue for exam is that it records: the former moves from the mode of the visual to that] of Ian if e, whereas the latter moves only across forms of language, from the spoken to the wgrtitlttgd llut'as the term shasei (direct description), with its provenance in art theory indicates. Similar debates took place about visual representation, where the continuum of argu: ments moved from the status of photography to western-style realism (effected by live direct description") to the rediscovery of Iapanese-styie “impressionism.” 78 CHAPTER THREE (1' ' - 1123 ning to think more deeply about what he called the 1nv1s1ble worl . This shift marked a series of returns to the formal and figural powers of a writing that no longer pretends to transcribe speech in all it: trap; parency, a speech he now divested of its unique capac1ty to ac as h t most intimate metaphor of inner thought. While it is not clear wb ad precisely prompted Yanagita's move to what has often been descri 1:: t as an antinaturalist stance, his essays from this period suggest t a a growing familiarity with Japanese naturalist writings andllus ow: attempts to write in genbunitchi style convrnced him of its impo've fl ishrnent, as his 1909 essay "The Distance Between Speech and Wigpng (Genbun no kyori) reveals.24 In this essay'Yanagita makes a full— own attempt to discredit the techniques of direct description, he now gues instead for the unabashed rhetoricity of texts. lior Yanagita', is rhetoricity consists in not giving all the facts, which paradoxgtaHy gives the work more verisimilitude, more of an'appeamnce ofltrut . e upholds a form of withholding, a reticence Within a rhetorical econ— orny that by its constructed absences thus conveys the real a1: th: 120:: sharply, rather than attempting an impossible transcription. ns Sana Hid striving to record the brute fact itselfathe work psi literature s 0 “sound as if it were factual” (jijitsu mslnku ku‘coeru). th Yanagita seeks to impress, to convey feelings, and to move He reader, who has now emerged as the object of literary writing. e insists on the paradoxical reversal of literary effects when writers at; tempt to imitate life too directly: the more one tries to imitate speec and thus “reality,” the more unnatural the result. Yet Yanagita goes even further. Completely dismissing the claims of genbunitchr, he states that on the contrary the spoken language should instead draw closer to the writtenl No longer arguing that writing should draw closer to oral discourse, Yanagita advocates an improvement, through education, of spoken Japanese—an improvement that W311i 'I’Echen bring spoken discourse closer to bungotar, or literary style. 1 era 23 Gerald Figal has discussed the intersection of the invisible world, the. fantastic: and questions of representatiasn in his dissertation, "The Folk and the Fantasipc 1:; nese Modernity: Dialogues on Reason and the Imagination in Late Nineteent an a y Twentieth Century Japan." _” 24. Yanagita Kunio, "Genbun no kyori, 167—72. 25. lbid. 169. v u M 26 in this same essay, Yanagita asserts that spoken lapanese, unlike ‘ waster? lan ua ,es” with their clearly delineated progression of clauses and connecting artic es, is g g and repetitions. if one tries to write this contusron down, the full of auses, elisions, . _ result nothing but an incoherence that can hardly ascend to the literary. Therefore, it is not possible to have a true (shin) genbunitchi at the present, he avers. To have a true onrorns or NATIVIST ETHNOLOGY 79 ture could only take its place as truly literary by keeping its distance from the chaos of Japanese Speech, as well as from the pretensions of a photographic and phonographic reproduction of the world (he writes of Japanese naturalist writers as bad amateur photographers). The anticipation and containment of many of the concerns of granuna— tology—of the philosophical prerogatives of speech and its relation- ship to truth and the problem of writing as a subsidiary form of repre- sentation—are in striking evidence here, with an eventual reversal (the preeminence of writing over speech) that seems to double but of course historically differs in its discursive effects and location from Derrida’s deconstructions proper. Nowhere does Yanagita question the distance between Speech and writing that Derrida would put into un- decidability. That Yanagita as the future founder of folklore studies would advocate not only a distancing from the (oral) object of nostal- gia, but a disciplinarytaming of vocal forms on the model of orderly writing reiterates the Split in representation that the Tales would come to embody Near the end of this 1909 essay on the distance between speech and writing, Yanagita states, "I would like to try and write some sort of strong, solid book using literary style.” 27 That book would not be a wholly fictional novel, but The Tales of Trina, the one and only work of Yanagita’s that is considered a masterpiece of prose literature, yet a work that Yanagita insisted was based on “present—day facts.”28 The book—the substitute for the novel he never wrotemwould become, in time, the undisputed origin of the discipline of nativist ethnology, the science of the Japanese cultural unwritten.29 colloquial written language, spoken Japanese must move closer to the written (literary) language with its regularity and refinement. Education, starting with primary school, is the means to attain this remolding of spoken Japanese into a simulacrum of the (prop— erly) written. What this passage also discloses is an example of the inexhaustible binar— isrn situating the “Japanese” language in opposition to “western” ones—«Japan versus the West. it is implied that in the West, because the spoken language is rational and coherent, truly obiective, scientific, colloquial writing and literature is a possibility. This is an impossibility in Japan with the irrationaliiies of its spoken discourse, and thus literature should not aspire to reproduce the spoken as is, Yanagita insists. We can see the implications for a theory of Japanese cultural essentialism emerging from these re» flections on speech and writing. Ibid., 170472. 27. Enid, 169. 28. Yanagita, Trina monogamri, Yamato Shobo edition, 57. 29. Yanagita had already started his protoethnographic project between 1907 and 1909; the work of this period culminated in his self-published Nochi no karikotoba no kl, a collection of hunters’ terminology from the mountains of the southern island of Kyushu and his Dialogues of the Stone Gods (Ishigarni mondo) published in 1909. 80 cnarrsn THREE The Modern Uncanny It was precisely during this period, starting November 1 08, that Yanagita began to listen to the stories of Sasaki Kmen in Tok .o. Fiom his notebooks from 4 November, we find the following statement: 8a- saki is a person from Tono in Iwate prefecture, and the mountain vil- lages of that region are very interesting. I shall construct Tone monoga- tari by writing down the stories of those villages just as they are$0 The entry for 5 November declares: “I shall write T6110 monogaterz. The very title of the collectionw—the rubric that would unify the real diver— sity of Sasaki’s rumors, stories, and recollections under the name of narrative (monogatari)—had been fixed. The writing of the tales was not just a chance encounter with a rural storyteller (who was in fact a university student and an aspiring writer) and a casual, unmediated transcription of the facts, although Yanagita’s preface to the Tales and other writings create that sense. It was instead a coherent, deliberate project that went through a series of mediations. ' It is entirely clear that there is a theoretical trajectory that culminates in the writing of the text of the tales, and the question is why. Why does The Tales of T6110 provide the theoretical space Yanagita needed at that time? We know that Yanagita was deeply interested in what he called the “concealed” world—of ancestors, of the monstrous, of the unseen, of death. The concealed world indicates a discursive space articulated in peasant practice and by Tokugawa nativist thinkers; by the late Meiji period it doubly pointed to the marginalized obverse of Meiji civilization and enlightenment: the rural, the unwritten, the vanishing.31 But was it sheerly Yanagita’s interest in the concealed world—and his political concern to recover it-that attracted him to these tales that speak so obsessively of ghosts, deaths, and disappear— ances? That attraction would not account for the centrality of these sto- ries in all their particularity. Nor would it fully account for their consol~ idation as the book that crystallized Yanagita’s thoughts, on representation and literature. I would argue that part of Yanagitas in" terest lay in that which resists representation—that which is left out of any attempt at naturalized direct description. Thinklng about that which evades representation—evokes, dialects, margins, ghosts, 30. Entries from Yanagita‘s diaries, cited by Kamata Hisako, "T5110 monogateri no shim tazome.” ‘ . - 31. See Harootunian, Things Seen and Unseen, on the discurswe construction of the invisible and visible worlds in Tokugawa nativist thought. ORIGINS OF NATIVIST ETHNOLOGY 81 deaths, monsters—was a way of thinking about literary writing: that writing which (for Yanagita) says more when it says less and thus writes what cannot be said. Yet the Tales is not just a collection of fictional narratives. Yanagita takes great pains to distinguish his text from Tokugawanperiod "ghost stories” (kaidan) or medieval “tale literature” (setsuwrz bungaku). The difference? These tales are “present—day facts.”32 Yanagita purports to be directly transmitting tales he has heard from the voice of another, who in many cases is describing his own experience or that of someone he knows or has heard of. The preface tells the tale, usurping as pre— faces often do, the authOrity of the narrative remainder. Indeed, when contemporary critics cite T5110 monogatari as one of the masterpieces of modern Japanese literature, they usually linger on the preface as the most exquisite sample of prose in the entire text: the parasitic preface now significantly replaces the textual body. In that peerless preface Yanagita claims that “Kyoseki {Sasaki Kizen] is not a good storyteller” and that "l have been writing the stories down as they were told to me during his many evening visits since February 1909.”33 We know that Sasaki knew hundreds of tales and that he had been visiting Yanagita since at least November 1908. Japanese scholars have meticulously ex— amined the various manuscripts of the text, and we thus know that Yanagita altered the tales enormously, rewriting and reworking them with great care.34 Yet Yanagita also claims (in Ronald Morse’s transla~ tion), “I have recorded the stories as they were related to me without adding a word or phrase.” 35 This crucial line is, however, more complex in the original Japanese, implying that "I have written them down as I have felt [kanjitaru mama] without neglecting [kagen 52qu one word or phrase.”36 With the addition of feeling to the naturalist sensual relay of hearing and seeing—an addition that appeared in Yanagita’s 1907 essay on direct description and writingwthe author enables himself 32. Yanagita, Legends of Trim, 8. 33. Ibid., 5. The original Iapanese reads "mata ichiii ikku 0 mo kagen sezu kanjitam mama o kakitari.” Yanagita, Tom monogatari, Yamato Shobo edition, 55. 34. Yanagita, Legends of Ions, 5. 35. See Oda Tomihime, "Shokohon Tone monogatm‘ no mondai.” Oda’s article is a painstaking analysis of the various manuscripts, drafts, and proofs of the first edition of Tom monogatari, an analysis that demonstrates how ornater crafted the finished text actually was. 36. lwamoto Yoshiteru interprets kagen 5321: this way, although literally the phrase means "without adding or subtracting." If the nuance of “neglecting” is accepted, it points even more clearly to Yanagita’s crafting of the text. 82 CHAPTER THREE to assert an unrnediated transmission from voice to writing in a preface that strangely announces the contradictions (if not untruths) of the conditions of its production.37 ‘ Under the guise of transparently recording someone eise’s tales Ya- nagita maintains the ruse of direct transcription and description, while his prose announces its distance from all worldly referents (exempli— fied by the voice itseif). At the same time, the terseness and brevity of his literary writing mimics the simplicity of naturaiistic writing; he writes as if he has abandoned all figuration. Yanagita had to repress a writing that was too close to voice in order to constitute the unwritten as the proper object of what would become nativist ethnology. Yet he dissimulated that repression by the appearance of a direct transcrip~ tion, a dissimulation that allowed him to establish himself as the dou~ bled W and author of the tales. Yanagita is enabled in this doubled ruse by an expanded notion of fact (jijitsu, aiso translated as "truth" or "reality”), which by the 1909 essay had come to include an inner domain, a domain that in its corn~ plexity evokes an epistemological space akin to Freud’s "psychical re~ ality,” whereby Freud renounced his insistence 0n the empirically real origins of (primal) fantasy in favor of the reality effects of fantasy. The empirical origin of fantasy was itself found to be ungraspable, sedi- mented within a structure of rnemory and retroactive desire not unlike the framework of nostalgia erected by distressed genres. It is not so much that the fact does not exist, nor is it the fact that only fantasy does. Rather, the two exist in an aporetic relationship to one another, ‘ ensuring that only across their difference can narratives of desire and loss find their way.38 I What, then, constitutes these narratives of desire and loss? Yanagita’s book (published at his own expense with only 350 copies) is a compen~ diurn of different sorts of narrative. Sequenced without comment or commentary a description of the geography of 15110 lies next to a re counting of 'l‘ono’s feudal past as a castle town, which is juxtaposed to 37. The preface constitutes the most ethnographic moment of the text, including as it does Yanagita’s description of his travels to Tone (undertaken after he had heard the stories from Sasald). A classic arrival scene is intersPersed with a compelling description of a festival on the hillside, seen from a distance. The importance of distancemwhich is also central to Yanagita’s theories of literature—in preserving the aura of the object recalls Walter Benjamin’s writings on aura. 38. See jean Laplanche and Jean-Bertrand Pontaiis, "Fantasy and the Origins of Sexu~ aiity.” Note also their discussion of "psychical reality” in Laplanche and POntalis, Lem— guage of Psycho-analysis, 363, as wet] as Gerald Figal’s discussion of Yanagita’s analogue of "psychical reality” in his “The Folk and the Fantastic in Japanese Modernity.” his later mobilization of scores of disci rivalry that later devel tales. extension without resolution?" At the beginning of the text however 15 a table of themes (daimoku) that classify the tales: monkeys bears; mountain gods, household gods, goddesses, apparitions, the destina: tron of the dead, river sprites, folktales—«sorne forty categories con- structed along protoanthropological lines. Not, then, a collection like that of the Grimm brothers (although Yanagita is often compared to the Grimms), the tales rarely accede to the kind of narrative develop- ment and closure or moral finality of fairy tales. They instead strike the reader with their episodic, fragmented, even flattened qualitiesm— qualities that Mishima spoke of as an “unforeseen ghastliness,’ like when someone starts to talk and then suddenl ’ I ‘ y sto s s eakm 3’40 What 15 that ghastliness of which Mishirna speaks? p p g 33.. Should you go and Spend a night in the mountains of Eihiromi, you would see that late at night it becomes somewhat light. People who have gone to gather mushrooms in the au- tumn and stay overnight in the mountains have seen this strange phenomenon. The crash of a big tree falling or the voliice of someone singing can sometimes be heard in the va ey. . .. 34. Along the mountainous area of Shirorni there is a spot called Hanareanori (detached woods). One small area called the "choja’s grounds” has no one living there. There is a man who sometimes goes there to make charcoal. One night some one raised the straw mat that hung over the entrance to his but and peeped in. It was a woman with long trailing hair. in this‘area it is not unusual to hear the screams of women late at night. 35.‘ Sasaki’s grandfather’s younger brother went to the Shiromi mountains to gather mushrooms and spent the night there. He saw a woman run across in front of a large wooded area on the other side of the valley. it seemed as though she 39. That Yanagita was deeply invested in the process of collection itself is clear from ‘ pies to gather data for his science and from the oped wrth Sasaki Kizen over the publication of additional folk— 40. Mishima, "Trina monogatari,” 198. 84 CHAPTER THREE were racing through the air. He heard her call out “just wait” two times.“ In this sequence of three tales we can begin to grasp Mishima’s “un- foreseen ghastliness” (fusoku no kiki). Mishimaim the same paragraph, had spoken of the preponderance of haif~finished (shzrzkzre fantastic), fragmentary episodes in the Tales, that with their lack of completion (kanketsu shinaidc) can never give the reader a satisfactory explanation fmcnzokuna setsmnei).42 He links, then, the unforeseen ghastliness of the text with its fragmentation, its essential incompleteness, its insuffi~ ciency. (And is it a mere coincidence that a homonyrn of this fusokum “unforeseen”wtranslates as “insufficiency”?) Mishrrna puts the tales and their abrupt ghastliness ("like when someone starts to talk and then suddenly stops speaking”) in the register of what we could call uncanny lack. And within that register, we can begin to outline-the dimensions of these tales that articulate them within a certain psyche cal economy of the modern elaborated most clearly by Freud and then Lacan. Freud’s classic conception of the uncanny refers most broadly to that class of objects or experiences—initially very familiar—that return out of time and place to trouble the stable boundaries between subject and object, interior and exterior: ghosts, automate, doubles, animated objects, and all other species of the fantastic can fall into this class. In Lacanian terms, the anxiety of the uncanny occurs when the part of oneself that was repressed in order for one to be copstituted as a subject (what Lacan calls objet petit at, one’s "self-being before the necessary split introduced by the mirror stage) returns in the guise of a double (probably the most powerful instance of this return), a ghost, or an untoward repetition. To constitute oneself asla subject which can distinguish itself from an object requires an initial lack,- the very possibility of recognizing myself in a mirror, for example, implies that I have already lost some essential, unmediated self—being. Many theo— rists of the uncanny or the fantastic (like Tzvetan Todorov) would ar- gue that the uncanny lies in some uncertainty about .what .18- reai or imaginary, self or other: it is an anxiety caused by an insufficrency of knowledge not so different from the everyday anx1ety that stems from the constitutive lack of the subject, But Lacan and others argue d1ffer~ ‘ ends 0 T5n0,31-—32. . ‘ i ligasgéfibhg in Iajpanese goes iike this: "Shikamo, kanketsu shinaide, shmkire tonbode, nanra manzokuna setsurnei mo ataerarenai danpenteki sowa ga or kara, sore wa mochiron katarite no sekinin de am ga, sore ga kaette, itsashite into kuchi o tsu— gunda yona fusoi<u no idki o yobu.” Mishima, “Tono monogatari, l97—98. ings, etc). On the contrary, it is the anxiety close presence of the object. What one loses that made it possible to deal with a coherent reality . . about the uncanny” (p. 13). ORIGINS OF NATIVIST ETHNOLOGY 85 ently. The uncanny effect does not art edge, for example; it instead erupts from an excess of what was sup- posed to be kept hidden and repressed (what Lacan would call the "real," which comes about via lack). That is, there is an insufficiency of “lack” and thus an excess of the “real” in his formulation: the re- pressed part of being that allows subjects to constitute themselves (“lack”) has somehow reappeared in alienated form. Lack is thus no longer lacking, and it is the horror of being confronted with this exces~ sive and terrible certain ty, a certainty based on lack, that accounts for the anxiety of the uncanny.“‘3 This story of the formation of the unc but Freud was writin he did not explicitly t plified by his analysi distinct moment: tha se from a simple lack of knowl— anny may seem to universalize; 3 within a specific historical moment, although hematize it. That is, the Freudian uncanny (exerrv s of Hoffmann‘s tales, for example) emerges at a t of modernity and industrial capitalism.“ It is of course not coincidental that Freud was theorizing the unconscious and the notion of the uncanny at the same moment that Yanagita was re- flecting on the invisible world, the question of the real and its relation to language, and the specificity of the Jlapanese uncanny. It marks a period when the uncanny becomes unplaceable, free-floating, part of a new, larger national—cultural imaginary. And the modern uncanny also arises as the double of the modern subject: the transcendental subject as the very subject of the natural sciences (and by e literary naturalism) that Yanagita wanted both to retain and The ghostly and grisly nature of many of these tales has led Japanese commentators (and there have been a great number of them) to note how limited the inroads of "civilization and enlightenment” had been in the Japanese outback. There is no doubt that Yanagita wa these tales as evidence, as it were, of a whole stratum of persisted despite the increasing sway of the modern rationa xtension reject. nted to use belief that l, and that 43. I am indebted to Mladen Dolar‘s explication of the modern uncanny (and the distinction between Todorov’s and Lacan‘s readings) in his "’I Shall Be with You on Your Wedding—Night“: Lacan and the Uncanny” Anxiety "is not produced by a lack or a loss or an incertitude; it is not the anxiety of losing something {the firm support; one's bear- of gaining something too much, of a too« with anxiety is precisely the loss——the loss . the lack lacks, and this brings 44. See the classic discussion of the uncanny in Sigmund Freud, "The Uncanny.“ 36 CHAPTER THREE “before history,” to an essential, timeless Japan resisting the incursions of western modernityf‘5 But Yanagita equally considered the Istories present—day facts (genzsi no jijitsu), and it is the simultaneOus insistence on timeless ahistoricity and factual contemporaneity that indicates precisely a structure of deferral and desire—of nostalgia~that shapes Tone monogatari. The spectral status of an object that 13 both factually present and yet absent, that is dead but yet lives, describes, in a dou— bled fashion, the tales of The Tales of Tens—tales that themselves speak, through the deferred writing of the memories of a storytelleriof things spectral. These presentmday facts indicated not so much a resrstance to the modern as the product of Japanese modernity, its uncanny counter- part. Of the 119 episodes recorded by Yanagita, 85 took place. in the early Meiji period or happened to people who were actually.living.46 Fully 70 per cent are Meiji occurrences. Far from sheeriy indicating a timeless Japan somehow preserved intact within the space of moden nit); the tales became, through Yanagita’s writing, modernity’s un~ canny other. What Mishima finds insufficient, I think, is Yanagita’s language. Nothing is finished, nothing is completed. These narratives are almost antinarratives; they are like stacks of lumber, Mishima says, one ep1~ sode next to another, lacking the unifying gesture of the authorwthe authoritative subject who is supposed to know and complete the cir— cuit of knowing for the reader. The information necessary to supply the lack is never given; instead, there is speech that is silenced, stories in abeyance that lead only to the next story. Thus, there is absolutely no logic of suspense in The Tales of Trina. The reader does not wait to find out the resolution to a narrative conundrum, but rather to see if the terrible certainty of these "facts" could possibly be all there is. What the privation of Yanagita’s writing tries to convey are facts that exceed the expected—the darkness of night becomes light, screams occur where there should be none, women unexpectedly appear—all framed within a restricted rhetorical economy. The lack of explanation and of narrative suspense and resolution—written as if facts could speak for themselves—is at an extreme remove from the excessive, fantastic nature of the events narrativized. What is left out (and here one is certainly reminded of Yanagita’s 1909 essay, where he insists that literary effects are increased by not telling all) evokes what goes be»- 45. Kuwabara Takes, "Tana monogamri kara,” 328. The original phrase is "rekishi izen no sekai.” _ 46. Oda, "Shokohon Tom) monegamri no mondai,” ‘75. ORIGINS or NATIVIST ETHNOLOGY 87 yond representation. it is that disjunction alongside the events retold that is ghastly: there is no attempt to reinscribe the original lack that institutes the clear division between the real and the fantastic in the first place. If Yanagita had sustained the authorial role he displayed commenting on his collection in his preface, he would have placed it back into a normalized economy where lack plays its part, where the fantastic properly exists but can be accounted for. That normalization would describe the future trajectory of Japanese nativist ethnology where its discursive construction as a bona fide discipline and the sta- bilization of its object as the “everyday folk” (jomin) coincided with a diminution of its concern with the uncanny.” Undecidahle Authorities Perhaps the most famous tale of the collection is number 22, one that Yanagita himself compared to Maeterlinck’s "The Intruder”: 22. When the great grandmother of Mr. Sasaki died of old age the relatives assembled to put her into her coffin. . . . The daughter of the dead woman, who was insane and had been cut off from the family, was also in the group. Since it was the custom of the area to consider it taboo to let the fire die out during the period of mourning, the grandmother and the mother sat up alone on both sides of the large hearth. The mother put the charcoal basket beside her and from time to time added charcoal to the fire. Suddenly, hearing the sound of footsteps in the direction of the back door, she looked up and saw it was the old woman who had died. She recognized how the bottom of the old woman’s kimono, which dragged because she bent down a lot, was pulled up as usual into a triangle and sewed in front. Other things were also the same, and she even recognized the striped kimono cloth. Inst as she cried “Oh!” the old woman passed by the hearth where the two women sat and brushed the charcoal basket with the bot« tom of her kimono. The round basket wobbled as it went round and round. The mother who was a strong~nerved perm son, turned and watched where she went. Just as the old woman drew close to the parlor where the relatives were 47. Many commentators have noted how Yanagita shifted from his earlier concern with ysmabite (mountain men}, wanderers, and the fantastic in various forms, to a central concern with the "everyday folk” (jam) and what was common to all Iapanese, particu~ Early japanese peasants. Figal has discussed this shift across a number of registers in his "From fer:ng to sense: The Hidden World in the Writing of Yanagita Kunio.” 88 CHAPTER THREE asleep, the shrill voice of the mad woman screamed out, "Here comes granny!” The others were awakened by the voice and it is said they were all shocked.48 Mishirna was a great admirer of this tale, particularly of the moment when the old woman brushes the charcoal basket and sends it spin~ ning: “When the scuttle spins, all efforts to sustain reality [genjitsu] are over?” The charcoal basket becomes, in that punctual instance, the point of division between the revealed world and the concealed, a wobbly mediator between life and death. But rather than sheerly marking their division, that detail allows the troubling of the separa- tion, for what is truly uncanny is not the transgression of a difference which then remains unprobiematicaliy in place after the occurrence, but the calling into question of the difference itself. Yanagita writes of the shock of the uncanny in a language that, in its restraint and narra- tive paucity, implies that there is no shock. That difference is once again left undecidable within the narrative economy of the tales. The restrained writing by which Yanagita conveys the ghastliness of Time always maintains a distance from its immediate origins: the local storyteller and his voice, a voice couched in the dialect of the Tons region. Although Yanagita makes no mention of dialect in the preface, a conversation that Yanagita had with Ito Keiichirt') in 1953, discloses that dialect was indeed an issue. When Ito asked how he had come to know Sasaki, Yanagita responded: Mizuno Yéshfi, who had written a novel, told me, "There’s a really unusual person. He knows much about folktales and all sorts of things. I’ll bring him to meet you.” I wanted to meet him, so he introduced us. I think he had just left Waseda Uni— versity. However, although we talked about various things, his dialect was really strong, and I just couldn’t understand him ["iroiro hanasu ga, nantoshiteino namari ga hidokute kotoba ga tsujinai”]. I gradually got to the point where I could under stand hirn. . . . l was really amazed at the number of stories he knew. They caused a sort of abnormal state of mind lz'jd shinril to arise.59 Yanagita’s reminiscence discloses what should be taken for granted: that a regional storyteller would speak in his or her region’s dialect. There were a large number of dialects in premodern and Meiji Japan; many of these survive today but have gradually been supplanted by a 48. Yanagita, Legends of T5140, 25%. 49. Mishima Yukio, Shdsetsu to we nanika, 133. 50. "Minzokugaku to Iwate: shinshun seidan.” ORIGINS OF NATIVIST ETHNOLOGY 89 . the unwritten and changed the ver» nacuiar to the literary; but also produced a dialectal vernacular as the standard literary. The dialect of "lone was not just a variation on the Japanese that Yanagita spoke. It was an unintelligible deviation, a devi- ation Yanagita thus had to make intelligible-«n—and this was a lengthy ndicates in this same interview), not a transparent and immediate transcription. Yanagita downplayed the importance of Sasaki in his preface to The Tales of Tom by asserting that he was not a good storyteller ("Kyoseki ” ~kun wa hanashi jozu niwa arazaredomo ).51 What Yanagita meant by this assertion is not at all clear, for he stated in the later discussi ’ ‘ d into Yanagita's cryptic devalua— Sasaki’s unskillful tales provided author and ethnographerw—would I . kills. The spoken narratives of the 'native”—both unintelligible and u . I nsklllful-m-provided the raw mate— rials for Yanagita’s elegant written Japanese and expressive skills. But Yanagita’s relationship with the storyteller did not end with the first publication of the Tales. Sasaki sta and variants of legends and lore from he published thirty-six stories under the title "Torso zakki” ' ' gaku zasshi,‘ in 1918 and 1919 he published othe ‘ kettle/17.52 In 1931, he published a collection of fide‘folktales (as opposed to legends or hearsay), under the title Kiki mzmz 265111.53 It seems that Yanagita had an ambivalent regard for Sam printing of Trina monogatari in 1935, Yanagita wrote a new set of "prefa- tory remarks” (Saihan oboegaki). In t hese remarks Yanagita asserts that he had asked Sasaki for more materials and Sasaki had obliged 51. Yanagita, Tom) monogatari, Yamato Shobf) edition, 55. 52. 5 Seasaki Kuen zenchosaku mokuroku,” in Sasaki, Trim: no zashikiwamshi to ashtra— sama, - . 53. lbid., l7. CHAPTER THREE with a large number of stories in manuscript form. Yet Yanagita com— plains that there were so many stories, in such a disorganized state, that he had a difficult time sorting them and correcting them for ads takes. While he was in the midst of these efforts, Sasaki published Kiki mimi zdshi. Yanagita now claimed that he had originally pianned to include several of these folktaies in a suppiement (entitled “TOnO shfii”) to the second edition of Trina monogamri, but that Sasaki had scooped him. There is a tone of almost petulant disappointment in Yanagita’s writing, as if the local storyteller had somehow stolen his own stories from Yanagitafi“ ._ Sasaki’s life had a tragic denouement. Because of his time in Tokyo and his association with Yanagita, he was elected head of the village of Tsuchibuchi and also of a farmers’ cooperative. The cooperative bor— rowed money which they could not pay back, and the responsibility was pushed onto Sasaki. He was forced to sell everything he owned, yet the money still was not adequate. He then wanted to move to Tokyo, appealing to Yanagita for help, but Yanagita strongly discour— aged him. He spent the remaining years of his life futileiy trying to pay back his debts by serializing novels and publishing folktales, dying in poverty and distress in 1933 at the age of forty—eight.55 His struggie to attain recognition as a folklorist in his own right (a recognition that has been given him posthumously) conflicted with Yanagita’s desires to maintain control over the tales, to retain ethnographic authority Sa‘ saki had to remain the native informant, the storyteller, for nativist ethnology to establish itseit. If the specificities of Sasaid as storyteller were repressed, even Tokyo-based everyday speech was passed over in favor of literary locu— tions. Only in moments of direct quotation (like "Here comes granny!” [Obfisrm gt: kits.” in taie number 22) do spoken voices intrude. Through- out, Yanagita’s elegant, terse, "old~fashioned” literary constructions dispiace themselves from originary voices, voices that remain sus— pended through a writing that asserts yet obscures its own rhetoricity. The origins of the tales almost always rest in the perceptual experi- ence of one of Tono’s inhabitants; chains of hearsay culminate in narra- tive disclosures that, iocated within Sasaki’s memory and his stories, speak the truth of Tone. Tale number 22 defers the source of authority by saying "it is said,” as do many other episodes. Yet the shifting of the ostensible narrator of the episodes continually leaves the authorial 54. Yanagita, "Saihan oboegaki” (Notes on the Second Edition}, 59—60. 55. Iwamoto, M6 hitotsu no T6110 monogatari, 139—419. ORIGINS or NATIVIST ETHNOLOGY 91 position in question. For exampie, tale number 87 begins in the first person: 87. I have forgotten the person’s name, but he was the master of a wealthy family in the town of Tono. He was seriously ill and on the brink of death, when one day he suddenly visited his family temple. The priest entertained him courteously and served tea. They chatted about things and then the priest, somewhat suspicious when the man was about to leave, sent his younger disciple to foiiow him. The man went out the gate and headed in the direction of home. Then he went around a corner in the town and disappeared. There were also other people who met him on that street and he greeted everyone as politely as ever. He died that night and, of course, was in no condition to be going out at that time. Later at the temple, the priest checked the spot where the tea cup was, to see if the tea had been drunk or not. He found that. the tea had all been poured into the crack between the straw mats.“ Who has forgotten the name? If it is Yanagita, why has he inserted that question (particularly since Yanagita concealed the actual names of people that Sasaki told him, in good anthropological fashion)?” We assume that it is Sasaki, and that Yanagita has chosen to position his informant as the speaker/ narrator. In this tale of a ghostly double who classically prefigures his own death, Sasaki stands in for the authorial voice of the folklorist. Indeed, Sasaki’s attempts to become the double of the famed folklorist Yanagita is the stuff of Iapanese intellectual drama.58 In tale number 22, however, Yanagita is the speaker, as he opens by saying, "When the great grandmother of Mr. Sasaki died . . .” By shifting the narrator’s position, relaying the events within chains of deferred experience, and flattening the difference between speakers, Yanagita obscures the uitimate source of authorship, as the source be» comes repeatedly displaced through hearsay. Yet the fact that moSt of the tales can be traced to an experiencing subject-one who inevitably has experienced something untoward—gives Yanagita’s tales the aura of uncanny certainty. The displacement of narrators and the obvious (yet not too obvious) crafting of the tales marks them as literary; the naming and placing ‘of origins and the insistence on tracing back 56. Yanagita, Legends of Tom), 60. 57. Oda, "ShokohOn T‘dno monogatari no mondai,” 76. 58. The tragedy of their relationship is analyzed in lwarnoto, M5 hitefsu no T6710 mom» gatari, and also in a roundtable discussion among Nakazawa Shin’ichi, Kosaka Shfihei, and Kasai Kiyoshi, entitled "Ima ‘Nihon’ to wa,” in Kosaka, Nyfi Inpanorojii, 18—76. 92 CHAPTER THREE through remembered voices to improbable events claimed to be true, marks the text as (proto~) ethnographic. Yet that difference—to the ex— tent that Yanagita was clearly aware of it—is allowed to remain in haunting undecidability. What is strange, then, is the way different orders of reality are juxtaposed and allowed to occupy the same tex~ tuai and epistemological space; no hierarchy is imposed on these or“ ders, no final demarcation is made between the factual and the ficn tional, the real and the fantastic. The fact that an experience is said to have occurred and the implausibility of the experience itself are placed on the same plane, enfoided within a larger notion of psychical reality. An Originary Discipline 3 The Tales of Trina is thus a peculiar hybrid, and it conformed to no law of genre in 1910. Although only 350 copies were printed, Yanagita’s connections with the Japanese literary world ensured that prominent Meiji authors read and reviewed it. When it was first published, many readers did not know what to make of it: it seemed to fit most comforts ably within the varied collections of "strange tales.” lts status as litera- ture (bungaku) was not even quite assured, and there was little or no conception of its status as a work of folklore.59 The novelist Tayarna Katai~who is often credited with introducing the word "naturalisrn" into Japanese—stated: While Kunio maintains that I, a naturalist writer, cannot un- derstand his feelings and am not really qualified to evaluate his work, I find the work infused with an extravagance of af- fected rusticity. I remain unmoved. I-lis use of on~site observa— tion to create the background in an essay is significant. The work’s impressionistic and artistic qualities, however, derive more from the treatment of the data than the actual content.60 Another famous author and friend, Shimazald Toson (also an expo- nent of naturalism), wrote: That work {Tone monogatari] consists in its entirety of a collec— tion of legends {densetsul from a remote region. As the author states in his preface, after having heard these stories and seen 59. 0th Tokihiko writes that most people just thought it was an unusual book with strange stories in it and were primarily attracted to it because of the beautiful writing. Ore, "Kaisetsu” (Commentary) to T5310 monogamri, Kadokawa bunko edition, 206. 60. Translated by Ronald Morse and cited in Morse, "Yanagita Kurtio and the Modern Japanese Consciousness,” 23~24. ORIGINS OF NATIVIST ETHNOLOGY 93 their place of origin, he felt compelled to convey them to oth— ers, so fascinating where the realities contained therein. The concise and honest style of the stones—«as well as the critical preface and thematic arrangement of the talesw—immediately attracted me. The copy that Yanagita presented to me is here before me now, and l have just finished reading it. . . . After reading these kinds of story, I feel that I have come to know something, however faintly; about the wonder [kyc‘iz‘] and terror [kyoffi] found within the midst of rural life [mmm mifu]. These stories of mountain gods, goddesses, and strange men and women who live in the mountainsm—as well as stories of myste« rious yet actual occurrences, like the tale that reminded Yana— gita of Maeteriinck’s "The Intruder”—-have made me feel this way. . . . Even'though this work was w est in ethnic development [minzoka hattatsu], I still felt as if I could hear something like the distant, distant voices of the fields in this work. . . . I would like to know more about the place where these stories were bow and passed down. The reason I would like to know more is due, I think, to the fact that the author of Trina monogatari, more than being just a col— lector of strange tales or a scholar of ethnic psychology is a traveler with acute powers of perception. As far as i know, there are few travelers like Yanagita, and there are even fewer {- travelers with Yanagita’s powers of observation.“ Shimazaki astuteiy points out the ” I _ ethnic” dimension of Yanagita’s tales, yet in 1910, there was no clear , imension to which Yanagita him— self does not clearly allude. Even so, the first person to recognize clearly the value of T6310 monogatari as folklore—not literaturew—was in fact a Chinese author and scholar of Japanese literature, Chou Tso~jen (Shusakujin in Japanese).62 I In 1933, twenty~three years after Yanagita had published the tales, Chou Tso—jen “discovered” its unequaled value for folklore studies."3 The preceding ten years had witnessed the establishment of nativist the text, praising dren's literature and tales. Kfiji‘en, 2d ed, s.v. "Shfisakujinf’ 63. Ora, "Kaisetsu," 201. 94 CHAPTER THREE ethnology as a discipline. In 1925, Yanagita founded the journal-Min» zoku, which marked the beginning of all anthropological‘ismdies 1r; japan, according to the anthropologist ArugalQZaemor-i. Not the 19305, however, did nativist ethnology attain widespread cre 1b; ity. The Tales of T6110 only became a recognized classrc upon its repuk E cation in an expanded edition in 1935. Not comcrdentally, .1935 mIar e in many ways the apogee of nativist ethnology as a disciplinel. t was the year of Yanagita’s kanreki (sixtieth birthday celebration, a wags a: landmark event in Japanese society); the journal Mmkeri densho ( ra Tradition) was formed, and nativist ethnology as a discrplme was fi- ished on a national scale."5 . nailisfitggficant that the republication of the Tales. coincided With the moment of nativist ethnology's disciplinary consolidation‘and the mo- ment of high fascism and militarism in the Japanese empire. It is pos- sible to see the entire trajectory of nativist ethnology, With its emphases on the unwritten, the marginal, and the impoverished, as a spec1es of resistance to elite, documentary modernist scholarship, and as such as providing an alternative to state—sponsored mainstream scholarship. Yet to the extent that it became constituted sis-the study of what Syas uniquely Japanese, that is, Outside the corruptions of westerr;J er- nity Yanagita and his folklore studies (tor there was no clout 1 1was his discipline) contributed to the chauvrnism and cultural nationa ism ' e eriod.66 _ Of Itthiidzaifiii; iii expanded republication in 1935 that The Tales of Tang emerged as the founding text of nativist ethnology. It finally achieye 1 the complex acclaim that did notmcould not~greet it on its initia publication. Only the passage of twenty-five years and the consul/1310p of a discipline allowed the retroactive recognition of the strange 1:- that the text commemorated. As Yanagita himself remarked in 13 comments to the second edition: ' In fact, when T6110 monogatari first came out, the public still had no knowledge of these matters, and it appears they judged the attitude of a "certain person” who was attempting to prob— lematlze them as that of a dilettante or curiosuy seeker. But 64. Yoneyama Toshinao, "Yanagita and His Work,” 41. ' d! ‘1! 65. Kurata Hisako, Nenpyo (Chronology), ‘ h I l _ _ - 66. Many critics have noted the critical dimensron of Yanagitaswork, and it is all: portant to realize the utopian possibilities contained in his scholarship. See, tor exarfipfi: ;. Victor Koschmann's penetrating essay "Folklore Studies and the Conservatilve 6:0- Estahlishment in Modern Japan," in which he disentangies the immensely comp 921 $1. logical weave of Yanagita's folkiorism to reveal its simultaneously conservative an an establishment implications. said that "to the extent th de aru kagiri de wa, gakumon no taisho de am that the strangeness of the tales, th in Yanagita’s renderingm—the sheer from one perspective, are nothing at all other than tang-nag ” ichimen kara mireba, OREGINS OF NATIVIS‘I‘ ETHNOLOGY 95 today times have completely changed. These kinds of experi- ence have now been repeated any number of times, and they have come to be recognized as the important object of one field of scholarly endeavor.67 The Tales of Tom must be grasped as two publications across which the birth of nativist ethnology took place. The import of the first ap~ pearance could not be known except as it occurred again. Only through repetition could the text emerge as originary. The second edi- tion contained a supplement to the first, a new collection of tales as- sembled with the help of Sasaki Kizen: these were primarily bona fide “folktales” and were new written in colloquial style. It is telling that one of the most influential commentators on t he Tales after its cele— brated second birth complained about the supplement: "The tales of the newly exp anded second part are written in colloquial language, but for me, th e nostalgic flavor of the original editions tales, left as they are in straightforward literary style, is stronger."68 Nostalgia can only emerge across a temporal lag, flavor of a text is more potent the further it is from the and goal of desire. The Tales and its readings enco desire for a regressing world of orality (that in any c surably known through its deadly entextualization), but expose the nostalgia of a discipline for its own origin: an origin, that in several senses, remains dislocated from itself. To the extent that the Tales re mains the obsessively re—marked "memorial marker of the birth of Jap~ anese folklore studies” (Nikon minzakugaku no hassho no kinenté) it be comes precisely that: a memorial marker, a monument to an absence, to a loss that must he perpetually recovered through a discipline that ensures the disappearance of its origins as it constructs them. To return once more to Mishirn (fushz’gz'na), not only because of th "data as it is, but at the same ti mysterious about this work.”69 can never properly become the and the nostalgic ostensible source de not only that ass is more plea- a, he reads the text as mysterious e deaths it writes, but because it is me it is literature—and that's. what’s The tales speak of ghastly matters that objects of a discipline as such, because 67. Yanagita, "Saihan oboegaki,” 60—61. 68. Kuwabara, "Trina monogatari kara,” 124. 69. Mistiima, in workin r at something is factual, it’s the object of scholarship” ("fuakuto "). Of course, part of Mishima’s point is air very implausibility; attains the status of factuality factuality of language, it nothing else: “These data, e ("korera no genzairyo wa, kotoba igai no nanimono demo nai”). ibid., 198. 96 CHAPTER THREE they cannot be situated in an objective relation to positive knowiedge. Yet because literature intervenes as the sign of that discursive space where anything is possible, those deaths—already uncannin situated within the narratives—both thematize and exemplify an impossible knowledge, a knowledge enabled by the suspension ofaliterature and science: nativist ethnology itself?o Years later, Yanagita himself spoke of these matters: Hort Ichiro: How did you come to write Trina monogatari? Yanagita: That was through Mizuno Yoshi‘i, who died recently He was a strange kind of poet, who had an interest in the village life of old. When we were talking about . . . our native places, the name of his friend Sasaki Kizen came up. Sasalci was, in fact, a naive, good person. He was stubborn about some things. He was a person who would oppose what we saidwif we thought something was not so, he would believe it was, and would get angry. It’s probably correct to say that Tone monogatari is mostly a literary work. Hori: But Tana monogatari has been very influential, hasn't it. Yanagita: That’s true. The special feature of that work is that there’s absolutely no attempt at interpretation of or commenting upon its contents. This seerns to have appealed to European scholars. In England there was talk at one time of having it translated into English. Hori: That lack of interpretation was probably something that was different from the scholarly attitudes that had existed until then. Yanagita: I think that stance {taken in the writing of Tom mono~ gatari} was the same as the stance of the natural sciences or biological sciences?i Yanagita first offers the opinion that the Tales is "mostly a literary work,” then maintains that it involved no “interpretation” whatsoever, and finally states that its stance was scientific. One wonders at the serenity of his assertions, a serenity that has not been shared by a gem eration of Iapanese critics struck by what they see as a founding com 70. “What is heralded and refused under the name of literature cannot be identified with any other discourse. It will never bé scientific, philosophical, conversational. But if it did not open onto all these discourses, if it did not open onto any of those discourses, it would not be literature either. There is no literature without a suspended relation to meaning and reference. . . . In its suspended condition literature can only exceed itself.” Jacques Derrida, “This Strange institution Called Literature’: An Interview with Jacques Derrida,” 47—48. 73. lion lchiro and Yanaglta Kunio, "Watashi no ayunde kita michi,” 103—4; empha- sis added. ORIGINS or warrvrsr BrnNorooy 97 tradiction in Yanagita’s discipline. Yet without engaging the appari- tions of The Tales of Tom itself, no criticism can confront that disciplines constitutive yet uncanny cornmingling of literature and science. Nativ— ist ethnology institutionally born out of the haunted undecidabiiity of literature and documentary ethnography, is devoted to preserving the distinctiveness of the enduring Japanese customary of cultural trans— mission itself. Yet the elaborate monstrosity of its textual origin—a monstrosity that really consists of nothing more than the impossibility of finally demarcating literature from science, the figural from the lit— eral, the fantastic from the factual—wreturns to trouble contemporary attempts to fix those demarcations. As a writing perpetually between literature and documentary science, nativist ethnology must repeat the uncanny gestures of its origin, insisting on a transmission without re— mainder from a beginning that can only ever hem—finallymmemorial- ized. And yet it is the memorialized status of The Tales of Tone that has led to its repeated reinscription in yet another set of tales. It is to the site, then, of this originary reinscription that the next chapter moves. ...
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