A people which believed that its ancestors are gods

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Unformatted text preview: the farther she faded away, leaving him nothing to catch and hold. In the midst of this uncertainty only the one hand, and in particular the forefinger, even now seemed damp from her touch, seemed to be pulling him back to her from afar. Taken with the strangeness of it, he brought the hand to his face, then quickly drew a line across the misted-over window. A woman’s eye floated up before him. He almost called 300 The Fruits of Modernity out in his astonishment. But he had been dreaming, and when he came to himself he saw that it was only the reflection in the window of the girl opposite. Outside it was growing dark, and the lights had been turned on in the train, transforming the window into a mirror. The mirror had been clouded over with steam until he drew that line across it. . . . In the depths of the mirror the evening landscape moved by, the mirror and the reflected figures like motion pictures superimposed one on the other. The figures and the background were unrelated, and yet the figures, transparent and intangible, and the background, dim in the gathering darkness, melted together into a sort of symbolic world not of this world. Particularly when a light out in the mountains shone in the center of the girl’s face, Shimamura felt his chest rise at the inexpressible beauty of it.39 Shimamura had begun his career as a critic of Japanese dance, but when he was urged to become actively involved in the revival of this traditional art form, he abruptly shifted his attention to Western ballet. Even as he became an authority on the ballet, he never attended a performance, nor did he wish to. Shimamura much preferred to fantasize than to participate in art or even in life; for him the world of fantasy and imagination seemed somehow to be more real than reality itself. His only clear recollection of Komako lies in the tactile sensitivity of a single finger, and he is far more enthralled in observing the girl on the train as a transparent, almost otherworldly image superimposed on the dark landscape rushing by the window than in looking directly at her. He is attracted to Komako precisely because she is a geisha, a person professionally trained to evoke fantasy worlds and a person “somehow unreal, like the...
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