ASIA212Varley

Birds attitude is now mature and stable and he is

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Unformatted text preview: only source of true experience. Abe Kòbò, on the other hand, transcended this particularism of so many Japanese writers and dealt more universally with the self of modern man. A writer of enormous imaginative power—much influenced by Kafka—who wove his bizarre tales as parables on the plight of contemporary existence, Abe was preoccupied with the themes of personal freedom, the urge to attain it, and the equally powerful urge to prevent or escape from it. In The Ruined Map (Moetsukita Chizu, 1967), for example, his hero is a private detective investigating a man’s disappearance, who eventually confuses his own identity with that of the man he is seeking. The cause of this confusion is suggested in the following dialogue the detective has with a possible witness to the disappearance. The witness speaks first: “Why does the world take it for granted that there’s a right to pursue people? Someone who hasn’t committed any crime. I can’t understand how you can assume, as if it were a matter of course, that there is some right that lets you seize a man who has gone off of his own free will.” “By the same reasoning the one left behind might insist that there was no right to go away.” “Going off is not a right but a question of will.” “Maybe pursuit is a matter of will too.” “Then, I’m neutral. I don’t want to be anyone’s friend or enemy.”55 Abe seems to be telling us that some people will always try to escape from the restraints of society and their humdrum existences and that others will just as surely pursue them and attempt to entrap them again. Pursuer and pursued are likely to be motivated by the same force of will and, in their special relationship, may indeed appear to be very similar, if not identical. Abe’s concern was with freedom not as an intellectual ideal but as an emotional craving. The paradox of his message is that freedom, once Culture in the Present Age 343 achieved, may incite the same desire to escape as did one’s previous state of real or imagined captivity. Abe’s finest statement of this paradox...
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