Saturday, November 06, 2004

Why do you loan me such sad books?

I've also finished reading The Waiting Years which Venerable loaned me. I can't believe how sad the ending was - I had tears in my eyes. Mind you, I also have a dvd copy of Watership Down that I have never watched because it makes me cry.

I also finished reading Cabal by Michael Dibdin. This is the first Aurelio Zen book that I've read and it was very entertaining. I felt that the writer was trying just a little too hard though. Everything was a bit overly described - "The streets were lined wiht small Fiats parked nose to tail like giant cockroaches, but there was no one about except a few youths on scooters." Very poetic, but in my experience, and we have enormous cockroaches in Queensland, cockroaches do not stand patiently in line "nose to tail". For starters, they don't have tails and secondly, they tend to do a lot of scuttling. Perhaps if all the cars ran all over the road at night in a chaotic fashion and then, as soon as the streetlights came on, they tried to hide in the basements of the buildings - then they could be described as being like cockroaches.

Now I feel positively squeamish.


Blogger Venerable (for consistency) said...

some scattered thoughts re the seminal novel of Enchi Fumiko: Waiting Years

The novel is a vehicle used by the author to explore the plight of women from various social origins who are compelled by powerful social, economic, and cultural constraints to accept the debasing roles imposed by a patriarchal society. Since Tokugawa times, a single institution encapsulating all social groupings has furnished the cultural limitations of the woman’s role in Japanese society – the family. The primacy of the family institution remains an integral component of contemporary Japanese society, however social transformation post-World War II has rendered the station of women far removed from traditional stereotypes associated with earlier eras.

Concubines, as in Waiting Years are resented by the wife of the man who keeps them. Interestingly, all women in the novel appear to recognise and respect the necessities of the other’s situation, and each is aware of a responsibility to the other. There is a kind of mutual recognition, of feminie complicity, a feminie consciousness hinted at.

In line with creation myth developed by Kojiki in his works Records of Ancient Matters in which the first divine attempt to bore the islands of Japan are unsuccessful as the goddess speaks before the god does, the husband in Japan is the initiator and aggressor in sexual conduct, politics, and in business whilst the female is relegated to a more passive, submissive role. It could be speculated that the incident in which Tomo courageously rescues Yukitomo from the perils of the snake threatens Yukitomo’s virility, and emasculates Tomo thus making her a less attractive physical partner and more suitable domestic manager. Despite her relegated position, remoteness from her husband, and compounding emotions, Tomo maintains her fidelity to Yukitomo (although her love for him wanes) and her dedication to serving as an obedient wife and domestic manager.

Before the 13th Century, a married woman of aristocratic birth in Japan at least enjoyed a degree of financial security because she normally had an estate of her own. Yet, living in a polygamous society, she was coerced to witness her husband indulging himself with other women. In Waiting Years, set a couple of centuries later during a period in which polygamy was criminalised, Tomo is retired to a position to which she must endure her husbands infidelity in conjunction with her own personal financial impotence.

The Anti Prostitution Law of 1956 (Japan) which made brothels and similar establishments illegal has not prevented the use of women – be it willingly or a product of necessity – as objects of men. Call girls and mistresses continue to exist, only in different guises. Some wealthy men continue to patronise young ‘hostesses’ at high class bars in the same way that preceding generations frequented geisha houses.

11:04 am  
Blogger Laziest Girl said...

Thank you Ven for attempting to drag this blog out of the mire of shallowness.

8:28 am  

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