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Disengaging the Periphery: Akutagawa Ryunosuke and the Literature of Distraction

To many Japanese, the initial image of modernity was one representing a threatening, foreign disruption. In an unwelcome challenge to the tautly delimited geographic and historical boundaries of an intricately wrought, meticulously ordered society, in July of 1853, the modern appeared in Uraga Harbor as a phantasmal, alien configuration of black, smoke, ship, wheels. From the perspective of the West, however, perhaps the most intriguing thing about the Susquehanna and its fleet was a document, demanding that the closed system of Japan open itself, and underwritten with the threat of imminent annihilation.
In its decision to perceive the threat as credible, Japan was almost instantaneously endowed with a devastating consciousness of lack. The country was overcome with an urgent sense of need for supplementation. Accompanying this consciousness was a drive to become whole unprecedented in modern history. However, for Japan, the production of “progress” amounted to a stunningly vast and accelerated ingestion of the non-indigene, rendering the success of the project potentially tantamount to a self-execution of the other-executed obliteration it had undertaken to avert. In this way, the modern arrived in Japan in a form that, for many, instigated an engagement of the periphery, serving as the proximate cause of a process mobilizing an array of vital inquiries into essential delineations of object and subject. For some, however, the breach was even wider, constituting a critical rupture through which articulations of space internal to neither term’s domain would erupt onto every tier of the Japanese landscape.
This paper makes the assertion that Japan’s initial bifurcated geographic disposition, with its emphasis on immobility and separation, provides a frame of reference for evaluating other aspects of traditional Japanese culture—in particular, its literature—as well as a way of apprehending individual meaning-making in pre-Meiji Japan. In arguing that this structure eventually gave way to Meiji Japan’s assumption of a topographic attitude of fluidity and concentration, the paper also claims that this new configuration was also multi-layered and can thus be linked to a coordinate alteration in Japan’s phrenic layout. However, the point of view expressed here, though perhaps not always directly, is that, while the teleology of the modern structural adaptation is of an essentially foreign inscription, the origins of the traditional formation can be linked to sources of an axiomatically native architecture.
Finally, in discussing the literature of Akutagawa Ryûnosuke, it is suggested that he consistently subverted both of these archetypal configurations, first by rejecting the de dicto orientation toward affect of received formal conventions while in large part adopting the formal techniques themselves, and, subsequently, by disinheriting even those practices, choosing near the end of his career to engage a narrative space exploiting the fluid, concentrated conditions of modernity.

Mostra/Nascondi contenuto.
Walker 2 IntroDuction To many Japanese, the initial image of modernity was one representing a threatening, foreign disruption. In an unwelcome challenge to the tautly delimited geographic and historical boundaries of an intricately wrought, meticulously ordered society, in July of 1853, the modern appeared in Uraga Harbor as a phantasmal, alien configuration of black, smoke, ship, wheels. From the perspective of the West, however, perhaps the most intriguing thing about the Susquehanna and its fleet was a document, demanding that the closed system of Japan open itself, and underwritten with the threat of imminent annihilation. In its decision to perceive the threat as credible, Japan was almost instantaneously endowed with a devastating consciousness of lack. The country was overcome with an urgent sense of need for supplementation. Accompanying this consciousness was a drive to become whole unprecedented in modern history. However, for Japan, the production of “progress” amounted to a stunningly vast and accelerated ingestion of the non-indigene, rendering the success of the project potentially tantamount to a self-execution of the other- executed obliteration it had undertaken to avert. In this way, the modern arrived in Japan in a form that, for many, instigated an engagement of the periphery, serving as the proximate cause of a process mobilizing an array of vital inquiries into essential delineations of object and subject. For some, however, the breach was even wider, constituting a critical rupture through which articulations of space internal to neither term’s domain would erupt onto every tier of the Japanese landscape.

International thesis/dissertation

Autore: David Walker Contatta »

Composta da 30 pagine.

 

Questa tesi ha raggiunto 289 click dal 21/02/2006.

Disponibile in PDF, la consultazione è esclusivamente in formato digitale.