japonisme: 7/19/09 - 7/26/09

23 July 2009

the bath, part 4


I am a slave to the nudity of women.
I do not know with what resolve

I could stand against it,
a naked woman
Asking of me anything.

An unclothed woman is
sometimes other things.
I see her in a dish of green pears.

Anselmo, do you know what I mean if I say
Without clothes

Her breasts are the two lions
In front of the New York Public Library,

Do you know that postcard of mine?
In those lions there is something

For which I have in exchange
Only sounds. Only my fingers.

I see her everywhere. She is the lions
And the pears,
those letters of the alphabet

As children we called dirty, the W,
The Y, the small o.

She is absolutely
the wet clothing on the line.
Or, you know, to be more intimate,

May I? The nub, the nose of the pear,
Do you know what I mean?
Those parts of the woman

I will call two Spanish dancer hats,
Or rounder sometimes,
doughboy helmets from the War.

Sometimes they are flat
in the late afternoon
Asleep. Like drawings,

Like a single rock thrown into the lake,
These parts of a woman
an imperfect circling

Gyre of lines moving out,
beyond the water.
They reach me at the shore, Anselmo.

Without fail, they are stronger,
And they have always been
faster than I am.

It’s like watching the lassoing man,
The man with the perfectly circling rope,

Pedro Armendariz in the Mexican movies,
Or Will Rogers. Wherever one is from,

Whoever this man is.
And he is always there.
Everybody knows one.

He always makes his big lasso,
twirling his rope
Around himself and
a woman from the audience

Only I am the woman,
do you understand, Anselmo?
Caught in the circling rope. I am the woman

And me thinking of a woman
Without clothes

Is that man and that rope
And we are riding on separate horses.

Alberto Ríos

from Teodora Luna's Two Kisses. Copyright © 2000 by Alberto Ríos.

are the men who are the capturers, the 'nurturers,' the captured, in fact? in the whole bath series, we have naked women being seen by (presumably) clothed men. i have tried to choose images in which the women are not apparently posing, apparently unaware of being observed. but in fact they are.

i have to admit that i don't exactly know what to make of all of this. when i used to do my magazine i realized that both male and female artists were most likely to feature their nudes female.
i like looking. feel comforted by looking.

so is it sexist? fashionable, yes (at that time, 'bathers' was a de rigour subject), but oppressive too? i just don't know. what do you think? if you are a woman, do you feel you are capturer or captured?
and men -- same question.

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21 July 2009

the bath, part 3


Summer's ambitious project — the beach and its
dark striped rocks,
stone-lined pool at the swim club,

passage where the tide flowed out behind dunes,
left fingers and lips blue,
tea-colored pond of black sticks where kids

jumped off branches of an over-hanging tree,
 of indoor pool lanes,

the white lines' circling, breaking pattern
interrupted by arms, churns and kicks.


Yellow leaves drift down —
 fish-shaped ovals, flecking slick streets,
light October rain,

almost like swimming, the walk
through wet, late afternoon air.
In town this week, two people found goldfish

balanced in paper cups
in their mailboxes.
Teal blue wool, ten rows

to no- tice the wave reappear
in the cable I'm knitting,
dusk pattern,

you bent
over the piano in the kitchen
picking out the lost bars of Satie
(what could sound better?).

Music book left
somewhere — an attic
or with cousins by the lake.

Talvikki Ansel

(how strongly a part of all this was erik satie. how similarly our artists paint the bathers.)

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19 July 2009

the bath, part 2

What has happened before the opening of the curtain:

Iinuma Sampei, the elder brother of Iinuma Katsugorô, was killed by the villain Satô Gôsuke. Katsugorô has sworn to take revenge and kill Gôsuke. His long quest led him to the mansion of Tsukumo Shinzaemon, where he became retainer and fell in love with Shinzaemon's daughter Hatsuhana.

Shinzaemon agreed to their wedding and the newly-weds decided to run together after Gôsuke, disguised as a couple of beggars. They were helped by Fudesuke, the brother of Hatsuhana. Katsugorô fell ill on the road and unfortunately lost the use of his legs.

At the Amidaji temple in the mountains of Hakone:

Katsugorô is crippled and Hatsuhana pulls him along in a wooden cart. They walk a long way to Hakone, where lives their enemy, who has changed his name to Takiguchi Kôzuke and has joined the Hôjô clan.

They confront their mortal enemy in the Temple of Amidaji, where beggars can receive alms from the Hôjô clan members. He captures Hatsuhana's mother Sawarabi and takes pleasure in humiliating Katsugorô. Katsugorô, who has suffered many years in search of Gôsuke, limps out of his cart, seizing the hilt of his katana and looking fiercely at his enemy. The opportunity of revenge has come but the crippled Katsugorô is powerless against the villain, whose power is at his peak. Gôsuke cooly smokes his pipe at his ease and leisure. Then, he offers a deal to Katsugorô: he will spare his life if Katsugorô gives him his wife Hatsuhana. Gôsuke leaves with Hatsuhana.

At the Shirataki waterfall in the mountains of Hakone:

Hatsuhana returns and goes to the sacred waterfall of Tô-no-Zawa, where she prays within the extremely cold water for the recovery of her husband. By some miracle, Hatsuhana's prayers are answered and Katsugorô suddenly recovers the use of his legs, while Hatsuhana mysteriously vanishes!

Fudesuke arrives at the scene of the miracle, bringing with him the head of Hatsuhana, who has resisted Gôsuke's will and was beheaded by the villain. Everybody understands that the woman who prayed in the waterfall was none other than the ghost of the faithful Hatsuhana.

What will happen after the closing of the curtain:

Katsugorô and Fudesuke win out over Gôsuke, avenging the murders of Katsugorô's brothers Sampei and Katsugorô's wife Hatsuhana. 1

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