japonisme: the Great Road to cheap instant Enlightenment

14 February 2012

the Great Road to cheap instant Enlightenment


As long as you've got inherited provisions stored in your cellar,
go ahead and look hungry,
play at being poor to be chic.
When you tire of the Parthenon and Notre-Dame,

fine, go on to lanterns, Mount Fuji,
Hiroshige, Harunobu, Basho, Buson,
throw in Taiga, back to Sesshu,
praise the blank paper.

Pick, as you please,
tanka or haikai.
But I,
who know the thing about your cellar,
won't join your playing at being chic.
You may tap me on the shoulder,
but I won't feel good.

With your wooly hands
you may tug at me
and try to seat me on the Great Road to cheap instant Enlightenment,
but I'll have to excuse myself.

You see, like those fellows in the Kojiki,
I just like to shuffle about in the sun;
to tell you the truth,
— Japon, Japon, Japon, Japon, Japon —
ah, you're too noisy.

Takamura Kotaro (1883–1956)

tr. Hiroaki Sato

takamura kotaro lived through the precise time that this blog covers -- the arrival of westerners, the modernization of japan and the japanization of the west. though from japan, he studied in paris and other places, and was inspired by the art he saw there; in the west's reinterpretation of japanese style he was able to see new ways to write, and to sculpt. he is considered the earliest japanese poet to abandon himself to free verse, carrying home with him as a souvenir an ancient japanese poetry form that had evolved into something new.

he was uncomfortable with the swift westernization of his own country, and yet it's clear he also was as enriched by the swirling cross-cultural currents as was the west.

Labels: , , ,


Anonymous evan said...

as always...my mind wandered & I came up with this-

William Shatner/Pulp "Common People" (song) from "Has Been"

She came from Greece she had a thirst for knowledge,
she studied sculpture at Saint Martin's College,
that's where I,
caught her eye.
She told me that her Dad was loaded,
I said "In that case I'll have a rum and coca-cola."
She said "Fine."
and in thirty seconds time she said,

"I want to live like common people,
I want to do whatever common people do,
I want to sleep with common people,
I want to sleep with common people,
like you."

Well what else could I do -
I said "I'll see what I can do."
I took her to a supermarket,
I don't know why but I had to start it somewhere,
so it started there.
I said pretend you've got no money,
she just laughed and said,
"Oh you're so funny."
I said "yeah?
Well I can't see anyone else smiling in here.
Are you sure you want to live like common people,
you want to see whatever common people see,
you want to sleep with common people,
you want to sleep with common people,
like me."
But she didn't understand,
she just smiled and held my hand.
Rent a flat above a shop,
cut your hair and get a job.
Smoke some fags and play some pool,
pretend you never went to school.
But still you'll never get it right,
cos when you're laid in bed at night,
watching roaches climb the wall,
if you call your Dad he could stop it all.

You'll never live like common people,
you'll never do what common people do,
you'll never fail like common people,
you'll never watch your life slide out of view,
and dance and drink and screw,
because there's nothing else to do.

Sing along with the common people,
sing along and it might just get you through,
laugh along with the common people,
laugh along even though they're laughing at you,
and the stupid things that you do.
Because you think that poor is cool.

I want to live with common people,
I want to live with common people etc...

17 February, 2012 11:41  
Blogger lotusgreen said...


17 February, 2012 13:24  

Post a Comment

hi, and thanks so much for stopping by. i spend all too much time thinking my own thoughts about this stuff, so please tell me yours. i thrive on the exchange!

<< Home

newer posts older posts