Friday, 30 April 2010

Aozora Bunko - Check it

I recently sent an email to Matt of No-sword, relating to things
pertaining to this article, about a section of Osamu Dazai's work,
The Setting Sun, and it's translation.

One thing which really interested me in his article was a link to the
website What follows is taken directly from the
emails we exchanged.

> Now, if you will excuse me for rushing ahead, one thing which really
> piqued my interested was this aozora bunko site. I looked at the
> link you gave for "the original Japanese" and bugger me if the whole
> of the Japanese text didn't just appear on my screen with one click.
> What exactly is the deal with this aozora website? If you'll indulge
> me, what kind of books do they have on this site, and are those books
> really there in their entirety and free to read?

Yeah, man, Aozora Bunko is like the Japanese Gutenberg: they enter
out-of-copyright books as text files, and make them publicly available.
In Japan, copyright for books (currently) only lasts for life of author
+ 50 years, so anyone who died more than 50 years ago is fair game.
Dazai is in there, so is Soseki, Ogai, Miyazawa Kenji, Ango, etc. etc.
And since it's public domain, not only is it on the site for free,
you're also free to translate it, whatever (as far as I have been able
to figure out -- this is not legal advice etc.) That's why I was able to
e-publish Botchan without paying any money to Soseki's heirs.

Ironically, stuff that was published TOO long ago is usually only
available in edited editions, prepared painstakingly by comparing
original manuscripts etc., and this act creates a new copyrightable
work. So what they have is basically Meiji through early Showa at the
moment -- stuff that was originally published as a movable-type style
printed text.

Now back to the studio with G Dawg:
Isn't that cool? I feel kind of like a moron for not knowing until now
about this fabled Japanese Gutenberg. Well, I suppose there has to be
a first time for everything.

Here, to give some examples, is a link to Dazai Osamu's
No Longer Human, a book I recently read in English, and
quite frankly amazing; and another famous book, I am a cat,
by old Natsume Souseki. (Interestingly, for the latter
transcript, aozora seems to have provided
kana for every kanji. Very kind of them indeed.)

I really should say at this point, too, a big thank you to Matt from
No-sword. If ever you've a question that needs answering, he's your

Saturday, 24 April 2010

粘土頭 Clay Head

Sometimes, too, for the heck and the thrill of it, I like to mess around with clay. For this one I took a bunch of photos of my own head, and using them as a guide, just to keep the right proportions in mind, I made this kind of quasi-classical bust. It's quite small in real life, about fifteen centimeters tall.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Ms Noriko Takayama & My Sexual Appetite

Up until now, in the process of my life, I have walked side by side with quite a number of women, yet I know of none who walks with such speed as Ms Noriko Takayama (age 25). You can almost imagine her saying, "I've only just been oiled!" as she pumps her arms delightfully back and forth, and with great steps and a fair amount of obvious enjoyment she walks her way. Observing from a slight distance, she looks almost like a water beetle who's been given wings; nimbly and smoothly, when she's walking, she seems as happy as a shaft of sunlight after the rain.

The first time we walked together, just the two of us (we were both going from Sendagaya Elementary School to Aoyama's First District) I was astonished by such swiftness, to the extent that I believed she found being with me a nuisance, and her singular speed was a means to distance herself from me without a moment's delay. Or, alternatively, I postulated that she was, by walking at such a tremendous pace, aiming to calm my sexual appetite (though, of course, since I have in me no sexual longing towards Ms Noriko Takayama, I am unable to say whether or not this method was effective).

That there was no ulterior motive behind her quick pace, and that she walked as if she were flying simply because she liked to do so, I did not learn until several months later. It was at the beginning of winter in front of Yotsuya Station when I saw her walking by herself through a throng of people. Not surprisingly, she was moving across that stretch of earth known for convenience as Tokyo at a ridiculously frightening speed. In her right hand she clutched firmly the strap of her handbag, while the hem of her trench coat fluttered in the wind. She walked with her head held high.

By the time I had taken five or six steps towards her and tried calling out she had already gone far away into the distance, and I was left standing all alone, quite clumsily, like Rossano Brazzi in that Katherine Hepburn movie, Summertime. But I was very happy, because I knew Ms Noriko Takayama had harboured no misunderstandings concerning my sexual appetite.

[Summertime in Japan goes by the name 旅情 (ryojou) which means roughly, I suppose, travel emotion. A quick look in my electronic dictionary informs me it is "the emotion felt when setting out on a journey, or the nostalgia evoked when contemplating past travels." I myself haven't seen Summertime, though I do want to see it now. I inserted Katherine Hepburn's name into my translation, simply to flesh out the sentence, for better scansion, and also because while Haruki may credit his readers with a knowledge of movies equal to his, I do not. So bah.]

Sunday, 11 April 2010

乞食礼拝 Graspers, Worshippers

Size, 6x8 inches.

Painting from the old head, acrylic again. I dropped this one the other day and put a hole in it. Probably wouldn't have happened if I'd used a decent canvas. You can say what you want about acrylics, but I feel like a dumbass now for using cheap shit to paint on. I taped up the back and painted over the scar, but it's not going to last.
I guess you could say that about all art, of course, but still...