Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Banana Yoshimoto

I consider myself a fan of Banana Yoshimoto, even though I have only read two of her books, the essential Kicthen and Lizard, a collection of short stories. The most important thing in her writing is the space she writes in--a landscape of longing, belonging, of wanting to be whole. Her official web-site is hopelessly out of date, but she maintains an online journal there which is updated semi-regularly (it seems she writes her entries in English?). This entry from October of 2006 rings true and expresses that which appeals to me about her work.**
I had a talk with Mr. Mamoru Oshii (* a film director, known by "Ghost in the Shell" and others) and felt as if I came back to my home. All the people there were exactly the same kind of people that I used to hang out with in the past; from my childhood until I finished high school. They were, in short, a bunch of ultimate OTAKU (a variety of geeks, obsessed with something). They brought me back to my old days. I can't remember the last time I talked with people as naturally as on this day.
Mr. Oshii was a very warm person of bossy disposition. He made me feel as if I'd known him for a long time.
I have absolutely no interest in film directors, unless I can catch a glimpse of their childhood obsessions or possessions in their work. In Mr. Oshii's films I see this: vehicles running through the town at night, lights from the windows of the skyscrapers, a dog living in a single person's apartment. And he got these shots all in the right angles. These arrangements are not just for fun. They are the expressions of his urgent inner screams.
I felt so happy and honored to have met him.
I have gone back to reading Japanese poetry (in translation) and I have been thinking on the relationship between a society's appreciation for romantic love and a cultural celebration of transient beauty. Carpe diem may be the Western formulation, but it seems to me that in Buddhist societies every breath resonates with the understanding of the impermanence of beauty.

Ultimately it seems that all true love stems from mourning, from the knowledge of what it means to lose that which you most long to hold.

Just a thought.

**extra comment about her journal: it is mostly snapshots... which somehow strikes me as being stereotypically Japanese.