Uncharted Territory


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That's other people's business.

紀伊国屋新宿南口店や丸善オアゾ店のすごいところは研究者しか買わないような新刊を店頭に並べてくれているところです。安部公房の研究所Beyond Nation: Time, Writing, and Community in the Work of Abe Koboもしっかりとありました。こういう書店の存在は本当にありがたいです。

著者のRichard Calichmanさんは過去に安部公房のエッセイを訳したThe Frontier Withinを出されていて小説だけではなくエッセイも含めて作家安部公房を理解しようとしてくれているようでファンとしては嬉しい存在です。

Beyond Nation: Time, Writing, and Community in the Work of Abe Kobo
by Richard Calichman

In the work of writer Abe Kobo (1924-1993), characters are alienated both from themselves and from one another. Through close readings of Abe's work, Richard Calichman reveals how time and writing have the ability to unground identity. Over time, attempts to create unity of self cause alienation, despite government attempts to convince people to form communities (and nations) to recapture a sense of wholeness. Art, then, must resist the nation-state and expose its false ideologies.

Calichman argues that Abe's attack on the concept of national affiliation has been neglected through his inscription as a writer of Japanese literature. At the same time, the institution of Japan Studies works to tighten the bond between nation-state and individual subject. Through Abe's essays and short stories, he shows how the formation of community is constantly displaced by the notions of time and writing. Beyond Nation thus analyzes the elements of Orientalism, culturalism, and racism that often underlie the appeal to collective Japanese identity.

"Abe Kobo: Time, Writing, Communitymarks a rare and fortunate encounter of theoretical passion with the work of Abe Kôbô. It is also a public protestation against the conservative climate of academia in the United States and Japan. Calichman makes a dimensional leap from the previous studies of Abe Kobo's work and modern Japanese literature."—Naoki Sakai, Goldwin Smith Professor of Asian Studies, Cornell University

"A remarkable writer and philosopher, Abe Kobo raised questions about human existence and the boundaries of identity which have powerful resonance for the present day. Richard Calichman's work offers a profound and illuminating perspective on Abe's vision of the human condition."—Tessa Morris-Suzuki, Australian National University


Much later in the novel, Niki finds himself in another discussion with the woman. He has just learned that the villagers illegally sell their sand for construction purposes where it comes to be mixed with cement. Horrified, Niki protests that the sand's high salt content renders it unusable for construction, with the result that innocent people will surely die when these structures begin to collapse. The impassivity of the woman's response is well known to both readers of the novel and viewers of the film. “Why should we worry what happens to others [ tanin]?” she tersely replies.
As with the earlier story of the dog, everything here depends upon how the self comes to determine itself in the specificity of its identity. Niki mistakenly assumes that the woman shares his identification as a member of the national community Japan. This is above all a community of sympathy: individual Japanese citizens must care for one another in their belonging to the totality that is the Japanese nation- state. Following the dictates of oppositional logic, such sympathy as generated among members of one national community may be contrasted with the antipathy or at least apathy that one feels for members of another national community.


That's other people's business.

"Why should we worry what happens to others?"


"Yes, indeed. Soon it'll be too late. We'll look one day and find that the villagers have disappeared to a man and that we're the only ones left. I know it… it's true. This is going to happen soon for sure. It'll already be too late by the time we realize we've been betrayed. What we've done for them up till now will be just a joke to them."
The woman's eyes were fixed on the beads which she held in her hands. She shook her head weakly.
"They couldn't do that. It's not anybody can make a living once he gets out of here."
"It all comes to the same thing then, doesn't it? Anyone who stays here is not living much of a life either."

「砂だって?」男は、歯をくいしばったまま、顎の先で輪をかいた。「砂なんかが、なんの役に立つ? つらい目をみる以外は、一銭の足しにだってなりゃしないじゃないか!」
"But there is the sand…"
"The sand?" The man clamped his teeth together, rolling his head. "What good is sand? Outside of giving you a hard time it doesn't bring in a penny." "Yes, it does. They sell it." "You sell it? Who do you sell such stuff to?"
"Well, to construction companies and places like that. They mix it with concrete…"

「冗談じゃない! こんな、塩っ気の多い砂を、セメントにまぜたりしたら、それこそ大ごとだ。第一、違反になるはずだがね、工事規則かなんかで……」
「でたらめもいいとこだ! あとで、ビルの土台や、ダムが、ぼろぼろになったりしたんじゃ、半値が只になったところで、間に合いやしないじゃないか!」
"Don't joke! It would be a fine mess if you mixed this sand with cement — it's got too much salt in it. In the first place, it's probably against the law or at least against construction regulations…"
"Of course, they sell it secretly. They cut the hauling charges in half too…"
"That's too absurd! Even if half price were free, that won't make it right when buildings and dams start to fall to pieces, will it?"
The woman suddenly interrupted him with accusing eyes. She spoke coldly, looking at his chest, and her attitude was completely different.
"Why should we worry what happens to others?"

He was stunned. The change was complete, as if a mask had dropped over her face. It seemed to be the face of the village, bared to him through her. Until then the village was supposed to be on the side of the executioner. Or maybe they were mindless man-eating plants, or avaricious sea anemones, and he was supposed to be a pitiful victim who happened to be in their clutches. But from the standpoint of the villagers, they themselves were the ones who had been abandoned. Naturally there was no reason why they should be under obligation to the outside world. So if it were he who caused injury, their fangs should accordingly be bared to him. It had never occurred to him to think of his relationship with the village in that light. It was natural that they should be confused and upset. But even if that were the case, and he conceded the point, it would be like throwing away his own justification.

「しかし、部落の側から言わせれば、見捨てられているのはむしろ、自分たちの方だということになるのだろう。(But from the standpoint of the villagers, they themselves were the ones who had been abandoned)」なんて部分もハッとさせられます。今回のEU脱退で経済的な影響が限定的なものだったら、彼らの帰属意識の問題をどのように見ればいいのか。まあ、そんなことをここから考えようとするのは強引すぎるかもしれませんが、「かまいやしないよ、他人のことなんか」という本音の叫びに何を言えるのか。いろいろ考えてしまいます。