Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is It Time Now?

Is it time for me also?


Everybody . . . was full of willingness. . . . I gave body and soul to each shot. — Quotes from Yuharu Atsuta
Hara has avoided the media and the public eye for almost half a century. I read a hilarious article by a journal reporter, who snooped around her house in Kamakura, trying to catch a glimpse of her in seclusion, decades ago. Hara (or Aida) found him peeking through the garden wall, and told him, "No, you don't." He asked if she could give him interview. She told him, "Of course not". Then, she asked if he was hungry. She served him a plate of curry and rice she had prepared. She said, "When you finished it, please leave." The guy went home stuffed with her meal, but empty-handed. I don't know what happened after in his office, but you can imagine the journal editor throwing pencils at him, yelling, "You ate what?" — MI
The disciples approached Jesus and said,
"Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven?"
He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said,
"Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,
you will not enter the Kingdom of heaven.
Whoever becomes humble like this child
is the greatest in the Kingdom of heaven.
And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.

"See that you do not despise one of these little ones,
for I say to you that their angels in heaven
always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.
What is your opinion?
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray,
will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills
and go in search of the stray?
And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it
than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.
In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father
that one of these little ones be lost."

— Today's Gospel Reading
Littleness, as she understood it, and mediocrity as we live it—I could not conceive of two more contrary ways of life. — Karl Stern, St. Thérèse of Lisieux
"Setsuko Hara", un poema de Ventura Camacho

David Baldwin, Late Spring (Wikipedia). Adam Mars-Jones, Noriko Smiling. Reviewed by David Cozy. Also: Late Spring.

Vermillion and One Nights, All about Setsuko Hara, Rare Snapshots of Setsuko Hara

Richard Kaufman, Mysterious famous Japanese actress dies

Robert Gottlieb, An Actress Like No Other

Joe Stalvey, To Setsuko Hara, with Love

More than the others

Saturday, August 6, 2011

La Disparue


Simon Kuper, Who Stole the Mona Lisa?

But even before Mona Lisa disappeared she was more than a painting. Leonardo’s feat was to have made her almost a person. “Mona Lisa is painted at eye level and almost life-size, both disconcertingly real and transcendent,” writes Scotti. Many romantics responded to the picture as if to a woman. Mona Lisa received love letters and was given a touch more surveillance than the Louvre’s other works, because some visitors stared at the “aphrodisiac” painting and became “visibly emotional”, writes Coignard. In 1910, one lover had shot himself before her eyes. After the theft, a French psychology professor suggested that the thief might be a sexual psychopath who would enjoy “mutilating, stabbing, defiling” Mona Lisa.

The thief turned out to be Vincenzo Peruggia, a 32-year-old Italian who lived in Paris. He was a house painter-cum-glazier. He suffered from lead poisoning. He lived in one room at 5 rue de l’Hôpital Saint-Louis, in a neighbourhood of eastern Paris that even today, a century on, is largely immigrant and not entirely gentrified. The Mona Lisa had spent two years mostly on his kitchen table. “I fell in love with her,” Peruggia said from jail, repeating the romantic cliché. The court-appointed psychiatrist diagnosed him as “mentally deficient”.

Her beauty is lost [as the painting is currently installed]. Unless you are a connoisseur of mob scenes, there is little here to enjoy. You envy Peruggia his time alone with her in his room two miles from here.
Note to myself: Bydan Free [Richard K. Munro], Inner Excellence Matters More than Personal Appearance

Friday, August 5, 2011

Kierkegaard: How Is Human Existence Possible?

Like all religious thinkers, Kierkegaard places in the centre the question: How is human existence possible? All through the Nineteenth Century this question—which before had been the core of Western thought—was not only highly unfashionable; it seemed senseless and irrelevant.

It is hardly possible to exaggerate the differences between Rousseau's "General Will," Hegel's concept of history as the unfolding of ideas, and the Marxian theory of the individual's determination through his objectively given class situation. But they all gave the same answer to the question of human existence: there is no such thing, there is no such question! Ideas and citizens exist, but no human beings. What is possible is merely the realization of ideas in and through society..

It may be true that human existence in freedom is not possible; which is, indeed, asserted by Hitler and the Communists as well as, less openly, by all those well-meaning "social engineers" who believe in social psychology, propaganda, re-education, or administration, as a means of molding and forming the individual. But at least the question, How is human existence possible? can no longer be regarded as irrelevant. For those who profess to believe in freedom there is no more relevant inquiry.

— Peter Drucker, The Unfashionable Kierkegaard (1949)
Kierkegaard's own answer to this important metaphysical and political question might have been different had he seen you. And the best answer that I know of is: Ozu's family dramas.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Unsophisticated View

One evening in the theater something very exciting happened: The play to be performed was Chasja, the Orphan. Chasja comes from a Ukrainian village, is young, healthy, and very pretty, and she tells people exactly what she thinks. Her poor village father brings her to her rich relatives in the city, where she works hard as a maid and waits on everyone. She falls in love with the son of the house, a good-for-nothing. Now they are all dressed up and in great excitement. They, on the stage, are going to the theater! Then Chasja sees the son of the house, with whom she is in love, steal a gold brooch and hide it. The aunt wants to wear the brooch, and everyone looks for it. There is great confusion. Suspicion falls on Chasja. Now the wicked aunt asks Chasja if she knows where the brooch is. She says, “No!” “Swear by your dead mother that you do not know where it is!” But Chasja will not swear by her dead mother. The aunt is now convinced that Chasja is the thief, seizes her by her two long blond braids, ties her to the bed with them, and screams, “Where is the brooch?” And Chasja says, “I don't know!” And now the aunt gives her a left and a right and repeats the same question and gets the same answer and goes on hitting the poor orphan again and again. Chasja kneels there, tied by her braids, taking the blows and looking proud. The house is in tremendous excitment. We all hate the aunt and sympathize with Chasja. Now the aunt bellows even louder: “Where is the brooch? Where is the brooch?” and boxes the poor orphan’s ears without ever stopping. And suddenly a man who is standing near me in the gallery pulls a revolver out of his pocket and shouts out louder even than the people on the stage: “Beast! Untie her this minute or I’ll shoot you down like a dog!”

The blows on the stage cease. The house is in tumult. Everyone turns and looks at my neighbor, a devil-may-care youth of about twenty, who now was white as a sheet, has pocketed his revolver, and is trembling with excitement. . . .

The cloth wall has already been lowered. The lights are turned on in the house now. Groups are quarreling, arguing, all at once;—the young man has disappeared! Chasja’s poor father—Motje Schtrachl, otherwise Jidl Guttman—is standing before the curtain; he raises his hand. Little by little the people quiet down, and he begins to speak very softly: “My dear listeners, may I say something?” Some clap, others call: “Speak up, Guttman, speak up, Motje! Quiet! Quiet!” Gradually there is silence. And he begins again: “My dear friends, it is a hard thing for me to step out of my character, but I must say a few words in explanation.” And he begins, gently and quietly, like a father explaining something to his children: “You know that Madam Fischler is married to the famous Dr. Fischler and has a father and mother—God be thanked, and may they live to be a hundred and twenty! But art demands that, for this evening, she is an orphan. You know too that Madam Rosenberg has six children and is the best mother in the world and has a heart of gold—but art demands that tonight she is the wicked aunt and hits Madam Fischler. I myself am the president of the Bnai Jakob Synagogue—but art demands that this evening I am Motje Schtrachl, Chasja’s poor father. And so I could go on and tell you who all of us are in real life, and who we are obliged to be for art’s sake. Every afternoon around five o’clock you can see us all sitting in the Cafe Abazia, and we are the best of friends. Even our children are friends. And Madam Rosenberg and Madam Fischler are particularly intimate friends. Now here’s a young man—I’m sure he has a good heart, but he doesn’t know all these things I have been telling you—he gets excited and threatens to shoot his revolver. I ask you: Is that right?” “No!” shouts the house. “Throw him out! Bravo, Guttman! Bravo, Fischler! Bravo, Rosenberg!” Again and again there are shouts and thunderous clapping. The poor old father, the actor and president of a synagogue, Jidl Guttman, raises his hand, and there is quiet again: “Well,” he says, “shall we go on?” And again there is a thunder of applause and agreement and cheers! And the house is darkened, and the play begins again where it had stopped. Chasja’s wicked aunt, Madam Rosenberg, who is a mother herself and has a heart of gold, again asks Chasja, the orphan, who is really the wife of Dr. Fischler and —thank God—still has her parents: “Where is the brooch?” And she answers more loudly and strongly than before, “I don’t know!” “What, you don’t know?” says the wicked aunt and the good mother, Madam Rosenberg, and grabs Chasja the orphan, Dr. Fischler’s wife, by her braids, ties her to the bed again, just as before, and shouts threateningly, “Where is the brooch?” And Madam Chasja, the orphan, cries, “I don’t know,” and Aunt Rosenberg gives her a left and a right again! And again Chasja cries loudly and with pride, “I don’t know! I don’t know!” and lefts and rights land on her ears again and again and again!

So, that evening, because of an excitable young man, who surely had a good heart, the delicate, beautiful Madam Fischler was beaten twice over! Poor Madam Fischler.

— Alexander Granach

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Do You Like Musical Comedy?

Obama is not just a disappointment, he is a danger. He is the most blatantly dishonest person I have ever witnessed in public life. — marymmccurnin
I seemed to be looking into the heart of the criminal—a cold thing, an awful thing. I said to myself, "I shall forget this, we shall all forget it; but it will be there. What I have seen is not an illusion. It is the truth. I have seen death in the heart of this people." For to look at the agony of a fellow-being and remain aloof means death in the heart of the onlooker. — John Jay Chapman, Coatesville Address (1912)
There is no reality in a single phrase uttered in politics, no meaning in one single word of any of it. There is no man in public life who stands for anything. They are shadows; they are phantasmagoria. At best they cater to the better elements; at worst they frankly subserve the worst. There is no one who stands for his own ideas himself, by himself, a man. If American politics does not look to you like a joke, a tragic dance; if you have enough blindness left in you, on any plea on any excuse to vote for the Democratic party or the Republican party (for at present machine and party are one), or any candidate who does not stand for a new era, — then you yourself pass into the slide of the magic-lantern; you are an exhibit, a quaint product, a curiosity of the American soil. You are part of the problem, and you must be educated and drawn forward to real life. — John Jay Chapman, Practical Agitation, 1900
Adieu, fière cité. — Didon, in Berlioz's Les Troyens
hugh

Pause is religion. — John Jay Chapman
It is impossible to write a script unless you know who is going to play the part, just as a painter cannot paint unless he knows what colors he is going to use. Name stars have never been of much interest to me. What is important is the character of the actor. It is not a matter of how good an actor is; it is a matter of what he is as a human being. It is not the character he projects. It is what he really is. — Ozu, quote by missingozu
All beautiful human things are dated. Whores are always with us and virgins are born every day, but the world will never see another Setsuko Hara.
Any system of morality or conjunction of circumstances that tends to make men tell the truth as they see it will tend to produce what the world will call art, If the statement be accurate, the world will call it beautiful. Put it as you will, art is self assertion and beauty is accuracy. Out of the fullness of the heart the mouth speaketh. — John Jay Chapman, Causes and Consequences (1898)
The truth is, we ought to thank God when any man or body of men make the discovery that there is such a thing as absolute pitch, or absolute honesty, or absolute personal and intellectual integrity. A few years of this spirit will identify certain men with the fundamental idea that truth is stronger than consequences, and these men will become the most serious force and the only truly political force in their community. Their ambition is illimitable, for you cannot set bounds to personal influence. But it is an ambition that cannot be abused. A departure from their own course will ruin any one of them in a night, and undo twenty years of service. — John Jay Chapman, Practical Agitation, 1900
The Devil is a cynic.
I say that our need is new life, and that books and resolutions will not save us, but only such disposition in our hearts and souls as will enable the new life, love, force, hope, virtue, which surround us always, to enter into us. — John Jay Chapman, Coatesville
Fight the mechanical. — Jacques Barzun
There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortals, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. — C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
The world values the seer above all men, and has always done so. Nay, it values all men in proportion as they partake of the character of seers. The Elgin Marbles and a decision of John Marshall are valued for the same reason. What we feel in them is a painstaking submission to facts beyond the author's control, and to ideas imposed upon him by his vision. So with Beethoven's Symphonies and Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations — with any conceivable output of the human mind of which you approve. You love them because you say, These things were not made, they were seen. — John Jay Chapman, Practical Agitation (1900)
We all know individuals so harmoniously framed that we say, If theirs were the common temper of mankind, we should be happy. — John Jay Chapman, Practical Agitation (1900)
We may be sure that we are upon the edge of a better era when the old moral commonplaces begin to glow like jewels and the stones to testify. — John Jay Chapman, Practical Agitation (1900)
He becomes the thing he looks on, and he accomplishes something he does not understand. — John Jay Chapman, Practical Agitation (1900)
Do not think you are wasting your time, even if no one joins you. The prejudice against the individual is part of the evil you are fighting . . . . It may be that you must wait seven centuries for an audience, or it may be that in two years your voice will be heeded. If you are really a forerunner of better times, the times will appear and explain you. It will then turn out that your [act] was the key note of the national life. — John Jay Chapman, Practical Agitation (1900)
What you really want is that every man you meet shall drop his business and devote his entire life and energy to your cause. — John Jay Chapman, Practical Agitation (1900)
Your devoted slave.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Unagi

Film director Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963), who was known as a gourmet, ate eel all year round. On New Year's Eve, he would leave his home in Kita-Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, and visit a well-known eel restaurant in Tokyo's Minami-Senju district with his friends to enjoy a whole skewered eel. When most people traditionally eat year-crossing noodles on New Year's Eve wishing for a thin and long life, Ozu chose to eat eel apparently because he wanted to lead a long and full life. — Asahi Shinbun, Humans responsible for overfishing young eels, July 22, 2011.
Note to myself: Another New Year's Eve Party (missingozu)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Life Is Greater than Art

I want to portray a man’s character by eliminating all the dramatic devices. I want to make people feel what life is like without delineating all the dramatic ups and downs. — Ozu, quoted by missingozu

Note to myself: Ambrose's Tumblr

Friday, July 22, 2011

Art Appreciation

It is better to like than to understand. It is better to dislike than to understand.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What do I mean by character?

For a while now we have had a surfeit of art and a disappearing awareness of humanity. Ozu bucks that trend.

What do I mean by character?  Well, in a word, humanness.  If you don’t convey humanness, your work is worthless.  This is the purpose of all art.  In a film, emotion without humanness is a defect.  A person who is perfect at facial expression is not necessarily able to express humanness.  In fact, the expression of emotion often hinders the expression of humanness.  Knowing how to control emotion and knowing how to express humanness with this control––that is the job of a director. — Yasujiro Ozu, quoted by missingozu

Humanness is uncommon in public life. Our president, Obama, and our governor, Cuomo, lack humanness. Lincoln had an abundance of humanness.

Everything that exists is shaped in a meaningful form which provides acting man with the norm from which to draw the possible and the right. Freedom does not consist in following our personal or political predilections, but in doing what is required by the essence of things....

Let us be explicit. Have we ever stopped to consider exactly what takes place when the average superior assigns a task to a subordinate ... when the average school teacher teaches a class or maintains discipline ... judge decides a case ... priest champions the things of God ... doctor treats a patient ... bureaucrat deals with the public in his office ... industrialist directs his firms ... merchant supplies his customers ... factory-worker tends his machine ... farmer runs his farm? Is it really clear to us in each concrete process what the decisive intention and attitude was, and what its direct and indirect results? Was the truth in each case protected? Its particular validity trusted? Did the person encountered go away feeling that he had been treated with dignity, that he had been received as a person by a person? Did that other appeal to his freedom, all that is vital and creative in him? Together did they reach the heart of the matter, broaching it as it was meant to be broached, essentially?

The objection that these are private matters of no historical importance does not hold. Every historical process, even the most dynamic, is made up of just such situations, and the way they are dealt with is what gives each phase of history its particular mold....

The lack of human warmth and dignity in our contacts with the world is what chills the heart, and what lurks at the bottom of the growing feeling that things are no longer right.

The fact must be recognized and accepted that even the most commonplace social relations are not a matter of private morality, but the life blood of every historical process, and that on them will depend the health or death of our political and cultural existence.

— Romano Guardini, The End of the Modern World [1950], 1998, pp. 210, 212–214.

Sada

In the deep doorway of the sacristy he saw a crouching figure—a woman, he made out, and she was weeping bitterly. He raised her up and took her inside. As soon as he had lit a candle, he recognized her, and could have guessed her errand.

It was an old Mexican woman, called Sada, who was slave in an American family. They were Protestants, very hostile to the Roman Church, and they did not allow her to go to Mass or to receive the visits of a priest. She was carefully watched at home,—but in winter, when the heated rooms of the house were desirable to the family, she was put to sleep in a woodshed. Tonight, unable to sleep for the cold, she had gathered courage for this heroic action, had slipped out through the stable door and come running up an alley-way to the House of God to pray. Finding the front doors of the church fastened, she had made her way into the Bishop's garden and come round to the sacristy, only to find that, too, shut against her.

The Bishop stood holding the candle and watching her face while she spoke her few words; a dark brown peon face, worn thin and sharp by life and sorrow. It seemed to him that he had never seen pure goodness shine out of a human countenance as it did from hers.

— Willa Cather, Death Comes for the Archbishop (1927)

John Jay Chapman

Mayor Otis saw nothing important in the episode which has given him a Dantesque immortality.
We might be saved or damned by some act we deemed inconsequential.

The Measure of Human Perfection

Elementary things, which we ought to be able to take for granted, we no longer can take for granted.... What is needed today is something not only great, but ultimate.... I do not mean to follow a program of any kind, but to make the simple responses that always were and always will be right: Not to wait until someone in need asks for help, but to offer it; to perform every official act in a manner befitting both common sense and human dignity; to declare a truth when its hour has come, even when it will bring down opposition or ridicule; to accept responsibility when the conscience considers it a duty. — Romano Guardini, The End of the Modern World [1950], 1998, pp. 213, 217, 218–219.

Notes to myself:

Dennis D. McDonald's review of Early Summer and Good Morning.
You want to grab her by the shoulders....
Donald Richie, Viewed Sideways: Writings on Culture and Style in Contemporary Japan.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Murdering to Dissect

missingozu quotes Wordworth

Thinking of you, I also tumbl.

The Young Oscar Wilde

God knows; I won't be an Oxford don anyhow. I'll be a poet, a writer, a dramatist. Somehow or other I'll be famous, and if not famous, I'll be notorious. Or perhaps I'll lead the life of pleasure for a time and then—who knows?—rest and do nothing. What does Plato say is the highest end that man can attain here below? To sit down and contemplate the good. Perhaps that will be the end of me too.
Note to myself: David Bordwell, Good and Good for You
There are no explosions, violence, chase scenes, or over-the-top characters here. This is Ozu. This is one of the greatest films ever made. — JohnK, Tokyo Story (1953).

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Walter Ciszek

The soul must learn to act not on its own initiative, but in response to whatever demands are imposed by God in the concrete instances of each day. — Walter Ciszek, He Leadeth Me, 1973, p. 160.
So Tōkyō Monogatari.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cinema is drama, not accident.

Ozu on his deathbed, heard and quoted by Kiju Yoshida. Blogged by Missing Ozu. After this, I really should be quiet for a while, perhaps a long while, and listen to the still, sad music of humanity.
FIVE years have past; five summers, with the length
Of five long winters! and again I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.—Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky.
The day is come when I again repose
Here, under this dark sycamore, and view
These plots of cottage-ground, these orchard-tufts,
Which at this season, with their unripe fruits,
Are clad in one green hue, and lose themselves
'Mid groves and copses. Once again I see
These hedge-rows, hardly hedge-rows, little lines
Of sportive wood run wild: these pastoral farms,
Green to the very door; and wreaths of smoke
Sent up, in silence, from among the trees!
With some uncertain notice, as might seem
Of vagrant dwellers in the houseless woods,
Or of some Hermit's cave, where by his fire
The Hermit sits alone.

                                               These beauteous forms,
Through a long absence, have not been to me
As is a landscape to a blind man's eye:
But oft, in lonely rooms, and 'mid the din
Of towns and cities, I have owed to them
In hours of weariness, sensations sweet,
Felt in the blood, and felt along the heart;
And passing even into my purer mind,
With tranquil restoration:—feelings too
Of unremembered pleasure: such, perhaps,
As have no slight or trivial influence
On that best portion of a good man's life,
His little, nameless, unremembered, acts
Of kindness and of love. Nor less, I trust,
To them I may have owed another gift,
Of aspect more sublime; that blessed mood,
In which the burthen of the mystery,
In which the heavy and the weary weight
Of all this unintelligible world,
Is lightened:—that serene and blessed mood,
In which the affections gently lead us on,—
Until, the breath of this corporeal frame
And even the motion of our human blood
Almost suspended, we are laid asleep
In body, and become a living soul:
While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.

                                                          If this
Be but a vain belief, yet, oh! how oft—
In darkness and amid the many shapes
Of joyless daylight; when the fretful stir
Unprofitable, and the fever of the world,
Have hung upon the beatings of my heart—
How oft, in spirit, have I turned to thee,
O sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods,
How often has my spirit turned to thee!

    And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,
With many recognitions dim and faint,
And somewhat of a sad perplexity,
The picture of the mind revives again:
While here I stand, not only with the sense
Of present pleasure, but with pleasing thoughts
That in this moment there is life and food
For future years. And so I dare to hope,
Though changed, no doubt, from what I was when first
I came among these hills; when like a roe
I bounded o'er the mountains, by the sides
Of the deep rivers, and the lonely streams,
Wherever nature led: more like a man
Flying from something that he dreads, than one
Who sought the thing he loved. For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,
And their glad animal movements all gone by)
To me was all in all.—I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, nor any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.—That time is past,
And all its aching joys are now no more,
And all its dizzy raptures. Not for this
Faint I, nor mourn nor murmur, other gifts
Have followed; for such loss, I would believe,
Abundant recompence. For I have learned
To look on nature, not as in the hour
Of thoughtless youth; but hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue. And I have felt
A presence that disturbs me with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit, that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
And rolls through all things. Therefore am I still
A lover of the meadows and the woods,
And mountains; and of all that we behold
From this green earth; of all the mighty world
Of eye, and ear,—both what they half create,
And what perceive; well pleased to recognise
In nature and the language of the sense,
The anchor of my purest thoughts, the nurse,
The guide, the guardian of my heart, and soul
Of all my moral being.

                                            Nor perchance,
If I were not thus taught, should I the more
Suffer my genial spirits to decay:
For thou art with me here upon the banks
Of this fair river; thou my dearest Friend,
My dear, dear Friend; and in thy voice I catch
The language of my former heart, and read
My former pleasures in the shooting lights
Of thy wild eyes. Oh! yet a little while
May I behold in thee what I was once,
My dear, dear Sister! and this prayer I make,
Knowing that Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege,
Through all the years of this our life, to lead
From joy to joy: for she can so inform
The mind that is within us, so impress
With quietness and beauty, and so feed
With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
The dreary intercourse of daily life,
Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
Is full of blessings. Therefore let the moon
Shine on thee in thy solitary walk;
And let the misty mountain-winds be free
To blow against thee: and, in after years,
When these wild ecstasies shall be matured
Into a sober pleasure; when thy mind
Shall be a mansion for all lovely forms,
Thy memory be as a dwelling-place
For all sweet sounds and harmonies; oh! then,
If solitude, or fear, or pain, or grief,
Should be thy portion, with what healing thoughts
Of tender joy wilt thou remember me,
And these my exhortations! Nor, perchance—
If I should be where I no more can hear
Thy voice, nor catch from thy wild eyes these gleams
Of past existence—wilt thou then forget
That on the banks of this delightful stream
We stood together; and that I, so long
A worshipper of Nature, hither came
Unwearied in that service: rather say
With warmer love—oh! with far deeper zeal
Of holier love. Nor wilt thou then forget,
That after many wanderings, many years
Of absence, these steep woods and lofty cliffs,
And this green pastoral landscape, were to me
More dear, both for themselves and for thy sake!

— William Wordsworth, Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798

Every existence is fine as it is!

I don’t want to make films that evoke a skeptical view of the world any longer. I feel like I began to think positively through my war experience in the war. I wanted to cry from the bottom of my heart that every existence is fine as it is! — Ozu, Tokyo asahi shinbun, evening edition, August 16-22, 1939, pp. 39-40, quoted in Kiju Yoshida, Ozu's Anti-Cinema, 2003, p. 40.
Quoted by Waiting for Ozu. This is what I see in you in Late Spring, in Early Summer, even in Tokyo Story, where you are so sad. I cry from the bottom of my heart, Everything in you is fine as it is!

Missing Ozu

Missing Ozu, a beautiful blog, as how could it not be, since it consists of nothing but Ozu.

Loading the Dice

A high brain may do many things, and may do each of them at a very slight hint. But its hair-trigger organization makes of it a happy-go-lucky, hit-or-miss affair. It is as likely to do the crazy as the sane thing at any given moment. A low brain does few things, and in doing them perfectly forfeits all other use. The performances of a high brain are like dice thrown forever on a table. Unless they be loaded, what chance is there that the highest number will turn up oftener than the lowest?

Loading its dice would mean bringing a more or less constant pressure to bear in favor of those of its performances which make for the most permanent interests of the brain’s owner; it would mean a constant inhibition of the tendencies to stray aside.

Well, just such pressure and such inhibition are what consciousness seems to be exerting all the while.

— William James, The Principles of Psychology, Vol. I, p.140.
So also the importance of consciousness turned unconscious, a large part of which is culture—and good habits.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Brothers and sisters I have none . . . .

But there is no social entity with a good that undergoes some sacrifice for its own good. There are only individual people, different individual people, with their own individual lives. — Robert Nozick, quoted in Stephan Metcalf, The Liberty Scam: Why even Robert Nozick, the philosophical father of libertarianism, gave up on the movement he inspired.


Without a claim there can be no obligation, but there is some obligation wherever there is a claim. — William James, The Moral Philosopher and the Moral Life
But what makes it generally impossible for the present-day average educated man to find anything appealing in the ancient world is the total egoism of today’s private person who wants to exist as an individual and asks of the community only the greatest possible security for himself and his property, for which he pays his taxes amid sighs, and who also likes to attach himself to the community in a specific sense as an official. — Jacob Burckhardt, Judgments on History and Historians

It looks as though it will be harder and harder to be normal.

Marcia Angell, The Illusions of Psychiatry

Quotation:
[Dr. Daniel Carlat's] work consists of asking patients a series of questions about their symptoms to see whether they match up with any of the disorders in the DSM. This matching exercise, he writes, provides the illusion that we understand our patients when all we are doing is assigning them labels.
This is the practice of some critics.

Dr. Angell:
The apparent prevalence of juvenile bipolar disorder jumped forty-fold between 1993 and 2004, and that of autism increased from one in five hundred children to one in ninety over the same decade. Ten percent of ten-year-old boys now take daily stimulants for ADHD—attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder—and 500,000 children take antipsychotic drugs. — Ibid.

To me, you are the very picture of normality.

On a societal note:
As low-income families experience growing economic hardship, many are finding that applying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments on the basis of mental disability is the only way to survive. It is more generous than welfare, and it virtually ensures that the family will also qualify for Medicaid. According to MIT economics professor David Autor, This has become the new welfare. Hospitals and state welfare agencies also have incentives to encourage uninsured families to apply for SSI payments, since hospitals will get paid and states will save money by shifting welfare costs to the federal government. — Ibid.

This is one reason Ozu, the director whose view of society is most normal, is important today.

Tokyo People

Perhaps the most interesting thing about this magazine cover, taken from 原 節子: The name above the title, is its date, November 2009. Do Tokyo people still remember you and Mifune? A friend who lived in Japan for many years recently wrote to me,
Ozu like Kurosawa was productive during a period when things Western were more popular in Japan than things Japanese. Ozu's actors had more fame in Japan than Ozu himself. Like Kurosawa, Ozu was considered an artist more than a film maker. The Japanese are very tolerant of artists' quirks. But like Kurosawa and Mishima, Ozu was more popular outside of Japan than in Japan. This was a bit sad for all three of them, because all three wanted so much to express the Japanese psyche. But I'm sure that very few Japanese under the age of 50 have ever heard of Ozu or Kurosawa. In fact, I introduced my wife to Ozu and Kurosawa and she is a Japanese over the age of 50.
If Ambrose keeps posting unknown and untranslated items, I shall have to learn Japanese.


The photo, it turns out, is from Chiba's Tokyo no koibito (1952).

The text is not the book.

Or so I dreamed last night. Perhaps some relic from Trinity Sunday.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Tokai Beauty

From Cinema of the World, Tamizo Ishida - Tokai Bijoden aka Legend of the Tokai Beauties (1937), where there are other stills from and some information on this film, about which I know nothing.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Any Fan of Yours . . .

Eiga Stars: Portraits of Japanese Divas in Fan Magazines of the 1950s
“Even though they are aimed at persons who lack a serious interest in the cinema, they do not cater to that moron level to which American fan magazines appeal.” —Joseph L. Anderson, in a 1955 article on Japanese film periodicals.

Among Friends

"I've never made up a character. In my films, I make copies of my friends." — Ozu, quoted by Pedro Costa
See some of Ozu's friends.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kyoko Kagawa


More than 50 years have passed already since Tokyo Monogatari was shot, but I remember it as if it was only quite recently. I became an actress because Miss Hara Setsuko was the star I adore most. So I was very impressed for I was blessed to be with Miss Hara in this movie. I will never lose my great gratitude to and respect for Mr Ozu. — Kyoko Kagawa, Press interview for the 2003 Ozu Yasujiro 100th anniversary project

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

maybe her best performance ever

She hangs her head like an enigmatic, sad statue and expresses complex, conflicting emotions with a subtlety that should be baffling even for long-time admirers. — Dag Sødtholt, Sound of the Mountain: The Beauty of Pessimism.
It is good to be reminded that not everyone believes that Ozu brought out all that is fine in you.

Thanks to 原 節子:The name above the title.

Googling all that is fine, I see: In this interview with Pinkie Mekgwe, Alexander McCall Smith talks about the importance of creating a character who represents 'all that is fine in the human condition' in an era and geopolitical space where nihilism reigns. That character was Precious Ramotswe, Botswana's only – and finest – female private detective.

Hazlitt

I have never given the lie to my own soul. If I have felt the impression once, I feel it more strongly a second time; and I have no wish to revile or discard my best thoughts. There is a thorough keeping in what I write—not a line that betrays a principle or disguises a feeling. If my wealth is small, it all goes to enrich the same heap; and trifles in this way accumulate to a tolerable sum. — William Hazlitt, "The Letter-Bell," quoted by Arthur Krystal, Except When I Write, 2011, p. 45
Hazlitt's essay begins:
Complaints are frequently made of the vanity and shortness of human life, when, if we examine its smallest details, they present a world by themselves. The most trifling objects, retraced with the eye of memory, assume the vividness, the delicacy, and importance of insects seen through a magnifying class. There is no end of the brillancy or the variety. The habitual feeling of the love of life may be compared to one entire and perfect chrysolite, which, if analysed, breakes into a thousand shining fragments. Ask the sum-total of the value of human life, and we are puzzled with the length of the account, and the multiplicity of the items in it: take any one of them apart, and it is wonderful what matter for reflection will be found in it!
and ends:
The picturesque and the dramatic do not keep pace with the useful and the mechanical. The telegraphs that lately communicated the intelligence of the new revolution to all France within a few hours, are a wonderful contrivance; but they are less striking and appalling than the beacon-fires (mentioned by Æschylus), which, lighted from hill-top to hill-top, announced the taking of Troy, and the return of Agamemnon.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Eigapedia

Note to myself: Eigapedia Setsuko Hara

Why They Don't Read Jane Austen

The truth is that young readers don't easily attach themselves to Austen. Mr. Darcy, "haughty as a Siamese cat" (in Deresiewicz's delicious phrase), isn't half as appealing on the page as Colin Firth stalking across the screen in Andrew Davies's liberty-taking film. Seventeen-year-old Catherine Morland seems coltish and naïve to readers of her own age today, while Emma Woodhouse, all of 20, appears loud, vain and bossy. And who, at 27 or thereabouts, now feels sympathy for the meekness of Anne Elliot, a young woman who has allowed a monstrous father and a persuasive family friend to ruin her chances of happiness with the engaging Captain Wentworth? — Miranda Seymour, New York Times, June 10, 2011.
And why I won't read Miranda Seymour:
... each work reveals itself as a teaching tool.... — Ibid.

Cut to Donald Richie:
The camera was turned toward Setsuko Hara. Ozu nodded at Yoko Tsukasa, sitting to one side, and she delivered her line of dialogue. Start, said Ozu, and his camera, Yuhara Atsuta, squated behind his machine, began filming. The director nodded to Setsuko, who said her line. Cut, said Ozu, and Atsuta stopped filming.

The director was apparently satisfied with the delivery and went on to the next line. Not always, however; several times during these afternoon hours of shooting he would make one or the other of the actresses repeat her line.

One cut finished, one line of dialogue completed, Ozu began getting ready for the next. The conditions seemed in all respects identical but Ozu would nonetheless reframe each cut. Hara had not moved, yet Ozu, looking though the viewfiender, insisted on a shift of half a millimeter to the right. When I saw the finished film I noticed that in some cuts Yoko's hand towel at the bottom of the screen was more visible than in others, but generally the effect would be visible to the director alone.

— Donald Richie, Japanese Portraits: Pictures of Different People , Tuttle edition, 2006, p. 13.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Two Pairs of Aces


With Kinuyo Tanaka | With Yumeji Tsukioka
Thanks to @Ambrose45 Twitpic

Pairs of scenes abound in Late Spring:

.
.
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but let others remark on them.

His Favorite Ozu

Rohit Apte, like so many of us, likes Early Summer best.

Shot Reverse Shots on an Ozu Table

Please see them at time being.


Please also see two back shots.

Thanks to @Ambrose45.

Pedro Costa

Note to myself: A Closed Door That Leaves Us Guessing:
... but for me, the true Japanese documentaries are by Ozu. All the people I know in Japan, all my Japanese friends, I knew before, through the films of Ozu. What I've just said, Ozu has written in his journal. He says: ‘I've never made up a character. In my films, I make copies of my friends.’

... For me, it's a detail that Ozu happens to be Japanese. Personally, I think he's Portuguese ...

Danger: High Winds.

So says this tumblr post by Starting Place, and I can well believe it as an example of Ozu's humor.

Life for Life's Sake

Barzun not only objects to an art-for-art’s-sake philosophy; he also wants us to know what it really means: it is at bottom an art-for-life’s-sake philosophy, which makes it just another attempt to reduce the richness and complexity of existence. — Arthur Krystal

Friday, June 10, 2011

Aesthetics is the small change of art.

But what if art is itself devalued?
Anyone could make something beautiful, but only a genius could make ART. — Arthur Krystal
is, Mr. Krystal might agree, no longer true, since nowadays everybody is an artist and beauty is uncommon.

At least the 21C is beyond Modernism, when
the rift between art and beauty following the First World War was a considered attempt by the avant-garde to expose the irrelevance of the aesthetic ideals that had dominated the literary and plastic arts since the Renaissance. — Ibid.
We, who adore Ozu and you, were never fooled.
"Man is hungry for beauty. There is a void." The phrase is Oscar Wilde's, and it's one we might easily pass over. It is not witty. It is not novel. It's not even informative. Actually, it's rather simplistic. What does it tell us that we don't already know? "Man is hungry for beauty. There is a void." Nine words. Take a moment. Say them aloud. What else is there to be said? — Ibid.
And indeed artists of whatever manifesto always compete for the same beautiful women and boys.
Leo never tells you anything you don't know. — Sylvia Donohue

Overacting in Kurosawa's Idiot

is one of several intriguing themes in Analysis of Akira Kurosawa's Idiot (1951). (The lovely actress Yoshiko Okada is mentioned in relation to the Japanese fascination with Russia.)


Speaking of overacting, here's an interesting story:
When the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt told a friend, a Parisian doctor, that he wanted to meet a certifiable lunatic, he was invited to the doctor’s home for supper. A few days later, Humboldt found himself placed at the dinner table between two men. One was polite, somewhat reserved, and didn’t go in for small talk. The other, dressed in ill-matched clothes, chattered away on every subject under the sun, gesticulating wildly, while making horrible faces. When the meal was over, Humboldt turned to his host. “I like your lunatic,” he whispered, indicating the talkative man. The host frowned. “But it’s the other one who’s the lunatic. The man you’re pointing to is Monsieur Honoré de Balzac.” — Arthur Krystal, Except When I write, 2011, pp. 14–15. Thanks to ibergus.

not some movie star

We become true persons, human persons of higher moral standards, by shaping ourselves to be such, by proper responses to our own given natures and to what lies outside of us. — Loyd L. Fueston, Acts of Being
Don't know about you, but maybe Yukie and Professor Yagihara and Noge would have appreciated this blog.

It is not easy to be as a single young lady in any era!

sunny after rain 2011年6月7日

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Life Is a Miracle—Wendell Berry

It is easy for me to imagine that the next great division of the world will be between people who wish to live as creatures and people who wish to live as machines. — Wendell Berry, Life Is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Supersition, 2000, p. 55.
I took this for an exaggeration, but it came to me that I spend my programmer's workday trying to think like a computer and much of my evenings with techne instead of poiesis. How much more important that I be often in the presence of a daughter from a good family.
Long acquaintance with a man of great character may deeply influence one's whole manner of conduct, so that a glance at his portrait may make a difference. — Philosophical Writings of Peirce, ed. by Justus Buchler, Dover edition, 1955, p. 376.

One should not expect too much. Living with you did not change Somiya, Koichi, Numata.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Ozu x 36

Note to myself: Ozu x 36 = l'intégrale à la MCJP.

Could someone please translate this?

From 原節子:
小津安二郎監督は原節子について次のように語っている。
 「彼女とは一昨年の『晩春』以来今度の作品で二度目のおつき合いですが、お世辞でなく本当に巧い女優さんですね。一時世間から美貌がわざわいして演技が大変まずいというひどい噂をたてられたこともあるが、僕はむしろ世間で巧いといわれている俳優こそまずくて彼女の方がはるかに巧いとすら思っている。小手先だけが眼にとまる巧さは本当の巧さではない。その点彼女は自分で納得のいかない演技は絶対にやらない。僕が一つのセリフを注意すれば心理まで訂正するといった非常に勘のいい鋭さを持っている。おそらく日本の映画界で勘の鋭い女優といえば彼女と高峰秀子だけだろう。その意味で今度の僕の作品における彼女の演技は素晴らしい進歩を見せている。今後の彼女への期待は大きい」(「産業経済新聞」昭和26年8月30日)
 「僕は過去二十何年か映画を撮ってきたが、原さんのように理解が深くてうまい演技をする女優はめずらしい。芸の幅ということからすれば狭い。しかし原さんは原さんの役柄があってそこで深い演技を示すといった人なのだ。例えばがなりたてたり、子守っ子やおかみさんのような役はあの人の顔立ちや人柄が出来上っていないというそれを「原節子は大根だ」と評するに至っては、むしろ監督が大根に気づかぬ自分の不明を露呈するようなものだと思う。
 映画が人間を描く以上、知性とか教養とかいうものも現れてこなければならない。そういう意味でも原さんの演技には内容があるといえる。もちろん原さんが結婚すればまた違った面も出てくるとは思うが……。“原節子は日本人向き”という評、結構、大いに結構なことだ。
 実際、お世辞ぬきにして、日本の映画女優としては最高だと私は思っている」(「アサヒ芸能新聞」昭和26年9月9日)
 「ぼくは今まで『晩春』に次いで今度の『麦秋』が二本目のつき合いですが、前の場あいよりすべての面で成長していると思う。原節子のよさは内面的な深さのある演技で脚本に提示された役柄の理解力と勘は驚くほど鋭敏です。演技指導の場あいも、こっちの気持ちをすぐ受けとってくれ、すばらしい演技で解答を与えてくれます。単に顔面筋肉を動かす迷優はずいぶん多いけれど彼女のようなのは数えるほどしかいません。演出家の中には彼女の個性をつかみそこね大根だの、何んだのと言う人もいますが、その人にないものを求めること自体間違っているのです。日本の映画界は大スターに求めることの余りに大きく多いことが欠点でしょう。国際舞台へ出て恥ずかしくない人というと彼女はたしかに有資格者の一人でしょう……」(「時事新報」昭和26年9月14日)(田中眞澄編1993.9.20[1989.5.1]「小津安二郎戦後語録集成 昭和21(1946)年-昭和38(1963)年」フィルムアート社より 抜粋)

Woman is the Thought, Man is the Afterthought


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Swiss Miss

Two Autographed Photos

@Ambrose45 twitpic | yurikoariki