Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My heart seems to be waiting—for something.

Isn't life disappointing?

Yes, it is.

— Yasujiro Ozu and Koga Noda, Tokyo Story: The Ozu/Noda Screenplay, translated by Donald Richie and Eric Klestadt, Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press, 2003, p. 122.

Yes, but also:

Mother said she'd never seen a nicer woman than you.

She overestimated me.

You're wrong, Noriko.

She did. I'm not the nice woman she thought I was. If you see me like that—it embarrasses me.

No, it shouldn't.

No, really I'm quite selfish. Whatever you may imagine, I'm not always thinking of your son.

I'd be happy if you'd forget him.

There are days when I don't think of him at all . . . Then sometimes I feel that I just cannot go on like this. Sometimes at night I lie and wonder what will become of me if I stay this way. The days pass and nothing happens. I feel a kind of impatience. My heart seems to be waiting—for something. Oh, yes, I'm selfish.

You are not.

Yes, I am. But I couldn't tell Mother this.

That's all right. You are a truly good woman. An honest woman.

Not at all.
SHUKICHI gets up and from a drawer brings a woman's watch . . . .

— Ibid., p. 125.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A Day for Remembrance

It's very good.

. . .

Did Shoji like to drink?

Yes, he did.

TOMI (looking surprised)

He often brought his friends home here late, after the trains had stopped. After they'd been out drinking.


Then you had as much trouble as I did.

NORIKO (smiles)
Yes, but now I miss it.

— Yasujiro Ozu and Koga Noda, Tokyo Story: The Ozu/Noda Screenplay, translated by Donald Richie and Eric Klestadt, Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press, 2003, p. 59–60.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ne demandez pas! Ne le dites pas!

Jusqu'à épuisement du stock

So many films with Ozu!

Noriko . . . is played by the actress who made so many films with Ozu, Setsuko Hara. — Norman N. Holland, Yasujiro Ozu, Tokyo Story, Tôkyô monogatari, 1953

Only six, as I suppose everyone who loves Ozu knows:

1. Late Spring (Banshun), 1949: Noriko Somiya
2. Early Summer (Bakushu), 1951: Noriko Mamiya
3. Tokyo Story (Tokyo Monogatari), 1953: Noriko Hirayama
4. Tokyo Twilight (Tokyo Boshoku), 1957: Takako Numata
5. Late Autumn (Akibiyori), 1960: Akiko Miwa
6. The End of Summer (Kohayagawa-ke no Aki), 1961: Akiko

Ozu List

Your sisters-in-law Fumiko and Shige in Tokyo Story were in nine (Haruko Sugimura) and ten (Kuniko Miyake) Ozu films respectivly. But Norman Holland is of course right to recall your large brightening presence in Ozu's œuvre.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

What is it about you

... that causes (male?) critics to write:
All the performances are terrific, but as with so many of Ozu’s films, it’s Setsuko Hara, playing Akiko, who gives the film true heart. With little dialogue, she gives an understated, moving performance as a woman caught between a fear of her own lonely future and wanting to her daughter to be happy; some of Hara’s scenes towards the end are truly heartbreaking.
Dan Auty.

Possible clue: ὑστέρα "hystera" = uterus
hysteria; hysteric (whence hysterics), now in -al extn hysterical.
    1. Hysteria is a SciL formation, in -ia, from E hysteric or from its L orig hystericus, a trin of Gr husterikos, the adj of hustera, womb, perh elliptical for hustera mētra, a later, or the latter, womb, where mētra is akin to mētēr, mother: cf L mātrix, womb, akin to L māter, mother. Gr hustera is the f of husteros, the latter (adj): IE etym *udteros—cf Skt uttáras, the higher, the later, and L uterus (perh for *uderos), womb, itself, like L mātrix, adopted by E. Uterus has LL derivative adj uterīnus, whence—perh via late MF-F utérin—the E uterine.
    2. Gr husteros has neu husteron, preserved in E in the phrase hysteron proteron (cf the LL shortening hysteroproteron), the later before the earlier, a rhetorical figure depending upon a reversal of sense, as in Webster's ex 'He is well and lives'.
— Eric Partridge, Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English, 1959, p. 302.
An aha moment!

Record of a Tenement Gentleman (Nagaya shinshiroku), 1947.

Not in This Blog

Since mine is not a Fan Blog, you won't see pictures like this in it:

Not that I don't appreciate @Ambrose45 for finding and sharing them!

A Type of Humanity

Why I will hold on to such as you as long as I can:
“A civilization disappears with the kind of man, the type of humanity, that has issued from it.” — George Bernanos, La France contre les Robots, quoted by John Lukacs
Will reread Bill Joy, Why the Future Doesn't Need Us.

Friday, May 27, 2011

a son from a good family

The prince of darkness is a gentleman, but so was Jesus.
If Jesus Christ should want to visit this country, he certainly would have to mend his ways.... To our way of thinking, lying down to a meal connotes debauch. Yet that was the way to eat in Christ’s time among middle- and upper-class Romans and Jews, just as it was for centuries before and after. A corroboration comes from instructions for Passover service: ‘On drinking the four cups, one leans to the left side, as it was the custom in ancient times among free noblemen who used to dine on couches in a leaning position.’ — Bernard Rudofsky, Now I Lay Me Down to Eat, 1980, pp. 18–19

Letters rather than Essays

Frampton quotes Montaigne saying that he would have rather written letters than essays but had no one to send them to, lacking “a certain relationship to lead me on, to sustain me, and raise me up.” — Liam Julian, The Man Within: Why Montaigne is Worth Knowing
Thanks to ibergus.

To Pirandello

I would rather be one person than six characters.

so much real tolerance of all human things

There was in those eyes that kind of mellow light that makes you grip your heart-secrets convulsively lest you give way to the impulse of spreading them all out at once for the knower of men to read and unravel. And that impulse lasted as long as I remained in the house—not that I felt as if it mattered whether I told or not, but that all my conventional reserve was sent flying by a sense of never before having meet with so much real tolerance of all human things. — Edwin Bjorkman on William James.
About Prof. James everything is genuine. Add to this that everywhere, at every time, and to eveybody he is the same, and you can imagine the rareness of the man.

To Go to Ozu's Grave

See also Wim Wenders on Ozu.

Socks and Stockings

Empty Spaces

Ozu once said,

Rather than tell a superficial story,

I wanted

to go deeper,

to show

the hidden undercurrents,

the ever-
















I left

so viewers








Ikite wa mita keredo - Ozu Yasujirô den (1983)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Overheard at Galerie Chigusa

KITAGAWA. Were you able to find any ox paintings?

AKIKO. I'm still trying…

KITAGAWA. He's quite amusing, isn't he?


KITAGAWA. He's an interesting fellow.


KITAGAWA. Did Fumiko speak with you?


KITAGAWA. I see. What do you think?


AKIKO. It's very sudden. I would like some time to think it over.

KITAGAWA. Yes, certainly. Please do.

KITAGAWA. Your father is very worried about you.

AKIKO. I'm sorry to trouble everyone.

KITAGAWA. Not at all.

KITAGAWA. Would you like to meet with him again?


KITAGAWA. He would really like to. What do you think?


KITAGAWA. He was disheartened after you left early the other day.


KITAGAWA gets up and changes the subject....

Frame grabs from Spectacular Attractions
Only unimaginative people conceive of language as a means of communication.... [The Japanese language] sustains an even temperature of colloquy, discourages confidences, and preserves an all-important standoffishness. The supreme medium of communication is, not surprisingly, silence . . . . To the Japanese, the thought that a speaker, celebrated or not, casual or formal, should attach importance to being understood reveals a small mind. Incomprehension on the highest level has its own merits. — Bernard Rudofsky, The Kimono Mind, quoted by The Eyeslit-Crypt.
“The Japanese language is characterized among other things by evocative vagueness,” [Donald Keene] says. “You try to avoid being too pre­cise. I used to write to a Japanese friend, and he would send back my letters with things crossed out or changed. If I said ‘I’ve been sick for four days,’ he would correct me: ‘You should say “about four days,” or “four or five days.” We Japanese never say “four.” We never say “five.”’ And it’s true. There’s a liking for a fuzziness, which the Japanese find more exciting because it leaves space for the imagination.” — Jamie Katz, Sensei and Sensiblity

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Where is Hara-san?

Ozu as a student of American movies and of English

The museum details Ozu's seemingly happy, though wild childhood with displays of his copper plate English homework ("When the chestnuts are ripe, the burs burst open.") and his early sketches.

Ozu Yasujiro's English exercise book
As a youth, Ozu was entranced by American films of the period and enamoured of their stars, in particular Pearl White and Lillian Gish. He wrote to (and received replies!) from a number of Hollywood greats of his day and kept a list of their addresses in his notebook.

Ozu spent much of his free time watching movies in the local cinema (rather than attending school) and traveled as far as Nagoya, Osaka and Kobe by steam train to catch the latest US releases.

— Japan Visitor, Ozu Yasujiro Seishunkan Museum
See also Kurt Easterwood, Ozu youth.

sunny after rain

May 24, 2011

I saw "Tokyo story" the movie directed by Yasujiro Ozu who is a great master of movie in Japan.

At first, I felt bored because the story line seemed very monotony and acts looked a little theatrical. However, when I looked Hara Setsuko, I was attracted by her graceful movements and voice. She is so beautiful.

After seeing the movie, I realized his movie's magic. Nothing extraordinary happens, but it gave me a powerful impression. It's like a literary work rather than a movie.

I want to see another movie of Ozu.

sunny after rain

Paul Stern

He was a little sorry to be without my small book on hope, which he had somehow mislaid. But when, somewhat ashamed, I promised to send him a new copy here, to the Oratory, he made a friendly gesture of refusal, as if something had suddenly occurred to him: I don’t need it any more—. — Josef Pieper

True Beauty

Everyone of good sense loves you (your brother Koichi is not of good sense; Yabe is, but was a bit stunned when learning of your acceptance of his mother's spontaneous proposal). Is that why you feel no need to charm or seduce?

a strange mysterious woman

A kind person who knows your work much better than I do wrote to me:
Rather unreal the hand writing so juvenile looking. She is a strange mysterious woman.

I'm perfect.

Overheard at Weston Priory on Sunday:
How are you?

I'm perfect.
What did the perfect person lack that made her think that this is an appropriate response to her friend's question? Jesus even objected to calling any human being good. Nevertheless, in Ozu films you are perfect, that is, appropriate in every way.

Faire Carrières

One suddenly realizes that it is not enough to be an able politician or a talented artist. In the most extreme distress, life demands quite other things. — Etty Hillesum
Ordinary life, too, demands quite other things. Success is not enough.
Oh please let me be, there have to be people like me, too. My realities may be different from what most people call reality, but still they are realities. — Etty Hillesum
So I understand your retiring, and I admire you for it.
We have embraced a new reality and everything has taken on new colours and new emphases. And between our eyes and hands and mouths there now flows a constant stream of tenderness, a stream in which all petty desires seem to have been extinguished. All that matters now is to be kind to each other with all the goodness that is in us. And every encounter is also a farewell.

There is only one way of preparing the new age, by living it even now in our hearts.

I have no right to lay down conditions

Etty Hillesum

May I please share with you A Page from Etty Hillesum's Diary ?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sisterly Advice

AKIKO. I don't know how young people feel about things these days…but I think it's stifling to live with someone who has no character. In my case, as an example…if a man was a little wild before I married him, I wouldn't be too bothered…but I would never marry a man who lacks character. You can alter behavior but you can't alter character.

NORIKO.You're right.

Jacques Barzun

The Japanese became civilized with the indispensable aid of the Chinese characters. The love of the Chinese classics and the faith in Chinese political science produced a class of Japanese scholars who acquired importance in their own government. But thanks to a general illiteracy and the exclusion of women from higher education, the native tongue retained its purity and strength. Soon it was found cumbrous to write the complex Chinese ideograms in order to spell Japanese, and the monosyllabic Chinese tongue seemed less and less congenial to the ear. A simplified syllabary was devised, permitting the Japanese to write the vernacular quickly and as quickly to abandon the use of Chinese for high art. The women led the way and it is notable that the two great masterpieces of the Heian period, Genji and the Pillow-book, are the work of women. — Jacques Barzun, The Esthetic Society: on George Sansom's A History of Japan to 1334.

What, if anything, has this got to do with you? You tell me. But if Professor Somiya was interested in List and Liszt in 1949, then perhaps his daughter's children and grandchildren might be interested enough in Barzun and Berlioz to read Michael Murray's Jacques Barzun: Portrait of a Mind, which Frederic C. Beil will publish in fall 2011. At least, one is permitted to dream. And after all, am I not writing this Pillow Book?

To Hiro Kawashita

To me, Setsuko Hara is a great artist creating great characters that no one else could have created (of course, there are other great actors, men and women, all different). In our favorite Early Summer, Noriko will marry Yabe and probably have children. Why should one think of her as an eternal virgin?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Daughter, Wife, Mother

Looking at you in your films, I see or imagine all these three at once. Looking at women pictured in Tumblr, I see poseuses.

A Kiss from Bernard Shaw and . . .

. . . thanks to ibergus: (Rare!) Various Scenes with George Bernard Shaw (1931 Fox Movietone Newsreel).

Daiei planned the first kiss scene in any Japanese film, to be included in Yasuki Chiba's A Certain Night's Kiss (Aru Yo no Seppun), but, though Chiba was considered a pioneer in frank love stories and hence was chosen for this possibly dangerous assignment, he lost his nerve at the last minute and shot the scene so that the kiss was obscured by an open umbrella. At the same time Shochiku was rushing to complete Yasushi Sasaki's Twenty-Year-Old Youth (Hatachi no Seishun). Its kiss was considerably more visible and since both films opened on the same day, May 23, 1946, the two companies had to share the honors. — Anderson and Richie, The Japanese Film, 1960, p. 176.

Praise for Sudden Rain

From CriterionForum Re: Mikio Naruse:

Just watched Sudden Rain: I haven't checked have you reviewed it here Michael, but I would rank it firmly in the top rank of his mature Masterpieces.

Its a beautiful blend of drama and humour, not unlike late Ozu films such as An Autumn Afternoon, Floating Weeds, and Good Morning. In fact it might be the closest in tone to an Ozu film that I've seen.

But dramatically, and thematically, especially in the 'battle of the sexes', its far more mature in its approach than any Ozu I can recall (I was also reminded, to a certain extent of Bergman's Scenes From A Marriage).

What might be Naruse's greatest achievement here is his masterly switching from humour to drama, not least because it never seems artificial, nor does the blend ever jar.

The external scenes, which are beautifully shot, aren't solely as relief to the claustrophobia of the domestic scenes, which tended to hamper Bergman, somewhat, and betrayed his film's television origins, but they help both to provide a broader perspective of the environment of the marriage, and extend the 'arena'.

It goes without saying that Setsuko Hara gives another outstanding performance but Shuji Sano as the husband gives as good as he gets.

Also features an outstanding supporting cast, featuring plenty of scene stealers.

A beautiful final scene; the neighbours comments are telling, albeit unnecessary.

Highly recommended; as with almost every Naruse I've seen, I can't wait to watch this one again (even with a less than optimum print).

Michael Kerpan:

Sudden Rain is a film that was generally considered "minor Naruse" — and it is certainly more relaxed than its predecessor Floating Clouds — but I really was won over by this even on first viewing. Hara is allowed to exhibit a bit more of her comic side — and does it well. Her travails due to the neighborhood mongrel are pretty funny. I wouldn't put this in my very top tier of Naruse films — but it fits into my second (loved almost as much tier).


That sub-plot is interesting in a number of ways, as well as being a useful plot device: it serves to introduce a host of mostly-humorous characters; it portrays the type of discord it provoked in the neighbourhood, — and that meeting reminded me of neighbourhood meetings I've participated in — ; but it also served to compound her domestic woes.

Warship March

Gunkan Machi, composed in 1897 by Tokichi Setoguchi (1868-1941) and still played today, was used by Ozu in An Autumn Afternoon (1962).

Friday, May 20, 2011

In the Mail

You'll find out!

My notion about any artist is that we honor him best by reading him, by playing his music, by seeing his plays or by looking at his pictures. We don’t need to fall all over ourselves with adjectives and epithets. Let’s play him more.

— Jacques Barzun, in an interview with John C. Tibbetts

As great as King Lear

That, at any rate, is the title of the article in which Philip French writes that Tokyo Story can be mentioned in the same breath as King Lear.

At least there's this theme in common: King Lear is precisely the history of the definition of a soul by circumstance. — Lionel Trilling, The Poet as Hero: Keats in His Letters, The Opposing Self, Uniform Edition, p. 41.

Trilling also writes: [Keats] stands as the last image of health at the very moment when the sickness of Europe began to be apparent. — Ibid., p. 43.

Not the last, though not in Europe.

So what Peter Bradshaw wrote of you only sounds absurd: I defy anyone to watch [Tokyo Story] and not feel simply overwhelmed with a kind of love for Hara – however absurd that may sound.

She Walks in Beauty

After the Keats, everyone will think of the Byron, so I give it to you here.
George Gordon Byron, Lord Byron. 1788–1824

She walks in Beauty

SHE walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that 's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

We can recognize on the face of Hara what Béla Balázs calls the polyphonic play of features, whereby a variety of feelings, passions and thoughts are synthesized in the play of features as an adequate expression of the multiplicity of the human soul. Ozu's treatment of Hara is especially remarkable because her physiognomic features tempt Japanese directors to take an opposite approach; that is, her large eyes and clear-cut features for a Japanese—compare her face, for instance, to the face of Tanaka Kinuyo—give directors a misleading cue that the best way to realize her talent is to make her overact rather than underact. — Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto, Kurosawa: Film Studies and Japanese Cinema, 2000, p. 192.

Kurosawa tries to use Hara's unique physiognomic features through overacting and exaggeration partly to destroy the fixed screen image of Hara as a young lady of good breeding. But instead of increasing the expressive possibilities of Hara's face, Kurosawa's strategy seems to suppress all those possibilities. To this extent, various critiques of Hara's performance in The Idiot are not completely unfounded. Yet what is important is that precisely because of the suprression of subtle expressivity, Hara's face is purified, and only a single emotional tone remains on her face. What appears on her face is the sense of noble sublimity that cannot be violated by any external forces. The uniqueness of Hara's performance can be clarified by comparing her to Kyo Machiko, who plays the role of the samurai's wife in Rashomon. Kyo Machiko can express as wide a range of feelings and emotions as Hara Setsuko, but there is a fundamental difference between the two as actresses. Even when she plays the role of a noblewoman, Kyo Machiko always has a touch of the common woman. What we see on the face of Kyo is the raw energy of a commoner who never gives up at a time of extreme adversity. In contrast, whether she plays the role of a commoner or a woman in a compromising situtation, Hara Setsuko's face expresses a nobility of spirit. What Hara brings to the rose of Nasu Taeko in The Idiot is this sense of spiritual nobility, which I believe is captured in the close-up images of her face, even though—or sometimes precisely because—her facial expression is strained and exaggerated. Hara Setsuko as an actress will probably not be remembered for her role in The Idiot. But the film The Idiot will remain unforgettable for, among other things, the performance and close-up face of Hara. — Mitsuhiro Yoshimoto, Ibid., p. 193.

almost excessively subtle

But, unlike Joan Crawford or Greer Garson, she is almost excessively subtle in her attacks on men, her main complaint being that they fail to understand, one, her business talent and, two, her true feminine delicacy. This type of rôle, very close to that of Maria Schell, has not unnaturally made her enormously popular with middle-aged women, whose spokeswoman she has become. — Anderson and Richie, Japanese Film: Art and Industry, Grove Press Evergreen Edition, 1960, p. 399.
Does this mean that you are more like Lionel Trilling and less like Jacques Barzun?
John Keats. 1795–1821

Ode on a Grecian Urn

THOU still unravish'd bride of quietness,
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both,
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unwearièd,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
For ever panting, and for ever young;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
What little town by river or sea-shore,
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
Is emptied of its folk, this pious morn?
And, little town, thy streets for evermore
Will silent be; and not a soul, to tell
Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.

O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede
Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
With forest branches and the trodden weed;
Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.'

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The French Revolution

Charles Downer Hazen's book is very interesting, but probably more suitable for a blog about Noge than one about Yukie. If I read about a shining light of the rural cultural movement, I'll be sure to tell you about it.


I've just received an e-mail from The Center for Great Ideas which explains my feelings for you in Ozu's films:
Machiavelli on reading great books:

Niccolo Machiavelli's letter to his friend, Francesco Vettori (1513)

When evening has come, I return to my house and go into my study. At the door I take off my clothes of the day, covered with mud and mire, and I put on my regal and courtly garments; and decently reclothed, I enter the ancient courts of ancient men, where, received by them lovingly, I feed on the food that alone is mine and that I was born for. There I am not ashamed to speak with them and to ask them the reasons for their actions; and they in their humanity reply to me. And for the space of four hours I feel no boredom, I forget every pain, I do not fear poverty, death does not frighten me.

Hillesum, Barzun, Gombrowicz

Etty Hillesum:
Most books are really no good at all, we shall have to rewrite them all one day.

Jacques Barzun:
If they do not believe they can do this, who will tell them?

Witold Gombrowicz:
But let at least two or three of them try. Even unsuccessfully.

Strawberry Shortcake and Rice

Two films from 1951. In Ozu's Early Summer, Noriko is very free, buying delicious cake her sister-in-law thinks much too expensive. In Naruse's Meshi, Michiyo is very constrained, eating rice she does not like, because the household (she thinks) cannot afford better. In Early Summer, Noriko is what everyone sees; in Meshi, Michiyo's husband and friends see two Michiyos that do not exist. Early Summer is sweet. Meshi—depends on condiments!

Kurosawa's The Idiot is also from 1951. How characterize Taeko? Vodka?

a daughter from a good family

Note to myself: David Thomson, The New Biographical Dictionary of Film, 2002, p. 415.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Late Autumn

YURIKO. She told me a lot last night.

AKIKO MIWA. So she was at your place?

YURIKO. Yes. She told me you're going to remarry.

AKIKO MIWA. Not you too!

YURIKO. I called her a baby for getting so upset. I'm sure you have your reasons.

AKIKO MIWA. I suppose I do.

YURIKO. She's being unfair. She thinks about herself, then criticizes you. I told her so. She wouldn't even talk to me at work today. That's why I've come. To tell you the truth, I think she's crazy.


YURIKO. If I were her, I'd be eager to see you remarry.

AKIKO MIWA. Really? Why?

YURIKO. I know it sounds bad, but then I could marry without worrying about you.

AKIKO MIWA. Maybe you're right.

YURIKO. Sure! Who wouldn't think the same thing? Only Ayako. She's overly sentimental.

AKIKO MIWA. So you mean . . . I'm a burden?

YURIKO. Of course not. Well, maybe just a bit. Tell me, would you feel lonely?

AKIKO MIWA. That can't be helped. I'd endure it just to see her happy.

YURIKO. I'm impressed! You're so much easier to talk to. But you have to remarry, or Ayako won't marry either.

AKIKO MIWA. You think so?

YURIKO. I do. She said as much. If you get married I think she will too.

AKIKO MIWA. She's so much trouble.

YURIKO. She really is. What's she all upset about? Isn't it perfect?


Here there is a receptivity in your responses that is impossible to men, though I shall try occasionally to imitate it.
[In The Courtier], one soon notices that two of the characters, Gaspar and Octavian, are declared enemies of women and that they are steadily refuted by the rest. The majority opinion is that women are equal to men in understanding, virtue, and ability, including at times physical prowess. They are shown to be great rulers, poets, and conversationalists. Two of the four women in the dialogue are the moderators, and their decisions show them to be as well informed as the men about the topics being discussed. That (still in this portrayal) women's wish to preserve tenderness in their conduct may lead them to use different ways of doing what men do is true, but the result is nonetheless excellent. Men, although benefiting from women's civilizing influence, should not lose through refinement the robust aggressive qualities they are born with and need for their special tasks. — Jacques Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, 2000, p. 85.
Was it Barzun's or Castiglione's genius that put conversation with ruling and poetry-writing as accomplishments? In Ozu's films, the women are (invariably?) superior to the men.


Thanks to ibergus' recommendation, I read Walter Russell Mead's post on Clausewitz: Master of War. I haven't seen the propaganda films some criticize you for doing (except for a piece of one), but how anybody could be criticized for patriotism, I'll never know. Wasn't your country at war? Against the Enemy?

I do know:

ONODERA. It was forced labor during the war that made her ill.

SOMIYA. And spending her rare days off lugging home potatoes.

ONODERA. Terrible times. How she must have suffered.

Isn't this also true?

To the objection that every artist is also a citizen and therefore has a duty to fight fascism or communism (in Russia it would be capitalism) it may be answered that no such duty exits in law or tradition. . . . Of course, an artist who knowingly lives off crime or depravity is bound to be contaminated by it. Art and life mix unevenly, but they do mix. And for that very reason, the public's judgment of artists' moral and political careers should be tempered by the sobering thought, What could I do in such perplexities? — Jacques Barzun, Erich Kleiber, in Critical Questions, 1982, pp. 45–46.
I see at my elbow Charles Downer Hazen's The French Revolution, a two-volume work. What will we talk about then?

Romano Guardini

. . . love of the world . . . deepened by the precariousness, vulnerability, helplessness of the beloved. — Guardini: The New Concept of the World and of Man

Tokyo Story

Some people disdain Ozu's Tokyo Story, as some people disdain Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. How could I? It was the first Ozu I saw, at the New Yorker Theater in 1972. Yes, I saw it twice and cried more than twice.


Note to myself: The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive has documents from many sources.


The ugliest thing about pornography is its audience.

The difference between self-awareness and self-consciousness

The modern ego "is more concerned with the way it appears in others’ eyes than with learning fully about itself and admitting its troubles fearlessly. The romantics were introspective too, . . . but they did not fear being wrong, nor being ridiculous, nor being taken in." — Michael Murray, Jacques Barzun: Portrait of a Mind, 2011.
See how I'm not very much concerned how this blog appears in others' eyes? My theme that I want to share with you was spoken by William James in The Social Value of the College-Bred:
Real culture lives by sympathies and admirations, not by dislikes and disdain—under all misleading wrappings it pounces unerringly upon the human core.
Of which you are a pure example.

Do You Remember?

Ernie K

Thus Spake John Lukacs

Yes, happiness is a risk (and happiness is a task). — A Thread of Years, 1996, p. 9.

And never lifted up a single stone.

— Wordsworth, Michael, 466.

What is the secret of this line, and of the apple in Late Spring?

ozufiles on YouTube

ozufiles' video clips from Ozu films

Ozu-san.com has these videos and much more.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Still No Regrets

No none whatsoever.

No Regrets for Setsuko Hara

This is you in the year of my photo of you.

One Hundred Years of Vulgarity

Eliot has boomed and boomed—till we think it's the proper way to go on. He must, or lose foothold. Well, why not a man who does not boom? Is boom the best thing in life? Is it all boom? Is there now and to be nothing but boom, boom, boom? — John Jay Chapman, letter to William James, Feb. 13, 1907.

The night of the wake

I cannot forget this, so I put it here now:
At the hospital, faced with his body, I didn't feel like crying at all. Just as my eyes met Hara-san's, I burst into tears. Looking back, that's the moment when I realised his death. — Quotes from Yuharu Atsuta


When Ozu's eyes first met someone's eyes by chance, he looked away in a hurry, which showed his shyness. He was awkward with whomever he met for the first time, looking downward right away. If he had been married, he might have behaved differently. In fact he remained single, you know, he appeared sexy in such cases. Quotes from Yuharu Atsuta
Not sure what Atsuta meant by appeared sexy—that because Ozu was single and shy, he was attractive to women? Here, proper placement of a semicolon might help understanding.

Ozu's Western Tastes

Butter on rice, strawberry shortcake, whiskey.

Saying Yes

After graduating from college in 1968, I like others leaving college that year lost my draft deferment. I remember that a friend and I took a bus from New York City to Rutland, VT, and from there hitchhiked to Middlebury to see a psychologist whose name, I seem to remember, perhaps mistakenly, was Rev. Hooker or Hook, for he was apparently also a minister of some kind. The idea was that the psychologist would evaluate us and write a letter saying that we were unfit for military service. Innocently, I did the drawing he requested and answered truthfully the questions he asked. Then he spoke: he would not write a letter, because I was "normal." Talk about amor fati. Isn't this Ozu's way: the normal eye, and the normal view?

Before Endo

I did not understand how a being like this could possibly exist in our world. — Sei Shonagon
"We would sigh or let out a great breath from the depths of our hearts, for what we felt was precisely this: Can it be possible that there is such a woman in this world?" — Shusako Endo


I like it that you are seen reading in Late Spring and Early Summer and that your father Professor Somiya has brought along Thus Spake Zarathustra on your last trip with him to Kyoto.

An Age of Genius or Indolence?

The sciences of physic and astronomy were successfully cultivated by the Greeks; the observations of Ptolemy and the writings of Galen are studied by those who have improved their discoveries and corrected their errors; but if we except the inimitable Lucian, this age of indolence passed away without having produced a single writer of original genius, or who excelled in the arts of elegant composition. — Gibbon

Audience Fail

In any case, popularity may not determine worth.
. . . I shouldn’t be surprised if [Bernard Shaw’s] lasting power [to fill a theater] seemed to decline and the public ceased to support Shaw productions. This is what is happening to classical music. In both cases it is and will be the audience that fails, being mostly ill educated, conditioned to short attention span, with a head full of none but current ideas and what appeals to a childish sense of humor. — Jacques Barzun, Letter to The Independent Shavian, Volume 3, no. 3, 2005

That Gaping Chasm — on forsaking applause

And as I stood, small and lost, in the centre of the big stage, the gaping, empty chasm of the auditorium stretching out threateningly before me, I was suddenly hit by the realisation that some people base their entire lives on applause from that gaping chasm. — Etty Hillesum

But read also Alexander Granach.

Monday, May 16, 2011

An Autumn Afternoon—for several reasons.

Nobuko Rides on a Cloud

This explanation of Momoko Ishii's story Non-chan Kumo ni Noru may come in handy when I watch Fumito Kurata's film.

My Want of Japanese

Setsuko Hara is a really good actress. I wish I had four or five more like her. — Ozu

Hara Setsuko is a fine person. If only there were four or five more such persons. — Ozu

Billets Doux

We have had The Good Letters (Barzun, From Dawn to Decadence, 2000, pp. 43 ff.). These are Sweet Letters.

What Kind of Love is This?

The love of greatness is a protective not possessive love.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

It's a wonderful memory now.

Yôko Tsukasa, on the making of The End of Summer (1961), in I Lived, But... (1983).

Misako, Onodera, Noriko
Late Spring (Banshun), 1949.

False Standards

Why should anybody consider it criticism to say, She was not a stage actress? Was Ozu a stage director? Why should anybody consider it criticism to say She did not act the roles that — did? Did Ozu direct the films that — did?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Unselfish Love

Can one love without asking anything from the beloved? Apparently so: worship from afar is still worship. One still visits Ozu's grave.

Friday, May 13, 2011

No Secret Self

Romantic love...is, as Yeats says, a discipline: Each divines the secret self of the other, and refusing to believe in the mere daily self, creates a mirror where the lover or the beloved sees an image to copy in daily life. — Jacques Barzun, Stendhal on Love, The Energies of Art, Vintage Edition, 1961, p. 111

It is your mere daily self in Early Summer that I love, the corporeal self in Late Spring and Tokyo Story who needs no mirror.

A Single Man

Like Samuel Butler, also reared in a loveless province, what Stendhal fears is self-deception. This compels them to be double men. To the historical critic their lives will suggest how Romantic irony and two-sidedness ends as the modern temper. — Jacques Barzun, Stendhal on Love, The Energies of Art, Vintage Edition, 1961, p. 117.

I was not reared in a loveless province, I do not begin with Romantic irony, and I do not end with the modern temper.