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

[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.


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


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:


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:
 「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

@Ambrose45 twitpic 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Swiss Miss

Two Autographed Photos

@Ambrose45 twitpic | yurikoariki         

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Knack in Style

Some think they must be wise, some elaborate, some concise; we believe that the knack in style is to write like a human being. — Walter Bagehot
The human core. — William James
Most people are other people. — Oscar Wilde
So desu ne: Noriko Somiya, Noriko Mamiya, Noriko Hirayama, Takako Numata, Akiko Miwa, Akiko, all yourself, not other people.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Eric Bentley

The quality you most like in a man?
Just quality itself. High equality as a human being.

The quality you most like in a woman?

Randy Gener and Eric Bentley, A Proust Questionnaire for Eric Bentley

O Lucky Man!


When I saw No Regrets for Our Youth, I thought, "Professor Somiya's daughter is a very talented actress."
Up there on the screen, one saw life itself." — Donald Richie, Yasujiro Ozu, in Japanese Portraits, p. 14.