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Sputnik Sweetheart

 

Sumire couldn’t work out what she meant. Knife and fork poised in mid-air, she gave it some thought. “Sputnik? You mean the first satellite the Soviets sent up, in the fifties? Jack Kerouac was an American novelist. I guess they do overlap in terms of generation…”

from Haruki Murakami “Sputnik Sweetheart (Translated by Philip Gabriel)”

 

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The Decay of The Angel

Where the cypress grove gave away to a grove of cryptomeria, there stood a lone nemu tree. The soft clusters of leaves in among the hard needles of the cryptomerias were like wraiths, like afternoon slumber. They made him think of Thailand. A white butterfly from the nemu led him on his way.

from Yukio Mishima “The Decay of The Angel” (Translated by Edward G. Seidensticker)

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The Decay of The Angel

I have known secret pride and pleasure in seeing the concept on the horizon gradually take shape. I have put my hand in from outside the world and created something, and I have not tasted the sensation of being brought into the world. I have not felt myself brought in like laundry brought in before a shower. No rain has fallen to give me drowning, my clarity has been confident of proper sensual rescue. For the ship has always passed. It has never stopped. The sea winds have turned everything to spotted marble, the sun has turned the heart into crystal.

from Yukio Mishima “The Decay of The Angel” (Translated by Edward G. Seidensticker)

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Silence

My hunch from some time back was not wrong. What are the Japanese peasants looking for in me? These people who work and live and die like beasts find for the first time in which they can cast away the fetters that bind them. The Buddhist bonzes simply treat them like cattle. For a long time they have just lived in resignation to such a fate.

from Shusaku Endo “Silence” (Translated by William Johnson)

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An Artist of the Floating World

‘I have learnt many things over these past years.  I have learnt much in contemplating the world of pleasure, and recognising its fragile beauty.  But I now feel it is time for me to progress to other things.  Sensei, it is my belief that in such troubled times as these, artists must learn to value something more tangible than those pleasurable things that disappear with the morning light.  It is not necessary that artists always occupy a decadent and enclosed world.  My conscience, Sensei, tells me I cannot remain forever an artist of the floating world.’

from Kazuo Ishiguro “An Artist of the Floating World”

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In Praise of Shadows

Why should this propensity to seek beauty in darkness be so strong only in Orientals The West too has known a time when there was no electricity, gas, or petroleum, and yet so far as I know the West has never been disposed to delight in shadows.

from Junichiro Tanizaki “In Praise of Shadows”(Translated by Thomas Harper and Edward Seidensticker)IMG_1488.jpg

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In Praise of Shadows

Every time I am shown to an old, dimly lit, and, I would add, impeccably clean toilet in a Nara or Kyoto temple, I am impressed with the singular virtues of Japanese architecture. The parlor may have its charms, but the Japanese toilet is truly a place of spiritual repose. It always stands apart from the main building, at the end of a corridor, in a grove fragrant with leaves and moss. No words can describe that sensation as one sits in the dim light, basking in the faint glow reflected from the shoji, lost in meditation or gazing out at the garden. The novelist Natsume Sōsekicounted his morning trips to the toilet a great pleasure, “a physiological delight” he called it. And surely there could be no better place to savor this pleasure than a Japanese toilet where,surrounded by tranquil walls and finely grained wood, one looks out upon blue skies and green leaves.

from Junichiro Tanizaki “In Praise of Shadows”(Translated by Thomas Harper and Edward Seidensticker)

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