The Antiestablishment Art of Terayama Shuji
Publication Year: 2011
Ridgely places Terayama at the center of Japanese and global counterculture and finds in his work a larger story about the history of postwar Japanese art and culture. He sees Terayama as reflecting the most significant events of his day: young poets seizing control of haiku and tanka in the 1950s, radio drama experimenting with form and content after the cultural shift to television around 1960, young assistant directors given free rein in the New Wave as cinema combated television, underground theatre in the politicized late 1960s, and experimental short film through the 1970s after both the studio system and art house cinema had collapsed.
Featuring close readings of Terayama's art, Ridgely demonstrates how across his oeuvre there are patterns that sidestep existing power structures, never offering direct opposition but nevertheless making the opposition plain. And, he claims, there is always in Terayama's work a broad call for seeking out or creating pockets of fiction-where we are made aware that things are not what they seem-and to use otherness in those spaces to take a clearer view of reality.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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Introduction. Global Counterculture, Visual Counterculture
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A Japanese example cannot prove counterculture to have been global. Yet if counterculture was a global phenomenon, then we stand to learn more about it by looking at the work of a Japanese figure like Terayama Shūji (1935–83). While slightly young for the beat generation, Terayama debuted in the mid-1950s, and he was similarly entranced by improvisational jazz (both as music and as a model for writing), similarly ...
1. Poetic Kleptomania and Pseudo-Lyricism
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Fixed-verse poetry may seem a strange place to find an avant-garde movement by young Japanese poets. Free verse is intuitively a better fit, or if there was going to be a move toward a rigid form to toy with the Sartrean paradox of freedom experienced as resistance to oppression, then we might expect to see a move toward haiku, the shortest fixed-verse form. And it is this pair, free verse by Ginsberg and haiku by Gary Sny-...
2. Radio Drama in the Age of Television
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The transistor radio, the stereo phonograph, and the tele-vision were all introduced to the Japanese public at about the same time at the end of the 1950s. Tokyo Tsūshin Kōgyō (later Sony) would release their TR-55 pocket-sized transistor radio to the Japanese market in 1955.1 The first stereo records were released in 1958 and could be played first on the new Victor STL-1S “Stereophonic Sound System.”2 Television ...
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What generates the sensation of presence and immediacy in the sport of boxing? Is it the flirtation with death (and murder) that excites both boxer and boxing fan? If so, is the possibility of death in the ring required for that excitement? Does boxing need an occasional sacrifice to maintain its truth value? Joyce Carol Oates confesses (as do many others) that she is drawn to this descendent of gladiatorial battles ...
4. Deinstitutionalizing Theater and Film
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The conspicuous amount of attention paid to the rela-tionship between sex and violence in the late 1960s might best be understood as an attempt to expose the erotics of war as a first step toward deconstructing that relationship. Too much emphasis, however, has been placed on simply repeating the link between Eros and Thanatos. Social realism as a tactic is always vulnerable to being misinterpreted as a state-...
5. The Impossibility of History
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Paired with Terayama’s work to eroticize the present were texts that abject the past. Perhaps he realized that the logical impossi-bility of history—of a return to a now absent past—was itself insufficient to cause a shift toward a geographical orientation. Logic is often over-whelmed by the greater pressures of desire. So if the present and the past compete for our affections, then Terayama may have attempted to tip the ...
Conclusion. “Japanese” Counterculture
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I have forestalled directly addressing Japanese counter-culture until this conclusion, partly to avoid the snare of conceiving a global, and explicitly antinationalist, movement through the category of the nation. Yet the category of “Japanese” counterculture still needs to be tackled because that was the frame within which Terayama’s work was often received (and appraised) once it left Japan. It is not at all a stretch to ...
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I am grateful to the following mentors, informants, class-mates, and colleagues for their generous guidance, shared memories, and advice. Kathryn Sparling, my undergraduate advisor at Carleton College, helped to start me down this path by supporting my proposal to translate Terayama’s 1960 debut play as part of a senior thesis project; she then spent countless hours with me line editing my translation until ...
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Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2011