TDR: The Drama Review 44.1 (2000) 43-48
[Access article in PDF]
Hijikata Tatsumi: The Words of Butoh
I, who caught a cold by looking at a stone and became anxious on seeing a landscape with no one in it, grew up thinking myself maimed. One day a man stood next to my father; a tree cracked and my father fell. Clutching a stone, I resisted; my father was being beaten up. That was the start of my perception of an unhappy world. There must, however, be more fruitful mistakes in bleeding nature.
I grew up always sniffing out criminals, that is to say, such company as theirs. Everyone bears the burden of being a human child, yearning for companions to run away from home with. My anger over that alone was ample.
A gang of pals contains the dimension of smell. The word "world" was nothing but raving to me, who had spent my youth like a cur. Bleeding nature always overflows the allotments of history and sociology, and my gaze never wavered from it. The friends I made in Tokyo were, so to speak, inhabitants of the transparent, mechanical "world," without any ties to bleeding nature and even without smell. I could not help seeing them as corpses.
Isn't there some work that strews absolute putrefaction and graphic terror throughout the world? I have always thought I would like to put my hands to the axle of anger that sustains that kind of work.
Today I am no longer a dog. Albeit clumsily, extremely clumsily, I am definitely recovering. What, however, does my recovery signify? What on earth does recovery mean to me? Haven't I already recovered? Don't I continue to recover in order to be sick? In any case, my current situation is that of walking around a room with the windows wide open while holding a matchlock musket.
I am desperately trying to escape from the cellar of the freedom of being tied and from the relationship between the ropes used for tying. I was frustrated in boyhood because of talk of an unfortunate rice paddy. One thing for sure, though, I will no longer be cheated by a bad check called democracy. No future correspondence will reach me from slightly soiled pigeons set free by society's hands and I am enforcing silence too on my youth, when I was not even a dog licking the wounds of capitalism. At any rate, I have a matchlock at the window. But for some reason my finger does not reach the trigger. Is there any greater misery than entrusting a dream to a reality from which one will sometime have to wake? I should shut the window immediately and continue the conversation between this, my only life, and the universe. What I was unable to find even in childhood... I have, at last, just transformed from a dog into a living creature called a human being. [End Page 43]
All of a sudden a naked body has come into the gun port. The naked body is bleeding. Amidst a continuity resembling anger, I make repairs to arms and legs, which constantly go astray in an individual organic body. Forgetting the origin of legs and even that of arms. I am a body shop; my profession is the business of human rehabilitation, which goes today by the name of dancer.
All the power of civilized morality, hand in hand with the capitalist economic system and its political institutions, is utterly opposed to using the body simply for the purpose, means, or tool of pleasure. Still more, to a production-oriented society, the aimless use of the body, which I call dance, is a deadly enemy which must be taboo. I am able to say that my dance shares a common basis with crime, male homosexuality, festivals, and rituals because it is behavior that explicitly flaunts its aimlessness in the face of a production-oriented [End Page 44] society. In this sense my dance, based on human self-activation, including male homosexuality, crime, and a naive battle with...