Takeuchi Yoshimi is one of the very few postwar Japanese intellectuals to openly engage in discussions on Asia intricacy and to deal with the most complicated component of the Japan–Asia relationship: problems of emotion. One key feature of Takeuchi’s approach lies in the fact that he is not only a profound thinker but also a sensitive litterateur. For this reason, in addition to the fact that it is already very difficult to form an objective and widely agreed view on Takeuchi and his approach, it is hard to avoid the emotional aspect when evaluating his thoughts. This essay does not aim to discuss his rights and wrongs; rather, it is an attempt to analyze the inner logic of Takeuchi’s thoughts, to understand and grasp the intensity and structure of his thoughts and emotions, and to demonstrate where his sense of urgency lies, thereby allowing to view the examination of the diverse and complex nature of discourses on Asianism in Japan in a new light.
The definition of civilization has been a major issue for Japanese modernity. Accepting European modernity as synonym0us with civilization would mean defining the previous stage as barbarism, and considering how to cut out such barbarism. Since before the war, Takeuchi Yoshimi had consistently tried to consider the problem of the removal of barbarism from civilization. This article argues that Takeuchi’s discussion of the problems of civilization and Japanese modernity contributes to our rethinking of a new barbarism in the midst of globalization.
Scholars have attempted to find a common pattern of thought to summarize Takeuchi Yoshimi’s arguments on the relationship between subject and knowledge, literature and politics, and event and history, regardless of their diversity, under several key words. These attempts highlight Takeuchi’s primary concerns. However, existing studies of Takeuchi rarely point out his idiosyncratic understanding of the “eschatological,” which is both esthetic and horizon-determining because Takeuchi invariably tends to refer to “eschatology” despite his efforts to avoid theorizing it systematically. Considering that the literature on Takeuchi hardly does justice to this aspect of his writing, the present article intends to emphasize it. The article argues that “eschatology” emphasizes the element of contingency in the existential process of things, as well as its transformations, developments, and disappearance. Furthermore, this article focuses on the unpresentable nature of things in a state of so-called “nothingness.”
The death of Lu Xun (1881–1936), founder of modern Chinese literature, who later became the leader of the intellectual opposition to the Kuomintang government, has never elicited much discussion in Western scholarly circles. The author of this article suggests that may have been due to Lu Xun’s own talent as a sardonic humorist, in that he effectively dismissed speculation on it with his memorable essay on “Death” (Si), written after he had recovered from a bout of illness, but before the days leading up to his actual death. By contrast, there has been contention on the subject in China for over eighty years, resulting in an international investigation that mustered a team of physicians to pour over the still-extant x-ray image of his lungs, learned scholars in both countries to quibble over whether the character wu (five) could be mistaken for san (three), if written cursively, and two worldwide sojourns by Dr. Izumi Hyōnosuke (1930–2018), a Japanese medical historian, in search of the descendants and the ancestral graves of Dr. Thomas Balflour Dunn (1886–1948), the American pulmonary specialist who examined Lu Xun in person. The author of this article was at several points engaged in this multinational project. The article traces the historical origins of the dispute back to the 1930s, continues into the 1980s, and concludes with the current state of affairs in China and Japan, reading the debate against historical evidence (Lu Xun’s diary, correspondence, and the “record of treatment” by his Japanese physician) and the growing international tensions during Lu Xun’s final years.
The emergence of the practice of quoting The Classic of Poetry (Shijing) is the result of a separation in the ethical function of rites and music. At first, quoting the Poetry is a means to correct people’s pronunciations, but gradually its function changes from the rectification of sound to the rectification of social norms, and by the time of the Warring States period, Qin dynasty, and Han dynasty, the expression “the Poetry says” (Shiyue) has become an emblem of social values through which the writer justifies his own arguments. But although more than 400 cases of such use of the Poetry can be found in Han rhapsodies (Fu), none of the rhapsody-titled works contain expressions such as “the Poetry says.” On the one hand, this results from the sound and rhythmical requirements of chanting the rhapsody. On the other, this shows the gradual reawakening of the writers’ self-consciousness in a period when old political and social orders are restored. This stylistic change releases the creative energy of the literary language that helps reconstruct the artistic conception of rhapsodies and stimulates the emergence and flourishing of new literary genres such as five-syllable-line poetry (Wuyanshi), seven-syllable-line poetry (Qiyanshi), parallel prose (Piantiwen), and Chu-style prose (Saotiwen).
This article discusses the role that nature plays in ethnic literature and films in the Seventeen-Year Period (1949–66). It takes the story of Daji and Her Fathers as an example and investigates the ways in which nature features in the reconstruction of ethnic identity in the formation of a multiethnic nation as in the case of China. I will explore three aspects: first, the debate on humanism, which was closely related to ethnic minority film production at the time. A central issue of the debate then was the question of “humanistic”—that is, affective, emotional, subjective, and most importantly, natural—expression in literary and art works. Ethnic minority identity, with its unique status, was given some latitude for humanistic expression and “natural” understanding. Second, due to ethnic minority groups’ special significance in China’s nation-building, a reconstruction of ethnic minority nature became imperative for the People’s Republic of China. This reconstruction involves mostly restructuring a “second nature,” or dialectic nature of minority under the socialist mandate. This dialectic nature demands something more than natural, immediate constituents and requires a socially and politically mediated ethnic minority nature that is aligned with multiethnic nationality. Third, this dialectic nature is to be formed following Marxist dialectical materialism, mainly through the means of social(ist) labor that changes nature.