Manual Discourses of the Vanishing: Modernity, Phantasm, Japan

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Havinga and Anne Nishimura Morse, Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Discourses of the Vanishing

Discourses of the Vanishing: Modernity, Phantasm, Japan. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

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Graduate Programs. Department of Anthropology. From this viewpoint, cultural transmission occurred through child rearing—surprise! It was this dimension of German cultural theory that Franz Boas inherited and transmitted to the founding generation of American anthropologists. As an heir to this legacy, Benedict made entire worlds of difference conform to aesthetic comprehension by presenting cultures as patterned wholes. She found that the most powerful way to convey these patterned wholes was to portray poetically—mythically? Her explications were memorable.

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How many undergraduates still remember the grand distinction between Dionysian and Apollonian cultures epitomized, for Benedict, by Kwakiutl Indian vs. Pueblo Indian societies long after they have forgotten any of the other details purveyed in Anthropology ?

Indeed, Patterns of Culture is probably the most famous work of American anthropology, the one which both your grandmother and your nephew might have heard of, and might even have read. But back to shame. Shame is one of those emotions affects?

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And here comes Benedict again: not only is Patterns of Culture arguably the most famous work in American anthropology, her later The Chrysanthemum and the Sword: Patterns of Japanese Culture note the subtitle! It might also be the most famous anthropological work on shame, even though the pages devoted to shame are disappointingly few. The Chrysanthemum and the Sword is as much about the United States in its triumphal moment after the war as it is about Japan.

In this story of Japan and the United States , shame plays a central role. Was the faucet broken when it leaked? As censors construct and maintain their own archives, their acts of suppression yield another archive, filled with documents on, against, and in favor of censorship.

Discourses of the Vanishing

The extant archive of the Japanese imperial censor and the archive of the Occupation censor stand as tangible reminders of this contradictory function of censors. As censors removed specific genres, topics, and words from circulation, some Japanese writers converted their offensive rants to innocuous fluff after successive encounters with the authorities. But, another coterie of editors, bibliographers, and writers responded to censorship by pushing back, using their encounters with suppression as incitement to rail against the authorities and to appeal to the prurient interests of their readers.

This study examines these contradictory relationships between preservation, production, and redaction to shed light on the dark valley attributed to wartime culture and to cast a shadow on the supposedly bright, open space of free postwar discourse. Uncommon insight and rigor. Abel breaks new ground.

With impressive daring and persistence, Jonathan Abel has investigated rarely used archives to open a body of materials virtually unknown to English-language readers. This is a stunning achievement, and it is sure to change the landscape of Japanese literary studies.