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Japanese Counterculture

Japanese Counterculture: The Antiestablishment Art of Terayama Sh ji

Steven C. Ridgely
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Japanese Counterculture
    Book Description:

    Terayama Sh ji (1935–1983) was an avant-garde Japanese poet, dramatist, film director, and photographer known for his highly provocative art. In this inventive and revealing study, Steven C. Ridgely examines Terayama’s life and art to show that a conventional notion of him does not do full justice to the meaning and importance of his wide-ranging, often playful body of work.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-7528-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. INTRODUCTION Global Counterculture, Visual Counterculture
    (pp. vii-xxvi)

    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 Shuji (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 scandalous, and similarly positioned by the mid-1960s to be an elder leader (at around age thirty) in youth culture’s Great Refusal. Terayama’s creative output shifts over time from haiku, tanka (the...

  4. CHAPTER 1 Poetic Kleptomania and Pseudo-Lyricism
    (pp. 1-34)

    Fixed-verse poetry may seem a strange place to find an avantgarde 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 Snyder, that comes to characterize the American beat scene. The shake up in Japanese poetry in the 1950s, however, occurred in the thirty-one syllable...

  5. CHAPTER 2 Radio Drama in the Age of Television
    (pp. 35-68)

    The transistor radio, the stereo phonograph, and the television 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 broadcasting, which had begun on a small scale in 1953, was popularized by the completion of Tokyo Tower in December 1958 and the scramble to buy sets to watch the imperial wedding in...

  6. CHAPTER 3 Boxing—Stuttering—Graffiti
    (pp. 69-98)

    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 with deep, conflicting emotions about her complicity in the injuries that result.¹ The allure of the sport may be as simple as a desire to see a human life...

  7. CHAPTER 4 Deinstitutionalizing Theater and Film
    (pp. 99-138)

    The conspicuous amount of attention paid to the relationship 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 statement on the immutables of human nature, whereas satire or nonrealist forms of representation are often clearer in their critique of aberrant psychology or society gone wrong. The focus within cultural production on...

  8. CHAPTER 5 The Impossibility of History
    (pp. 139-174)

    Paired with Terayama’s work to eroticize the present were texts that abject the past. Perhaps he realized that the logical impossibility of history—of a return to a now absent past—was itself insufficient to cause a shift toward a geographical orientation. Logic is often overwhelmed 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 scales not just by adding to synchrony’s appeal but also by intervening to make diachrony uglier. Terayama treats the abject past most directly in a set of projects all...

  9. CONCLUSION. “Japanese” Counterculture
    (pp. 175-182)

    I have forestalled directly addressing Japanese counterculture 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 claim that Terayama’s projectsbecameJapanese only once they left Japan—whereas within Japan they often seemed foreign. This foreignness could be certified by an award from a European festival, for example, and then...

  10. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 183-186)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 187-214)
  12. Index
    (pp. 215-222)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 223-223)