History and Repetition

History and Repetition

Edited by SEIJI M. LIPPIT
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/kara15728
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    History and Repetition
    Book Description:

    Kojin Karatani wrote the essays in History and Repetition during a time of radical historical change, triggered by the collapse of the Cold War and the death of the Showa emperor in 1989. Reading Karl Marx in an original way, Karatani developed a theory of history based on the repetitive cycle of crises attending the expansion and transformation of capital. His work led to a rigorous analysis of political, economic, and literary forms of representation that recast historical events as a series of repeated forms forged in the transitional moments of global capitalism.

    History and Repetition cemented Karatani's reputation as one of Japan's premier thinkers, capable of traversing the fields of philosophy, political economy, history, and literature in his work. The first complete translation of History and Repetition into English, undertaken with the cooperation of Karatani himself, this volume opens with his innovative reading of The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, tracing Marx's early theoretical formulation of the state. Karatani follows with a study of violent crises as they recur after major transitions of power, developing his theory of historical repetition and introducing a groundbreaking interpretation of fascism (in both Europe and Japan) as the spectral return of the absolutist monarch in the midst of a crisis of representative democracy.

    For Karatani, fascism represents the most violent materialization of the repetitive mechanism of history. Yet he also seeks out singularities that operate outside the brutal inevitability of historical repetition, whether represented in literature or, more precisely, in the process of literature's demise. Closely reading the works of Oe Kenzaburo, Mishima Yukio, Nakagami Kenji, and Murakami Haruki, Karatani compares the recurrent and universal with the singular and unrepeatable, while advancing a compelling theory of the decline of modern literature. Merging theoretical arguments with a concrete analysis of cultural and intellectual history, Karatani's essays encapsulate a brilliant, multidisciplinary perspective on world history.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52865-8
    Subjects: History, Language & Literature, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. AUTHOR’S PREFACE TO THE ENGLISH EDITION
    (pp. vi-xiii)
  4. EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION: ON REPETITION, SINGULARITY, AND HISTORICITY
    (pp. xiv-xxxi)
    SEIJI M. LIPPT

    History and Repetition is a translation of volume 5 of Teihon Karatani Kōjin shū (Selected Writings of Karatani Kōjin: Standard Edition), published by Iwanami shoten in 2004. Many of the essays included in this book were first published in journals in 1989 and were subsequently collected in the book Shūen o megutte (On Endings), published by Fukutake shoten in 1990. These include “Kindai Nihon no gensetsu kūkan” (The Discursive Space of Modern Japan), which first appeared in the January 1989 issue of Kaien; “Ōe Kenzaburō no aregorī” (The Allegory of Ōe Kenzaburō) (Kaien, October 1989); “Murakami Haruki no fūkei” (The...

  5. 1 INTRODUCTION: ON THE EIGHTEENTH BRUMAIRE OF LOUIS BONAPARTE
    (pp. xxxii-27)

    When the communist system collapsed at the end of the 1980s and—as symbolized by Francis Fukuyama’s (1998) assertion of “the end of history”—an optimistic outlook based on the globalization of representative democracy and liberal market economics was proclaimed, it appeared as if works by Marx such as Capital or The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte had entirely lost their meaning. Yet if anything, it was at that point that these works began to emit a dull yet powerful luster. Since then, we have witnessed a worldwide structural recession and the dysfunction of representative democracy. This does not portend,...

  6. 2 HISTORY AND REPETITION IN JAPAN
    (pp. 28-45)

    There are two meanings to repetition in history. The first is when people evoke events or people of the past when doing something new. It is this form of repetition that Marx notes in the opening passages of The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte. There is a certain inevitability to the fact that, when faced with circumstances completely unknown to them, people try to understand them through their knowledge of what is familiar but in fact end up doing something entirely different. The second type of repetition is when the past, despite being rejected and forgotten, is nevertheles repeated. This...

  7. 3 THE DISCURSIVE SPACE OF MODERN JAPAN
    (pp. 46-85)

    In Japan, the word “Shōwa” and discourse concerning the Shōwa period [1926–1989] suddenly began to proliferate in the summer of 1987, when news of the emperor’s illness spread. At the beginning of 1989, Shōwa came to an end. It ended ater so many recountings of “the end of Shōwa” had been consumed. Once it had ended, it became apparent that a “Shōwa period” had existed, and its historical review could begin. But what is the significance of periodizing history according to era names?

    Since the Meiji period [1868–1912], Japanese era names have functioned according to the principle of...

  8. 4 THE ALLEGORY OF ŌE KENZABURō: FOOTBALL IN THE YEAR MAN’EN 1
    (pp. 86-115)

    Since Ōe Kenzaburō first debuted in the late 1950s as an epoch-making new writer while still a college student, there have been a number of distinguishing characteristics of his works. One of these hallmarks is that while he repeatedly uses the first-person narrator “I” [boku], his works differ from the I-novel, which was then a dominant genre in Japan, meaning that this “I” was distinct from the author. At the same time, this “I” is not an objective narrator and so is not entirely unrelated to the author. Ever since his debut work, “A Strange Job” [Kimyōna shigoto, 1957], “I”...

  9. 5 THE LANDSCAPE OF MURAKAMI HARUKI: PINBALL IN THE YEAR 1973
    (pp. 116-149)

    In Murakami Haruki’s Pinball in the Year 1973 [1973-nen no pinbōru, 1980], there is an absence of proper names.¹ This is common to Murakami’s works from Hear the Wind Sing [Kaze no uta o kike, 1979], his first novel, to Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World [Sekai no owari to hādoboirudo wandārando, 1985]. Yet Pinball in the Year 1973 is worth noting in that there is one exception: the appearance of the name Naoko. Naoko is the name of the woman who commits suicide. Attentive readers may notice that the name Naoko also appears as the name of...

  10. 6 THE END OF THE MODERN NOVEL
    (pp. 150-171)

    As I read Ōe Kenzaburō’s Leters to My Sweet Bygone Years [Natsukashii toshi e no tegami, 1987], I was reminded of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet.¹ The initial volume in the latter has as its first-person narrator “I,” the novelist who is supposed to have written it, while the second volume takes the form of a revision of that novel by the same “I” in a moment of critical self-relection. The third volume is written as an objective third-person novel, so that the “I” appearing in it is thoroughly relativized, merely one character among others. The world that in the first...

  11. 7 BUDDHISM AND FASCISM
    (pp. 172-209)

    Buddhism, which is said to have entered Japan in the sixth century, was established as a state religion in the seventh and eighth centuries because the Yamato court, which at the time had achieved unification through the conquest of disparate clans, made use of it as a world religion that would transcend the gods of the multiple clans. For this reason, it was at the time no more than an esoteric religion centered on the pacification and protection of the realm by way of prayer and ritual [chingo kokka]. If it had remained as such, no matter its theoretical profundity,...

  12. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 210-221)
  13. WORKS CITED
    (pp. 222-233)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 234-239)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 240-240)