mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Of fathers, poetry, and lj screwups

Finished Armor of Light in Sunday's sun. Not as much fun as the Astreiant books last March, and I missed having Tasty's restaurant as a backdrop to it this time round (sighs for the defunct Tasty's) but still alright. Also resonates a bit, which it didn't last time through.

One note especially clear in the resonance: Burleigh and Cecil.

Cecil pere and Cecil fils, advisors to Elizabeth One. William Cecil, first baron Burghley (with additional wiki wank) and his son, Robert Cecil, first earl of Salisbury. There's a scene in the novel where Burleigh, Elizabeth's confidante and advisor, is pondering a knotty international matter and goes to consult the one man who knows his mind and thinks as he does, the Secretary of State-- his son. This I find hot, for certain values of hot.

So much of western civilization and British-derived culture runs on rampant displays of Oedipal conflict that I find it refreshing and revolutionary to come across sons who actually co-operate with their fathers in a system of mutual regard. First encountered this in English history with various rebellious sons of various Henrys (II, IV) contrasting with French dauphins who supported their weakened fathers or furthered their statesman fathers' plans.

The Chinese model, with what looks to me like the extreme subservience of Confucian son to heavy Victorian father, is a little less hot congenial. Mutual regard still isn't an impossibility, it's just that this relationship happens in one of those societies where subordination is considered good and natural. Shall try and balance that with my western knee-jerk preference for autonomy, and see if Goukou and Kaiei can yield some interesting moments.

Today's discovery is Nanao Sakaki, a Japanese poet. "After the war, he went to Tokyo, living in an underpass near Ueno Station, working for a short time at a foundry in Amagasaki, then as a turner, and then for some two and a half years running errands for Sanehiko Yamamoto's office. Around 1952-3 he moved to the San'ya district and lived off the generosity of his neighbors." That, guys, is called living rough.

A Love Letter
by Nanao Sakaki, from Break the Mirror (North Point Press)

Within a circle of one meter
You sit, pray and sing,

Within a shelter ten meters large
You sleep well, rain sounds a lullaby.

Within a field a hundred meters large
Raise rice and goats.

Within a valley a thousand meters large
Gather firewood, water, wild vegetables and Amanitas.

Within a forest ten kilometers large
Play with raccoons, hawks,
Poison snakes and butterflies.

Mountainous country Shinano
A hundred kilometers large
Where someone lives leisurely, they say.

Within a circle ten thousand kilometers large
Go to see the southern coral reef in summer
Or winter drifting ices in the sea of Okhotsk.

Within a circle ten thousand kilometers large
Swimming in the sea of shooting stars.

Within a circle a million kilometers large
Upon the spaced-out yellow mustard blossoms
The moon in the east, the sun west.

Within a circle ten billion kilometers large
Pop far out of the solar system mandala.

Within a circle ten thousand light years large
The Galaxy full blooming in spring.

Within a circle one billion light years large
Andromeda is melting away into snowing cherry flowers.

Now within a circle ten billion light years large
All thoughts of time, space are burnt away
There again you sit, pray and sing
You sit, pray and sing.

Do note that the 'you' of the English is 'hito', people, someone, occasionally I, in Japanese.

Am also reading my novel set in late Meiji which goes oddly well with the grey wet green world out there. People who live on coasts and islands possibly won't get this, but there's a difference between dry wet and wet wet. TO's wet is usually a dry wet: rain comes in distinctive drops, the air is sharp, things keep their outlines. Tokyo's wet, except in winter, is a wet wet-- rain diffuses in the air, the wetness is everywhere and nowhere, all is soft and blurred. As in England, you can walk in the rain and not get wet. Damp and limp, yes, but not wet. I believe the word mizzle describes that kind of rain. Whatever, we're having it now and very nostalgic it is.

(LJ tells me I'm in read only mode. 'Try again in a couple minutes.' I have no objection to our Russian overlords even when they bring Russian spambots with them, but could you guys /try/ not to murder our language?)
Tags: dragons, history, japan, lj, place, points, reading_09, verse

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