mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Two Labyrinths: linked serendipity chains

1. For the Benefit of Mr Kite.

Pablo Fanque was a real person, which I kind of knew, while doubting that his name was really Fanque. (In fact it was William Darby.) He was also "the first black circus proprietor in Britain." The things no one ever told you in 1967.

I discovered this anent wiki's speculation that 'A splendid time is guaranteed for all' is an hommage to the title of Stevie Smith's first poetry book, A Good Time was Had By All; which "itself became a catch phrase, still occasionally used to this day... Variations appear in pop culture, including Being for the Benefit of Mr Kite by the Beatles."

2. Youkai

In keeping with the season, I began again on the book about youkai that paleaswater sent me a while back, Pandemonium and Parade. This time I beavered through the mandatory semiotic bumpf of the first chapter to get to the historic meat.

Though I do have to wonder. Everywhere I hear that academic standards have fallen and undergrads can barely spell, parse the meaning of a paragraph, or express their own arguments. Yet somehow by grad school they've mastered the Byzantine intricacies of Derridean expression:
The mode by which youkai discourse changes might be characterized as what archaeological anthropologists call seriation, "a pattern of overlapping replication and innovation." It is the replication or persistence of particular strands of discourse, their ability to link diverse cultural moments and reincorporate themselves differently "within the true" of the emerging episteme, that allows us to trace the mutable but somehow consistent notion of something called youkai.
Err- if you're saying the Japanese notion of youkai or bakemono from Heian to the present isn't a neat and tidy concept expressed in consistent ways, why not just say so?

That's by the by, though. Today I went to the library to get Murder Must Advertise for my brother, and came across a book in the Hallowe'en display-- Haunted Legends, edited by Datlow and Mamatas. As flow would have it, book opened up at Cat Valente's story about the Japanese baku- a youkai that eats dreams.

Now I'm the last person to point fingers at suspected cultural appropriation, obviously, but that story is rubbing me the wrong way. It's rubbing me the same wrong way that Gaiman's The Dream Hunters did. Possibly if it were written by someone else I might have more confidence in their good intentions, but well- Valente keeps a blog and I have no confidence at all.

So it's a very good thing that when I came home Hyakkiyakousho 22 was waiting in the mailbox and I can have recourse to the horse's mouth. Which I shall do, because this weekend is more rain, again.
Tags: 100demons, history, japan, language, reading_13, verse

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