Continuing from last time...

I really felt a sense of relief when I processed the JET news. Not so much that I probably won't go, but that now I'm forced to think about what I'm doing, whether this is the best thing.

Ah, well, I won't waste space thinking it out here. But it'd definitely be a good idea to look into other options. I want to go to Japan, I think I have to to improve my language skills, but there may be a better way than teaching a subject I'm not absolutely thrilled about.

More important than job prospects - literature!

I've been studying Japanese "gothic" literature, and I'm really wondering, when you get down to it, what is the draw? In both Japan and Europe, there was a "genre" we can now call gothic, or better, I think, "dark romanticism". Both center around two things: old, decaying civilizations succumbing to nature, and a deep sense of horror. They seem to go hand in hand in both European and Japanese DR, and I find that fascinating. Why is, for example, the snake woman of Akinari's 蛇性の婬 found in a decrepit building that destroyed by weathering? Since Walpole's Castle, the ancient castle has played its role in Gothic fiction in much the same way. But how do evil, antiquity, the natural, and the supernatural all intersect here?

Unfortunately, I don't know enough about the roots of Gothic literature in Europe, but I've read some of the sources and influences on Akinari and Kyoka in Japan, so I know that really the connection between evil and the supernatural was not new to them.

One of my favorite stories (admittedly because of its raunchiness) is the story of the man who runs into a woman's spirit on his way homewho asks him if he will carry a box to another town for her and deliver it to another woman who will be waiting on the bridge. Reluctantly he takes on the task, and then forgets to deliver the box, going straight home instead. His wife, thinking it is a gift for some lover her husband is keeping, looks in the box to find gouged-out eyes and chopped-off penises.

Not exactly gothic, but still fun. And it starts this idea of shocking the audience into thinking about what is going on. What do these two women want with gouged-out eyes and male parts?

And the interesting thing is neither the two spirit women (they aren't called spirits here, but they have spiritual powers, so I'll call them that) nor the husband are condemned for their parts in the whole business - it is the wife who is scolded for being jealous! It's okay to traffick in body parts and forget to do a favor, but jealousy is too much! Imagine what the wife thought when she saw these things in the box. What...what exactly does my husband do all day? Did I marry the wrong man here?

Well, didn't get very far...