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Organizer and Chair: Paul S. Atkins, Montana State University, Bozeman
Discussant: Karen Brazell, Cornell University
The importance of the Japanese lyric tradition in the development of the noh drama is well known. Actor-playwrights such as Zeami and Zenchiku professed their reverence for the art of waka (kad˘); their participation in renga sessions has been documented. Moreover, the libretti of the dramas themselves attest to a profoundly intimate relationship between noh and lyric poetry. Noh playwrights often quoted poems, used the rhetorical devices of waka, ordered images in the manner of renga poets, and imagined people, landscapes, and events via the sensibility of the poetic tradition.
At the textual level, the first two papers reveal how noh playwrights reread and rewrote this received tradition. Paul Atkins shows how a fuller understanding of the "demon-quelling" style of waka first proposed by Fujiwara Teika may be attained by stepping beyond the realm of waka and examining its appropriation by Zeami and, especially, Zenchiku. Akiko Takeuchi discusses Zeamis recasting of clichÚd metaphors via methods similar to those used by renga poets.
The latter two papers then step behind the textual surface and engage religious and political orders. Susan Klein examines the use of secret tantric commentaries on Tales of Ise (Ise monogatari) by noh playwrights. Such commentaries generated new readings of Tales of Ise, which were incorporated into noh plays based on the tale. Finally, Tom Looser brings the discussion into the Edo period, addressing the noh drama as official state entertainment. The lyric tradition that had contributed to the production of noh plays is, ultimately, also instrumental in its reception.
The Demon-Quelling Style in Japanese Poetic and Dramatic Theory
Paul S. Atkins, Montana State University, Bozeman
Of the ten styles of poetry proposed by Fujiwara Teika (11621241) in his Maigetsush˘ ("Monthly Notes"), the demon-quelling style must certainly rank as the most enigmatic. We can easily understand such styles as the ushintei ("style of deep feeling") or the yűgentei ("style of mystery and depth"), but what are we to make of the rakkitei, the demon-quelling style?
Previous studies have tended to consign the demon-quelling style to eternal inscrutability, or to oversimplify, regarding it as a rough, vigorous style reminiscent of the Many˘shű and particularly suited to the sh˘gun Minamoto Sanetomo (11921219), who may have been the recipient of Teikas Maigetsush˘. The critical limitation of such approaches is their reluctance to trace the full trajectory of the demon-quelling style out of the realms of waka and renga and into the noh treatises of the playwrights Zeami Motokiyo (13631443) and, especially, Komparu Zenchiku (1405?).
Zenchiku carefully noted in his theoretical works that the demon-quelling style stands not for the demonic but rather that which is capable of quelling it. He may have used this knowledge in interpreting the rikid˘fu (style of powerful movement), a mode of performance used by some actors in portraying demons. Furthermore, Zenchiku brought the demon-quelling style to the stage in his play Sh˘ki ("Zhong Kui"), starring the Chinese demon-queller par excellence. His translation of the demon-quelling style of waka into the terms of noh performance throws light upon Teikas original conception, while revising and expanding it.
Resuscitating Metaphor: Zeami and Renga
Akiko Takeuchi, University of Tokyo
In composing a renga, a poet is required to add a new line to the previous one, by reinterpreting its meaning. In other words, among the various possible meanings that the previous line might have, the poet chooses a new one, thereby often shifting its signified. In a sense, renga is a form of wordplay that finds delight in revealing the arbitrariness of the link between signified and signifier. This arbitrariness inheres in language itself, but is unconsciously neglected or concealed in daily usage.
A similar skeptical attitude toward this link between signifier and signified may also be observed in Zeamis handling of worn-out metaphors.
In the terms of interactive theory, metaphor originally creates a new awareness by seeing its tenor through the "filter" of its vehicle. But once a metaphor becomes clichÚd, the vehicle (signifier) becomes nothing more than a transparent vessel containing the tenor (signified), and the link between them comes to be taken for granted, without producing a new awareness.
Zeami, however, tries to bring this hidden link to the surface and revive a "new" awareness in some of his works. In these instances, the customary link between the signified and signifier of worn-out metaphors cannot be left as a matter of course, and must be newly guaranteed by an actual basis (e.g. Funabashi). Moreover, Zeami sometimes even creates plots for the express purpose of offering such a guarantee (e.g. Koi no omoni and Hanjo). Both Zeami and the renga poets begin by doubting the basis of the customarily fixed link between signifier and signified. Through an examination of these plays, we can shed new light on the profound influence that renga exerted upon Zeamis dramaturgy.
Down the Primrose Path: Narihira as Love God in Medieval Poetic Commentaries and the Noh
Susan B. Klein, University of California, Irvine
One of the more intriguing developments in medieval Japanese poetic culture occurred in the Kamakura period when the Shingon esoteric initiation system (kanj˘) began to be incorporated into the pedagogy of waka poetry. At these initiation ceremonies, commentaries containing esoteric poetic "secrets" were transmitted to the initiate.
A relatively obscure poet, Fujiwara Tameaki, was the central figure behind the development of both the pedagogical system of poetry initiations and the production of numerous secret commentaries. Tameaki took orders as a Shingon priest and appears to have been an adept in the infamous Tachikawa sect, which advocated tantric sex as a means to enlightenment. His commentaries managed to transform the Heian period Tales of Ise (Ise monogatari) into a complex tantric allegory. Tales of Ise, a collection of poem tales that in the medieval period was popularly understood to describe the love affairs of the Heian court poet Ariwara no Narihira, was perfect for such tantric allegorization. Tameakis commentaries gradually filtered into the popular culture of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, forming the basis for numerous noh plays.
The scholar It˘ Masayoshi has shown that the influence on noh of Tameakis esoteric commentaries was profound. However, for a variety of reasonsincluding earlier scholars antipathy to Tachikawathe tantric content of noh has been left largely unexplored. In this talk, I will examine the historical development of Narihiras apotheosis as a tantric deity in noh plays based on Tales of Ise.
Poetry in the Noh and the "Broken" Aesthetics of the Early Modern State
Thomas Looser, McGill University
It is well known that in Edo-era Japan, the shogunal government utilized the noh theater as its official ceremony of state. Although the theater was initially a product of the middle ages, the early modern shoguns were careful about remolding the noh in a new and fairly fixed form.
Assuming this to be the case, this paper looks at one aspect of early modern noh as a means of considering the relationship of aesthetic form, the status of poetry, and the order of the state.
Close consideration of the plays given official privilege shows that two quite different and apparently opposed types of plays were privileged over all others. Furthermore, the poetic form of one of these types, and the status of poetry itself as thematized within these plays, was clearly not what one might expect of a theater meant to represent the authority of a well-ordered state. This paper thus addresses the questions of why this play type would be given official status, why the two apparently contradictory play forms might be put into practice at once, and ultimately, what importance this might have for a consideration of the aesthetic form of the Tokugawa state.