Sans soleil

In the glossy splendour of the gentle animals of Josen-kai
I read the fundamental rift of Japanese society,

the rift that separates men from women.
In life it seems to show itself in two ways only:
violent slaughter, or a discreet melancholy
—resembling Sei Shonagon's—

which the Japanese express in a single untranslatable word.
So this bringing down of man to the level of the beasts
—against which the fathers of the church invade—

becomes here the challenge of the beasts to the poignancy of things,
to a melancholy whose color I can give you
by copying a few lines from Samura Koichi:

"Who said that time heals all wounds?
It would be better to say that time heals everything except wounds.
With time, the hurt of separation loses its real limits.
With time, the desired body will soon disappear,
and if the desiring body has already ceased
to exist for the other,

then what remains is a wound... disembodied."
He wrote me that the Japanese secret
—what Lévi-Strauss had called the poignancy of things—

implied the faculty of communion with things,
of entering into them, of being them for a moment.

It was normal that in their turn they should be like us:
perishable and immortal.

He wrote me:
animism is a familiar notion in Africa,
it is less often applied in Japan.

What then shall we call this diffuse belief, according to
which every fragment of creation has its invisible counterpart?

When they build a factory or a skyscraper,
they begin with a ceremony to appease the god who owns the land.

There is a ceremony for brushes, for abacuses,
and even for rusty needles.

There's one on the 25th of September
for the repose of the soul of broken dolls.

The dolls are piled up in the temple of Kiyomitsu consecrated to Kannon
—the goddess of compassion—and are burned in public.