Musashi Mix Inq

Palliativity 131: Onnagata, the Woman’s Role

Posted on July 14, 2011

The nature of kabuki itself is generally misunderstood by foreign viewers. Kabuki is not "high art". These night-life, 3 hour extravaganzas had more in common with Power Rangers than the stoic Noh dramas of the ruling class. Special effects, audience call-backs, epic battles, raunchy humor and explicit sex-acts were the language of kabuki. Pass the popcorn and hang on to your seat.

Kabuki theaters emerged in the Tokugawa era when the Shogun instituted the law that all provincial lords must make routine trips back to Edo where their families were held captive. The hope was that lords would have less ability to revolt when their loved ones were ransomed and much of their time was lost commuting with their entourage. This nation-wide increased need for mobility built up the roads and many reputable businesses. Others flourished from the wealthy travelers' need to be entertained: gambling, drink, prostitution and theater.

Early kabuki shows had various types of casting: onna-kabuki (all female), wakashū-kabuki (adolescent males) and yarō-kabuki (all male). In 1629, all women were banned from acting because many onna-kabuki "theaters" had devolved to hosting live sex-shows for "directors" to advertise their "actresses" who were then used as prostitutes. That being said, wakashū adolescent boys were allowed to continue to act although the practice of forced prostitution continued as well.

The term oyama (女方) refers to male actors who play female characters. Although the practice of gender liquidity had been a kabuki trope adopted since it's inception, the significance changed when it became the only way to see female characters on the stage. In this way, not only the theater, but the nation experienced a massive cultural change in that women could no longer represent themselves on stage and therefore in the popular culture.

To a liberal Western audience, one might make claims that the Japanese have had a surprisingly progressive perception of gender for quite a while; any romance on a kabuki stage is between two men, separated by a thin layer of make-up and silk. To this, the average Japanese would probably blush and tell you that it's "just a play…"


Confessions of a Mask

Posted on June 24, 2011

Confessions of a Mask, ©MMXI

My Japan Studies advisor at college once told me that, "Reading Yukio Mishima's Confessions of a Mask is like covering yourself in vaseline and rolling in sand." I always took this to be quite a compliment; that Mishima's prose could illicit such a response by merely mentioning the title of his book in passing.

Confessions of a Mask is thought by many to be an autobiography. The text speaks of the "reluctant masquerade" in which we all take part. Mishima was a man obsessed with Japan's identity, as well as his own. His personal sin was not his proclivities but shame itself. It tore him up to see Japan broken and tamed by America; a worthy mirror and foil for the creative expression of his secret life.

Mirror Mask

Mishima wore his nationalist pride as a mask while he hid his homosexual life from the world. At the same time, his countless artistic victories served as passing obsessions to blot out the desires of his heart. His convictions unquestioned, Mishima lived life theatrically.

In 1970, after taking hostages at the SDF Headquarters, Yukio Mishima chose the samurai-romantic path; the only choice that he felt could resolve his double-life. To pierce the veil, opening his shameful innards and presenting them to the world.

"Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. " -Oscar Wilde

Yukio Mishima both lived his life and ended it allegorically: I am my mask.

• • •

The more we can see beyond the mask and to the eyes behind it, the better our lives and world will be.

I'll see you there, if you'll join me—

Happy Pride!


Palliativity 120: Self Injection

Posted on March 3, 2011

Self Injection

Chronic-pain isn't a diagnosis, it's a Lifestyle.


Filed under: Art, Blog, Pain, Q No Comments

Palliativity 118: Nos Omnes Mundum Creamus

Posted on February 17, 2011

We All Make the World, ©MMXI

"He who is conceived in a cage, yearns for the cage."
Yevgeny Yevtushenko

Where are we going?

The crucible that is America: a battlefield. This pound of flesh is past warranty. Face down in the trenches, we are all scared to pop-up after the covery-fire. No matter how many have fallen before, we have yet to learn self respect— defiance with due dilligence.

The American soldiers of Japanese ancestry in WWII were thrown into the European Theater ahead of the frontline. Their bodies piled up high enough that their families could climb atop their sacrifice, over the fences and wire— only to find themselves alone in the desert, forgotten.

For generations, we buried it all.

Like the bullet fired from a riffle, we couldn't warn the next immigrant group before the hammer fell on their heads. Our flight from the camps was shrouded in shame and fear. We could barely look at our selves.

Advocacy is what I see as the most important reason to have Days of Remembrance. The hate behind Executive Order 9066 lives on in the continued marginalization of those on American shores.

It's time to jump the fence.


Man the Guns

Posted on February 14, 2011

Man the Guns, ©MMXI

Soldiers are made, not born. The same goes for hate and violence.

‎"Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love,"
-President Barack Obama, 2011 SoTU

Like the 442, "serving one's country" translates to military service.
Why must the same sacrifice be made over and over again?

Acceptance anointed in blood.

- ♥ -

Civil Unions recently passed in Illinois, but 29 States of the Union have yet to realize
that we are all born this way— however that might be.

Though we are closing in on the day where we can love whomever we want and choose our own identities,
there remains much work to be done.

Don't give up; man the guns.


Filed under: Art, identity, Occupied, Q No Comments

Palliativity 117: Wishing

Posted on February 10, 2011

Daruma: it's merely a flesh wound

Sometimes I wonder what it's like to lose control— Watching a top spinning out just before it falls, a seductive dance between gravity and inertia. Entropy in the swaying hips of a lover; the catch of breath before the end.

I used to think that the battery-acid feeling of dread I experienced on occasion was tachyons surging backwards from the inevitable. Once you've split the atom, there's no going back. Einstein unmaking reality in the physics of dreams, delivered to your doorstep at the speed of C.

"It's so safe to play along.
Little soldiers in a row.
Falling in and out of love.
Something sweet to throw away.
I want something good to die for,
To make it beautiful to live.
I want a new mistake, losers more than hesitate.
Do you believe it in your head?"
- Queens of the Stone Age- Go With the Flow

Plato's fantasy play of shadows doesn't work in the land of burnt silhouettes. With art we split the fundamental particles of our dreams— creativity bursting out and backwards through time. Here's wishing.

See you on the otherside—


Filed under: 5:7:5, Belief, Blog, Pain, Q No Comments