Muai Thai

Por muy civilizados que estemos, siempre nos acaba saliendo una vena violenta en determinadas circunstancias. Es como si el cuerpo nos recordara nuestros orígenes homínidos de caza y lucha, especialmente al género masculino, macho, varón, seductor y peleón.

De hecho, la sociedad parece haber evolucionado más rápidamente que nuestros cuerpos, y de ahí los problemas de estrés por esa imposibilidad de desahogar el exceso de tensión mediante la lucha, el movimiento, etc. Sin embargo, yo he encontrado la receta perfecta, el thai boxing: siempre y cuando seas tú el único que golpea, claro.

Tired of Facebook’s frivolous stories of weekend hangovers? Bored of TV dramas, whether American, Venezuelan or Korean? Ready for a little bit of intellectual pleasure? Check this website, where you can see what your friends have read or are reading and their opinions about different books, the same way you can post yours. Then you can go back to Facebook and check those funny pictures…

A quiet life

Kenzaburo Oe’s literary universe is so close to his real life that the limits between both of them are not clearly recognizable. In “A quiet Life” the depiction of his family and especially his family matters is made through his “fictional” daughter, a very sensitive narrator and too mature a personality for a 20-year-old girl. Although the narrator is supposed to be Ma-chan, since most of the stories consist of discussions and opinions about the father, an implicit author Oe, as a reader you can never abandon yourself to the idea of a non-Oe Kenzaburo narrator. When I first read the summary of Oe’s works –family and a mentally-disable son- I was surprised that such limited theme could warrant someone a Nobel Prize. But after reading only one of his books, you get to find out that the family and the disable son are only the starting point of something more transcendental, i.e. philosophy, psychoanalysis, literary theory, politics, etc.

I like the structure of this book. It consists of different chapters, each one a unity in itself but related to each other chronologically and thematically. All of them start with a reference to Eeyore, the son, and a problem or difficulty; for a while that character stops being the centre or “buffer of the family” –as it’s called by Kenzaburo-, and other characters, like Ma-chan herself, the youngest brother O-chan or the Shigeto’s get focused more clearly; but all chapters end up with a reference to Eeyore, as if trying to close the circle. The same way -thanks Massa for helping me realize this- on a higher level, the whole book also get its own closing when the end culminates Ma-chan’s initial statement that she would like to marry a man who can afford a two-bedroom apartment.

This book is post-modern because: 1) there is a premeditate confusion between reality and fiction, 2) there are not absolute truths or simple explanations for the characters’ behaviour, and many opinions by that many characters, show the complexity of itself –the father’s “pinch” and its possible reasons is the best example and, I think, the heart of the book-, 3) it’s a pastiche of different documents and narratives: letters, diaries, literary and cinema criticism, political opinions…

Something surprising for me is Oe’s depiction of his daughter’s attitude toward sex, especially regarding her brother’s. At the beginning it’s not completely verisimilar her apparent naiveness, although it could just be a credible negation of the facts by an inexperience young woman. Her behaviour at the end is connected with a Japanese tradition of teaching women submission and abnegation, plus her already commented wish at the beginning of the book.

Punishment is another interesting topic to be considered in the book, with its different characteristic both in the Japanese and Western societies.

Personally, I think Kenzaburo Oe is a great scholar, very well-read, connoisseur of the Western culture, and able of creating an artificial but elegant language when writing; although maybe he lacks the contact with the not-elitist world, the down-to-earth, Japanese salary-man OL society, which makes his works a little bit dull and his family attractively claustrophobic. Anyway, something of a not so high-brow culture in his books would also be appreciated.

If you are into easy-reading best-sellers, don’t even open this book; but if you like scholarly written essays, psychoanalysis, philosophy and can appreciate the complexity of the structure in a post-modern book, go ahead: you will have fun.


Before a couple of days make me forget tonight’s movie, I decide to review it a little bit. Comedies are a generalized genre in Japan and the only way the Japanese have to healthily laugh at themselves. This is what happens with Detroit Metal City. With scenes that remind of Dracula, Rocky, Superman or Forrest Gump and the eternal theme of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hide’s double personality, the film shows, in the form of parody, the ups and downs of a countryside young man, Shouichi, who has two lives: as a loser and effeminate out-of-fashion graduate in search of the perfect koibito, and as the leader of a successful trash-metal rock band. Apart from really funny moments, like the one in the bathroom at the amusement park, what I found interesting is how well depicted is the youth in the movie, especially the Japanese youth, although it could be extrapolated to the whole world up to certain point. In the society of the adults, especially in the Japanese society, so rigid itself, youngsters rebel from this dull way of life –at least until they become salary man, OL or shuufu- adopting extreme-looking outfits, an own different language and supposedly new morals. But in the end, that’s only a mask, a fancy dress, cause when “the concert” is over, everyone must go back to his/her normal life, as a student, a furita or whatever, inside a family that keeps considering them like little children. That’s what happens with the main character, who, besides, what he really likes is romantic J-Pop music, not the noisy and violent metal. Even the tough guys have feelings, don’t they? It’s paradoxical how the youth must follow the rules (of the correct rebelliousness, especially visually with the fashion) to be able to break the rules (of the adult society), but in the end they are just following a trend without much content and not understanding quite well the reason why they do what they do.

Another thing that gets my attention in Japanese movies is the complete lack of any sexual content or nudity. When thinking about Spanish movies to show at my university classes in Japan, I always need to be very selective about the appropriate ones because most Spanish movies have some sex or nudity –indeed is part of life, isn’t it?-, but many Japanese students are not used to it, and I don’t want to shock them and think of me as eroi or get into trouble with the Administration. In Detroit Metal City, the only thing with a high level of sexual tension is the depiction of the band’s manager, a woman in black leather with a sadistic tendency that would make more than one middle-aged man very happy.

To conclude, I think it’s an entertaining and funny movie, nothing special, but that can be read on different levels to make you reflect on the world of music, tendencies and youth in Japan.

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