UN FILÓSOFO EN KIOTO

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Hoy hemos tenido en Kyoto Gaidai al tremendo escritor, profesor de filosofía de instituto de barrio y comunicador nato Eliacer Cansino, que además acaba de ganar el Premio Nacional de Literatura Infantil y Juvenil con su última novela “Una habitación en Babel”. Afable, siempre con la sonrisa en los labios y mostrando un interés casi juvenil por todas las cosas suyas y ajenas, en un español clarito y despacito para que se enteraran los estudiantes japoneses, nos ha contado acerca de sus creaciones literarias y su manera de ver el mundo.
Para Eliacer Cansino, la infancia es un momento especial porque en él se puede vivir el presente de forma más plena sin preocupaciones sobre el pasado o el futuro. Además, es cuando se percibe de forma más pura el mensaje de los primeros libros, sin la mirada crítica del lector adulto, que tiende a proyectar su propia vida, imagen y experiencias en ellos. La filosofía y su trabajo de profesor de adolescentes en un instituto de un barrio obrero de Sevilla le han proporcionado material o al menos la inspiración para el libro que le ha valido el prestigioso premio la semana pasada, y que trata sobre la relación entre un profesor y un joven estudiante inmigrante africano en España. Y ese es su actual método de trabajo –responde Eliacer a la pregunta de mi estudiante Satoru-: a partir de un ejemplo concreto o de una anécdota, le sale un libro, con el que intenta transmitir su propuesta moral que supone el valor de la dignidad humana y una cierta esperanza para el futuro; porque los jóvenes deben tener esperanza. Con ello, este filósofo escritor parece huir de los relativismos excesivos y del nihilismo de la sociedad actual.
Pero donde el escritor se ha extendido más ha sido al hablar sobre su obra “El misterio Velázquez”, por el que ya obtuviera el Premio Lazarillo en 1997: ahí se mezclan el trabajo de investigación sobre la época más la libertad del autor para completar los rincones oscuros que los historiadores no han logrado iluminar. Y Cansino le da protagonismo a un personaje ignorado en su tiempo, y lo rescata del olvido mediante la literatura, ya que para él, ésa es una de sus funciones (y con esto el escritor responde a Kumiko).
Su traductora al japonés, Kazumi Uno, traductora también de “Soldados de Salamina” de Javier Cercas, me comenta al final de la conferencia los retos que se ha encontrado para traducir sus libros, especialmente cuestiones de tipo cultural, ya que el público objetivo japonés que leerá esas traducciones necesitará aclaraciones acerca de nuestra sociedad e historia, aclaraciones que Uno prefiere incluir de forma natural en el texto, ya que las notas distraerían al joven lector y no le permitirían sumergirse de lleno en la historia del libro.
Un verdadero placer tener eventos como este en la universidad y poder conocer a personas tan interesantes que te hacen reflexionar sobre las cosas con la mirada de aquel niño que eras hace 25 ó 30 años.

Ihara Saikaku, Ohoku and nowadays’ youngsters

ohoku

 

Ihara Saikaku wrote in 1682 what would later become the epitome of the first modern Japanese donjuan, The Life of an Amorous Man (好色一代男 Kōshoku Ichidai Otoko).
At that time, the beginning of the relatively peaceful Tokugawa period, merchants started being more and more influential in the society and Saikaku depicts a flourishing one. But what makes this Japanese literary donjuan called Yonosuke different compared to his Spanish counterparts is precisely his lack of “manliness”, willing to accomplish his sexual desires through male and female prostitutes and the payment of money, and not risking his life for that; in one occasion he even shares a woman one night with another man –a menage a trois!- just to avoid fighting. Can you imagine a Western donjuan acting like that? The openly tolerated bisexuality of the time is depicted perfectly in the book when the narrator gives quantitative data about Yonosuke’s sexual conquests: until the age of 54, he had had respectively 3.742 and 725 female and male lovers.

Ohoku, the movie now showing in main movie theaters in Japan is a history-science-fiction story in a similar historical time (the beginning of the XVIII century) with a promising although not a really verisimilar plot: there is an epidemic in Japan that affects only men, and women end up becoming the ones in control of the military, etc. The female shogun keeps a harem from which she must chose the most beautiful and powerful man to become the father of her heiress. Well, the movie is basically about this sword and manners training harem and the homosexual relations among the beautiful samurais themselves, who look more like frivolous ladyboys than samurais, fighting with each other to be the cutest one, like in a hosto san TV drama. Of course, in the end the chosen one is the baby-face Mizuno –the actor’s name is Kazunari Ninomiya, alias Nino chan, who happens to be a celebrity in Japan in spite of his incompetence as for acting-, the only one who rejects the homosexual advances, not without a little bit of ambiguity. I think that this movie will disgust young Japanese female groupies at the same degree as it will also inspire still-in-the-closet Japanese males. But for sure, it will become a cult movie for the Gay world.

Apart from science-history-fiction movies, the bisexuality of samurais in that time is a historical fact not really known or accepted by the present and openly homophobic Japanese society. In the movie theater, a young crowd started emitting strange sounds of disappointment at the most explicit scenes, although since It’s Japan and not Brazil –I love Brazil, by the way-, nobody whistled. I wonder what will they answer when they be asked about the movie –I’ll try in class tomorrow.

Although movies are movies, and real life is a different thing, when I enter a restroom and find a queue of university male students standing in front of the mirror setting up their hair in public for more that 5 minutes before going back to class, I cannot avoid thinking that the world of frivolity depicted in the movie is not as far as many of those students might think.

HAFU PROJECT

Hafu-KyotoFlyer-smallred
ハーフ Hafu project was born in London and started as a photo exhibition of faces from people with different “bloods”. I remember when a couple of years ago they arrived in Japan, where one in thirty births are from parents one of them not being Japanese (in Tokyo International marriages are now one in ten). The photographic project ended up like a film project in the hands of young directors Lara Perez Takagi and Megumi Nishikura, both half Japanese, too. In June they were portrayed on an article at The Japan Times as an emerging community.

Last night, at the Institut Franco-Japonais du Kansai , there was a preview of the amount of footage they have filmed so far, along with music and a nice talk with a friendly crowd from and not from Kansai. The mini-film-documentary depicts different cases of half-Japanese and their stories of adaptation to Japanese society with more or less success: we have David, mother from Ghana and Japanese father, who was raised in an orphanage in Japan and considers this country as his actual home. At some point in his life, he decided to know his African roots, went back to Ghana and started building schools for poor children there raising funds in Japan.

There is also a relatively affluent family in Nagoya with a Mexican mother, Japanese father and 2 kids, the older one being bullied at school and too quickly diagnosed by his teachers as slow. In many cases of children raised with different languages there is this problem of keeping up with the other kids at school –at early stages there is some confusion as for languages and it has also being proved in neuro-psychological experiments that multilingual people are slightly slower at selecting vocabulary because they have more options from where to choose when speaking or writing-. If you add that to the emotional stress of being bullied, in many cases those kids drop school before even finishing high-school. These two parents have decided to send him instead to an International School in Nagoya, where he will have more possibilities of success. –But not all parents have the economic resources to send their kids to an International school –I tell my co-worker and friend Andrew, who had just strategically sat next to a beautiful half-Japanese young woman. –Yeap -he quickly replies- but those kids will never go back to the Japanese society. Once you enter an International School, there is no way back.
I think about his statement and agree with him, although maybe it’s not a bad thing to be on the edge and take advantage of the part of the society you like and at the same time have access to an International one until Japan becomes more plural and global.

This Hafu project promotes this kind of discussions, and talks about identity, hybridity and so on.
Good luck to the Hafu team.

P.D.: By the way, they are still recruiting characters for the movie. They need a half-Japanese person who looks completely Japanese from the outside but has been raised among two or more cultures.

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