Contemporary IKEBANA series
by Taro Kimura
BY BANANA YOSHIMOTO
TRANSLATED BY MEGAN BACKUS
I began running just before spring vacation. I would run
to the bridge, turn around, and head home, where I would
carefully wash out my neck towel and sweaty clothes.
While they were in the dryer I would help my mother
make breakfast. Then I'd go back to bed for a while. That
was my life. In the evenings I'd get together with friends,
watch videos, whatever, anything to leave myself as little
free time as possible. But the struggle was fruitless. There
was only one thing I had any desire to do: I wanted to see
Hitoshi. Yet at all costs I had to keep my hands and body
and mind moving. Doing that, I hoped, albeit listlessly,
would somehow, someday, lead to a breakthrough. There
was no guarantee, but I would try to endure, no matter
what, until it came. When my dog died, when my bird
died, I had gotten through in more or less the same way.
But it was different this time. Without a prospect in sight,
day after day went by, like losing one's mind bit by bit. I
would repeat to myself, like a prayer: It's all right, it's all
right, the day will come when you'll pull out of this.
DREAM OF THE RED CHAMBER
BY TSAO HSUEH-CHIN AND KAO NGOH
TRANSLATED AND ADAPTED FROM THE CHINESE
BY CHI-CHEN WANG
In which the unreasonable blossoming of the begonia
proves to be an evil omen.
ONE day Black Jade was disturbed by an excited chatter-
ing in the Takuanyuan. Purple Cuckoo, who was sent to
make inquiries, brought back the report that the haitang
tree in the Peony Court had suddenly broken out into
blossoms. The day before Pao-Yu had told people that he
noticed some buds on the branches, but no one believed
him, as it was not any where near the haitang season. Now
there was no mistaking the fact that the haitang had blos-
somed, for the tree was in flaming colours that no one could
deny. Every one marvelled at the strange phenomenon.
The Peony Court was being cleared of the grass and leaves
in anticipation of the Matriarch's coming.
Black Jade said to Snow Duck: "Go and see if Lao-tai-tai
in there. I shall go myself to wait upon her when she comes.
A few minutes later Snow Duck came back and said:
"Lao-tai-tai and the others have all come. Do hurry,
Black Jade straightened her hair and arranged her dress
and went to ward the Peony Court accompanied by Purple
Cuckoo. The Matriarch was already there with Madame
Wang and Madame Hsin. Black Jade greeted them. There
were not many of the young ladies present: Phoenix was
not well; Shin Hsiang-Yun was back with her family;
Precious Harp was living with Precious Viture; the Li
sisters were also with their own family.
The Matriarch said: "There flower ought to bloom in the
spring. But though this is the Eleventh moon, it is still
warm like the tenth, which again is not unlike the third moon.
It has been known to bloom warm autumn days.'
Madame Wang said: "Lao-tai-tai is right, for she has
seen many strange things in her life. It is not unusual if she
has seen it before."
Madame Hsin said: "This bush had been withered whole
year. It must portend something."
Li Huan said, smiling, "I suppose it is a sign of some
happy event in Pao-Yu's life."
Quest spring did not say anything, but she thought to
herself: "This flower cannot portened good. What goes
with nature prospers, and what goes agaist nature per-
ished. Now this flower blooms out of season. It must be
some evil spirit that is playing pranks because the fortune
of the Chias are on the decline." She kept these thoughts
to herself, because she knew that the Matriarch would not
like to hear them.
Black Jade was pleased with that Li Huan said, for
Pao-Yu's happy event would also be hers, she thought.
Now Chia Shien, Chia Cheng, and others also came into
the court. Chia Shien said: "It must a malignant spirit
that is at the back of this strange phenomenon. We ought
to cut down the tree."
Chia Cheng said: "It is said what when one is not impressed
by portents, the portents will lose their own power.
We need not cut the tree."
The Matriarch did not like to think that the haitang
was not a good omen. She said: "Say nothing of portents
and evil omen. If it portents good, you can all share the
good. If it portents evil, I shall bear it all."
Pao-Yu had his own thoughts on seeing the haitang in
bloom. Bright Design had died when the tree withered.
The tree was now in bloom again, but Bright Design
could not come to life. Though he joined in the festivities
that the Matriarch ordered, he could not help feeling depressed.
Patience came with presents for Pao-Yu to felicitate him
on the happy phenomenon in his courtyard, but when she
was alone with pervading Fragrance she said: "Nai-nai
says that this flower is some what portentious and that you
should hang some red silk upon it so that it would be
charged into a propitious sign."
BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY'S
BY TRUMAN CAPOTE
"Another thing, I've thrown away my horoscopes. I
must have spent a dollar on every goddamn star in the
goddamn planetarium. It's a bore, but the answer is good
things only happen to you if you're good. Good? Honest
is more what I mean. Not law-type honest-I'd rob a
grave, I'd steal two-bits off a dead man's eyes if I thought
it would contribute to the day's enjoyment-but unto-
thyself-type honest. Be anything but a coward, a pre-
tender, an emotional crook, a whore: I'd rather have
cancer than a dishonest heart."
Yet went she not, as not with such discourse
Delighted, or not capable her ear
Of what was high: such pleasure she reserved,
Adam relating, she sole auditress;
Her husband the relater she preferred
Before the Angel, and of him to ask
Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix
Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute
With conjugal caresses: from his lip
Not words alone pleased her. O! when meet now
Such pairs, in love and mutual honour joined?
BY JEAN DE BERG
TRANSLATED BY JUAN MUNTANER
'Now, caress it,' Claire said.
Anne stretched her right hand towards the half-open
heart of the flower. With gentle fingers she touched the
edges of the petals, hardly brushing the pink velvety flesh.
She ran her fingertips round the central hollow of the
flower, slowly, again and again. She carefully spread open
the inner petals and then closed them again with the tips
of her five fingers.
When she had spread and refolded the heart of the rose
in this way two or three more times, she suddenly inserted
her middle finger into it, so deeply that almost the whole
digit was swallowed up by the dark hollow. Then, very
slowly, she extracted her finger, only to plunge it once
more into the shadow.
'She has pretty hands,' Claire said. 'Wouldn't you say?'
BLOOD AND GUTS IN HIGH SCHOOL
BY KATHY ACKER
We still didn't have any emotions but underneath....
It's hard to get beyond sex:
My legs are split apart. Knees up. Fish is open. One hand on clit.
Left leg raised up. Right leg bent and horizontal. Hand under left leg;
middle finger all way in cunt.
Legs spread; ass up. Third and fourth fingers, V open cunt wide.
A FAREWELL TO ARMS
BY ERNEST HEMINGWAY
"Has he the syphilis?"
"I don't know."
"I'm glad you haven't. Did you ever have anything like that?"
"I had gonorrhea."
"I don't want to hear about it. Was it very painful, darling?"
"I wish I'd had it."
"No you don't."
"I do. I wish I'd had it to be like you. I wish I'd stayed with
all your girls so I could make fun of them to you."
"That's pretty picture."
"It's not a pretty picture you having gonorrhea."
"I know it. Look at it snowing now."
"I'd rather look at you. Darling, why don't you let your hair
BY HARUKI MURAKAMI
TRANSLATED BY ALFRED BIRNBAUM
Come evening, she went out to do some shop-
ping in the neighborhood, then made dinner. Tem-
pura and rice with string beans. And beer.
"Eat well and make lots of sperm," said Midori.
"And I'll shoot it off for you."
"Thank you," I said.
IN SEARCH OF LOST TIME
BY MURCEL PRUOUST
SCOTT MONCRIEFF AND TERENCE KILMARTIN
She was not, moreover, frivolous, read a great deal when
she was alone, and read aloud to me when we were together.
She had become extremely intelligent. She would say, quite
falsely in fact: "I'm appalled when I think that but for you I
should still be quite ignorant. Don't contradict. You have
opened up a world of ideas to me which I never suspected,
and what ever I may have become I owe entirely to you."
The wife of Buddha had asked she would have allowed him. She
was a brave woman. If Buddha had asked she would have allowed
him; there would have been no problem about it, but Buddha
would not ask. He was afraid something might go wrong, she
might start crying and weeping or something. But the fear was not
because of her-the fear was deep down in himself. He was afraid
it would be difficult for him to leave Yashodhara weeping and cry-
ing. The fear is always of oneself. It would be very cruel and he
could not be so cruel, so it was better to escape while his wife was
asleep. So he escape.
will love, and through love will flower the meditative state, the
samadhi. Satori will come, but deep down in the roots will be love
and satori will become the flower. For male energy satori will be in
the roots, samadhi will be in the roots, meditation will be in the
roots, and then love will flower. But love will be a flowering.
THE EMPTY BOAT
Even a laugh is greater than any philosophy, and when someone
laughs about life he understands it. So all those who have really known
have laughed. And their laughter can be heard even after centuries.
His laughter can be heard even now. Those who have ears to hear, they
will hear his laughter, just like a river flowing down through the cen-
In Zen monasteries in Japan, disciples still ask the master, "Tell us,
Master, why did Mahakashyapa laugh?"
Christians say Jesus never laughed. This seems absolutely foolish. Jesus
must have laughed and he must have laughed so totally that his whole
being must have become laughter-but the disciples couldn't hear it, that
is true. They must have remained closed, their own seriousness projected.
They could see Jesus on the cross because you all live in such suffer-
ing that you can only see suffering. If they had heard Jesus laughing,
they would have omitted it. It is so contradictory to their life, it doesn't
fit in. A Jesus laughing doesn't fit in with you, he becomes a stranger.
A flower on the tree is different because life, the shape of life, is
flowing in it. When you cut it from the tree, take it to the lab, examine
it, it is a different flower. Don't be deceived by the appearance of it.
Now life is no longer flowing in it. You may come to know the chemical
composition of the flower, but that is not the explanation.
A poet has a different approach, not through dissection, but through
love, not through uprooting the flower from the tree but rather
through merging with the flower, being with it in deep love, in a par-
ticipation mystique. He participates with it, then he comes to know
something, and that is not an explanation. Poetry cannot be an expla-
nation, but it has a glimpse of the truth. It is truer than any science.
THE MUSTARD SEED
Somebody asked Basho, a Zen master, "Say something about
your lectures. You go on talking and still you talk against words.
You go on talking, and in those talks you go on talking against
words and against talking. So say something about it!"
What did Basho say? Basho said, "Others talk- I bloom!"
THE SPACE OF LITERATURE
BY MAURICE BLANCHOT
TRANSLATED BY ANN SMOCK
And what is the work? The exceptional moment when
possibility becomes power, when the mind-law or empty form rich
only in undetermined potentiality-becomes the certainty of a realized
form, becomes this body which is form and this beautiful form which is
a lovely body. The work is mind, and the mind is the passage, within
the work, from the supreme indeterminacy to the determination of
that extreme. This unique passage is real only in the work-in the work only
an opportunity to recognize and exercise itself ad infinitum. Thus we
return to our point of departure.
In a poem, one of his last, Rilke says that interior space "translates
things." It makes them pass from one language to another, from the
foreign, exterior language into a language which is altogether interior
and which is even the interior of language, where language names in
silence and by silence, and makes of the name a silent reality. "Space
(which) exceeds us and translates things" is thus the transfigurer, the
translator par excellence. But this statement suggests more: is there not
another translator, another space where things cease to be visible in order
to dwell in their invisible intimacy? Certainly, and we can boldly give it
its name. This essential translator is the poet, and this space it the poem's
space, where no longer is anything present, where in the midst of absence
everything speaks, everything returns into the spiritual accord which is
open and not immobile but the center of the eternal movement.
BEING AND TIME
BY MARTIN HEIDEGGER
TRANSLATED BY JOAN STAMBAUGH
The preparatory interpretation of the fundamental structures of
Da-sein with regard to its usual and average way of being-in which it is
also first of all historical-will make the following clear: Da-sein not only
has the inclination to be entangled in the world in which it is and to
interpret itself in terms of that world by its reflected light; at the same
time Da-sein is also entangled in a tradition which it more or less explic-
itly grasps. This tradition deprives Da-sein of its own leadership in ques-
tioning and choosing, This is especially true of that understanding (and
its possible development) which is rooted in the most proper being of
Da-sein-the ontological understanding.
The tradition that hereby gains dominance makes what it "trans-
mits" so little accessible that initially and for the most part it covers it
over instead. What has been handed down it hands over to obvious-
ness; it bars access to those original "wellsprings" out of which the tra-
ditional categories and concepts were in part genuinely drawn. The tra-
dition even makes us forget such a provenance altogether. Indeed, it
makes us wholly incapable of even understanding that such a return is
necessary. The tradition uproots the historicity of Da-sein to such a
degree that it only takes an interest in the manifold forms of possible
types, directions, and standpoints of philosophizing in the most remote
and strangest cultures, and with this interest tries to veil its own ground-
lessness. Consequently, in spite of all historical interest and zeal for a
philologically "objective" interpretation, Da-sein no longer understands
the most elementary conditions which alone make a positive return to
the past possible-in the sense of its productive appropriation.
HOWARD V. HONG AND EDNA H. HONG
Anyone who has had any opportunity to observe young
girls, to listen secretly to their conversation, has certainly
heard this kind of talk: "N.N. is a good person, but he is
boring; but F.F., he is so interesting and exciting." Every
time I hear these words in a little miss's mouth, I always
think, "You ought to be ashamed; isn't it sad for a young
girl to talk that way." If a man has gone astray in the inter-
esting, who is to save him if not a girl? And does she not
do wrong thereby? Either the person referred to is unable to
provide it, and then it is tactless to ask it, or he is able; and
then.....For a young girl who does always loses as far as the
idea is concerned, for the interesting can never be repeated;
she who does not do it always triumphs.