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Reading Yamada Eimi Spies, Alwyn 1996

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READING YAMADA EI MI by ALWYN SPIES B.A., The University of Victoria, 1991 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Asian Studies) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required sjjandard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 1996 © Alwyn Spies, 1996  In  presenting  degree freely  at  this  the  thesis  in  University  of  available for reference  copying  of  department publication  this or of  thesis by  this  for  his thesis  or  partial British  Columbia,  and study.  of  her  I further  Department The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada  requirements that the  agree  may be  representatives.  for financial  the  I agree  scholarly purposes  permission.  DE-6 (2/88)  fulfilment  gain shall  It not  is  that  an  advanced  Library shall  make  it  permission for extensive  granted  by  understood be  for  allowed  the that  without  head  of  my  copying  or  my written  ABSTRACT Reading Yamada Eimi by Alwyn Spies  The Japanese novelist Yamada Eimi has published many controversial and popular books. As she herself lives openly and controversially in the same way that she writes, Yamada Eimi the person is often confused with the narrators of her stories. This essay is not only a reading of her texts, but also an analysis of how "Yamada Eimi," the author, is embedded into these texts and then consumed by the reader. Starting first with two examples of diametrically opposed readings by the North American critics Richard Okada and Kuwahara Yasue, I then outline my reading which falls somewhere in between Okada's and Kuwahara's. Several Japanese readings of Yamada's writings indicate that Yamada creates her own world with its own value system and then draws the readers into this system. In Chapter One, a close reading of three of Yamada's works shows that this system is an aesthetic code that defines the behaviour, dress and attitude of the female characters in the stories. Chapter Two then shows how this code is communicated to the readers. The homosocial "sister" relationships that allow this communication are also part of how the readers are drawn in. In Chapter Thriee I combine the aesthetic code with the "sister structure" to illustrate how the reader is also included in a sister relationship with Yamada Eimi.. Back full circle, I then show how different readings of the same texts become possible.  ii  T A B L E OF CONTENTS  Abstract Table of Contents Acknowledgment INTRODUCTION Chapter 1  The Aesthetic  Chapter 2  The Sister Structure  Chapter 3  Conclusions  Bibliography  \  ,  iii  A C K N O W L E D G M E N T  I would like to express my profound gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Kinya Tsuruta for his intellectual support, guidance and loyalty. I would also like to thank Dr. Joshua Mostow and Dr. Lorraine Weir for their contributions to this thesis and to my learning. I could not have completed this without the moral and emotional support of my friends, my family and the other graduate students in my program and at Green College. I am especially indebted to Georgina Spies, Catherine Milsum, Bill Smith, and Miss Daisy. Thank-you for believing in me.  iv  INTRODUCTION  E i t h e r hailed as a sexually "liberated" woman writer, or panned for sexually colonizing African-American men, Yamada E i m i is frequently i n the midst of controversy. T h a t she is a talented and proficient writer is not usually debated; her bold and beautiful style is much noted and well appreciated, as indicated by the literary awards that she has received . B y the same token, the awards that 1  she has not received indicate the controversial aspects of the content of her stories . T h e critics, focusing mainly on the sexual aspects of Yamada's stories, 2  tend to m a r k out two extremes -- liberation or exploitation - and then choose sides. Everyone seems to be in agreement that both racist and feminist elements can be found i n the sexuality depicted i n Yamada's writing, yet critical debates are largely centred on deciding which element is dominant. Richard Okada says that he reads "the contemporary and controversial Japanese woman writer Y a m a d a E i m i like' a feminist and 'like' a male ethnic academic," indicating that he considers both race and gender issues (Okada 113). H e also reads the relationships i n Yamada's stories as Japanese women "othering" black men. Y a m a d a uses stereotypes about black male sexuality (using "black men" as things to prove her sexual power) and therefore assumes a subject position "analogous to that of Said's Orientalist scholars" (117). This position is "white" because the object of her vision is "black," and we are reminded "that tyamada won the 1985 Bungei New Writer's Prize for Beddo taimu aizu (Bed Time Eyes) the 1987 Naoki Award for Soru mviliikku - rabdzu onrl (Soul Music. Lovers Only) the Hirabayashi Taiko Award in 1988 for F&so no kvdshitsu (Burying Them in the Wind) and the 1991 Women's Literature Prize for Torasshu (Trash).  Yamada has been nominated for the Akutagawa prize three times (1985 for Bed Time Eves. 1986 for Jesshi no sebone, and 1987 for Chocho no tensoku) but has yet to win. 1  post-war J a p a n has positioned itself as a kind of 'West' to much of the nonWestern world" (117). In short, Okada claims that Y a m a d a assumes the role of coloniser when she has her characters have sexual relations with AfricanAmericans. "While he does admit that she might be seen positively as a "daring woman writer," overall, she is doing more damage than good. H e explains that Y a m a d a E i m i is not an individual woman but an "ojosan," a leisured and affluent Japanese "princess" who has the power to consume "ethnic" men (119). Not only is she a "colonist," but she is also a failed lesbian: "There is nothing subversive i n Yamada's primarily heterosexual mode, which actually serves to perpetuate patriarchal notions of sexuality...especially when the 'personal' desire she represents is to a large extent the product of a modernized image of sexuality that she simply relocates i n trendy ethnic and subcultural contexts" (121). In describing relationships with black men (the trendy ethnic context), by taking the power tp gaze at them, to other them, she is assuming a western (national) position. Furthermore, instead of subverting the status quo with lesbian love (the trendy subcultural context), because the female-female relationships are never consummated she ends up supporting patriarchy. K u w a h a r a Yasue takes the opposite view. She finds that Yamada's work is extremely critical of the patriarchal status quo i n J a p a n and that it gives women an active and independent sexual vision. She states that Yamada's characters choose black men because black men, unlike Japanese men, will accept strong women who are older and experienced and do not want to get married. K u w a h a r a seems to think that Y a m a d a is using black stereotypes to strengthen her protest against the Japanese female stereotypes that discriminate against aspiring women, by making their rebellion more noticeable. Y a m a d a allies herself with  2  -  black resistance: "Amy [sic] continues her struggle to be accepted as a h u m a n through her literary work. Amy's work exemplifies the feeling independent women have toward Japanese society today-- 'make me sick" (Kuwahara 115). 1  I would argue that while these two positions are very different politically, they are very similar i n logic. Both are based on a decision to champion either race, or gender and both assume that sexual positions can be pure (pure victim or pure victimizer). Whether it is post-colonial one-upmanship or feminist one-down, both arguments use the same vertical, black or white logic — either eat or be eaten. T h e arguments are over the author's intention and the conclusions that the critics draw tend to tell you more about the critics' political agendas than Y a m a d a Eimi's. Whether or not Y a m a d a is inadvertently recreating stereotypes about sexual domination or using such stereotypes to make a point about stereotypes, as both O k a d a and K u w a h a r a have accurately pointed out, the stereotypes do exist i n her stories. T h a t there is not enough information i n the texts to clearly decide who is dominating and who is being dominated is very telling. Leaving value judgements aside, that both arguments can be supported by the same texts is the basis, the starting point for m y argument. I think that it is possible to argue that the extreme positions are there for structural, as well as political reasons. The stories are set up so that the characters are never i n one position for long enough to make them "pure" anything. T h e motion, the vacillation between extremes, creates a tension that drives the plot i n most of her stories and, I would argue, rather than a static "or," I t h i n k that the world that Y a m a d a creates i n her writing is based on a fluid "and." T h e author and her characters live i n a state of flux i n the interstices, the "ma" (Fir]) between the stereotypes. Drawing the readers into the system, she uses  3  /  '•  •  the closeness between the main character's voice and the author's voice to play with her audience. This is made explicit i n her semi-autobiographical novel, Kneel Down and L i c k M y Feet. One of the main characters, an s/m queen turned writer, like Y a m a d a herself, talks to her mentor about how much she has learned through her work at the s/m club:  I actually have both'S' and 'M elements, too. I'm glad that I have enough self-awareness to see it. / think that the people who aren't aware or who can't get in touch with it are probably incredibly boring people. Y o u can really see this i n novels, I think....  / think  this is because [the writers] just don't understand how the mix of'S' and 'Af elements, or delicate and rough emotions are combined inside people. I think that it's necessary for everyone to understand the fact that, for example, there are people who can say 'kneel down and lick my feet' at the same time as there are people who can say 'please let me kneel down and lick your feet.' I absolutely want to be the kind of person who can say both of these things ... I wonder how many people there are i n this world who are aware of the two elements within themselves and have managed to strike a proper balance. K D 303-4 [emphasis mine] if  t i i t © i i i i 5 ^ A H ^ , '• -5 ^ t o * T,  =  fc.C^Cfc*.  S t\ A C * « ^ ^ t ,S ^ A/fc" ^Iftt 0fcb 0  [. . . ] Afflcrtc a j s t f tum^  4  6fc"t B5 A, tc fc fc A tf, ' !> 0  * f ^ t JE.* Sift ft  t " ? t ^ - c S i i 3 A t f e * 8 o T : ' c , fl? e> fc t l ? . S S S s t C * ^  * *  i  .  if*-.e>fcW'*3Affl-C3M •  A tt A/ T . faj A O 3 fc 5 5 , (HA 303-4) According to this character, good interesting novels and good interesting people have both extremes -- rough and delicate - and balance their expression. This kind of instability, or playing with roles, seems to make readers/critics uncomfortable (which may be exactly what the author is intending) at the same time that it attracts them. Yamada's stories make the readers vacillate between love and hate, attraction and repulsion. The ambivalence created by Yamada's writing has been noted by various Japanese critics. Kuritsubo Yoshiki states: Satisfied with the warmth of a small family in a small house, carefully using the spare change, urged on by the larger forces, the petit bourgeois reader notes the difference between him or herself and the narrators in Yamada Eimi's novels and feels yearning. If you think of the narrators as a kind of machine that makes the normal in people's everyday lives seem different, it is easy to understand. People think that Yamada Eimi is the narrator depicted in the stories. As they vacillate between contempt and yearning, they slowly get caught up in the Yamada literary world. (Kuritsubo 136) tt^Hfeioafefcfc*)* CMC i JSC .  6 h T # <'brrlfStJI OTCvSgfctt, ©<jB,>tjSJDSS*¥tili?-3. tf,  *-tfi*3Jri§S!£:«  iLfflfill©'hSH-  fiftfc&o.  ^ T i ^ A ^ a ^ i ) U < a  ik>*3^fi©<fc $ £ £ £ 0 T ^ 3  fcJSAtfftfr  t>o A * B , . d j E B S * H ' t . ( , ^ < 3 B > i \ t  G'hO^^C,  ^©<*A>  *J'**  f ^ i a c ^  ^OTt>iJjffliC¥©1*ff t « *  ^A/T  * < © fc, (Kuritsubo 136)  In order to make the readers question what normal is, they are made to feel excluded and different. They need to be convinced of the "value" of Y a m a d a and her narrators' "culture," and then shown how they don't belong yet. While this subversion of the normal can be seen as liberating, it also creates different restrictions elsewhere. Y a m a d a moves the lines, she does not destroy them. If you do not fit into Yamada's shoes, then you cannot fit into Yamada's world, even if you want to. The commentary by Junko Sakai i n the paperback edition of Freak Show explains this alienation well:  I have never met Y a m a d a E i m i but like all women who have ever read even one of Yamada Eimi's works, m y head is full of images of her.  I think that Y a m a d a  E i m i , while i n the same world, must move i n completely different circles, socialize with completely different people, and have completely different conversations than I do. Most of Y a m a d a Eimi's readers probably do too. Why? Because after reading Y a m a d a Eimi's Bedtime Eyes. I have and always will think of her as a cool, stylish person who knows how to 6  have fun. I have for a long while now, considered this fun-loving type of person w i t h a complicated mixture of yearning, jealousy and fear. (FS 215)  *  o fc < a  0 J: 5  ^  E-tf'sK * f t B f l > \  o  ^ ^ j$ a* A "  "  •  * 0fc  t> -c o s A « © T a s  -5 # s  T  *(,\w, m  o  LLI E f;5;|i £ A> <D ^  35 § z t'*.  t & c  *J  F  ss t; set x # fc e> L\Oiisi©AitEwo,.ii  t  (FS 214)  The writer of this commentary does not consider herself sufficiently "cool" or "stylish" to live like "Yamada E i m i " does. She is measuring herself against the narrators, whom she assumes to be Y a m a d a , and openly holds i n h i g h estimation. T h i s measuring, and the resulting feelings of inadequacy, indicate that S a k a i has been d r a w n into the Y a m a d a literary world. I n this thesis, w h i c h is m y reading of Y a m a d a E i m i , I w i l l first show what i t is t h a t readers, such as S a k a i , measure themselves against. Following this is an  7  explanation of how this is communicated through the text. In conclusion, I will outline the different types of relationships readers have with Y a m a d a Eimi's texts, and explain how some readers are drawn and why some are not. I have chosen to include the citations from Japanese sources i n both E n g l i s h translation and i n the original Japanese. I did not transliterate these citations because Japanese written i n roman letters is a n inconvenience to readers who can understand Japanese, and those who do not will not be reading the Japanese citation i n any case. The Japanese characters on the page serve as a reminder that the novels being read are not English, and are not, for the most part, available i n full translation. T h e spaces between the English and the Japanese are both literal and figurative. O n l y two of Yamada's books have been fully translated: Hokaso no kiinoto , translated by Sonya Johnson and published as After School Keynotes: and Torasshu and Jesshi no sebone , also translated by Sonya Johnson, have been compiled and the translation published as T r a s h . The first chapter of the novel Hiza mazuite ashi wo oname has been translated as "Kneel Down and L i c k M y Feet" and published i n a collection of short stories called Monkey B r a i n Sushi: New Tastes i n Japanese Fiction. I have included Japanese citations for all texts that were originally written i n Japanese. The English translations for After School Keynotes, and Trash quotations are Sonya Johnson's; i n all other citations that have both Japanese and English, the translation is mine. Please note that abbreviations of the texts' Japanese title are used i n citations i n Japanese, while the abbreviations for English versions are a form of the translated title.  8  CHAPTER ONE  THE AESTHETIC  A s mentioned above, the overriding theme of Yamada's work concerns how to have fun. T h e ideal woman - i n terms of physical appearance, clothes, hair, make-up, perfume, accessories, music, boyfriends, lifestyle, job, food, drink, and spoken language - is systematically mapped out over Yamada's literary.repertoire in the semi-journalistic, semi-confessional how-to tone of a fashion magazine. Like such magazines, "lifestyle" is defined not only i n terms of tastes and goods consumed but also other behaviours and the requisite feelings, morality, attitude, and values. T a k i n g details from various writings, it is possible to draw a composite picture of the ideal Y a m a d a woman and her lifestyle. In Hokagono kiinoto (After School Keynotes), a collection of short stories that was, not coincidentally, serialized i n a youngs women's fashion magazine called Olive, "the  s  • \  Way" is made much more explicit. True to its context, Y a m a d a explains to high  j  '  school girls how to be a cool stylish woman, like herself. The line separating Y a m a d a f r o m her readership (the measuring line) is drawn clearly between "adult" and "child" with both terms precisely defined. E v e n though the same aesthetic runs through all of Yamada's works, because the rules are made so patently clear i n the stories i n After School Keynotes. I quote from them extensively. The most important aspect of what I consider to be Yamada's aesthetic, is a general tendency to combine opposites or extremes or to emphasize contrasts, contradictions or paradoxes for appreciation. The enjoyment of that which is not 3  One of the most obvious examples of the "Yamada literary world" is her name. While her real name is Yamada Futaba (illfflMM) she signs her books and essays with Yamada Eimi (ill fflf*)t). Her self-designed first name is'pronounced like the English 3  9  1  /  normally held to be enjoyable, such as sadness, pain or fear, or the enjoyment of transgression (that which is not socially acceptable), is valorized. Describing the relationship between a high school teacher and his student, the narrator of "Salt and Pepa" i n After School Keynotes states: "It was something that wasn't supposed to happen. A n d because of that, it was all the more beautiful." ( A S K 131)  ( M r # O f r 6,  Jtt^GHO  (  § c t O i i ' S i © f c © f c " o feo ( H K 141)  Beauty is often connected to sadness, as the girl having the affair with her 4  teacher explains to the narrator i n "Salt and Pepa": "You keep saying 'beautiful,' 'beautiful^' but beautiful love brings sadness with it, too." ( A S K 142)  &#  ,  ^  153) In this passage, the Japanese word "suteki" (^U?) is translated by Sonya Johnson as "beautiful," but it can also mean "great" or "grand" and I have, i n other places i n this thesis, used the colloquial "cool" as an equivalent because I think that Y a m a d a often uses it i n a different context from words like "utsukushii" or "kirei" which also mean "beautiful". Beautiful sadness is a recurring theme, and it is often used to poeticize or elevate what would otherwise be just another doomed dead-end relationship. It seems to me that this exaltation of casual relationships is being used to justify promiscuity --. call it serial monogamy, convince yourself that you are i n love, and everything is morally sanitary. Interestingly enough, "Amy" and when written in English is spelled "Eimi" or "Amy" interchangeably. Both eastern and western, Yamada's new first name symbolizes not only that she has recreated her "self," but that she is a professional writer. The character for "Ei" in "Eimi" means "to write poems" while "mi" means 'beautiful." ^Setsunai," which can be translated as "sad" but is probably closer to a more literary "pathos," seems to be a favourite word of Yamada's. She has edited a collection of short stories in Japanese called Setsunai hanashi (Sad Stories) by a variety of western and Japanese writers such as Setouchi Harumi, Tanabe Seiko, Murakami Ryuu, D.H. Lawrence, Camus, Miller and Baldwin. In an essay that closes the collection she claims that experiencing "setsunai" feelings through reading stories is an adult luxury.'(S 382)  10  appreciating this sadness, or having experienced this sadness is described in one of the After School Keynotes stories as indicating maturity: "Sadness separated [sic] the women from the children." (ASK 20)  B 0 * tt ~k * * A £ ? f& £  (t 3  (HK 19) Yamada seems to use the word "kanashii" (sad) interchangeably with the word "setsunai" (see footnote 4) when she is describing the requisite feeling connected to falling in (properly doomed) love, which, in the following case, is eloquently described as, "the feeling you get when you're in love of wanting to cry." (ASK 128)  & t 5 B#<D >£ *  it <£ o tt fL&o (HK 139) In many ways, Yamada's  aesthetic approach is very conservative and traditional. It is very closely connected to theI "mono no aware" (sensitivity to pathos) aesthetic which is an intrinsic part of classical Japanese literature. The tradition prevails to the present day, and can be seen very clearly in "pure literature" (junbungaku). A very good example is Kawabata's last novel, Beauty and Sadness. Yamada, though, puts a new spin on the age-old fascination with images of beautiful women destined to early ends: [It] frightened me, not knowing much about things between men and women. And it also attracted me. It felt kind of dangerous, I thought. Even so, I was captivated in the same way a beautiful woman smoking a cigarette strikes you as elegant, even though you know it's bad for the health. (ASK 13)  * tiBflt  tm  tfcfc  t £ ot <*D e>tt ^fL*?&tf e > £ .  ULtt  y  0*5<Dfc"o  Ziz.  11  (HK 12)  0  F e a r and attraction, danger and elegance (the word i n Japanese is "suteki" again) are paired to produce what is obviously meant to be a positive description. Following the "and" rule, it seems only fitting that Y a m a d a would also enjoy breaking the traditions, or using traditional literary forms to valorize the radical or taboo. The ideal woman, the role model for the narrator, is a beautiful, mature, self-confident, independent, straightforward individual who knows what she likes and knows how to get it. Needless to say, this is not the traditional ideal woman i n Japanese society or letters, and because it is at such variance with the norm, its glorification causes strong reactions. In readers, as per Sakai Junko, it causes ambivalence, or derision, but i n the narrator/protagonist, it causes admiration:  K a n a had no younger sister or any particular group of friends she went around with. She was always alone -independent. She didn't suck up to anyone and no one pulled her strings. She didn't have any sticky relationships like that. God, she was tremendous. I was filled with admiration for her. E v e n people older t h a n us need to entwine themselves around others i n order to confirm their own existence. ( A S K 11)  12  3<J:?£^fe^fcra#.*ftfc'«fro-*£ fr'S:*.  i ,  ,  7c fr 6 f A ' a : ® " R G T G * i O E , B £ < f c o T .  A * a-.  S e t ftfe *5 © ^ I T  iiHA i S l * •  © ?? S £ fflSSiiJ * S fr CD ft: ©  0  '  toUU  <T B i ^ .  ( H K 9-10)  K a n a is being extolled for a strong sense of self and the ability to survive outside the group. Uniqueness and difference are often praised by Y a m a d a , and groups pose a threat to this kind of value system: "It was times like these I felt groups were frightening. F r o m the outset, groups smothered the fact that there were people different from them." ( A S K 118) ftatlo-c.  ^ojgfrtJlSo  fr 6>N 0 T C * o -c  iftfcSfcjfioAMtffrs  £ r\> #B# £ „  ci^$l*m«)  3 © fc"« ( H K 127) This individuality is usually  connected to "maturity" (especially i n After School Keynotes): "It made me wonder peevishly i f maybe you had to wait until you were grown-up to have individual tastes." ( A S K 110) A A G l 6 « fr fc f i l l ' s h, T i t T 3 t S fr' *» © £ f  © fr 0 6 ,  £ * A- T , I o T G" * * fc o ( H K 119) Taste and style are key to  being a unique individual according to Yamada. In and out of the stories, m a n y of those who are excluded from the Yamada group, those who do not have taste or style, envy and dislike those who do. The narrators, while presently lacking the ideal attributes, are at least able to appreciate their value i n a straight-forward manner:  T h e y would all r u n M a r i down behind her back at some time of other, but I liked her. M a r i was every bit as frank and forthright as her style suggested. She was 13  the k i n d of girl who didn't suck up to anyone and that's why people got the wrong impression about her. ( A S K  68)  Eft*  U  fc Tfe^ffitttcc^fc" o  ftaffifetf  o fey f.SCJrtf.  fe,  fentc  fe*tFfc  y  feo ( H K 74)  There are types of girls, and certain types are good while others are unequivocally bad. Women who flirt, or "suck up to people" (81 V 3 3  s  JJI £ TO  "kobiru" or "feo&i wo ura") are of the very worst category i n Yamada's  hierarchy of values. One of the narrators i n After School Keynotes gets accused of trying to act adult because she was wearing perfume, and she responds indignantly: "The way I saw it, the fragrance of a morning shampoo was much more of a come-on. Y o u felt like the person was making a production out of being natural and I didn't like it at all." ( A S K 153)  jK>6jis 3  0  fc.  +  -J?-<D%  i f f l * *>S£ii G T 0 3 cfc 5  y©w,  to  t m t m ? T 3 a  . ftttjf * 0'  otjg-x'  Oo ( H K 167)  Here, kobi wouru" is translated as a "come-on," which very accurately u  reflects the derision with which it is used i n the text. T h i s word is used i n a similar manner i n other of Yamada's works. The narrator i n Kneel Down and L i c k M y Feet, who is very defensive about her value system,  explains  that she has had sex for money at various times i n the past, but that she did not feel that it was wrong at all because she set her own limits; she only  14  slept with men she liked. To her, faking that you liked someone, ("kobi wo uru") was a much worse crime: "What I felt guilty about was not selling m y body, but selling m y favour." ( H A 20) PJB & * UC * It © B , it T B « < Si * 75 -s fcB# ( H A 20) Defining who you are by setting limits or creating your 0  own morality is part of being "beautiful" (suteki). /  A s mentioned above, there is a proper way to fall i n love. Y o u must  be aware of this before you start relationships: "In other words, a woman who isn't confident that it is all right to fall in love at any moment shouldn't go around liking anyone indiscriminately." ( A S K 151)  £ * fr (? & fr r\> tc.  0  "Sfr ' S A tiB"te,  fr  ( H K 164) There is also a proper way to fall out of love  (which fits well into the justification of promiscuity model): "It's important for there to be a conclusion to love. We girls cannot proceed to a new love without putting an end to the old one. Love is a stern obligation for girls, requiring every ounce of our strength." ( A S K 101) i S © g f AW<£Zttc  0  ftfc*£r.©?B.  ^ T ,  U f l © & * 3 5 A t & t D *MC G « f r £ & © & £ •  ( H K 109) T h i s applies when the girl initiates the parting process, "The smarter a girl is, the more she tries to end it simply." ( A S K 156)  * r ? H  fc^fc"<7T.  M#  If fr tr, ©  U ^ c , i ^ r i G ' * ' S : fr fr£ o  ( H K 170) There is even a proper method for dealing with getting dumped: "The girls I liked all dealt with being dumped quietly. T h e y would dig a tiny grave i n their hearts and gently, ever so gently, bury their love i n it 15  -  and cover it with dirt." ( A S K 93) & © # *  O & C . * ? C < . * ? 0 < ±**Mt3  tt  fc  5  tt  £ o fc & £ 3f  %  ( H K I 00)  0  Another part of the ideal woman's self-definition is the clothes, make-up, and accessories that she wears. B u t it is not i n having certain specific brands of clothing or anything so obvious. It is not being part of the majority and having the confidence to pull it off that makes you beautiful. H a v i n g style means following your own values, not following the crowd:  Sometimes I felt bur lives were dictated too much by details. Like working an after-school job because we want an outfit by such-and-such a designer. O r so-andso is cool because she goes to such-and-such a boutique ' all the time. B u t aren't those simply subjective judgements? [But those are not words that come from your own value system --] Saying "that brand" or "such-and-such a boutique" - that's pretty much a world where the majority rules. How many fabulous people would there be left around me, I wondered, i f it weren't for such useless accessories? (ASK 82)  t ^ ' T ^ U C ' ^ i ^ f r c , B# * Jg c T L "* O ofcfcX tt\ & *  £  © -J?  -J  F  © E&UEtfsX 0 O  ai^tt,  fc^cfijstaiA*)  6T  JI/VW  h  C T O S  1  > ?>*ssfA?oofcK--cfe, ^ n t t i ^ © f i f i i i ^ e>ai fc"SiiO"*tto  0  £©£JfiJ  r * ^ : ^ 7 ^ F j  © J : ? S © o T .  st 16  h,  tfr.  rfc^^  fc^ii>A©tlWfco  * o fr 5ttJ£ffifr\  frOfcfrofcfcCTfr.  '.SUfcEAffl--*  T , fr ofcfr"j&©**> y £ ftfc'tt fr 3 fc"3 ? fro ( H K 89)  In order to be a true and fabulous individual, one must avoid being trendy ("torendi" is another of Yamada's favourite derogative words). T h a t Y a m a d a counsels not to follow the fashion magazines like all the other girls is extremely ironic considering that Yamada is trying to start a new trend (the be-unique-like-me trend) through publishing her stories i n a fashion magazine. Although she does not advocate any brand names or specific "looks," she is equally prescriptive. It is as i f the fictional aspect of the directives somehow makes them different. Real style means that what you wear expresses your uniqueness, and once you have found that, you protect i t . When the narrator of "Sweet 5  Basil" asks the girl that she is jealous of what her perfume is, she refuses to tell: "It's a secret. It's a scent that suits me perfectly, so I don't want anyone else wearing it." (ASK 39)  fifEE  © o t r < a 6 ' 0 ^ i ' J fc" £ , ! o fr 6 /  ft  £ h fH ^ X 'iX L> < & fr © o ( H K 40) In a very similar manner, likes and dislikes are tied to self-expression, and uniqueness:  Truly, one perfume dictated a lot of different things. W h e n I'd made that perfume my own, I'd be able to choose things I liked. After deciding on one's likes and dislikes, as a final touch one chose a perfume to ^The opposite is apparently true too. When something you like becomes popular, you are supposed to stop using it. Yamada herself stopped using the perfume Poison after it got really trendy in Japan, as she says in the essay "Sutairu. e no doryoku" (Trying for Style) in Meiku mi shikku (Make Me Sick) (MMS208)  17  represent one's essence. (ASK 152)  © x y -t? ^ 7, t L T #7K  • (HK 166)  Not just perfume, but lipstick also symbolizes sexual maturity and selfconfidence: "Without supreme confidence in the sparkle of one's eyes, one couldn't leave them bare while wearing red lipstick." (ASK 97) II ©ft £ i  * 5 fr o a t © i t i ^ 3 A A © f e © A £ , ftBfr o f c ' l l t i 3 , (HK 105) When her boyfriend is stolen by an older woman who wears red lipstick on a bare face, Kazumi, in the story "Red Zone," is despondent until she realizes that one day she too will be an adult with the proper self-confidence for red lipstick: I'm waiting for myself. When red lipstick looks good on me, I'll show you. I'll get Saeki-kun. I'll make him my own when my heart grows into its true, beautiful self. (ASK 105)  ft,  ift© Z t  T3  0  #fr • SlfrflAo 5 d: 5 £ S o  - P t S ' * i 5 J © ' f c © t - t So (HK 113) 18  Again, the essential self is emphasized and is connected, along with consumer goods, to sexual maturity (however poetic). Independent and strong women know what they want and like sexually also. This is marked by their gaze. While feminine (sexy), they act like men because they are aggressive. This contrast (between their outward appearance and their behaviour) is again depicted as stylish. In Kneel Down and L i c k M y Feet. C h i k a describes how she enjoys looking at "brothers" (African-Americans):  If there's a good looking man, I'll look at him like I'm licking h i m from head to foot. A n d I'll whistle or I'll wink at him. I'll also tell him that I want to sleep with him. It's honest. It's also aggressive. A n d the m a n will act as i f it's completely natural for it to be this way. Women who are like men. I can't tell if this is progressive or regressive, but I don't think thatit's bad for women like this to exist. ( K D 40-41)  £ | f c ' S J J t f 0 f c 6 . SSftSfrtcfc o C I S , € o x . DIS  l E E f c o * 0 T , JS¥fl*jfc", * 3 -e\ * jfc,  J5 A?* 5 * . 3  ^ £ «* o K. } I 3 H O o JJ <D ct O tt&fc^ o M /o T O 3 CD J£ , £ £ M o T O 3 © * \  a t ttfl? 6 tt O o ( H A 40-41)  It is important to note here that being sexually aggressive does not preclude being "feminine"; the women described here are not trying to be men, but are only acting  like them. The same character i n Kneel Down and L i c k M v  Feet who enjoys looking also enjoys being looked at: 19  I didn't spend money to get black men. I bought dresses and accessories to make them happy. It was really young of me, but it felt good to dress up and walk by them. They're so straight-forward, they'd all look at once. I could tell that their gaze was glued to m y body. I wanted money so that I could taste that. ( K D 102-3)  fc *>©<[;£^*££ t S fc»=£, F Lj.tTi? A>fc'oT\  £ }ffi?S 0 T ,  6> &fr ofctao  flgft  ©Fifl £ *  Av&IEilfcfr 6>„  HztJ U  < B|©  ftgN T O i fc~  —^ £ f t © £ t  T £ ofl!SI fr"f*£ % 'J ft fr T ^ ©fr"j ; <fl?3 © 'ft  fcftG  fr'ift  Gfr^ fc© o ( H A  o fc  ^ . ^  ft  0  *  -3  ^ ft  102-3)  In After School Keynotes, as shown above, sexual initiation is often connected to the discovery of certain objects that symbolize entry into the adult (sexually active) world. Make-up, jewellery and various articles of clothing like sexy dresses, stockings, and high heels are regularly used as indicators of sexual maturity or availability, but you only really know that you've become a woman when a man notices: "It's fantastic to enjoy being a woman. W e a r i n g an open backed dress with a slit up the side, having all the men t u r n around and look at you: Nothing could; be more fun" ( A S K 120-1).  £rfc „  X Z t  h © A ^ fc^S-  0  © o T , m®.St  l-p.'flSi 'Jl6tt8CoT.  «fc o H £ ©H fr fclS^ 1  ftSS  Afc'fr ^>o  3,  ( H K 130)  In J a p a n , because high school girls are not allowed to wear them, these  v  objects are fairly standard "adult" markers, the wearing of which literally allows access to another world. 20  U9  While Y a m a d a E i m i is (in)famous for writing about sex, the sex scenes i n her novels are not as explicit as her reputation would suggest. There are, however, many candid and titillating details strung together to evoke a k i n d of sexually charged atmosphere. These details tend to be highly visual, or fetishistic descriptions of certain objects or body parts (usually female) which appear repeatedly throughout all of her stories. Gold anklets showing off slim ankles, hands holding cigarettes or drinks, saliva, wrinkles on bedsheets, high heels, and lipstick stains lead to an aesthetic rather than pornographic experience of sex. T h e sexual scenes are not abstract or alienated (either temporally or spatially) from the rest of the narrative though. They are obviously describing sexual intercourse yet do not focus on mechanics. Not unlike romance stories, the basic details of the act are glossed or euphemized and affective or other circumstantial details are emphasized. T h e language that Yamada uses to describe such scenes is a combination of tersely beautiful Japanese and bold English smut . In 6  many ways, this is reminiscent of Tanizaki and his foot fetish and the beautiful precision with which he balanced the tension of descriptions of shocking sexual transgressions with the anticipation of these events. The writer, C h i k a . i n Kneel Down and L i c k M y Feet states that she dislikes pornography because it shows too much. ( K D 176) Books are better because with reading you can exercise your senses. ( K D 177) She r  also draws a line between physical and emotional sex, or "sekkusu" and "meiku rabu". Sex is like eating, sleeping and defecating ~ an animal 'The impact of such words on Japanese readers is different than on native speakers. Instead of shocking the readers, English obscenities taken out of English context lend romantic aura — not to mention authenticity. > 21  function -- while making love is conceptual and special to humans. T h e writer C h i k a preaches to Japanese men who are obsessed with penis size: "You don't understand women's bodies at all [if you think that penis size matters to them.] If it is just moving your hips, it's the same as animals. If you're human, try having sex that uses your brains more." ( K D 33)  tu^fc'j:* IHIS'6,  ti  & © f * c JR. t j j f r ? f c - ( t « e>fh$jt|5](;fc"cfc  fl?oTttOfe,  feucBft^fioTt'ji'^OTr^,  A  0  ( H A 3 3 ) W h e n C h i k a is  asked about the preponderance of sex i n her novels, she replies that it is not sex, it is m a k i n g love: "I'm not interested i n sex. That's something that even animals can do. ... We should be doing what only humans can do, making love." ( K D 169) Ttii^S 7  ft  tt.  -t? v 5> a £ it faj 0 ffl 0* b tt O <t  ©fcfc © t a . . • • * o t f t ) t a A , 0  0  ft % £ fc *  AfflTfcttfttfasJft'Soy-i':*  £ C tt < 6 * O (? tt O ct fe A o ( H A 169) O f course, Y a m a d a contradicts herself by frequently connecting sex  (organs and act) with food. The metaphor of sex as eating, as animals consuming or devouring each other is present i n almost all of her stories . 7  One of the more infamous lines from Bed Time Eyes is the description of her Afro-American lover's "dikku" (dick) as looking like her "favourite sweet chocolate bar." ( B T E 10) &tt S? % © 7,0 i - h tt * 3 n U - h \ \ - t l i f t 0. ( B A 10) T h e parallels that Y a m a d a draws between sex and other forms of consumption bring upon her charges of sexual colonialism. Because the 'She does the opposite (eating as sex rather than sex as eating) in her essays. In the collection of essays called Watashi wa hen on doubutsu there are numerous examples. Essays such as "Oishiimono" (Delicious Things), "Fuisshu furai ni ikou" (Lefs Go to a Fish Fry), "Purofesshonaru iitaa" (Professional Eater) and "ohashi de meiku mi kamu" (Make Me Come With Chopsticks) are all about eating as a form of sexual self-expression, or just plain sexual pleasure.  22  men that her narrators choose are often African-Americans she also gets accused of racism. If you focus on the act of choosing rather than the object chosen, the same phenomenon becomes liberating. If sex really were to become just another form of recreation (rather than patriarchy's sacrosanct procreation), like wine, or books, or food, then sexual taste would be simply like other forms of consumption. C h i k a i n Kneel Down and L i c k M v Feet takes her friend and co-worker Shinobu to a disco where Japanese women go to meet Afro-American soldiers. She justifies their actions and their view of the world:  B u t you know, i f Japanese men came to a place like this they'd be really surprised. They wouldn't be looked at as men. Well, because people have different preferences. I hope they don't get depressed and keep trying though, because if there are women who say they like black men, there are women who only like white men, and there are lots of women who aren't happy unless they're with Japanese men. It's a waste of time to curse the women here. Right? In the same way that people have different taste i n food, there's different tastes i n men and women, that's all.  fctttf*,  ( K D 38)  z A , # ^ F / T £ B * A © ? ! f c S f r ' * f c *>U o <  y 13 fc's o ta i f t f c * tt * o fc < fj t fr o i x-fl <~> 0  ti £frrf,fc"fc©fe• * * , A£B£<'$?*fr"a&3/vfc fr ,  ?> * o f l £ J l £ 3 £ fr X WA, it o Xfc6frfcfrfch*fc"fcio MAfr'5?* * T f ? k f c frtttt\ 6 A f c ' t t S A - x f r -3k fcfr3 o  %  B * A . G " * S * *Jifc" *> T - i ? £ f c * >fcA l ?  fr 3 A/ fc'fr 6 <* c Z Z lei fr 3 kfc 6 23  * 3 <Dit mk V  © i l l 0"<fc ?  * S o Tfc"tt©£ i .  £JJ*tr^  ( H A 38)  E v e n though most of Yamada's stories are told from a woman's point of view, it is not always women eating men; a consuming-all love is reciprocal: "I guessed when they fall i n love, men and women become something for each other to eat." ( A S K 61)  & a * 3 t,  f|#© %  tftl  E S i T O J Hfe"5  *>  , ( H K 65)  Consumption is not just oral, it is also visual (like reading books). Being looked at is like being eaten. The passive "being looked at," as a self-confirming and enjoyable experience, can also be consumed: "I tasted all kinds of things on that island. Sweet sugar. Bitter living things from the ocean. Salty seawater. B u t the most delicious thing was that gaze of his on me." ( A S K 85) ?A, 35 © S"C\ % <? tt b<D0*t>otch  o  0  E"0 3S©IS i i * t s » o , 0  * S ^ O > i © 7 K o "Cfc, —#.  35 0  o fe© o T . H8©JFA£|S]tt e>nfeafe©!fJ|fe'o fet> ( H K 92) 0  In this case, "being looked at" is described using a positive noun, "his gaze," and thus becomes something that can be tasted and judged delicious. Both "eating" and "being eaten" can also then become evidence of good taste. In the same time that "being eaten" can be self-affirming, it can also symbolize a loss Of self because it means that someone else has control over you. Self is given and is simultaneously taken away, causing ambivalence:  Somehow I dreaded the idea of someone having that k i n d of influence over me. E a t me. I'll eat you, so eat me. I wondered if when humans became adults they went back to being animals. After all, this whole  24  business smacked of cannibalism, did it not? I yearned for romantic love, but to have such grotesque desires be part and parcel of it[?] (ASK 62)  OOtf'S*  C fr «fc S f c f i f r " * 3 . f i t S ^ T o  Z tbtL-V  3 fr e>  0  * /v^c  3 <D o --r:mBfc"o A f f l B . fc'flt,  t £A£© £T--i-2B#fr'^ c  ^ACSScftftl^oTO  £ ti ? -c, £ 3 -c&ra A l l  fg&fe fr 0' * £ f r ? P 7 .V? -r tit  ^Astiyu  &£fc©  i> £ & £ B ' I I h 3 Ct tf','  T ^ ^ ^ a ^ ^ s * ^ ^ ^ T ,  (HK66) A very representative sample of the main oppositions that appear throughout most of Yamada's writing can be found in this passage: child and adult; sexual immaturity and sexual knowledge; self-control and sexual abandon; human and animal; mind and body ("romantikku" (romantic) love and "gurotesuku" (grotesque) desire). Again in a very representative manner, the oppositions are tied together with the narrator's fear and yearning (II ti or "akogare ") for the yet unknown sexual side. The ambivalence and vacillation caused by the conflicting emotions of fear and yearning are, as mentioned above, an intrinsic part of the plot structure. Assigning the various elements of the oppositions their values, or creating an aesthetic that maps out what is beautiful and desirable, draws the reader in and makes the plot possible.  25  C H A P T E R  T W O  T H E  S I S T E R  S T R U C T U R E  Underlying the aesthetic described i n Chapter One is a system of relationships that allows this aesthetic to be communicated. One of the reasons, for being beautiful is to attract men; stylish sex is something that a stylish adult woman has i n Yamada's universe. One of the other reasons for being beautiful is to attract women; seeing envious looks (akogare) i n the eyes of other women is the ultimate compliment. In order for anything to be stylish, it must, by definition, be seen or otherwise judged from outside. Stylish relationships require a third party. A structural constant, i n Yamada's stories all couplings have a third party connected - either a confidante, mentor, witness or even participant. T h i s triangular structure tends to consist of two women and a man, though there are exceptions. Considering that social life i n J a p a n is for the most part gendersegregated, this is not surprising. Heterosexual women spend a lot of time with their female peers. T h e triangulation of relationships puts into clear relief another duality that is inherent i n much of Yamada's writing -- that between sex as act and sex as sign. In most of her stories sex is divided into two components: having sex and talking about sex. A s most of the sexis off the page (the reader only hears about it through the conversations of the narrator and a close female friend and does not actually get to "see") it is apparent that the sex itself is less important than what it stands for -- having the ability to choose, and the style to be chosen. In other words, with whom, when, where and i n what manner the sex occurs is more important than the act itself (however pleasurable it may be.)  26  1  In this sense, sex is commodified. Considering that, for the most part, it is sex with black men that is being "sold", it is easy to miss the second h a l f of the metaphor. Heterosexual sex is being packaged and dressed up by women to make it palatable and pleasing for women. It is not just rich spoiled Japanese women objectifying men, it is exclusive, stylized heterosexual sex i n a sophisticated, educated, and demanding homosocial market. The competition is not over the men, for this is not a marriage economy; it is more an identity economy with competition over the expression of individual taste. It is easy to get distracted by the interracial, promiscuous, paid, or s/m sex, but the female-female relationships are the centre of the stories and the characters' lives. Attracting men of a certain size, shape or colour is something almost any woman can learn to do; impressing other women is infinitely more difficult.  Hokaso no kiinoto (After School Keynotes) J '  '  •  V  .  .  T h e sister structure is very apparent i n the stories i n After School Keynotes.  A l l of the stories are narrated i n the first person and are centred  around the relationship between the female narrator and a female friend. T h e gradual awakening of the narrator to the attraction of the adult sexual world forms the basic plot line which is revealed through the narrator's monologue which reports conversations between the narrator and her girlfriend. T h e narrator is always naive, yet incredibly sensitive and curious, whereas the girlfriend is worldly and detached from high school life, yet willing to divulge her expertise to the narrator. T h e relationship is always described i n older sister - younger sister, or "sempai - kohai" (senior - junior) terms, even though i n most cases the girls are  27  the same age, suggesting that there is a hierarchy within the peer group. T h e older sister/sempai is shunned by fellow classmates for being "different", and it is the younger sister/narrator's secret yearning for this difference, or sexual maturity, that draws them together. •i  -  -  •  .  ..  .  .  In the story, "Body Cocktail", the relationship between the narrator and a fellow classmate named K a n a fits perfectly the description above. T h e narrator notices that K a n a is quiet and somewhat distant from the other students, and this attracts her attention. W h e n K a n a reciprocates, the narrator can not quite believe or understand why she has been selected for the honour. She conjectures: "Anyone -- m a n or woman -- who likes you, really and truly, must look cute. I guess K a n a thought I was cute. Anyway, she was kind to me." ( A S K 13) • 9 i C « o T ^'8 A M t t f l f cf L fr o fc „  H x 3©fc"5  , £ o .fc-oTSB <  o  o  S 55"£ £  s - J - a . ft£  ( H K 12) T h e y talk often and a relationship is formed, but it is not  between equals: "As I talked excitedly, m y cheeks flushed. K a n a looked at me with fondness, just like I was a younger sister." ( A S K 15) £S n*'£ S f ft * ,  A t l J j H a S J i o ^ i ^ ^ t ' I t tvfc  0  ft  T,  5  tifi  ( H K 14) P a r t of being a  younger sister is being privy to the older sister's secrets. K a n a tells the narrator all about her affair with an older man. Following the aesthetic, this relationship is already ending which makes K a n a sad and all the more beautiful i n the narrator's eyes:  I liked looking at K a n a . The other kids kept their distance because she was too mature, but m y eyes would always fix on her. Whenever I looked at her, I felt I was reading a French novel. It was sweet, but it 28.  wasn't sugary like candy. It was soft, but not like cream. A n d it was bitter, but it was different from the bitterness of chocolate. (ASK 20)  . & tt a ± * ft 5 ©  * fc'. f6.©/?.fc *3 tt i" AAV  •tC.*'»jaOTO«(ttl.t.;'  fcffi  Jtt©ittOOfcffitc©t'i5-  ©^§#£11 ^ ^ 3 t t f i £ t t  tivitn  ® ! | * a ^ - © t t S T t t £ O o ' ' ' ' S O t t t l £ f c . ;> U - - A © * 6  * T f c tt 0 0 iB L X t  fcite>©fe"o  v  iXMt tlffc.'f 3 3 1 - ^ ( H K 19)  Again, being looked at is valorized, things are ambiguously different,: and food is involved along with the adjectives "bitter" and "sweet." The narrator is often i n a middle position between the precocious sexual sempai and the peer group. This makes her different and makes her stand out somewhat which is usually how a relationship with the older sister is initiated. In "Crystal Silence," a group of girls at a coffee shop discuss their summer vacations. The narrator notices that the group is making fun of one girl, M a r i , because she dresses differently (sexy rather than cute) and feels sorry for her: "I was the only one who was upset." (ASK 69)  ftttt>  o . T Ofc0 ( H K 75)  t}) Teit & £ o X It  O n l y the narrator is sensitive enough to care and admonishes the other girls. In turn, this makes M a r i notice the narrator: "Then she looked at me and smiled. She seemed well aware of my liking for her. M y heart beat faster." ( A S K 70) ^ 0 X .  %  <D7J  £ ft X £ O  o- fc o  i ft £ Jf 3S ^  ffi&tt',  ^  T  ^  ^  *  ^  £ %Q  X O 3 <fr fc O fco ft tt, ^ G i ' k ^ t S , ( H K 76) The sempai, M a r i i n this case, 29  sees the akogare in the narrator's eye and rewards her by sharing confidences about her "other" life as an adult woman. She lets the narrator be her friend, setting up a separate meeting after they leave the coffee shop. This thrills the narrator and prompts her to relate the following: "I wasn't meeting a fastidiously dressed man, either. I was meeting a fabulous girl with a liberal length of leg showing under her shorts." ( A S K 70) < . i/ 3-  * ti  fc,  S5A.iCfc*§&r©E©A£-e««-  h l\ -J V fr 6 j f 0 (f fc £ < w *as LX fr 3  k  ©  ?  tf  £ ? 5 © fcc  ( H K 77) This shows that she is able to appreciate Mali's style, even if she could not yet imitate it. D u r i n g the ensuing conversation where M a r i tells the narrator all about her wonderful summer romance, the narrator asks why M a r i thinks that she is different from the other girls i n their class, and M a r i answers: "I have a teeny bit more of a past than the other kids. I think i n a little while you're going to be really terrific." ( A S K 72) ft, flh © ? fc *5 «t <•)  %  * Z £ C * + U 7 fr"& 3 fc <D „  S 5 A- fc"(? tf £ . £ A-fc fc 5 4> L L fc 6 . * £T < ^ g f c & k © ? G # 3 fc ,g 5 J: . ( H K 78) T h e word used is again "suteki" and this is implicitly taken to mean "terrific like me." In the meantime though, the narrator is told that she is good enough to hang out with M a r i , even though M a r i does not usually have girlfriends, because M a r i wants to tell her story to "an intelligent girl who knows how to appreciate something beautiful." ( A S K 72) gg 0 fr fc <D * *D,3 * fjg <D % 3 $r <o ? iz  0  ( H K 78)  The younger sister/narrator's role is often to listen, as she does not yet have her own relationships. In the story "Brush Up," the narrator makes friends with M a s a m i who has just returned to J a p a n from a childhood spent i n the U n i t e d States. M a s a m i was getting tormented because she spoke E n g l i s h really well, and the narrator felt sorry for her: "I guess how I felt about M a s a m i communicated  30  itself to her naturally. M a s a m i would often talk to me about her problems and ask for advice. I'd listen and encourage her." ( A S K 47) ft*tf  i f ^ G i l u f c a f c " * e>  ft £ § 0 "  AtlT  0  gims,  j: <  s  A, U & o £ U ? X O fcf£ © § i <t  c s  ^fc  *  0  / ffit?: £ St) ^ 0 fc, ( H K 51) M a s a m i compliments the narrator and  explains why she has been chosen: "That's why I like you, you're straight. Y o u don't have prejudices." ( A S K 55) fcfcMJrt  N'te Ofc©  tc  6 . * A fc © £ fc J? * S Afc" v  0  I S T 3 , * c  ( H K 59) A t the end of the story, the narrator has completely  0  turned to the stylish side, seeing her peers as immature and repressed because they overreact to a question about sex: "It occurred to me that these girls were lewder than M a s a m i with her free and easy talk about sex." ( A S K 62) 5 ^{Z. - s ' O T K f c t f S f f l i H J : 9 , 'ffifefc*<0 7jfr\ fc©fc\  fc  Hz v  * f c » e > ' 0 O A , 0" * S O ^ f c , g o  ( H K 67) Stylish girls know what is attractive. Part of the sister contract is that the  older sister trains the younger sister i n the details of fashionable love. T h e younger sister is chosen for this because she has shown promise. She, without knowing exactly why, is attracted herself to the older sister: "Kayoko knew things that I didn't know. I looked up to her with a mixture of curiosity, admiration, and longing. Maybe that feeling was something close to love." ( A S K 143)'ifcU.B ©*Q6£t>£  fc£*Do  T03o  ftfc , * t i B , fc 0 h 0  fc.6,  fttt,  €  0 . • S f ^ ' U f c ' I l n £>fft*"T,  & 0 f U # f c " o fc> fc G ttS 0  o  s  &  Ttl^fEiS  ( H K 154)  Because these girls have never had a relationship with a boy, they often "sort of fall i n love" with their female role models. The older sisters know that you cannot learn what attractive is (and by extension how to be attractive) without first 31  having felt attracted. Same-sex sexual initiation is thus a fairly common theme i n Yamada's writing. According to Yamada, boys just have to feel, they do not need to know. Girls though, through a combination of instinct (talent) and instruction, learn "the way". Thus boys and girls have different standards: "But these girls would be able to accept it if the girl they lost their boyfriends to was really terrific, i n other words, i f it was to a girl even a girl would consider wonderful." ( A S K  108) - ft'tt fctlfcto©.?^*  fc 6||1$fc". t 6ft T to©?fr  ffiir:fc*sfc"o T S r - f c S c - 3 * * J .  t  fc'o  M±ti©#fr < fr*|fc>Sto© fcltTtaHftSto©?.  £<soZ  ( H K 117) The girls, the normal average members of the peer group, often ostracize  the heroine (the older sister figure) because she has actual physical relationships with boys rather than romantic "crushes." In one of the stories, "Jaywalk," the ^ older sister is not a quiet demure type, and she calls her peers on this contradiction:  So what's so weird about being attracted to the opposite sex, huh? Y o u people pretend you don't get the hots, but you have boyfriends. If your love is so pure, why don't you have girlfriends instead? W h y does it have to be a man, h u h ?  8  Y o u guys should put that i n your cud  and chew on it. F o r a woman, getting interested ina  x  m a n signals the beginning of her heat. L e t me put you straight. That's not dirty or anything. It's natural. A n d wanting to sleep with the person you like is wonderfully romantic. ( A S K 121) The translation is inaccurate. It should read: [If love] was just about emotions then your phony little friendships would be good enough. If you ask me, the way you all fuss or moon from a distance over some guy you think is cute is really disgusting. Why does it even have to be a guy, huh? Think about that one. 8  ^  32  f t t t t f j « f c © f c " ( t f c : o fc 6 .  * r f , f c . f c 5 © * o-rjSSSi  frfr<tfrIIftfcy § T i lfrfc( j t c o t . ,  6Cfrftcto fr,  tf?OT.  ^ft^fl'TSltft'tf^ttS^O  ^ c ^ c ^ f A T l n t f L U ^ c S ^  % tt cfco T : t  0  x fr 5 £ tf . a . to tf c  fcfrc T S 5 f i f t o  T  ^cfflDHi  ©Milan  fr'ft* o fc ^  f cc<ttt", : t i i T ' , fr^ 6 0fr£tfTfc  f5j -c fc £ fr ft J : o i 8 5 t f  # © J;  t r < t ^ •  ct o' * ft c , 5 ? * £ A tf 55  t * < P 7 ^ f r ^ « : c .  ( H K 130)  The argument here is over the definition of romantic. This shows how the narrator is in-between because she romanticizes the older sister i n the same way that the peer group romanticizes male-female relationships. It also shows how the heroine is able to overcome another set of extremes, the mind - body split i n this case. T h e heroine just redefines romantic as thecontrast of mind and body.  Hizamazuite ashi wo oname (Kneel Down and Lick M y Feet)  In the full-length novel, Kneel Down and Lick M y Feet, the triangular structure is also apparent although it differs slightly from After School Keynotes. There are two m a i n characters, Shinobu and Chika, and the story revolves around their relationship. Shinobu is the narrator and the "older sister," while C h i k a is "the younger sister." Both women have relationships with men (past and present) that they tell each other about but C h i k a is the stylish one and Shinobu is the foil: 33  "I have normal morals so I get flustered by the outrageous things that C h i k a sometimes says." ( K D 272) iht,  a.  ft(3,  ^il© ^ 7 ^©&S£fc'fr h .  5fr©B#$bt  * © fctft If T S * o o ( H A 272) T h e irony of this is  that they are both sex-workers -- they met while working at a strip club and the novel begins with Shinobu introducing C h i k a to a job at an s/m club. E v e n though Shinobu has had the same boyfriend for years and is strictly monogamous (outside of work), she is not what anyone would ever expect the possessor of normal morals to be. She has already called into question the definition of "normal" though: "After seeing as many so-called perverts as we have, you can't help wondering what the hell 'normal' is.". ( K D 11) ftfc * & fc fr [L Z ft I I A f? © fr ft><£3$£§fc*>  3 £ , fr o fcfr j  o TfBJ«/t,fc"5 ^ c , | ^ n  0  (HA  11) Shinobu plays the naive narrator well though, providing the straight talk that accentuates Chika's stylish transgressions. After C h i k a explains why she spent money buying clothes to impress black men, Shinobu comments: "I said to C h i k a that that was all fine and everything, but that I thought that it made you happier to be loved by just one man." ( K D 103 ) ^S^'f  tifc"tftaS^(t^5*'i>  Tfttt^^Cf  ft  a ii\ O t 9 © % £ ffi ? ft X (HA103)  It is also ironic that the roles are reversed. The younger sister is the one who introduces the aesthetic while the older sister, as the possessor of very similar values, is empathetic. Whenever C h i k a has a new conquest/disaster to show off, she runs to Shinobu. When C h i k a phones up and needs to talk, Shinobu kicks her boyfriend out of bed and sends him home. H e gets jealous and Shinobu explains to him: "Sorry, sometimes female friends are more important than men." ( K D 26) 34  r 8 0 A fa, B # £ B  9  £©7?  £ Afc"J ; fa ( H A 26) H e worries that he 0  is being replaced i n bed by Chika, but he does hot need to because C h i k a is clearly interested i n talking only. She uses her male friends for physical comforting:  It is precisely times like this when male friends are good. I told everything to this guy that I've known for a long time - even moaned about wanting to die. So he slept with me. Male friends are great because they can do this for you. This is part of the reason why I talk to m y female friends after I've calmed down. E v e n though I am exposing my insides to them, I can't share physically with them because I'm not gay. ( K D 272)  ^ A W f r 6 f c n o T . f c . | J © ? - ( c £ W * S i l -c. fcO!  i S A - C h f t i ^ t i ' f c . ^ b H ,  S l t i i l T < ftfc J: » e> o o ct fa © a,  0  fflLfit  —  T,  j r . S i i £ a ft ft £ #  c M ^ ^ i i t .  JEG  36.3 t> ( t « A  o T i > & » « ^ T fc  0  © fa BP £ £ 6 (till 0 T 3 ? T © K. ft .* 36  * o a" 9...  fc  i £  ajJlfc S:tv  C * 5 l ^ ^ t e , ( H A 272) T r u e to form, there are almost no sex scenes after the first chapter, which, ironically, is the only part of the novel that has been translated into E n g l i s h . The 9  first chapter leaves a very lasting impression though, as it is a graphic description of Chika's first day at the s/m club. It provides perfect contrast and lends authority to the remaining thirteen chapters which consist entirely of C h i k a and Chapter one has been translated by Terry Gallagher and has been published by Kodansha (1991) in a collection of Japanesefictioncalled, Monkey Brain Sushi: New Tastes in Japanese Fiction 9  .35  Shinobu's discussions about sex, morality and the writing of stories about sex and morality. The social commentary is sharp and bitter and is made all the more so by the fact that Y a m a d a herself has worked i n an s/m club and that the novel is considered to be "semi-autobiographical." Shinobu explains why she thinks her job is valuable to society: "I like this job. I think that it is the pinnacle of the service industry. I feel like a therapist." ( K D 196) ft. fc c T .  AJ o ^ ^ 7 G © # f c 3  fc/vfc'tlc  t 3 ,  fttt-fc^  tf 7. r &fc  £ < D t t * £ f 3 fc" b  fr&mft&A-fc"  o X  ...(HA 196) C h i k a , too, discusses how she feels that she has learned a lot from working i n the s/m club, and that this has affected her writing: "The interesting thing [at the s/m club] is that people who have a really strong'S' component also have an equally strong ' M ' component. I was really interested i n the instant where one crosses into the other." ( K D 302)  tft  fr=©  z <*frA o T © a . M d i f e 3 ( ; < ? ) t ^ ' < o T ? .  n t t h o ^ t ^ o T C , ft t B , ' t ' r < ffiaj 36 o fc ta  0  B ? , S <DW1K  ^nfr'A  ( H A 302) Whether or not  C h i k a , as a writer, is meant to be taken for Y a m a d a herself, this quote very neatly encapsulates the Y a m a d a aesthetic; it denotes two extremes and an interest i n switching between them. In a sometimes bitter and cutting play on the contrast between sex as act and sex as sign, the novel is structured around two young, beautiful, single, and happy commercial s/m queens telling stories to each other about their sexual experiences and discussing the current state of sexual ethics i n Japan.  Beddo taimu aizu (Bed Time Eyes)  36  B e d Time Eves is Yamada's first book, and perhaps the best known. It caused a commotion when it was first published, perhaps because it won the Bungei New Writer's prize despite the language used to describe the sex scenes and the interracial relationships which were very shocking at the time. While the public may have just gotten used to Yamada's themes and language, it seems to me that B e d Time Eves is slightly more graphic and contains more E n g l i s h slang than any of her following publications. The most interesting feature of the movie version (which, incidentally, never did very well) was that the conversations between the narrator and her African-American lover were i n E n g l i s h with Japanese subtitles. It did not matter that the heroine's E n g l i s h was barely comprehensible as just the fact that it needed subtitles made it incredibly stylish. The triangular structure i n Bed Time Eves is i n many ways a m u c h more traditional lover's triangle. The narrator, K i m , is not i n the middle between the reader and the role model, she is i n the middle between her m a n and her mentor. The narrative stays close to K i m and is not split into a Glaucon - Socrates pseudodialogue as i n Kneel Down and Lick M y Feet, or After School Keynotes. There is a didactic element to the story, it is just not directed at the reader. While the story seems to be about Kim's relationship with an African-American soldier, Spoon, everything that happens is carefully measured against Kim's relationship with her "older sister," M a r i a . It does not read as a "how-to" book, but rather outlines Kim's growth to selfhood and her separation from her "sister" through her relationship with Spoon. The story starts at the end. The reader is told that the narrator's relationship with Spoon is over and that M a r i a will not explain things. The story then moves to the past, and the Spoon - K i m - M a r i a triangle unfolds. In what  37  appears to be a fairly common marketing technique, the first chapter is a graphic description of K i m and Spoon's first sexual encounter (which is also their first meeting). Immediately following this, though, is the description of Kim's subsequent visit to M a r i a to tell her about Spoon. M a r i a works at a strip club, and as K i m is waiting for M a r i a to finish work , she watches Maria's show:  A s soon as I saw Maria's pussy as she opened her legs to the blues music, I would get overwhelmed by the sense of its existence. Sometimes^ thinking about how I sell m y own for a cheap price, I would fall into selfhate. What was between m y legs didn't even come 1  close to what was between Maria's ~ mine would never be "art." I all of a sudden remember what Spoon spraypainted on the bathroom wall, " P U S S Y IS GOD!!!" ( B T E 18)  1  * 3 f c 0 t t 7 ' j 7 M i * / f c ©JE7C-C b ^ h i J 7 'fc to  r.  $ 0 x  HG B S * j # « o t ieaBcpii'So  tf'HT. PUSSY  ft© fta*  J U - A £ 7, ^ b - C fe S f r a * , © 'Oit IS  GOD!!!  (BTA18)  T h i s passage clearly indicates that K i m is caught between Maria's world ("pussy as Art") and Spoon's ("pussy as God"). That she feels inferior or unable to live up to either of their expectations is also evident. Kim's lack of self-confidence is the major theme of the novel. Kim's state of self-confidence is intrinsically connected 38  ,  to her relationship with M a r i a :  Maria's act was the same as the tests I studied for back when I still had expectations for a future. I would think 'this time I'll do it,' but as soon as the answer sheet was i n front of me I would start to shake for some reason and couldn't grip my pencil. Then, when the test was returned, I would look at it and lose m y confidence all over again. ( B T E 19-20)  T  frfcfcMG O fc", (? 0  ft  fcfftil^t tf  4Jg«frfr.£fr*tfft  £ i <D M [Z 0 X 'J&tt fBJSfe&S X T O  o . - c f t t t i t e ' * ? l P £ < *'©fc" ( B T A 0  19-20)  ,.'  ,  The exam metaphor, and the failure cycle show Kim's inability to break away from Maria's authority . K i m is always measuring herself against M a r i a , and coming 10  up short. T h i s leaves her completely dependent on Maria: "Always, when it seemed like I was about to love a man, I would beg her to love h i m with me, because doing it alone was terrifying." ( B T E 21) fr 1? b  W.U  JBIB L Xifktcfr  h  - J l (CtK  ftttJJ'  -5 tf t 3 B | ,  ^ c ' J O C t J ^ O . ( B T A 21) The  fact that she has always needed M a r i a (her teacher) to "proofread" her sexual relations has had profound effects on her self-image: "I felt like I was deformed." ( B T E 21)  i 91  <D <t o (Z ! § 0"fco ( B T A 21) W i t h Spoon though, things  The names themselves hint at the women's roles. Maria suggests a motherfigure,while Kim, a oUminutive of Kimiko, is very child-like. 10  39  change. K i m , surprising even herself, does not want M a r i a to sleep with Spoon. She is still not sure of herself, or why this time is different, but attempts to tell M a r i a anyway. M a r i a appears to understand: "Anyways, you're saying that, this time, I don't need to be your strange counsellor." ( B T E 25) fc©35^  £ £  < ^HD B ,  % t\>  G « A -5 ^ - t ? ^ - C S . 6 S < X b t L ^ T t ) ( t f e , ( B T A 25) A g a i n the  relationship between M a r i a and K i m is described i n didactic terms. The teacher/student metaphor is extended through the novel. T h e next time she meets M a r i a , K i m realizes that their relationship has been profoundly altered by her feelings for Spoon: "Maria - my textbook. It's strange, but I didn't want her grading him like she did the men before." ( B T E 63) ~ T U T 5ft £ AJ , %L<D 5^*7 ^ttt,  hy v  5 tttl 0  i r ^ J U K E ^ t f t  Bffi  OTfce>Ofc<£frofc  ?  ^<D <*  ( B T A 63) It is clear that K i m is starting to resist her role as little  sister/student.  This resistance, or self "growth" is described simultaneously as  "breaking up" and "graduating," indicating a connection between the erotic and the pedagogic: "Just like breaking up with a man, I felt kind of sad. 'Give me my diploma,' I muttered i n my heart." ( B T E 63)  S.C<Sofc, 3E*H#  £ 5 T f l t JMti 3 B#© cfc 5 T f t B i ^ 0  * ^ fc O o ft it'b <D £ T O  V Ofc. ( B T A 63) K i m  herself draws parallels to her relationship with M a r i a and her relationship with Spoon: "She taught me lots of things, just like you do. She's pretty isn't she?" ( B T E 64)  ffifeaftCfe*S**ftAlth,  fcAfctfftfc*  5*5  J:  J - J S S f e T C' «* 5 ? ( B T A 64) Not only does K i m draw a parallel between the didactic and the erotic, she draws Spoon's attention to Maria, creating the very triangle that she is trying to avoid.  40  Evocative of junbungaku (pure literature) where the mother/son relationship is strongly eroticized, i n Yamada's texts, forms of amae relationships such as the teacher/student relationship, or the older sister/younger sister relationship are eroticized. B y not defining the women i n terms of maternal roles, Y a m a d a avoids the trap of "women's stream w r i t i n g " (joryubungaku) or becoming the alter-ego ("other") of pure literature where women define themselves i n terms of their roles as eroticized mothers or wives. This allows women to have the active role, the subject or the narrative position. I n this case, the already openly and l i t e r a l l y erotic relationships are described i n pedagogical terms, i n an extended metaphor. T h e point at w h i c h K i m finds her two teachers i n bed w i t h each other is the point at w h i c h she starts to form her own identity. F i r s t , she feels jealousy: "I got a strong taste of the jealousy that up t i l l now I had never known." ( B T E 70) *Tftfr'H b  fc*©'«  frc:  fr  ? m% *Sfi£lfcn*"*> o . f c  0  4  ( B T A 70) A series of  "firsts" leads to a series of life-changing realizations for K i m . Because of the jealousy that she feels, she gets angry at M a r i a and calls her "anta" (you informal) for the first time: "It was the first time i n m y life that I called her u s i n g a t e r m of equality." ( B T E 74)  i * h T W f t T f t a l K t o * r^^fcj  ifrSWSf©  V% T D ? k,fc'o( B T A 74) The realization that she could be equal to M a r i a causes her to review her dependency on Spoon too: "I realized now that the selfsatisfaction that I got from being controlled b y Spoon could r e a l l y be nothing other t h a n the satisfaction of owning Spoon." ( B T E 74) o  7>7— i ' C ' S E ? ttX fr 3 t fr  i B J f f i J S a H t t ^ - ^ ^ R f F ^ C T f r S t fr e>)!5Lfc (Ifr £  Bfi~3' fr  fc o  e>£fr ^ f c $ f c ^ \  ft  ( B T A 74) She is then able to ruminate on the concept of dependence  itself. She realizes that an inferior state, is also a n easy state because i t is free of 41  responsibility: "I would always get intoxicated by her eyes and then see my own ugliness. I would put my men in her hands, ask her to check them for me and rest easily in my inferiority." (BTE 75) ft tt O r>fcZ, <D i iz I?ft>£ ft g 55 © SI Sf * B O. 1  iSoMofcfl^fec^gti,  8 8 5 * * 1 * , i ft*.&**£©<»: 5  o (BTA 75) She learns that she has tried to replace her dependency on Maria with a dependency on Spoon because she has not, till this point, noticed that she "needed someone to lead [her]." (BTE 75). » S i #  fc  G X Ofc, (BTA 75)  The next step in Kim's self-education occurs when she starts to question both Maria's and Spoon's intentions and motives. Once she notices that she was looking for someone to lead her, Kim ho longer understands what "I love you" means. Kim asks Maria why, and Maria explains that it is because Kim is in the middle, not Spoon. Maria's erotic interest in Kim is made explicit. Even though finding Maria and Spoon in bed together is a big deal for Kim, Spoon is very nonchalant. His attitude indicates to Kim that she is just another love affair. Now that she knows Maria has been nice to her because she is sexually interested, she worries about what it means for Maria to be in bed with Spoon: "I couldn't bear to think that the situation with Maria ~ where I had yearned for her so much, and had even at one point desired her - could have been [trivial] like that too." (BTE 77-8) ft © & ft BfcII ft, - « tt tfl ifi L fc ¥ t b & 3 "7 U 7 ifcfr", f A &fc© fc> fc n. A, X £ b Ofc< £  i$  * Afc©-1*  *fc„ (BTA 77-8) Maria alleviates  these fears by saying, "I love you Kim." (BTE 78) SB 0 T O 3 © J:; ' + A (BTA 0  78) Kim is shocked because she had believed that the relationship was one-sided. Kim had been sexually attracted to Maria also: "I couldn't believe my ears. The woman I had yearned for so long said the words that suited her the least: 42  Moreover, she said it after I had stopped loving her." ( B T E 78)  fc«  ft©T  _fttt i ^ © 5 ' f c S i •»  illtiJKttTfr.fctofr", - M ^ > f r t ) U ' S O f I $ f  oTb3  0  Cfr  fc. ft fr"tKto £ * ? * 3 © * * * fc ft " C . ( B T A 78) While K i m and M a r i a never actually have sex with each other, they symbolically unite through Spoon. M a r i a explains why she is i n bed with Kim's boyfriend: "I wanted to taste this m a n until I'd h a d m y fill. Y o u r smell was still left on his penis." ( B T E 80)  * t; *  « ft fr fc fr o fc flg © ^ - a. £ * A> fc ©5lfrfr"* 0  fc'8  £ © ^ © f* £ fi fr'  * T fr 3 o ( B T A 80)  The completion of the sexual triangle signals the completion of Kim's self. Japanese critics do not seem to find M a r i a and Kim's relationship to be an issue. I am not sure i f they are unwilling to see it as a lesbian relationship, or that they are just assuming K i m to be heterosexual overall. While heterosexual initiation through same-sex relationships may not be so unusual i n gender segregated Japan, it is hard for western critics to conceptualize. Richard O k a d a sees it as failed lesbianism:  But rather than allow the lesbian potential to effect a fundamental transformation i n Kim's relationship with Spoon— or i n attitudes concerning sexuality and sisterhood--the narrator retreats,, again, into stereotypes: i n a climactic scene, Sister M a r i a confesses her love to K i m when K i m finds her i n bed with Spoon. A s a result, even though women can occupy the position of'actor' as well as 'acted upon' i n Yamada's texts, the female-female bond that could have further complicated the Kim-Spoon relation is left basically unexplored. (Okada 118)  43  I disagree. I think that i f the aesthetic and the sister relationships are there to provide a self that defines fun, and allows for relationships that are not permanent ~ letting people define their own sexual taste, and control their own bodies ~ then the lesbian relationship between K i m and M a r i a has not "failed." Okada's view of a "successful" relationship as one that involves intercourse seems very phallocentric to me. Perhaps i n Yamada's economy, sexual consummation counts for less than sexual consumption, which would make the labels "heterosexual" and "homosexual" simply a matter of taste, like interracial or s/m sex. Development of an individual sense of taste is part of becoming an adult according to Yamada's aesthetic. K i m notes that for a strong person like M a r i a , both loving and crying were humiliating. She then states that: "I [am] glad that I have absolutely no resolve and am a failure as a person." ( B T E 80) %Li<iJQM&. £ © t  o fc < S fr t h Z  •« fr © A W T * * i  *) l i < ,S o fc o ( B T A 80) T h i s is =  a very important turning point for K i m . Although she ironically defines herself as a "failure," it is apparent that she has finally re-evaluated the standards that M a r i a is setting, and decided that she does not want to live "up" to them. She has become a "self" i n her own right.  44  C H A P T E R T H R E E  C O N C L U S I O N S  Beyond the aesthetic and the "sisters" who live and learn by it lies another level of relationships: those between the reader and the text, the reader and the narrator, and the reader and the author. Simultaneously giving and taking away, the aesthetic shows the readers what they are not while the sister structure teaches what they could become. Like a fashion magazine, Yamada's stories sell self-doubt; they make readers feel bad about themselves at the same time that they give them a self to feel bad about. The readers are thus drawn into a cycle of never-ending self-improvement whereby the expression of self becomes part of the consumption that creates the self.  11  The reasons why readers are drawn in are myriad and complex. On a fundamental level, the Yamada aesthetic plays on basic insecurities. Readers have to want or have wanted to some degree at some time to have uninhibited fun. This includes wanting to be beautiful, popular, or sexually desirable. It encompasses fluency in a foreign language and confidence about what to wear, what to drink, what to say. To be a reader who does get drawn in, you have to have known what it feels like to be self-conscious and to notfitin, to feel ugly and undesirable, to be alone and bored, or, in short, to be at home on the weekend reading a novel instead of going out and having your own good time. Yamada Pasi Falk, in his book The Consuming Body, explains that this kind of consumerism is a result of modernity and urban lifestyles. He talks about clothes and other signs that concern bodies: 11  The public-social part of the city, especially its street life, forms a stage on which people perform to one another as facade bearers. Outward appearance, exterior and outlook act as a means of  expression. The body and the body's body\ that is clothing, now act as expressions of social and personal identity, but at the same time also as creators of identity. (Falk 54) 45  captures these feelings -- the desire and the derision the desire produces ~ and harnesses them into a k i n d of perpetual motion machine. A s the characters move from paroxysms of pleasure to the pits of despair and back arid forth again, the readers too enjoy their own agony. The lifestyle of the beautiful ones is held out like a proverbial carrot m a k i n g the readers feel hopeful and hopeless a l l at once. T h e gap between the extremes, and the motion between, has been noted by K u r i t s u b o Y o s h i k i . H e calls this motion a "drift" and conjectures that i t is caused b y the characters' need to repair a mind/body split, or the need to focus on the difference between loving and being loved. W i t h specific regard to B e d T i m e Eyes he states:  , [The narrators confession about how she can love but is N  unable to be loved] is where the drift starts. A n empathetic reader cannot help but pay close attention to the heroine's gaze, and what she is staring at -- the gap that flows along the bottom of the monologue form. It is possible to say that what draws us to Y a m a d a  ,  E i m i ' s novels is the sense of difference that she is focusing on and the feelings of agony that they produce. (Kuritsubo 133)  Z fr 6)")^  fr'Jft  S c T ^ 3 © T ' Jfe 3 o 'b$> 3 lx%  tt,  •  frlHoftTfr3 ^ S < D ^ f £ c : . f : 4 » 6 i r * | ' H x © J: 5 tS. Ji&ft, ft fc 5 ©tt,  * ft %<DV^X$>.5  'JvffiC t> 2 0 o- 6fts -  fr'UJ  t fr * X fr fro ( K u r i t s u b o  133)  46  .  Seeing the gap i n terms of mind and body extremes adds a very interesting twist to the aesthetic and sister structure. Aestheticizing sexual relations effectively turns a bodily experience into a cerebral one. The narrator in the novel Trash explains this well. She notices that the women she knows are all trying to bridge the gap between physical pleasure that ends, and an affective pleasure that should last forever:  '  N o matter how many loves her friends went through, they shut their eyes to the fact that love, especially passionate love, always came to an end. They'd see the guy over and over, even when it wasn't fun any more, always thinking there was a 'soul connection' with this  .  . m a n that would keep them together forever. (T 27)  fcA£*£ta-r;^  ; jStt^-flfft  <KMTb  1  3 b <D £ (A o $ H £ tt E £ "3 # y tc (,\ b <D tc fajj* b ih 0  B # £ t t $ y \ B # £ ttSfiJt # y fctffc; ffife?-*s tt, ^ t t y  , sgftfllti 3  5 flfe © f c l * •  ft  ^ t <os L ^ t o M ^ t c * 3 t ,S ^ T O tc  0  (Torasshu  23-4)  Unable to reconcile the mind/body split the women construct a very complicated method for getting around their needs (which may be a need to justify behaviour that feels good but is "immoral" or perhaps evenra need to justify heterosexuality i n a homosocial environment). They set up an economy, a sisterhood, consisting of relationships with men that produce stories, dramas, or emotions which are then consumed by their female friends: t  47  .  "  As she met more and more people, she selected some men for serious loves and a few women for friends to talk to about them. These carefully chosen confidantes were fine women who shared a liberal worldview with Koko. H e r lovers were progressive, modern men. They'd share good times and a few tears. W h e n love ended, Koko would confide to a woman friend, tears i n her eyes, about how wonderful it had been. 'I took a lot and I gave a lot,' she'd say. 'We're even.' H e r friend would listen earnestly, then say, 'He's not a bad guy. Y o u two just weren't meant to be, that's all. Y o u didn't have that soul connection.' (T 27)  y, m & 11  <DS$u« &  * ® £ i *il-o.fc  BWtt#  0  < , i iftT £feAfe5 fc O £ ^ o  fe sra -C\ fi^tSiO*.  3 mm 0 fe ± a  0  - Afe"(t-©3Si,C  a c £ 0 * m t sunfe  0  SfeilCfeo t>£ t  >  s 3 fc, z i  /vfe'fc©fc" jRdj, 'gttSR-* J f O , >RLlJ#^fefto MO 0  51 S-ri'p  T f U I ' S ct o  t<*T^xfefc©fe'  0  ©tUlvfe'Siife iff *  3 3  is,  ao-ti^fl^sfrot.'  T Z fc ct o (Torasshu 23)  It is easy to get distracted by the sex (or talk thereof) but setting aside content, it remains that the central structure of the narrative is provided by the female relationships. Whether or not the relationships between the women are sexually 48  consummated, it is indisputable that the female relationships are as important to the aesthetic as the male lovers. It is not unlike Japanese tourists taking photographs of themselves at famous places around the world. They spend very little time there, but afterwards spend hours looking at the photos, showing them to friends, and enjoying their vacations i n retrospect. In this model, sex becomes production not consumption. The sisterhood that is created has m a n y possible readings also. It could be a black sisterhood where the men come and go and the women support each other. It could be feminist solidarity against patriarchal oppression (they just create their own world and meet their own needs). It could also be female amae — a kind of Dead Poets' Society for women replete with homosexual underpinnings - which, with its inherent eroticism, would make it a form of lesbian sisterhood. T h e sisterhood works because the reader is implicated. T h i s is where the hope comes in. Basically a didactic structure, the "older sister," i n telling her story to her carefully chosen apprentice, teaches the "younger sister" who then passes the teaching on to the reader (a carefully chosen apprentice?). T h e aesthetic is transmitted twice. The readers believe what has been taught (and feel the balancing hopefulness) because they know that Y a m a d a E i m i lives according to the aesthetic. Y a m a d a is married to an African-American military officer, she lives near an American base i n Japan, she has been a bar hostess, she has worked i n an s/m club, and she has had an African-American boyfriend who was arrested (Spoon's end i n B e d Time Eyes) which she has confirmed herself i n numerous interviews and essays that, along with photos showing that she dresses as per the characters i n her novels, have been published i n reputable mainstream newspapers and magazines. Yamada has worked very hard to create a public  persona, and this is sold along with her novels. This is most evident in the "semi-autobiographical" Kneel Down and Lick My Feet. Chika, the character who is the writer, responds to a comment about how writers are noble and above the everyday world: Ha ha, isn't that more like, pretending to be noble? Everybody has to eat, and everybody wants to be admired. I never believe the people I see who talk big about how they write novels for self-this and self-that. I mean, if that were really true, then they'd never bother to haggle with editors over deadlines, it'd be enough just to sit alone and write depressing novels that nobody else would ever want to read. I think that writing is the kind of job for people who really want to stand out--for their inward qualities and not their outward appearance. I think writers want to stand out much much more than the people who try to stand out by dressing up. And they also really hate to be told so. I don't mind though. I want to show everybody what I have inside me. I want to tell all kinds of people how I see things [...] everything I write has to be read by people. (KD 166-7)  -CfrfcS * S 6 £ f r C, Wft 6ftfcfr'tB * X 3f£fc"J: • i  eofnj'tfrfr^tfr©fcftfc'l^!ft*#< =6:A.-r, rfcfr^?  C  t  S  t  ^  frcTfr^.  S  ,  *  ft b , $m C * « < T ?, <pmx E  teo-afc^fcft&yfcCT,  50  fc  i & t f ? o T,g? A>i  O o A jlfc PR * T f 5 f f t ft;5 © iWltt A-fe"o Tfc. ft tt $1 C- * tt 0 o O fc <D  0  £ . i ft © ^ tt £ Att^  i ft * \  •fe^ttAt  £ A^ *  ftttfcOfc©,  fc  1  o  tt 'Afeo T ft tt fc  <D £ ft T O  3 ^ t : t ^  [• • • ] # ^ f c f c A t t ,  A G IS* ft tt £ * o ( H A 166-7)  It does not matter if this voice is really Yamada Eimi's or not because readers "learn" that there is an author behind what they are reading who is communicating her insides to them. They are made to see "Yamada E i m i " as they are taught their role as reader. Texts are Yamada Eimi's playroom and she, the author, is the queen, the dominatrix. H e r values, her tastes, her aesthetics rule between the covers. She is on every page, larger than life, telling the reader what to think, what to do, how to act i n order to be like her. Y o u cannot read her texts without reading her along with it; the author's image is imprinted everywhere. Whether or not Y a m a d a is the narrator or the older sister or some combination of both, the readers know that they are meant to be the younger sister to the author. T h a t this author is not exactly Y a m a d a E i m i , but is something that Y a m a d a E i m i is constructing through writing, is part of the aesthetic that she is selling. Readers take it i n hope that they too will eventually be able to write themselves. Somewhere i n the gap between the narrators i n the stories and the writer is the self that Y a m a d a E i m i is expressing. Foucault calls this self the "author-function" rather than the "author" to separate it from the (physical) writer. He explains this i n his essay, "What is an Author":  51  Everyone knows that, i n a novel narrated i n the first person, neither the first person pronoun, nor the present indicative refer exactly either to the writer or to the moment i n which he [sic] writes, but rather to an alter ego whose distance from the author varies, often changing i n the course of the work. It would be just as wrong to equate the author with the real writer as to equate him [sic] with the fictitious speaker; the authorfunction is carried out and operates i n the scission itself, i n this division and this distance. (Foucault 152)  Because of the I-novel tradition and a long history of biographical literary criticism, Japanese readers are trained to look for the author-function i n fictional stories. T h e details of the writer's life are part of reading . T h a t 12  they do separate the author from the writer is apparent more i n the way that the experiences are separated out from the writing of them than i n any direct reference to an "author-function." In Y a m a d a Eimi's stories, this separation is made explicit; the same way that the characters i n the stories have sexual experiences (fun) and then tell their friends about it, Y a m a d a I-novels are an autobiographicalfictionalform that began in the Taisho period after the introduction of Western novel forms (and the Western concept of the self) to Japan. Edward Fowler has written extensively on the I-novel form and he explains how the focus on the writer's personal life came about: "~ 12  v  Writers now faced the task of formulating a new poetic vocabulary and repository of associations on which to draw. Unable to rely any longer on the 'worlds' and associations of classical literature nor in any coherent way on an alien literary tradition, they began exploring the possibility of using their own lives as 'world.' Once the writer established his persona as a legitimate subject of literary discourse, he was working, as far as he and his audience were concerned, with familiar material and could allude to it in subsequent works in the knowledge that readers would be conversant with it. This 'world' gained further legitimacy as its author gained a name; and personal experience, as presented in the work, became part of the public literary domain'. Fowler 21  52  ^  E i m i has fun (sexual experiences) and then writes about it. A very good example of this is i n Sakai Junko's comments on her reaction to Yamada's collection of short stories Freak Show. After reading the story, "Lucy," i n which the narrator learns how to do the disco scene and is rewarded with an opportunity to sleep with an African-American m a n , Sakai says that she realized that i f given the same opportunity, she too would take it. This is a revelation for her because she has always looked down on people like Y a m a d a E i m i and the narrator of "Lucy" for their taste i n men. This long citation illustrates most of the main points mentioned abovei Sakai writes about the difference between her and the Y a m a d a types (the author-function), explaining her jealousy and why she likes to read stories that make her feel jealous^  A t this point, I feel better about these beasts [women who are good at getting men] that I both aspire after and am jealous of. I am the same as they are, except that they can say "I want..." when they want something, and can get it by decorating themselves and speaking English. People who can express their feelings openly are usually the object of envy of people who can't. [...] much.  That's why Yamada E i m i is envied so  She's chic and has fun. T h e n she puts it neatly  into words. O f course I felt jealous while I was reading F r e a k Show. Probably other people who want to have fun, and who want to write feel jealous too. B u t somehow the jealousy is pleasurable. It feelsj good to have m y unreleased [desires] pointed out by the voice at the edges of the text saying, "Look, you want to do this, don't you." [...] We're jealous because even though  53  ,  we look up to her, she doesn't look back at us. T h a t Y a m a d a E i m i is fully aware of our looks and our jealousy and still doesn't look back makes me even more jealous. (FS 218)  * z T f t a , fttfmK t lift *m u x fr fcs;atw o, a,  ofrfc,g o' fc 6 f <• fc r $ cfrj fc w fr. * ft £  # f c A f t 3 £ y f c i i o <iHi y, R | g * f g t o * C . T . #fc A t i 3 o m E f c i i t f * a i t A a , a n * £ f r A £ fc ^ a . WfcJS!i£©J'1ftfcfi*J * f •  ['...]  ' S A , f c . fr .o .tf-frJg&S* t l T f r * *  ' *ti*t§JrH<£Sc fc  r3?  'j —  ^7  • •> a  6 <€©.  • 0T  fr  fr cfc  i "3  o  o  j: ? j  T f cfc'£ fr .  ft  T f r * f o  * © j&fti fr"t*!^&  i.^t^it  rg^ssfci, fc.  ft©fl?#fefcnx  fr^frgp^  [.  llftTfr  fiJ|0Tfe6x8lft5i?.  s  ^ © - f c & f r ' ^  o j * S S * « t f fcJg&EO  £*©as*T\ fr*,T  *SJr&<Jffirf/T\  0  j8tf"fcfrA*£$**SfcfrAfc..  3 ^fcX 0  ©-cto  otfrSo  fc>6djffl8*3l  . . ]  © fc. *i *>)ftfrx fc e> x•« fr fr ?>\  ftjia  jiUfi *  o *•  f o (t t lfc, * ro SJgJffi^tlllt B f l f i * fc G «frT \ T fc * i a £SPfi -3 fr T fr 3 LLJ m ITKH S 'to fc, ft a fc * fcSSJffi*0fc<'aoT0*^o(FS218)'  S a k a i carefully distinguishes between wanting to act like "Yamada E i m i " (the author-function) and wanting to write as Y a m a d a E i m i (the physical writer) does. Both are connected to self-expression though. T h e different levels of jealousy that Sakai outlines above correspond to the different levels 54  of self-expression i n the Y a m a d a world: the self that has experiences (the sex with men, the sex with black men); the self that talks about such sex (the conversations with girlfriends); the self that writes about such conversations (the narrator); and the self that writes about writing them (Yamada E i m i ) which creates the self that also writes about how to have the experiences ("Yamada Eimi"). It turns completely around on itself - as does the self-improvement cycle ~ i n perfect contradiction calling into question that which it proves. This brings m y argument back full circle also. T h e racism is not i n having sex with black American soldiers as the liberation is not i n wearing red C h a n e l lipstick; the "othering" and the "selfing" are i n the writing and the reading, the producing and consuming of these signs. Both sides are there i n the same story. The way you call it, whether you see it as racist, liberatory or even as not worth reading, depends on who you are when you read (the reader-function) which may or may not be who you (the reader) "really" are. O f course, what you read could change who you are.  55  B I B L I O G R A P H Y  Barthes, Roland. Empire of Signs. New York: H i l l and Wang, The Noonday Press, 1982. T h e Pleasure of the Text. New York: H i l l and Wang, The Noonday Press, 1975. Battaglia, Debbora, ed. Rhetorics of Self-Making. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995. Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990. "Imitation and Gender Insubordination." The Lesbian and G a v Studies Reader. New York: Routledge, 1993. F a l k , Pasi. T h e Consuming Body. London: Sage Publications,  1994.  Foucault, Michel. "What is an Author?" Textual Strategies. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1979. Fowler, E d w a r d . Shishosetsu in Modern Japanese Literature. Working Papers i n Asian/Pacific Studies. Durham: Duke Univerisity Asian/Pacific Studies Institute, 1986. Fowler, E d w a r d . The Rhetoric of Confession: Shishosetsu i n E a r l y TwentiethCentury Japanese Fiction. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988. F r a n k , L i s a and Paul Smith, eds. Madonnarama: Essays on Sex and Popular Culture. Pittsburgh: Cleis Press. 1993. Fujii, James A . Complicit Fictions: The Subject i n the Modern Japanese Prose Narrative. Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1993. Garber, Marjorie, J a n n Matlock and Rebecca L . Walkowitz, eds. M e d i a Spectacles. New York: Routledge, 1993. Garber, Marjorie. Vested Interests: Cross Dressing and C u l t u r a l Anxiety. York: Routledge, 1991.  New  Karatani, Kojin. Origins of Modern Japanese Literature. D u r h a m : D u k e University Press, 1993. Kondo, Dorinne K . Crafting Selves: Power. Gender, and Discourses of Identity i n a Japanese Workplace. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990. 56  Kuritsubo, Yoshiki. "Yamada eimi ron." Josei sakka no shinryu. Hasegawa Izumi ed. Tokyo: Shobundo, 1991. Kuwahara, Yasue. "Make M e Sick: Perceptions of Traditional Sex Roles i n Japanese Society in Novels by Yamada Amy," The Journal of Popular Culture 27 (Spring 1994). McClintock, Anne. "Special Edition on the Sex Trade." Social Text 37 (1993). Miyoshi, Masao and H . D . Harootunian. Japan i n the W o r l d . D u r h a m : Duke University Press, 1993. Miyoshi, Masao and H . D . Harootunian. Postmodernism and J a p a n . D u r h a m : Duke University Press, 1989. Okada, Richard. "Positioning Subjects Globally: A Reading of Y a m a d a E i m i , " U . S . - J a p a n Women's Journal: English Supplement 9, (1995). Parker, Andrew, et al. Nationalisms and Sexualities. New York: Routledge, 1992. Rich, Adrienne. "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existance. "The Lesbian and G a y Studies Reader. New York: Routledge, 1993. Slemon, Stephan. "Unsettling the Empire: Resistance Theory for the Second World" i n The Post-Colonial Studies Reader. Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin, eds: New York: Routledge, 1995. T a n a k a , Yukiko. To Live and to Write: Selections bv Japanese Women Writers 1913-1938. Seattle: The Seal Press, 1987. Tsuruta, K i n y a , ed. Nihon bunsaku ni okeru <tasha>. Tokyo: Shinyosha, 1994. Y a m a d a , E i m i . After School Keynotes. Trans. Sonya L . Johnson. Kodansha International, 1992.  Tokyo:  Beddo taimu aizu. Tokyo: Kawadeshoboshinsha, 1985. Furtkushou.  1989. Tokyo: Kadokawa Bunko, 1993.  Hizamazuite ashi wo oname. 1988. Tokyo: Shincho Bunko, 1991. Hokaso no kiinoto. Tokyo: Shinkosha, 1989. Jesshi no sebone. Tokyo: Kawadeshoboshinsha, 1987. "Kneel Down and L i c k M y Feet." In Monkey B r a i n Sushi: New Tastes i n Japanese Fiction. E d . Alfred Birnbaum. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1991.  57  Meiku mii shikku. 1991. Tokyo: Shueisha Bunko, 1994.  Setsunai hanashi. 1989. Tokyo: Kobunsha Bunko, 1993.  Torasshu. Tokyo: Bungeishinju, 1991. Trash. Trans. Sonya L. Johnson. 1994. Middlesex: Penguin, 1996. Watashi ha henonddbutsu. 1988. Kodansha Bunko, 1991.  58  


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