Kindness & Miracles: A Song – やさしさに包まれたなら~ Sotte Bosse

This song was sung by many female artists in Japan, including Matsutoya Yumi and Arai Yumi. This version is sung by the group Sotte Bosse.

やさしさに包まれたなら – IF WRAPPED IN KINDNESS

It is a sweet, innocent song about kindness and becoming an adult, hope.

It is interesting to note that songs like this are not considered appropriate for males to sing. If so, then we all know what names and labels would ensue toward that male singer or singers. It speaks to the heterosexism and sexism of our dreams and hopes, what we think of kindness and where ‘it’ belongs. In other words, kindness and affection and gentleness are feminized. They are feminine traits. In this way, as patriarchy reigns supreme in our divisions of emotions, we become further militarized, hopeless, forever in war/peace dualities. It also speaks to the ‘loss’ of innocence as we begin to live in the world. Our notions of a God change. Violentized, where can we turn? Forgetting. Forgetting. Forgetting. Or perhaps we FORSAKE. We forsake. We refuse. We go along with the notion that dreams die and war is norm. It starts with worldview. It starts with giving up. It can also become disempowering as we want the world to be kind and good and gentle and it never is. So we succumb to depressions.

We must work to change. It cannot happen by wishing and by drive-by kinds of actions and McDonald-ized notions of immediate gratification. In even more complex ways, our wish to make life kind and good and peaceful, we may create further problems because we do not look enough at our racisms, classisms, nationalisms, etc. and how power-relations make our relations fragile. We can, perhaps, turn these lyrics into a form of remembering, then into tough and thoughtful actions that include history. Little by little, I think kindness can enter. In fact, mindful and thoughtful actions are kindnesses in themselves, even though they may sometimes be tough and harsh as actions against the victory of oppressions. Adultism begins the common factor in all of our lives that foment further learning of oppressions. Forgetting our childhoods in many ways is perhaps a blessing. But there are some aspects we should not forget. Boys. Girls. Men. Women. Children. Adults.

I like the innocent sweetness of this song. Remembering, if for a single moment at some point in our lives. Not forsaking. But not being naive.

小さい頃は神さまがいて
不思議に夢をかなえてくれた
やさしい気持で目覚めた朝は
おとなになっても 奇蹟はおこるよ

カーテンを開いて 静かな木洩れ陽の
やさしさに包まれたなら きっと
目にうつる全てのことは メッセージ

小さい頃は神さまがいて
毎日愛を届けてくれた
心の奥にしまい忘れた
大切な箱 ひらくときは今

雨上がりの庭で くちなしの香りの
やさしさに包まれたなら きっと
目にうつる全てのことは メッセージ

カーテンを開いて 静かな木洩れ陽の
やさしさに包まれたなら きっと
目にうつる全てのことは メッセージ

(1)

When I was young there was such a thing called ‘God’
and God would strangely make dreams come true
In the mornings when I would awaken with kind feelings
Knowing miracles appear for adults as well

Opening the curtains If I were to be wrapped inside
the gentle sun ray, then maybe
Everything that comes in front of my eyes becomes a message

(2)

When I was young there was such a thing called ‘God’
and everyday God would make my way of Love ignite
Shut away and forgotten in the back of our heart/mind
is a precious box that is now time to open

In the garden after the rain
through the fragrance that speaks without sound
Everything that is reflected before my eyes becomes a message

(3) (instrumental verse)

Opening the curtains If I were to be wrapped inside
the gentle sun ray, then maybe
Everything that comes in front of my eyes becomes a message

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Anime: more Samurai Champloo サムライチャンプルー: Beatbox & the Opening

Samurai Champloo サムライチャンプルー, as posted earlier, is one of my favorite anime of recent times.  Mostly this is because of its ground-breaking genre/time-bending mix of samurai historical accuracy and storylines with present-day hip-hop, trip-hop and rap dance and music mixes.  It is a fantastic piece of work.  Of course, the violent fight scenes and attitudes reflect both the historical realities of warrior-clan and individualistic feudal violence along with the present-day disenfranchisement and attitudes of today’s Japanese youth.  Although violence in entertainment is problematic, at the same time the violence reflects reality and is ‘not-new’ and can  be placed in contexts of reflection and thought, and perhaps change.  The issue is perhaps to bring certain violences into visual/aural realities that are distanced from many mainstream people, although violence is everywhere.

Samurai Champloo is an often pleasant, brutal, aesthetically incredible and inspiring, horrific and amusing piece of modern, ‘new’ anime-making.

The first video is of the character ‘Beatbox’ and presents clips of his presence in the anime.

The second video is of the opening credits.  Enjoy for the aesthetics of Japanese/hip-hop/samurai historical cultures.

Some Thoughtful Cultural Views: Royal Society of the Arts (UK)

I know that some people don’t really care for philosophy or social theory.  Yet many of those people want to change society.  Change society into what?  Usually it’s the same thing in different forms and usually in the image of what they want themselves as an individual or group.  It is not democratic and certainly without an understanding of social actions and how the world has come to be on a social level in relation to power and history. Is there an understanding of what freedom is for different people and groups;  how contradictions can be worked with instead of with domination? Liberalism is sometimes convenient in its answers to contradiction and conflict.  Usually the this word ‘understanding’ comes into play.  This understanding is usually meant to mean not understanding of differences in history and values and economic class and the lack of mourning and healing that creates the world of nation-states and imperialism.  Understanding is meant to be something that is already known and established be better and to be aligned with, it’s an obedience, often times,  to a  ‘humanism.’  Humanism  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanism is a collection of systems of thought and moral values that were born in the western nations in the beginning and through colonization.  Some of its ideals are wonderful.  Others, I would have to say, need questioning and critique.  It needs the inclusion of ‘other.’  The universal anything, needs to be questioned. Universals are usually meant to squash difference, diversity, wonder, and benefits those that speak of it as a priority and dominant.

The RSA, or the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, based in the UK, is a centuries old society that has alternately been courted by the states and the elite, and has been an outwardly bold society that often-times challenges the status quo and ruffles feathers.  It is very neo-liberal in its thought processes and ‘progressive’ as a result.  However, as in all things in the world, nothing is totally one or the other.  Those that dislike liberalism may run up against the problem of what my professor Angana Chatterji has proposed, mainly to ‘try to have human rights without liberalism, you won’t get very far.”

As I am an open critic of everything, I also critique instead of criticize.  By this I mean that I critique in order to get to the causes of oppression and to change some string of assumptions in a thought or event or moral value or ‘truth’ and its dominant position and/or priority over other ideas and ways.  But other ideas and ways are not always better.  But we don’t know unless we release something that’s tight and called ‘truth’ or ‘real’ or ‘right’ from the moorings and safe haven of a conversation ending in: ‘oh okay, if it’s the truth, then there’s no argument.”  Or ‘oh, if it feels good, then it must be okay.”  These positions keep the colonial heritage and global dominance of liberal ideas in play.  But this does not mean that I dislike liberalism.  It means I wish to investigate the underpinnings of socio-economic class, race and ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual preference, size, color, ability, and other factors that have come into play for something to be dominant and made necessary for everyone else.  And if it is necessary for everyone, what does that do in the real world, to those people?  So in saying this, I am not ‘for’ or ‘against’ the Royal Society of the Arts and what it puts forward.  I am grateful for the power it has in the world to put forward some fairly controversial concepts into the world.  I am also a critic of its elitist factors and its very weak stances and convenient analysis of harsher realities of racism, for instance.  However, they do some very interesting work that is worth a look and to reflect upon.

At the heart of liberal institutions is very much the notion of humanism.  That underneath difference, there is the sameness and that sameness is where conversations must happen.  So when critical thinkers such as Jurgen Habermas have put for the idea that if we learned to spend more time together with less differences between each other, and we spoke languages that were more similar and had good communication ,there would be less oppression and troubles.  This, I’m afraid is a liberal idea that I am very critical of.  I hope you know why, when reading this.  It makes humanism, something elite (and mostly white Europeans) have thought of as something that is universal and supposedly underneath.  In this view, then, the block towards understanding, is the messiness of ‘difference.’  It can be couched in the language in many ways.  In some liberal education institutions in the US and the UK, for instance, racism is just a bad thing and as long as we’re ‘good’ people, and see everyone as equal, then racism is gone.  This usually conveniently leads to denial and in some cases, cruelty disguised in nice voices and smiles.  It does not acknowledge racism at that point.  The other factor of humanism is that it is made individual, not historical, cultural, or communal, or national.  So things such as heterosexism, racism, homophobia and other oppressions, are seen as things people perpetrate on each other, but conveniently, structural racism — what institutions and policies and laws do, are not addressed.

There are many kinds of oppression at work in the world.  There is always dominance and resistance.  In my life, I look at anything that moves into any sphere, through my own understanding as well as study and investigation, which can bring oppressions to light.  Usually things that are progressive are suspicious.  If something progresses, how is that done? What is left behind? What is silenced? What is privileged?  Usually the answers point to the typical oppressions in some way, but couched in good feelings and self-congratulations for moving ‘forward’ with progress and having the others ‘catch up’ because they just haven’t gotten there yet because ‘trauma.’  They might as well just call them primitive savages, stupid, unworthy, or ‘not as smart or well-off than us.’  This dynamic can underly much of humanism and liberalism.  But saying this, does not mean, as I’ve said earlier, that this is the only thing going on.  There are some very useful and exciting things going on in liberal and humanist terms.  These we can pay attention to, to analyze and reflect upon and use, if we need, for the justice and freedoms we need in the world.

In this video, the RSA’s media presentation presents ‘The Crisis of Capitalism.”  It’s pretty insightful and has some things to say that I think we need to pay attention to.  Much of what is presented is not new for many people.  However, I hope that one can see the points that we need to critique, to look at.  Firstly, to start us off, the question of ‘new social order.’  We need a ‘new social order?”  One new social order?  Who will govern?  What does that depend on?  Has anyone read ‘Brave New World”?  There are problems with the assumptions.  However, there are great perspectives on the failure of capitalism.  For some, this is a new crisis.  For many, capitalism has never worked and has been an oppression that has made life horrific.  If we want democratic relations and communities in the future, we must acknowledge that which we haven’t thought about and to re-think.  Re-thinking cannot be done completely in an interior.  It has to be done in conversation with ‘other.’

The video below has left out many conversations with certain ‘others’ that must happen for a truly just future. Can we think through this together?  Perhaps you have some things to say.  This video is good and some things are problematic.  This is true for almost everything in life so it’s not special.  Because my life is about social change, I want to pay attention to these things and to organizations such as the Royal Society of the Arts, and to hear/see what is happening and the cultural flow of things and we can see how ruptures begin and new thoughts may change or entrench things in different ways for different people.

This being said, I enjoy the fact that an explicit goal of the RSA is to revive the public sphere, public participation.  From what I have gathered from researching how they are with different kinds of people, I hear that most feel that the RSA people listen to the people and present interesting dialogue and reflection.  But as is the case with most of these organizations, less time is spent with the lower social classes but much is said about them in their presentations.  What effects are they having in society?  In what ways?  I find that the analysis presented here, of capitalism’s crisis, is thoughtful and presented in an interesting way.

The Youtube parent page also has a link to their website.  There are some very well-known cultural workers and philosophers who work on their site and with them to present ideas about life and cultural change from the perspective of a neo-colonial, progressive institution which also has radical elements within it:

http://www.youtube.com/user/theRSAorg

Samurai Champloo サムライチャンプルー : Hip-hop; indigenous Ryukyu Anime

Samurai Champloo サムライチャンプルー is the name of the Anime television series in 2004-2005 that has proven to be one of the most globally popular in Japanese entertainment history. For one reason, anime–the Japanese animation story-telling genre, is now more global. It is one of the few things that are recognizably Japanese and enjoyed by Europeans, much of Eastern Asia and in the United States and Central and South America.

However, another element that has made it popular is its use of hip-hop music and cultural themes, along with Okinawan indigenous traditions including spiritual themes. It is truly a fusion work. And like much of anime in Japan, there are commentaries on the past and the future in the present, spiritual paths, human and spiritual and ecological values, tradition and modernity.

Samurai Champloo is ground-breaking in some ways, combining the traditional story-telling with slapstick comedy and hip-hop with indigeneity. The story unfolds–during the Edo period, or Tokugawa era (1603-1868), mixing punk culture references; censorship issues of the period–for example: by DJ hip-hop ‘scratching’ replacing the topics that were censored during the Tokugawa government; and  graffiti art and rap with hip-hop beats accompanying the scenes, bringing different histories into harmony. Past and present, youth and ancestors, ‘history as now’ play together for a modern young audience. Factual historical events, people and ideas of the Tokugawa period are the backdrop.

The story: Two independent warrior-men, very different from each other: One a wild and rough-hewn man and the other one who is refined and graceful and was trained by one of the top samurai teachers of the period, are thrown together in a fight where they are sentenced by the authorities for execution. They are helped to escape by a flighty woman Fuu, who tells them of a man she must find who ‘has the fragrance of sunflowers.” This fascinates the two fighters and they are made to promise her not to fight and to help her find him. The incredible journey begins…..

The story is filled with nature spirits who assist and watch them, guides and other aspects of indigenous spiritualities of the Ryukyu and Southern Japanese histories, long suppressed by dominant powers in Japanese history from before the Edo period. Life and death, secrets, transformations, violence, memory……..

Obokuri Eeumi おぼくり ええうみ (from the anime: Samurai Champloo) by Ikue Asazaki 朝崎郁恵

This is a traditional folk song by Japanese folk singer and legend from Kagoshima, Ikue Asazaki 朝崎郁恵 entitled: Obokuri Eeumi おぼくり ええうみ, (Obtain Our Bearings). The song proved to be quite popular amongst anime fans the world over after it was featured in one of the most touching scenes (scene #14) in the anime Samurai Champloo サムライチャンプルー . The anime television series was broadcast from May 2004 to March 2005 on Fuji TV network.

As one can tell from the music, it is a song of sadness, poverty and longing.

Asazaki-san sings this in her traditional Kagoshima/Okinawan/Japanese style, accompanied by piano. Some say that Ikue Asazaki is Okinawan and from Okinawa. Some say she’s from Kyushu, the southernmost large island of Japan, where Kagoshima, her birthplace is. This is a testament to the complexity of history and who claims what. Some say she sings in Okinawan. Some say she sings in the Kyushu dialect. Both and none may be true. Most mainstream Japanese do not understand what she is singing. Dialect? Another language? Okinawan? Japanese? Kyushu language or dialect? In the end, we listen to the beautiful language and song, to reflect, enjoy, feel.

As in most nation-states, the dominant state language is demanded. When I was growing up in Japan, those who spoke the language that she speaks, were ridiculed and often called stupid and primitive and unsophistocated. Nowadays, the young Japanese are more fascinated with these languages. The stigma of it has changed. In destruction, while languages and cultures become museum pieces for us, are we then appreciative? Let us listen and appreciate.

For the BEST ONLINE SELECTION in the English language, of Ikue Asazaki recordings go to:

Farside Music located in the UK.

Lyrics are below the video.

The video contains mostly photos/images of mainland Japan and should not be confused with indigenous Okinawan/Ryukyu culture.


Arayashikiku no dei
Harasaku baku no dei
Hare fushigyurasa nejyuku
Surajifushiro yondo
Hare fushigyurasa nejyuku
Fushigyurasa nejyuku
Surajifusero yondo

Kirishigaki ku no dei
Kuganeya be tatei tei
Hare momo tobyuru wakya
Ya uriba yuwa o yondo
Hare momo to byuru wakya
Momo to byuru wakya
Ya uriba yuwa o yondo

Hateigachi ya naryuri
Tobibani ya neranu
Hare utou katabani
Ya karachitabore
Hitotsu aru bani ya
Kanasha se ni kusuitei –
Hare wanu ya okuyama
Nu kazuradasuki –

Ojyuugoya no teiki ya
Kami gyurasa teryuri
Hare kana ga jyo ni tataba kumo tei taborei

Translation:

In search of new lands, I build a new house
I thatch the house with reed stalks, gathered neatly in bundles
I thatch the house with reed stalks, gathered neatly in bundles
At the stone wall, let us celebrate the golden house, that was built by a hundred carpenters.
At the stone wall, let us celebrate the golden house, that was built by a hundred carpenters.
Let us celebrate the golden house, that was built by a hundred carpenters.

The eighth month is fast approaching, and yet I have nothing to wear
I want to dress up, so brother, will you lend me just one sleeve?
I wish to dress my children and loved ones… in the one kimono that I own
As for me, I will wear vines… that I plucked deep in the mountains

The light of the full moon shines down,
illuminating the world with its divine light
When my lover sneaks in to visit me,
I wish that the clouds would hide that light just a little.

Lyrics translated by silmanaro on YouTube and myself

House of Flame – 川本 喜八郎 Kihachiro Kawamoto

Bunraku, is the Japanese art/craft of Puppet-making and Puppet theater.  These are not hand puppets, but large figures on a stage manipulated by puppet-operators dressed in black in full view.  The listener/watcher, when beginning to watch the story unfold, forgets that the puppet manipulators are there on stage.  Many of the stories are based on mythologies and unique Japanese traditional story-telling from the Kabuki and Noh forms of art/craft.

Kihachirou Kawamoto 川本 喜八郎 was born in 1925 in Japan, and after becoming fascinated with puppet and doll-making and the bunraku tradition, studied with Jiri Trnka, the master pupper theater and stop-image movie maker of Czechoslovakia (now divided between Slovakia and the Czech Republic).  Kihachirou Kawamoto is famous today, for designing puppets and puppet costumes for other Bunraku craftspeople and Bunraku movie makers.  He specializes in short films and is famous for his exquisite puppets and using them in most of his works.  The stories he tells in his films are told through the lens of passions and loss, grief and whimsy, commenting on today’s world in a Buddhist-like under-pinning of the emptiness of life. They are haunting, expressive, and unrelenting, yet at the same time, absurd – which is intentional.

The following video is of the story Kataku (House of Flame), made in 1979.