Yamamura Bochō (1884-1924) is primarily known as the author of Seisanryōhari (The Sacred Prism, 1915), a collection of poetry in Western style (shi), which, for its defiant experiments in form and diction (partly reminiscent of Max Weber’s Cubist Poems and of Wassily Kandinsky’s Klänge) was widely criticized by the members of the Japanese bundan. The attacks left Bochō so in disarray that around 1917 he suddenly decided to switch to a more pastoral style of humanitarian and populist poetry, never to return to his former audacities. Today, Japanese scholars unanimously consider Seisanryōhari as a forerunner of the Japanese Modernism of the Taishō and Shōwa eras; its historical value as a stage in the formation of gendaishi (the so-called “contemporary poetry”) is far from being questioned. In my paper I will focus on the way Bochō perceived and represented his own poetics of rupture against the established literary power. In particular, I will focus on his peculiar use of the neologism “purizumizumu” (prismism), which surfaces in some of his writings of 1915 as a tool to define his poetic “school”. Interestingly enough, that was the period when the achievements of the European avant-garde were abundantly being presented in Japan by way of translations, articles and so forth (there are many proofs that Bochō was directly acquainted with many of them). “Purizumizumu” meant to Bochō the particular configuration of his poetic method as well as a mot d’ordre to self-represent his own revolutionary action within the bundan. In fact, as a lexeme, “purizumizumu” reveals an unmistakable avant-garde flavor in its use of the suffix –ism as well as in the “cubist” allusions suggested by the purizum- (prism-) verbal root. Moreover, the choice of such a word can be inscribed in a (still immature, but nevertheless unprecedented in Japan) strategy of fashioning one’s own literary practice as something sharing the same disruptive “esprit nouveau” of the European avant-garde. In my paper, I will begin by presenting a survey of Bochō’s statements regarding a number of specific European avant-garde movements (especially Cubism and Futurism). I will then confront his opinions on these movements with the ideological nuances gravitating around his own coinage and use of the word ‘prismism’ and of its derivates (such as purizumisuto, “prismist”). In doing so, I will try to ascertain if they appeared to him as different parts of the same international cultural upsurge against the artistic ancien régime. I will then give an account of the actual consistence of the prismist group, claiming in the end that it was less an organized school than Bochō’s one-man-army, nearly fictional, self-narrative brainchild. In other words, I will try to demonstrate that ‘prismism’, as an organic school with disciples and official organs, never existed; it was just a verbal commodity to which Bochō gave circulation in order to claim and gain his part of symbolic capital within the literary field. (as you can infer from my terminology, I will use Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology of art as a recurring theoretical reference). The question is whether ‘prismism’ can be seen as an expression of Bochō’s compliance with and (re)production of a newer, antagonistic socio-literary habitus. Therefore, I will try to discover whether ‘prismism’, as a discursive device, still reproduces a relatively superficial Meiji paradigm where modernity corresponds to “the latest trends” in the "West" (no matter what they are), or if it is to be seen, on the contrary, as a critical and original appropriation of a particular segment of the European discourse of the avant-garde, and of European art as a whole.
|Data di pubblicazione:||2011|
|Titolo:||Aborted Modernism: The Semantics of the Avant-Garde in Yamamura Bochō's 'Prismism'|
|Titolo del libro:||Rethinking Japanese Modernism|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI):||http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/9789004211308|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||3.1 Articolo su libro|
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