:: 3:AM Asia

The Sōseki of Prague published 21/08/2018

This seems to be the pattern; all attempts to research Kafka and Japanese literature suggest influence going in the opposite direction to what one might expect. I only find out about Kafka’s influence on Japanese literature, and mostly post-Second World War literature. Kafka is an influence on Murakami (author of Kafka on the Shore) and on Kobo Abe (who is said to be the “Kafka of Japan”). Nowhere is anyone calling Kafka the “Sōseki of Prague”.

By Duncan Stuart.

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Norkore – Excerpt from See You Again in Pyongyang published 04/06/2018

We know from Dennis Rodman that the Marshal’s two favorite songs are the themes from Rocky and Dallas—tunes that undoubtedly implanted themselves in the young Jong Un’s brain during his own adolescence, growing up in Switzerland—which were played over and over again by an orchestra on the night of their banquet together upon the basketball player’s first visit to Pyongyang. In addition to this stylistic influence, the Moranbong Band has layered electronic beats, dance breaks, and soulful vocal acrobatics that channel Whitney and Mariah. Concerts are replete with synchronized dance moves, laser light shows, and digital video backdrops showing footage of missiles blasting off into the sky, ecstatic marching soldiers, and the biggest rock star of all, the Marshal himself, swarmed with hysterical citizen-fans.

An excerpt from Travis Jeppesen‘s account of life in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea.

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A remarkable woman in remarkable times: Eileen Chang’s Little Reunions published 23/01/2018

Review of Eileen Chang's Little Reunions

Chang’s reputation as one of China’s great modern writers has not translated into a wide appreciation in the English-speaking world, despite many of her Chinese-language novels and short stories being translated into English. Love in a Fallen City, translated by Karen Kingsbury in 2006, is a selection of stories taken from Romances. Meanwhile, in 2007, Ang Lee directed a film adaptation of her novella Lust/Caution. Nevertheless, her fame and appreciation remains centred in China and Taiwan.

Josie Mitchell reviews Little Reunions by Eileen Chang.

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The Narrowing Spectrum of Control published 17/09/2017

This is a well-pool of pea-soup oud, a full-on miasma to try and fight through. I flashback to the Anonymous guy telling me: “You cannot speak to your neighbours”. You cannot trust anyone. The drivers grass – the cleaners – the CEOs. So what do you do? Go with the majority? The fifty percent majority? You keep your head down, hope it’s better by the time your kids have grown up? Shelter yourself between the sheets of being a VPN rebel, writing nothing down, or it will be held against you.

By Kirsty Allison.

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Modern Art: A Game of Three published 22/08/2017

Lives, deaths. The variables. Some come and some go. Then they all go. To the main question. So what if Mishima and Kawabata hadn’t succeeded in killing themselves? What if Kurosawa had been more serious about the razor in his hand? The director dies, the writers live. Which is to say, what if literature had lived but films hadn’t?

By Kyle Coma-Thompson.

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The Poem Brut #9 – Three untitled visual poems published 11/07/2017

Of an orange grove, the bees visited the flowers

At midnight, a bee hit the window of shed and died
An eyelid stung by a bee, only the pain tastes honey

The murmur of traffic filtered from the honeycomb

A buzz in a small town will be torpor by the mead

New visual poetry by Hiromi Suzuki.

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The border is the war: Chris Marker remembered published 08/06/2017

As much as Marker shunned publicity of any kind during his lifetime (1921-2012, remarking pointedly “My films are enough”), for Studio an array of selected photographs of his Paris workspace by Adam Bartos does the rest. Much continues to be made of Marker’s Pynchonesque reclusivity and refusal to discuss or engage with his past, which perhaps serves to underscore the premise behind Studio, Marker being that “obsessive agent of memory” according to writer and academic Stephen Barber.

Andrew Stevens reviews Studio: Remembering Chris Marker by Adam Bartos and Colin MacCabe.

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Writing Between Species: Yoko Tawada’s Memoirs of a Polar Bear published 16/05/2017

Memoirs of a Polar Bear review

Benjamin’s method of literal reading is, to my mind, precisely what we should bring to Yoko Tawada’s playful and fascinating new novel Memoirs of a Polar Bear. This is not just because the Japanese-German author is deeply indebted to Kafka, it is also because Memoirs of a Polar Bear is constructed out of three intergenerational polar bear-narrated fictions.

Dominic O’Key reviews Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada, translated by Susan Bernofsky.

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Excerpt: Butoh War Games published 05/04/2017

After passing the derelict wooden structure of the immense Koma cinema that Richie loved and would be demolished soon after, the cacophony of Shinjuku faded out and we entered the near-darkened, near-silent and dense alleyways of the Golden Gai area, almost untouched for 50 years, and arrived at the discretely signposted bar, ‘La Jetée’, owned by Richie’s friend, another obsessive agent of memory, the French film-maker Chris Marker, possessed by his own memories of the future, which Tokyo above all other cities disgorges, annulling or reversing linear time, oscillating between future-directed political contestations and now-lost corporeal gestures, transforming the megalopolis’s facades and the imprinted bodies they momentarily contain.

By Stephen Barber.

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The Many Self-Reinventions of Toyo Ito published 22/11/2016

Ito’s design pointed ahead in two ways. On the one hand it realised the modernist principle of transparency, exposing certain structural elements, but it did so with a hint of contradiction, by advertising its content like a boutique window: the inside was brought out into the city, but it was also encased as a display, with a glassy façade that looks like one of Jeff Koon’s readymade vacuum cleaner installations. A kind of high street modernism, it disrupted the canon in a second way by estranging the controlled, homogenous rationality of the grid.

By William Harris.

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