Monday, March 08, 2010

Would-be wild animals.

When Soseki Natsume was offered doctorate degree from the Japanese government in the Meiji era, he declined, saying that he has been living as an anonymous Natsume somebody, and wanted to keep living as Natsume somebody. When the government official insisted on receiving the degree, Soseki firmly rejected, saying that "seeing the circumstances in this country, the presence of the degree of doctorate is doing only harm to the progress of academic studies, I must conclude"

As I live on, and experience various ups and downs of life, I start to appreciate the depth and perceptions of Soseki. Humans are weak, and many people fall victim to worshipping the merits and degrees bestowed upon them, while the real substance suffers. Soseki saw clearly, that the social honours enjoyed by his contemporary "cultural dignitaries" only worked to diminish their sensitivity as creators and appreciators of artistic and academic establishments.

One has to remain wild, untamed, in order to be creatively interesting. That was Soseki's instinct, and the Meiji era Japan was rapidly going into the opposite direction. Almost 100 years later, the "important people" who enjoyed prestige as "doctorate" holders are long forgotten, while the works of Soseki, who remained a wild animal, keep being read and appreciated by would-be wild animals.

Soseki Natsume. An cultural wild beast to the end.


Anonymous said...

Born free, as free as the wind blows
As free as the grass grows
Born free to follow your heart

Live free and beauty surrounds you
The world still astounds you
Each time you look at a star

Stay free, where no walls divide you
You're free as the roaring tide
So there's no need to hide

Born free, and life is worth living
But only worth living
'cause you're born free

(Stay free, where no walls divide you)
You're free as the roaring tide
So there's no need to hide

Born free, and life is worth living
But only worth living
'cause you're born free
(Words by Don Black and Music by John Barry)

nekochama said...

What a story! His grandson Fusanosuke the manga critic is also an interesting and unique character, don't you think?

The way that NS's writings reflect what he gleaned from life abroad is to me in a sense like anthropology, which pits itself against the unreflective mindset 'humans are like this' in favor of 'culture is like this' and in doing so, appears a traitor of the norm - wild, if not a little nonhuman.

Yuzu said...

Now days I read some Soseki Natsume's books in English. It heels me. Japanese literature is beautiful.
I wish you are also like Soseki Natsume in any world.

Anonymous said...

When I think noble wild men, I pick one of them, Okamoto Taro.
He had never laid himself in the position of a high rank or a great authority, in spite of he had a large intelligence, for he was taught directly by Marcel Mauss, Georges Bataille, and many other well-known person in France.
But, it seemed he was rather seen as a man, who was sort of frank and curious, than the his intelligence, and maybe he liked that for the freedom of expression.
I am given much courage from the passion of such wild animals having an invisible wonderful prize.

砂山鉄夫(Tetsu Sunayama) said...

"I am a cat,no,so sorry. I am Soseki Natsume. Thank you for your entry. Yes, I don't need such a doctorate degree. I don't need the position of professor,Tokyo Imperial University. I don't need such a party gathering novelists sponsored by the Prime Minster."

Soseki was just like a wild beast. He had no title. It is not necessary for the great writer to have such a rigid title. He lived only by the power of his pen. I respect him.

apple407 said...

The public face of the elites of any field does serve, it seems, as the mountain range to be conquered by the young and the untried. The established elites serve as the citadels to be
breached by those ambitious enough to dream.
It is, after all, the young who must carry on the flag and march beyond the familiar and the tried.
The dream must be kept new and fertile, and full of possibilities for eternity.