Literature as visual art: imagination and visuality since 3/11
Shigemi Nakagawa (Ritsumeikan University)
Paper short abstract:
Given that literature is an art of language, it is essentially distinct from the visual arts. We must also consider the problem of the visual images contained therein. In this paper, I want to consider the notable shift in visual images in Japanese literature after March 11th, 2011.
Paper long abstract:
Given that literature is an art of language, it is essentially distinct from the visual arts. However, as it draws its sustenance from the inner imagination, we must also consider the problem of the visual images contained therein. There is no question that the composition of literature includes visual aspects in its mix; what are the correlations among the visual and the linguistic? Since the advent of postmodernism, the "narrative" which sustained us has lost its sturdy constructivism and has been revised, while tangling with a variety of expressions. Literature has served as a storehouse of narrative ingredients for film, manga, animation and so on, while in turn the visual arts have provided opportunities to put images into words which become literature. In this paper, I want to consider the notable shift in visual images in Japanese literature after the earthquake and tsunami of unprecedented scope which befell Japan on March 11th, 2011, as well as the subsequent nuclear reactor accident, and the aspiration to the fundamental life force to be found in literature, with reference to the problem of turning these visual images into literature. While the radical change which has come over Japanese literature after 3/11 appears most noticeably in works concerned with nuclear power, here I want to address three works by three superb Japanese women writers in order to consider the possibilities and impossibilities of the new Japanese literature. Tawada Yoko's "Kentoshi" (2014), Kirino Natsuo's "Baraka" (2016), and Tsushima Yuko's final work, "Hanmetsuki wo iwatte" (2016) offer effective proof that Japanese literature has transformed itself into something clearly different. Elsewhere, I will also consider works by Murata Sayaka and others as examples of situations reduced to the non-linguistic as the result of overwhelming over-imagery, discussing discourse on virtual reality and other imaginings since the 1980s as well as the reconsideration of artistic works, in order to question what kind of warnings literature is now sending to the human race.