Saturday, January 21, 2006

Thoughts on Geisha

I finished Memoirs of a Geisha the other night. Quite a good read. I hear the movie is well done, too; maybe Tim and I can see it next week. I like Taiwan; I like Chinese people and their culture – but I have to say that they've got nothing on Japan when it comes to raising everyday life to an art form. I used to lump the two cultures together as being artistically sensitive, and while the Chinese have produced amazing art over the centuries, the appreciation of beauty has not been incorporated into the common life here as much as it has in Japan.

The Japanese occupied Taiwan for fifty years (1895-1945). There is still evidence of that in the architecture, the language, even the faces of people, particularly here in the south of the island. The Japanese started the first schools for the deaf in Taiwan, and the local sign language still bears the mark (like Laurent Clerc's French influence on American Sign Language, albeit under very different circumstances). My impression is that most young people here hold a positive opinion of Japan. I came across this article, however, that outlines mainland China's position (and political strategy) that she and Taiwan are united against a common foe: Japan. I don't imagine that this will be very effective, especially with the younger generation here not only lacking the first-hand experience of living under Japanese occupation, but in general wanting to be much more like Japan.

So, any suggestions on what I should read next?


Lowa said...

I finished "Memoirs of a Geisha" about a week ago. A friend who is staying with us from Canada finished last night. We are going to see it tomorrow. Maybe we can compare notes?

Now I am reading "Night" by Elie Wiesel. I started it this morning before the kids' Science class. I was reading a bit during class and put it away because I did not want Kate, Scherry or Vickie to see me cry. YOWZA. Intense.

In fact, it beckons me right now...

Lowa said...

Hey woman,

I just finished "Night". WOW!

Saw the movie ("M of a G") yesterday and was pleased with it.

Please let me know what you think!

Anonymous said...

Here's one of my top, favourite authors, ie. I've read everything she's written: Andrea Barrett.
Also love A.S. Byatt but her books are a tough read (for me anyway), so dense with literary allusions.

Enjoyed M of a G (book), saw an exciting trailer for the movie and will suspend my disgust at not hiring japanese actresses for lead roles and just go see and enjoy.

Kat said...

I was shocked, too, to see who got the leads. The days of blackface are long gone, but, you know, Asians... who can tell, right? So frustrating.

I will look up Barret and Byatt. Thanks for the recommendation.