Michael must write an essay on the person he most admires. He first picks Florida for her strength and effort in keeping the family together. However, Florida points out that James may be the best person. However, James' recent actions in applying for a new job leave little to be admired.
Dedication to a cause, especially if it is a just cause, is something to be admired. But even the most just causes require someone to step back and look at things without the blinders that develop over time when someone gets too immersed in a certain world.
When I close my eyes at night and try to remember my real mother, it gets harder every time and I'm terrified that one of these nights I'm gonna close my eyes and see nothing. The minute that these men took up the cause, the minute they called themselves abolitionists, they put a target on their back. I lived with one most of my life. there's nothing easy about this secret.
It's hard to untether how much I care for the cause with how far I'm willing to go for it. While I admire Georgia's resilient efforts towards peace, the fervor and forthrightness of John Brown's followers is hard to deny. It speaks to the anger that has consumed me since John's death.
"Way Down We Go" has been the go-to song for some of the best and most angsty TV moments of the year. Sometimes it heightens the feelings during the moment like here (or on Lucifer), other times, it doesn't quite work with the scene (sorry, Grey's Anatomy).
Jayanthi: Your question was exactly my question. When I started this article, I started this article thinking naively that I was going to find that blood was gendered: that male blood on the battlefield would be valorized and that female blood would be tied either to impurity or reproduction. This was my, my sort of tentative thesis as I began it. But what I found is that blood is missing. You do a database search for blood references in Heian and medieval texts, and you get very, very few hits and you get very particular hits and nothing. There's a conspicuous silence around blood. Now the number is not zero, but it doesn't appear where you think it might appear. So I went looking in the Tale of Genji, and other classical tales, to see if blood was mentioned at all during scenes of childbirth, for example. I thought for sure that it would be mentioned during childbirth. You know, in retrospect you realize it, it won't. It can't, because classical texts don't talk about the body in that natural way. They don't treat the natural body. They are interested only in the social body. So in retrospect, when it comes to realize that was a naive assumption. But one of the most interesting examples, to me, was a scene from Eiga monogatari, which is a 12th century court tale in which blood is mentioned in the scene of childbirth, let's call it provisionally, but not in the way you expect. And this scene revolves around the queen consort Genshi who everybody at court regards with suspicion. She's not welcomed at court. And there is mention of how she has a miscarriage and there was no blood. This leads to the rumor that she faked her pregnancy the whole time long, because how could a miscarriage not have blood, right? And so the only mention of blood I was able to find in relation to feminine reproduction in these classical texts was to note its absence; that it was missing. It led to all kinds of interesting revisiting of my assumptions regarding blood. And how do you study a missing substance? What can you come to say about a missing substance?
Jayanthi: It is fairly violent. There are scenes of self-impaling. My favorite scene involves a female warrior, Tomoe, twisting someone's head off and throwing it, so it is not short on violent scenes. But it is short on blood. This broad question of does a war tale without blood re-signify war in any way, because we associate depictions of war with blood. As I said, The Tale of the Heike is anomalous. Other war tales do use blood more than the The Tale of the Heike does. For example, earlier war tales like the Hôgen and Heiji Monogatori, they use what I call vindicitary bloodshed: where it's the traitors who are defeated, who have blood oozing out of their body. And this is, I would say, fairly typical. This is what we would expect, right? That if someone violated the political order, then in the literary text, you want to depict them dying and dying in the most gruesome way possible so that the blood itself marks their loser status. This is what Elaine Scarry talks about using the body, the wounded body, to use the material substance of blood coming out of the wounded body to make immaterial truth claims about power. We are more powerful. We have the right to injure the traitors.
What this prompted me to think about was what around the cultural context of blood was changing during this period. So what might I hypothesize is why blood starts to re-signify in this way? Why aren't the texts mentioning it? This is based on the wonderful scholarship of Narikiyo Hirokazu who has written about kegare, or pollution, and changing attitudes of kegare and pollution in medieval Japan. He notes a distinct feminization of blood pollution in medieval Japan. Which is to say, that if you look at pollution codes from the 10th or the 11th century, the pollution of death and the pollution of childbirth is about equivalent with the pollution of death being slightly more polluting. But during medieval Japan, the pollution of childbirth becomes vastly more polluting. It used to require seven days of seclusion. Now it requires 50 days of seclusion. And so there is a shift in weight towards feminizing pollution and having the female sex be their scarlet letter. These are some of the cultural shifts in the signification of blood that The Tale of the Heike participates in. It is also in some sense absenting blood from the wounded body because blood and its pollution is now mostly becoming a female impurity.
Jayanthi: Yeah, I think it's a really interesting analogy to help understand because 13th century, 14th century Japan is so far from most people's knowledge base, right. But we all think about the Civil War and in the news, we have a lot of lost cause arguments. We see variations of lost cause arguments, but it is a great analogy about how lost cause arguments tried to portray in retrospect, the civil war as a momentary rancor between brothers. And to give it a familial framing so that the larger questions of slavery, et cetera, get elided to frame it solely as a familial conflict. You know, it doesn't fully map onto The Tale of the Heike, but The Tale of the Heike is likewise trying to paper over a huge convulsion by telling the story as a conflict between two families, it also uses familial logic in this interesting way. And it does so to say that what happened is not a huge conflagration that changed the political order in substantial ways but to say that it was one lineage losing and another lineage winning. It's another way to use the logic of family and lineage to frame huge transitions and elide larger historical questions.
Jayanthi: That's a great question: organically, right? So I started with a broad question: What was blood before it was biopolitical? So I started with the database method. I was like, I'm going to get some kind of sense by looking at databases of literary texts. I'm gonna look at literary texts between the 11th and the 15th century. I'm going to set these cool tags. Like I was all gung-ho ready to go digital humanities on this, but what do you do with an absent substance? What do you do with something that is purposely absented? As I said earlier, the references to blood in these databases were linked to, what I would say, other traditions of understanding blood. One is the scriptural tradition of using blood to write scripture to mark one's piety. A second was this poetic idiom of blood tears that comes from China. You know, examples of nosebleeds come up. Scriptural blood, which also comes from the Chinese Buddhist and one could say back to India, although it really acquires a certain kind of meaning in the Chinese Buddhist tradition. So I would look in these databases and find these mentions of blood, which, because there were so few and so prototypical; oh, here's blood ink and here are some examples of that. Um, here is blood tears and here are some examples of that. By and large blood tears was the most common expression. Now, blood tears aren't really blood, right? It's a particular metaphorization of blood where you're saying that you cried with so much grief or so much piety or so much feeling at the loss of somebody that instead of tears, it was as if you were weeping blood. The database method failed me because how do you talk about a substance that is absented?
Jayanthi: That's a great transition. So yes. So my first book looked at how literature portrayed the epical shift of warrior power. This new book looks at how once warrior power is established, how literary texts responded to that change. And the most significant change was changes in the legal sphere. The medieval shoguns, in order to establish and cement their authority and also to manage the unruly coalition of warriors they now governed, to provide structures for them, for their authority, appease them, and sometimes keep them in check. For all those reasons, they instituted these new legal codes. My hypothesis, and, no one has looked at this, is how literature then responds to these changes. In the field of Japan Studies, the study of law has largely been within institutional history. How did institutions create laws? How did institutions implement laws? How did they enforce them? those are the questions that largely get asked. And literary texts, if they are considered at all, which they're not, are understood passive traces of such legal changes. What I want to argue, as I did in my previous book, is that literature participates in these cultural flows that shaped this understanding of law, family, and society. I argued in my previous book that literature doesn't reflect history, but actually participates in the understanding of history. I am taking a similar kind of intuition that literature participates in these cultural flows. For example, the kinds of questions I'm asking now is: do medieval Noh plays exploit the dramatic tension of a legal dispute. Are they, in some sense, a kind of courtroom drama? So I'm analyzing two Noh plays right now that are, in my view, if you let me are courtroom dramas. 59ce067264