Sendo Naomi on TV, Sat a.m.

anne mcknight amck at
Sat Jul 24 08:50:30 EDT 1999

I wondered if anyone happened to catch Sendo Naomi's  Fuji TV appearance this

I caught just the tail end of it, when the credits were rolling and a volume
of Eto Jun's essays were being flashed at the camera by one of a number of
panelists.  I wondered what Sendo had to say about Eto, if anything,
particularly since she's often invoked as the "voice of a new generation"
whereas Eto, particularly in the last couple of days reporting his suicide,
is invoked as the end of an era, both in terms of his role in the bundan
(literary establishment) and in terms of his culturally conservative
positions about tradition and politics, especially his critiques of postwar

It's been interesting to me to see how emphatically the press--from the Asahi
reports to more "op-ed" like articles and statements by bundan people,
including Ishihara Shintaro--has narrated Eto's life largely as seen through
his role as stoic (he apparently did not tell her she had cancer, and has
been read as sacrificially taking all the work on mourning upon himself)
caretaker and mourner of his wife, who died of cancer last October.  This
account, as far as I can tell, was largely founded on Eto's own article "My
Wife and Me," published in the May issue of Bungei shunju.  The way that the
romance has been foregrounded in such a way as to put even the most
humanistic of Hollywood melodramas to shame has been very intriguing to
me--which is to say, the way that the highlighting of the romance of the
couple has foreclosed any discussion of other angles of Eto's both
controversial and influential literary and cultural-political career.  While
bearing in mind that the new issues of the shuukan-shi haven't yet hit the
streets, nor have the inevitable memorial issues of the lit-crit magazines,
the conspicuous absence of any discussion of issues of nationalism in the
presentation of the sacrificial Eto, and the "end of an era" Eto is rather
astounding.  This particularly in a time when bills affecting national
information and military infrastructures -- e.g. the recent triple whammy of
the Kimo ga yo / Hinomaru bill, the new defense guidelines, and the
wiretapping bill justified by Anti-Aum hysteria-- are being passed  fast and
furious with very little public discussion.

I daresay I'm a little off-topic here, as Eto is seen more as a denizen of
the print media rathen than image culture.  However,  the "weighing in" on
Eto and what I hear as the nostalgia for someone with an integrity of
political conviction (even if the commentator is vague on or disagrees with
the actual substance of Eto's pronouncements), it seems to jibe with the
kinds of media shifts and displacements regarding nationalism (e.g. the
pathologizing of Satchi, formerly the highly valued bossy voice of normative
morality, at the same time that the motivating the anxieties about the
political system -- e.g. unaffiliated candidates, dissolving political
parties, the fear of not being able to judge a politician's qualifications,
seem to be emerging) that people seem to be discussing here in the last few
days.   Yikes, sorry about all those parentheses...

And needless to say, the sudden mobilization on TV of female commentators on
issues of national nostalgia is always provocative and interesting.

Glad for any comments, particularly on Eto-ology...
Anne McKnight

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