Archive for yoshitoshi

Yoshitoshi Moshi Moshi

Posted in Lucerne Village with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2012 by javedbabar

Alex wasn’t sure if this art class was a good idea. He had wanted to teach only adults, but The Authority had a policy of community-building and insisted that classes at the Transparent Temple – nickname of their glassy community centre – should be open to all. The Official Response Document asked the question, “Do children benefit from inter-generational interaction and instruction?” and then answered it too, saying, “Yes, they do. They should thus be offered classes alongside adults.”

The school thought this was wonderful. It was a good way to stretch their resources – they could send Year Twelve students to Alex’s art class instead of running one themselves.

Alex’s first term focus was PIA: Philosophy In Art. Now with two audiences to please, he wondered if that would work well. Maybe he should simplify the topic and start with a particular style of art, and see how that went before broadening its intellectual scope.

The audience had self-segregated. Adults sat along the left of the room and teens along the right.

“Good morning everyone,” Alex said confidently. “Welcome to PIA:Philosophy In Art class. It is wonderful to have both adults and teens present. I am looking forward to hearing a wide range of views and opinions from you all. I’d like to start with a particular style today, something very distinctive. Who knows something about Japanese design?”

The teens were more enthusiastic than he’d supposed. Their hands shot up and they began calling out.

“Pac Man!”

“Manga!”

“Godzilla!”

“Transformers!”

“Pokemon!”

“Tomagotchi!”

Yu-Gi-Oh!”

This wasn’t really what Alex had wanted, but the last example was fortuitous. He decided to pick up on it.

“What is Yu-Gi-Oh? Oh, it’s a card game? The King of Games! Is it good? What are the characters like? Who is the main hero? So it’s Yugi Mutou? Thank you for enlightening me. I’ll prepare myself for battle! I’d like to introduce you to a similar word – Ukiyo-e. Can you say that?” Some of the class had a go.

“Well done! Ukiyo-e is traditional Japanese woodblock printing. Who has heard of Hokusai?”

Most adults put up their hands, but none of the teens.

“He was the son of a mirror-maker and became obsessed with Mt Fuji. He spent much of his life drawing it in surprising ways. Another artist is Hiroshige, the son of a fire fighter. When he was a child he loved to play with miniature landscapes, and later experimented with many different perspectives. The third artist I’d like to consider is Yoshitoshi. He lived in a time when feudal society was breaking down in Japan. It was a time of great chaos, and many of his images feature violence and death. So which of these artists shall we deal with first?”

A boy shouted out, “Yoshitoshi!”

A girl shouted out, “Moshi moshi!” Alex couldn’t help laughing. This was the usual way that Japanese people answered telephones.

A chant began in the classroom, with boys shouting out “Yoshitoshi!” and girls responding with “Moshi moshi!”

“Yoshitoshi!”

“Moshi moshi!”

“Yoshitoshi!”

“Moshi moshi!”

“Yoshitoshi!”

“Moshi moshi!”

Alex joined in with both chants. This class would be more fun than he’d supposed.

Hours of the Moon

Posted in Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2012 by javedbabar

Guru Baba gave his assistant Sami the day off, “But only the day!” he said. “Tonight you will stay up working!”

“May I ask doing what?” said Sami. He was accustomed to Guru Baba’s mysterious utterances, but there was no harm in trying to glean some extra information.

The bearded sage adjusted his orange robe beneath the waist in an unseemly manner, and smiled. He said, “You will see!” He also adjusted the tilt of his turban. “You will see!”

Guru Baba’s first year of retirement to “the nice village with the white mountain above it” had been a confusing period. There were concerns that this famous holy man was suffering from dementia. Many global leaders had come to see him, thinking that he may soon die – it was a valuable PR opportunity not to miss out on! – but here he was in tip-top shape. Sami had given up trying to understand the man. He had developed a deep fondness for him, even when he was being very annoying, like now.

Sami didn’t want to have the day off and work all night. He made another attempt at extracting information. “Guru Baba, what for?”

“What for? What for? Because I said so! I know more than you! Come here at six o’ clock tonight or don’t ever bother coming here again.”

Sami spent the day watching movies and cleaning the house. He should do it more often, not let it build up like this into a disaster zone. Did spiders really think they’d catch sumptuous dinners in his apartment? Bug screens kept all the insects out, but seemed to have no effect on fluff and dust.

Sami appeared at six p.m., as instructed, at the Transparent Temple. Guru Baba said cheerfully, “Come on, let’s go for a walk.” They walked along the canal trail for a kilometre before turning off into a field. “Look,” said Guru Baba. “There’s the moon.”

This was true. Though it was not yet dusk, a full moon had appeared, more grey than white, in a pale blue sky. Guru Baba said, “You will be learning lessons from the Man in the Moon tonight.” Then he produced a sketch pad and pencil from beneath his robes and said, “Draw the moon.”

“But I can’t really draw,” said Sami. He’d never enjoyed art class.

Sami recognized the signs when Guru Baba was angry. His nose drew up and he shouted, “Draw it! Drawing is just looking! Look at it!”

Sami did the best he could. There was nothing to draw really, just a circle with some shading. “Well done,” said Guru Baba in a conciliatory fashion.

They continued looking. The sage said, “Do you know the Japanese artist Yoshitoshi? He made a series of woodblock prints called One Hundred Views of the Moon. They are very beautiful, and so surprising and original, with lovers, warriors, old women, children, farmers, and monkeys all looking at the moon. They are entranced by it. I want you to always look at the moon like that. Yoshitoshi was the last master of woodblock printing before photography and other forms of mass reproduction destroyed it. His life represents one man’s struggle against time. He eventually lost. We all do. But while he was alive he was always looking.”