There wasn’t too much activity at my blog this week, aside from posting a painting by the Zen monk Hakuin (1686-1768), who wasn’t a trained artist but still created works with great character. I’m nearly done with John Dougill’s In Search of Japan’s Hidden Christians, which has turned out to be as interesting as I’d hoped. A review should be appearing soon. During off times I’m also reading, slowly, Karen Armstrong’s memoir The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out Of Darkness. Being a fan of her books, I’ve long been interested in her story, especially her years as a nun and subsequent discovery of her vocation as a writer.
On another note, I was recently given the chance to contribute to My Audio Universe, a radio program and online magazine featuring readings of short stories culled from all over the world. My friend Brian Bahouth did a wonderful job on the production of “Cleaning Clothes in the Desert” by Benjamin Wolfe, which you can hear, read by yours truly, at the My Audio Universe website.
Returning to Japan for a moment, I was sad to read of the death a few days ago of filmmaker Kaneto Shindo at the age of 100. (Here is an obituary from the Guardian website.) Unfortunately I’ve only seen half a dozen of his nearly fifty films, but among these are some real favorites – especially Kuroneko (1968), a beautifully photographed and truly eerie ghost story recently released in a beautiful Blu-ray by the Criterion Collection, and Onibaba (1964), the completely strange story of two women who survive in a reedy swamp by killing passing samurai and selling their armor.
Knowing that Shindo had completed a film in 2010, Postcard, I was sort of hoping that he would join that small group of artists that has remained productive past the age of 100 – like filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira, who has apparently completed a new film at 102, or composer Elliott Carter, who at 103 is soon to have a new piece premiered. May we all have so many years of creativity!