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Jean-Paul Sartre, Jean Cocteau, Yukio Mishima & Edogawa Rampo – “The Pomegranate’s Rind is Shattered”!

January 8, 2014

As one illustration of the role that forms of perceptual creativity, including creative mishearings, can play in specifically artistic creativity, the “Rorschach Audio” book speculates on the influence that Japanese author Hirai Tarõ’s choice of the pen-name Edogawa Rampo (aka Ranpo) – phonetically “Edgar Allan Poe” – may have had on the author Kimitake Hiraoka’s choice of the pen-name Yukio Mishima (refer to page 130 of the book for the full explanation). As the book says (and as depicted elsewhere on this website) Rampo and Mishima certainly met. In fact, albeit after Rampo’s death, Mishima wrote the screenplay for (“Battle Royale” director) Kinji Fukasaku’s movie “Black Lizard”, which is based on Rampo’s story of the same name. Mishima also appears in the film, playing a taxidermic human exhibit in the Black Lizard character’s art museum, and, in real life, Mishima was (at that time) romantically involved with the drag queen and social activist Akihiro Miwa, who plays the lead role in “Black Lizard” (and who’s still working, voicing characters in “Princess Mononoke” and “Howl’s Moving Castle” and regularly lambasting Japanese politicians on TV chat-shows, Miwa’s recordings “Yoitomake no Uta” and “Me Que Me Que” are object-lessons in the politics of listening, and it’s interesting to contrast Miwa’s pioneering LGBT activism with Mishima’s descent into moronic and suicidally destructive Fascism).

However, in terms of what the “Rorschach Audio” book says about the superficially meaningless wartime radio messages, parodied by Jean Cocteau in his film “Orphée”, being designed to transmit illusions of meaninglessness, “Black Lizard” contains similar radio messages, which are striking not least in their similarity to the kind of messages EVP researchers hear in recordings of stray radio chatter. So, where the radio in “Orphée” describes how “just one glass of water lights up the world”, “silence moves faster when it’s going backwards” and “the black crepe of little windows is a real sunshine meal” etc (screenplay translated by Carol Martin-Sperry), the operator in “Black Lizard” transmits messages which describe how “monkeys adorn the cows with candles” and “the pomegranate’s rind is shattered” (DVD subtitles), while EVP researcher Konstantin Raudive’s book “Breakthrough” describes messages which relate how “our father, lilac again, here Pastor Diko” (“Breakthrough” page 92) and “let the pipe be, are you going to dance, stupid?” (page 139), etc.

Amusing as that all is, the flip-side of the socially-inclusive and democratic idealism inherent in the “Rorschach Audio” book’s argument that all perception is inherently creative, and that all of us are therefore (to greater or lesser extents) creative artists, is, first, since we’re all artists, there can be no special “artistic” defence for trying to con people, second the equally sobering truism that (paraphrasing Jean-Paul Sartre) anyone can write bad poetry, likewise anyone can make bad art. Further to that the main difference between the deliberately nonsensical messages depicted in “Black Lizard” and in “Orphée”, compared to those perceived by Raudive, is that the movie scripts were meant to be a send-up, whereas (on page 12) “Breakthrough” quotes Hans Bender as stating that that in importance EVP is “equal to nuclear physics”.

Copyright © Joe Banks, 8 January 2013

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