Thursday, March 29th, 2018...11:34 pmElizabeth

Yoko Tawada

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First of all, wow! It was such an amazing experience to see her in class and have the opportunity to ask specific questions. I also loved seeing her preform in Japanese and German. From just seeing her in person these past couple days, and watching the way she preforms, and speaks, she just seems so organic and natural—if that makes sense. Which I love about her! Also her hand movements look as if she were the composer or conductor of an orchestra. It was funny how she mentioned how the nuclear, or almost artificial air was making the slips of paper move on the string. During her performance last night she started off with hanging up a string or rope, and reading off collections of stories. She then placed the slips of paper on the string, connecting each different narration or story onto one piece of string. Another prop she used was a yellow umbrella, that she had stories written on.

In her stories she talked about contaminated water, flowers, death, fruit, a 100-year-old house, women, fields, a bird, a mouse, and a spider. Her topics or subjects in her writing were quite simplistic, yet her writing tied them together in a way that was so abstract. Also her stories reminded me of the patterns we saw in her writing in class, for example, the reoccurring animals, places, deaths, souls, etc. She seems to play with the idea of images and what they really are, compared to the ones she imagines in her head. For example, she talked about how the spider had stripes on his body and how they represented the colors of the flag of Germany. Also, the image of a field cultivated in one’s mind that does not really exist. Lastly, the inside of a body representing pools or oceans, compared to other planets such as earth. This example reminded me of the many different cells she wrote about in “Storytellers Without Souls.”

I also enjoyed her take on Shakespeare’s “to be, or not to be” which she turned into “to eat, or not to eat.” Her reading of this script, which she read in Japanese sounded like a song, it was so beautiful.

Lastly, her whole talk on accents, vowels, and sounds was so interesting. When one is producing these words they produce a different amount of saliva. She said something along the lines of accents shining like eyes, and vowels like islands that help her stand and not drown. She spoke about how certain words, or sounds such as “b” “explode with violence,” which is an interesting thought.

One quote I liked the most and wrote down from her stories was: “Milk is white, but not innocent.”

1 Comment

  •   Professor Seiler
    April 3rd, 2018 at 4:39 pm

    Elizabeth, I’m so delighted that you are so delighted by Tawada–in person and in her writing. Among your many lovely insights here, I share your fascination with how Tawada thinks about sound as it travels within a language and crosses/moves among several languages. Everything Tawada is in that movement of sound: inventiveness, the unusual, empathy, humor, discovery…

    … is there a critical edition of _Where Europe Begins_ in your (near) future?

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