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July 30, 2013



There is no reference whatsoever to Masamune’s taste-or interest-for Christianity ever made by Miyamori in Ungo-Zenji; and his violence and rage is strangely compared-and equated-to Sakaya Muni in the treatment he receives from (St) Arara, being Arara’s intentionality exactly what Masamune lacked when he struck Ungo-Zenji years before.

And it seems the story is an hagiography account of the relationship between worldly power as military brawn and the social order it guarantees (despite, of course, revolving periods of necessary turmoil and chaos), and religion (the word Masamune uses himself); that each one could be understood as the simultaneous master of the other;

And it is the visual and deeply felt perception of a snow-covered landscape by a young Masamune that is the initial image of the story itself-how moved he is in his contemplation as a daimio -from the balcony of his own temple-of the majesty (?) of nature, being already by then, and in his own person, part of the structure of Japanese state.

But he has no restraint or regard of any kind for the servant he strikes most savagely, once he exits the temple-or pagoda (?) to find his snow clogs are inexplicably warm-due to the erroneous conclusion he draws that his servant had actually worn them while waiting-conclusion that he does not bother to confirm.

And the weakness and most unbecoming emotions of rage and revenge are what drive the servant, over the next 30 years, to enter the priesthood (Buddhism) and to seek to rise to a sufficiently high point of social status to be able to safely exact revenge on his former master for this injustice.

And yes, the enlightened servant-Ungo Zenji-eventually understands the futility-the incoherence-of resorting back to worldly violence from a more advanced state or realm of wisdom and understanding.

But he also tacitly subordinates himself, once again, to Masamune by attributing Masamune’s blind rage and violence to being the cause, ultimately, of his own enlightenment-both spiritual and as a human being;

That this is exactly what he in fact owes now to the daimio or warlord-or regional strongman.

And I guess that’s a most convenient way of looking at things, because even then, being Ungo-Zenji the most prestigious priest of the whole of Japan, had he approached Masamune with even the slightest tone of reproach-and especially with the intent of a mild public admonition-Masamune still would have most understandably kicked his ass-with very probably total approval from the Shogun or emperor and from Japanese society itself.

And Masamune, in his need for aesthetic stimulation and wonder, will build a temple and make you its official caretaker-he has just the power to do that; but he’ll only do it if he is in fact sure of his own alpha dominance over you.

Only then does he really need you-only then can he really tolerate you.

And Miaymori (the writer) most clearly approves of just this arrangement.

In such a context of crypto de facto control by the wielders of earthly and bodily violence-subtly presented as a pillar of Japanese identity as probably the identity and soul of all historical experiences of State-how could it be possible to approve-or even mention-the presence of a foreign and rival-and most expansionist-creed like Christianity?

How could it be possible, in this light, the association of Date Masamune with the Date Maru, vessel otherwise known as the Saint John the Baptist?

Who is really telling me what?

Saint John I understand-they were all, in the end, on that ship of fools!

The truth is, I perceive-and prefer-more authenticity in Miayamori-or at least it makes more sense coming form a short story-or tale-elaborated in the Japan of the early 1900s.

More forthcoming and honest, too, than generally what you find on Wikipedia.

And the sword is easier to deal with because, in the end, it prides itself on not having to pretend to be something else-on its very arrogance in its existence as authority.

Unlike the use man has made of the pen and its rectal insertion as instrument in the mind of man.

Protect you chitlins, people!

There are those who have no restraint-no limits whatsoever:




(On the story Ungo-Zenji, from Katsuno’s Revenge and Other Tales of the Samurai, by Asataro Miyamori)

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