Pergolesi: Stabat Mater / Emma Kirkby, James Bowman
The piece begins with a tragic string ensemble. The melody of the beginning by the soprano and alto, realistically expresses the agony of the Virgin Mary in the presence of her crucified child. There is a picture that I remember every time I listen to this song. It is a photograph of his mother, Seki, holding the body of the proletarian writer Takiji Kobayashi, who was tortured to death by the Tsukiji police. The Virgin Mary and Seki always come to my mind in the same way listening to this piece.
Victor Jara and Takiji Kobayashi. Both of these revolutionary artists have had their fingers shattered by torture. Victor Hara was tortured so that he could not play the guitar. Kobayashi was tortured so that he could not hold a pen. Both were slaughtered shortly thereafter.
About twenty years ago, I went to The Otaru Literary Museum. This was the former head office of the Hokkaido Takushoku Bank, and it was the very place where Takiji Kobayashi worked. The materials on display belonged to three novelists: Sei Itoh, Takuboku Ishikawa, and Takiji Kobayashi. In terms of the quantity of the exhibits, the ratio was about 7 to 2 to 1. The number of Takiji Kobayashi was definitely smaller. However, when I left, I saw that 99% of the entries in the visitors’ notebooks were about Takiji. I remember that even then, there were many entries by young people. At that time, I thought to myself, “Most of the people who come to this museum come to meet Takiji”.
In 1933, Takiji Kobayashi was arrested by the Special Higher Police for his novel “The Crab Cannery Ship (Kanikosen)”. The direct charge was “lese majesty against the Imperial”. In the novel, he had one of the character workers say, “Put a stone in it.” In other words, he means a stone to be put in the “canned goods” for the offer to the imperial family. But this is clearly a “arresting for another crime”. The part of the novel that the powers that be were furious about was not the stones. They were surprised and upset by Takiji’s revelation of the nature of the “imperial army” in the work “The Crab Cannery Ship”. The nature of the military, which oppresses the people as a “violent device” of the state. They felt threatened by this novel, which symbolically depicted the part of the military that power wanted to hide. The army, which the workers thought had come on board to free them from the violence of the job system, turns out to be pointing its guns at them. This shocking scene is the climax of the novel.
I am glad to see that in recent years, “The Crab Cannery Ship” is being read by the so-called working poor. The sympathy, however, seems to be limited mainly to the “miserable working conditions” of the workers. There is more than one theme in this novel. For example, the exposure of the nature of the military (state power) and the issue of workers’ unity (organizing) mentioned above are also included. I would like to see the novel read in a more multifaceted way.
I can’t tell you how many times I have picked up the first and second volumes of “Takiji Kobayashi” by Hidetaka Tezuka. Each time I picked it up, I was filled with new emotion. The book is filled with respect for the indomitable revolutionary artist and affection for him as a comrade, as well as a meticulously researched explanation of his life and death. As a biography of Takiji Kobayashi, this book is truly a masterpiece, and there has never been, and will never be, a better critique. Although many critiques of his works themselves have been written by Tetsuzo Fuwa and others, the strength of Tezuka’s book lies in the fact that he writes about his experiences working under the same mission at the same time.
Tezuka, however, did not have a very long relationship with Takiji. Takiji came to Tokyo in March 1930, when he was 27 years old. He began his career as an activist in the Proletarian Writers’ Union and joined the Communist Party the following year. From then until he entered a life of illegality, he was subjected to repeated arrests, imprisonment, and torture.
In “Dokubou (Prison cell)”, which he wrote after his release from Toyotama Prison, he described the scenery he saw from the convoy as he left for court: “The slow Seibu train from N-machi to Nakano had somehow been replaced by a double-track line, and once it rained, the road which become muddy, had been completely replaced by asphalt.
In 1932, Takiji was involved with Fujikura Industries in his real life, which was the model for “Kurata Industries” in his later work, “Life of a Party Member”, and the reality of the temporary workers at this company was exactly the same as so-called “the working poor” of today. When they joined the company, they were forced to sign a contract saying that they would only be employed until March. We knew that we would have a lot of work to do after April, but after all, we were fired . On the other hand, the full-time employee called me “cocky” and “bossy,” and it was difficult for me to establish a relationship with them and it was quite difficult for him to fight against the demands of “opposing the firing” and “converting temporary workers into main workers” under such conditions.
What do you think? What’s the difference from today’s “non-regular employees”?
After that, Takiji went into underground life. This is a life that Takiji himself called “a life where personal life is at the same time a class life. Some people read “Life of a Party Member”, which was written based on this underground life, and criticize the conflict between the so-called “housekeeper (disguised marriage partner)” and the main character, saying, “I get it, this is the pathetic state of women in communism. As usual, a friend of mine who comes from a New Leftist background brings this up every time we have a drink. But think about what party activities were like under that repression. It was truly an extreme situation where “bourgeois love” was taken away. It may be inevitable that many of the criticisms are based on this kind of bourgeois humanitarian ideas.
It was during this underground activity that Takiji met Tezuka for the first time (April 1932). From then until his massacre in February 1933 at the age of 29, Takiji and Tezuka were friends for only 11 months.
There was an old eel restaurant with narrow eaves in a secluded alleyway off a busy street in Juban. I walked up through the damp, bumpy dirt floor and found myself in a low-ceilinged room that looked like a country closet. In the beginning, we went there twice a month, and as our money ran out, once a month or once every two month, we decided to eat eel and rest here. We had been living in a tense life where there was no such thing as a rest, when we were at the boarding house or on foot, so these moments were a joy beyond description.
Kobayashi was overjoyed to see that the house looked just like a soba restaurant in Otaru. He took off his glasses, lay down on the floor, stretched out, laughed loudly, and his eyes lit up like a child’s. He looked truly happy.
”This place looks just like Otaru,” he said.
As he lay on his back, he gazed fondly at the astringent paper-covered walls and the softly-pitched ceiling, repeating, “It’s just like Otaru”.
He seemed to be laughing out loud, and then he would scratch his hair, roll up his legs, and indulge in his thoughts. Then again, he would quietly sit up and talk to me happily. At times like this, he would tell me stories about his mother and memories of his childhood. (From “Recollections” in the second volume of “Takiji Kobayashi” by Hidetaka Tezuka)
This is a passage from “Recollections”, the last chapter of the second volume of “Takiji Kobayashi” by Hidetaka Tezuka. It is a description of Takiji Kobayashi during the tense time when he was being chased by the Special Higher Police. It is one of my favorite passages, where I can feel his deep affection for his comrade Kobayashi.
Then one day, he suddenly asked me, “How about you, are you interested in writing a novel?” I was a little flustered and stumped for an answer, so I replied with a laugh, “I’ll start writing around forty”. Then he laughed with a strange look on his face. The next time we met at the same place, he asked me the same question again. I replied in the same way. Then he laughed again with a strange look on his face.
Four or five days later, I met him at the same place for an urgent matter, and after we had discussed the matter, he asked me, “How about you, are you interested in writing a novel?” Again, he whispered in a low voice. I was about to say, “Forty and up,” as usual, but then I looked at him with some trepidation. He said in a faint voice, “You say that again,” and leaned back against the cushion of the couch with a strange, bloodshot look of loneliness on his face. He looked like a big old man with a cocooned face, but his eyes were piercingly bright, as if he was intently following something in the distance. I finally felt as if I could understand some of his feelings for the first time. (From “Recollections” in the second volume of “Takiji Kobayashi” by Hidetaka Tezuka)
“It’s hard to make a long story in this life style.” said Takiji. Tezuka says “I knew him so well in his daily life that I wondered when he writes a novel.”
“I wondered why there is nobody write novels, anyone who writes with the will to die.” says Takiji.
Was it frustrating that there were no novelists who were willing to live “a life in which personal life is at the same time class life”? No, in the circumstances of the time, Takiji probably knew that his life would not be long. Isn’t that why he hoped that there would be more artists with the same ideology as him and that they would leave their works behind? I think that’s what he meant when he asked Tezuka, “How about you, do you want to write a novel?
It was the middle of winter, and the dusk was finally approaching in the cold cages. The detainees in the five cells were quiet, hungry, bored, and depressed, waiting for dinner to be served.
Suddenly, the doorway of the detention center, directly in front of the cell where I was sitting, opened with a strange air. Then, the Special Higher Police Mizutani, the chief who pretended to be a gentleman, Ashida, who looked like a gorilla, and Ozawa and others – brought in two comrades.
The first comrade in a suit and tie was carried groaning on his back by one of the officials to the first cell at the far end of the room.
The next comrade was carried on his back by two or three police officers and thrown into the third cell, where I was, as if I had been knocked down. The cage cell, which was about a square meter and a half in size, was packed with twelve or three cellmates. He was thrown into the middle of the room and collapsed, gasping and moaning, unable to even get up.
The cellmates were astonished: “What a mess……. “
I put his head on my lap. His pale, skinny face was twisted in pain, and his soft-haired head often slipped off my lap. He was moaning and squirming, “I’m in pain, I’m in pain, I can’t …… breathe. He nodded his head and said, “Yes,……, yes,……. The comrade was dressed in a navy blue kimono and haori. The whiteness of his face and hands made a particularly strong impression in contrast. His well-groomed appearance showed a high level of intelligence, and his nostrils were covered with crimson blood. His fingers were thin and supple, and the calluses on his fingers indicated that he was a man of letters. His cellmates spread the chest of his underwear, squeezed his hands, and struggled to relieve his pain.
What kind of organization did this comrade belong to, I wondered. “What is your name?” I asked, but he didn’t answer, instead squirming in pain from the bottom of his body, which was coming on intermittently.
The suffering of these two comrades proved how brutally they had been beaten in the torture room on the second floor of the police station, next to the special high-security room, and how well they had endured.
Eventually, he asked to go to the latrine, so two of his cellmates gently carried him there. No sooner had they reached the latrine than there was a scream that seemed to come from his stomach. “He can’t,” my cellmate said.
I said to the guard, who had been fidgeting and watching whole story, “No, we can’t stay here. We have to move him to the protection room.” There was a protection room on the other side of our cell. It was large, with tatami mats, and usually only women were allowed in, but it was usually empty. The guard nodded. We moved our comrade in, laid out blankets and pillows, and pulled up his kimono. “Oh,” I exclaimed. The guards who had peeked in moaned, “Oh ……”.
What we saw was not a “human body”. From the kneecaps up, not just the inner thighs, but the thighs as well, were discolored as if they had been painted blue-black all over without a single gap. For some reason, even though it was cold, he wasn’t wearing any crotch-tie or Sarumata. On further inspection, I found that his buttocks and lower abdomen were covered with this ghastly blue-black color.
”It might help to cool him down,” I told the guard. A scullery maid carried a bucket and towels. We began to cool this “blue-black place” with wet towels. Eventually, he was exhausted, or at least a little more comfortable, and he stopped moaning and complaining of pain. The comrade closed his eyes and seemed to be asleep. The light came on in the jail and dinner was served. I sat alone by his bedside and finished my dinner. When I looked into his face again, I saw that his condition had suddenly changed. His half-lidded eyes were twitching and his hiccups were ……. I yelled out loud. The guards rushed out of the room.
I was escorted back to my cell. A barrier was erected in front of the protection room. Soon a doctor and nurse arrived. They seemed to have given him an injection. Soon, a stretcher was brought in.
The stretcher with my comrade on it was about to leave the detention center. From the first cell in the back of the room, a sorrowful, tearful voice cried out.
The voice calls “Ko ba Ya shi. ……”
Then there was a loud sobbing.
It was about seven o’clock in the afternoon.
The above is a description of Takiji’s last days as recalled by Yoshio Iwazato, who was in the same cell as Takiji at the Tsukiji Police Station. Four or five days before Takiji was killed, Tezuka met him. It was a cold day with a light rain, and Tezuka saw Takiji at a small coffee shop he stopped by between contact activity.
He was pacing slowly back and forth in deep meditation with his hands in his pockets by the stove, which was empty of customers. His mouth was wrinkled, and his whole body seemed to be filled with a heavy, confident determination.
Throughout this life of hard struggle, I had secretly watched with amazement the resilience of a man. It was as if I was seeing a wonderful human being who was growing richly and profoundly through his earnest devotion to the truth, without flinching at any difficulty.
Before I knew it, it was snowing heavily outside. It was a quiet evening as if I could hear the sound of the snow falling. Unusually large flakes of peony snow appeared in beautiful patterns scattered all over the hollow, highlighted by the city lights, and then suddenly drifted in huge, violent whirls. (From “Recollections” in the second volume of “Takiji Kobayashi” by Hidetaka Tezuka) #baroque #pergolesi #takijikobayashi #片山俊幸