J a p a n e s e    C u l t u r e

Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Enma's Mirror and How to Pull People into the Two Dimensional

Enma's Mirror and How to Pull People into the Two Dimensional by timtak
Enma's Mirror and How to Pull People into the Two Dimensional, a photo by timtak on Flickr.

I feel a slight similarity between Enma and Sadako, from Ringu, and other Japanese horrors.

Sadako and her ilk often come out of the two dimensional world of image. Kayako in Juon appears out of mirrors, developing photographs (or a pool of developer), various nasties come out of scrolls (or are trappped in them) and Yotsuyakaidan's horrific woman, Oiwa, is thrown into water strapped to a fusuma or shouji (made two dimensional) but comes back. The Korean film "Mirrors," remade in the US, also has nasties come out of mirrors, in spades.

It seems to me that several of theses monsters pull their victims into the image. The freeze frame as Sanada Hiroyuki's character is killed by Sadako's stare suggests that to me. Perhaps Barutan Seijin's freezing gaze does the same thing. Kayako pulls people into the mirror and developer. Oiwa strapped to two dimensionality and put into water, pulls her lover into the watery (reflecting?) depths.

Enma too in a way pulls people into their mirror, even if/though he does not come out of it. He may come out of the mirror, since Buddhas are mirrors according to some.

Enma is also known for collecting tongues, of children that lie and for hooking those that fail the mirror test up by their tongue.

It seems to me that the "collecting of tongues," relates to the fact that just before Sadako kills (Sanada Hiroyuki's character and others) she seems to telephone them. But the telephone call is of only white noise.

And I wondered whether this telephone call, in Ringu is related to tongue collection. The horror first destroys language, and then sucks us, or us Japanese(d), into the two dimensional. Sadako telephones people with silence. Her phone call marks the end of language. Silencing the, she call her victims into her deathly two dimensional image world.

Sometimes I feel that a Japanese lady I love, does or attempts to do that, to me, with good reason of course. Something vaguely along the lines of "Oh, Excuses, cuses, oooses, booses, bubu, bubu" and then fixes me with her Sadakorical stare that says wordlessly, "see yourself!" Or perhaps as the ghost of Rokujouno-Miyasu-Dokoro says to Aoi, in a Noh play of the tale of Genji. Stamping her foot she says, "Omoishire!" Think and know. Reflect and know.

Lacan says that the self is the intersection between the real, language and image. Or that both linguistic and imaginary representations of self are essential to keep the self game going. Destroy one and the self collapses. Mute the voice or realise the otherness of the image, and one can achieve englightenment, madness, or hell, depending upon how one feels about it.

(The above, thanks to Shiensumisu's comment)

This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.