So, I stumbled upon a (new) to me blog about masculinities and men. It’s called Strong Silent Types – Stuff About Men and from my quick initial looking around it seems to have a lot of ace content, including stuff on topics like religion, emotional well being and homosexuality. It’s quite Australian focussed and well written. Check it!
Archive for April 2010
(This is actually a very late edition of my monthly masculinity post for March, hopefully I get one for April out in the next few days)
Yukio Mishima is how Japanese author and general creative type Kimitake Hiraoka (1925 -1970) is better known to the world. One of the most prominent Japanese literary figures of the twentieth century, he is primarily known for his writings and plays. He is also remembered for the manner in which he died. There are a lot of interesting elements to Mishima’s life, especially in regard to his masculine expression. Mishima’s early life is an interesting and perhaps telling blend of isolation and bullying. I am not going to write about Mishima’s extensive literary output which is rich in terms of expression of gender and masculinity & identity, but rather point out a few other things that I think demonstrate his masculinity and the complexity of it.
Mishima’s sexuality is somewhat ambiguous, he was married and had children, but he also had homosexual relationships. He became interested in bodybuilding and martial arts and he articulated his relationship with his body in Sun and Steel. The above image is, I think, interesting in terms of embodied masculinity and particular post war Japanese masculine identity. As can perhaps be guessed from the above, Mishima was strongly nationalistic, to the extent that in 1968, a few years before his death he founded a nationalist militia, the Shield Society. This right-wing group was a short-lived one, disbanding after a failed coup, when a small group of members, led by Mishima, briefly seized control of the defence force headquarters and tried to rally the troops and restore imperial rule. After the failure of this, Mishima and one other member of the group, Masakatsu Morita, committed ritual suicide.
These actions, the dedication and belief demonstrated by them, along with the extensive output of Mishima as an artist are fascinating to me. Rich in terms of a masculinity that seems amazingly passionate, disciplined and destructive. I don’t think it’s a good model of masculinity, but it sure is interesting from a historical and cultural perspective.
Well, I’ve been a bit quiet here for a while. Other, non critical masculinities things have been demanding my attention a little more than usual. I’d like to post a poem today. I’m not usually big poetry person, not in so much as I don’t enjoy them, but more that they don’t crop up in my usual field of viewing and reading too often. I came across this one when reading Susan Bordo and while it isn’t about masculinity, I think it’s relevant and interesting to ideas around gender, masculinity & the body.
The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me, by Delmore Schwartz
“the withness of the body” –Whitehead
The heavy bear who goes with me,
A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,
Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.
Breathing at my side, that heavy animal,
That heavy bear who sleeps with me,
Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar,
A sweetness intimate as the water’s clasp,
Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope
Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.
–The strutting show-off is terrified,
Dressed in his dress-suit, bulging his pants,
Trembles to think that his quivering meat
Must finally wince to nothing at all.
That inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb held,
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit’s motive,
Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness,
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear,
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed
Dragging me with him in his mouthing care,
Amid the hundred million of his kind,
the scrimmage of appetite everywhere.
I’ve been a little distracted from Critical Masculinities over the last week or so, for that I apologise. I also realise that I’m late for my “Masculinity of the Month (March)” post. But thems the breaks.
So, In lieu of generating some actual content of my own, I’m going to direct you to someone elses. In this case a guest post on Feministing by Davi Zielinski Koszka on American Masculintiy and essentialism. Interesting stuff. You can read it here.