November 22, 2004 [Fear and Trembling]

[note: This entry is presented in memory of Nagisa Oshima]
 The young Belgian woman working in Japan remembers a serenely precise expanse of stone and sand and severely delicate moss.

Amelie should have known what her life would become in Japan, given that Zen garden. But there is no Romantic yearning without a re-imagined past, so Amelie and the garden remain--but so does the lavatory to which she is banished in punishment for her joy at returning to Japan and her exuberant desire to please.  Like the garden, the bathroom is clean and symmetrical, and it accepts her mop like the garden does the rake, the two of them her refuge and shame.
But that exuberance cannot be contained. She is "humiliated" by relegating all her skills to calendar-page-turning--but she does so as a Samurai of her Lord, delighting her fellow-workers as she flies about the office, hilariously turning those calendars like Toshiro Mifune reveling in his swordsmanship. Their Japanese is no better than hers and their affection for her is high--but they cannot take her side. She is the foreigner, and her female superior presses upon Amelie not only that dominance but an erotic vibrating suffocation, pleasurable and deadly--and Amelie knows it, she knows she is David Bowie in Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence--buried in his own Japanese sand, in love with his captor and loved in returned--and tortured for his love in a realm of senses thwarted and stifled, until only flight remains, high above Tokyo and the beauty of the garden from which they're banished.


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