Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Outside the Farting Man’s show at Asakusa

“Some fools survive a serious illness by taking ginseng and then go hang themselves when they can’t pay for it. Other men love potentially poisonous blowfish soup yet manage to reach old age.” (all quotes from “A Theory of Farting”, by Gennai in 1774)

The new show provoked much discussion among the onlookers.

“Opinion was divided between those who asserted the man was using medicine and those who argued he had some sort of hidden device.”

Author: “Yes, there is in fact a farting medicine on the market. A man in Osaka, Seiemon, who owns the Chigusaya Publishing House, also sells unusual herbal remedies. His signboard advertises both Argument Laxatives and Fart Starters. But when I asked about the ingredients of the farting formula, I discovered it’s only for nudging out stubborn farts, not for producing the artistic releases we saw today.

“...Yesterday’s new seems old today, and the old gets even older. But the Farting Man is different. True, you can find gifted fictional farters in old tales. But what that Farting Man actually does right in front of your eyes can’t be found in any old record or legend…. And you won’t find anyone like him in China, Korea, India, Holland, or any country on earth. What brilliant conception! And what execution!”

Military Man: “What we have just heard is truly shameless. The authorities permit plays and other public performances only as a means of harmonizing people and revealing the proper Way of ruler and ruled, father and child, husband and wife, older and younger brother, friend and friend…[cites puppet play examples]…Even freak shows teach audiences that their own children will be punished if they commit bad deeds….Freak shows urge constant vigilance and demonstrate the chilling truth that retribution for deeds comes swiftly and without mercy. In the last few years, however, the people who put on these shows have completely abandoned morality….And now the ‘farting man’ is on exhibit! It’s outrageous!

“One must absolutely never fart in public. For a warrior to fart during a formal meeting is an act so dishonorable in calls for suicide….Such people know what shame is. But for someone to put up a sign beside a main street and fart right in front of people’s eyes, why, it’s vulgar and impudent beyond words!…And those who watch him are dimwits.”

Author: “How different he is from our professional musicians who go to a certified master to receive secret instruction on the proper way to articulate and chant so they themselves can later charge high fees to their own students. These musicians caw and croak like crows or night herons, imitating old pieces without putting any feeling into the phrases….They simply slaughter the words of the new puppet plays. The profession as a whole is in decline. But look at the Farting Man. He’s invented everything by himself, without master or secret oral transmission. With an unspeaking rear end and uncomprehending farts…Call him one of a kind, call him a wonder. Truly he is the founder of the Way of Farting.

“But musicians aren’t the only ones these days who are, as they say, ‘shit bad.’ Scholars stare at thousand-year old wastepaper from China, and writers who use classical Chinese collect stray shavings from the works of Han Yu, Liu Zongyuan, and the middle-Tang poets, heaping them into what they think are great pillars. Waka poets just sit around, but rice grains manage to stick to the bottoms of their feet, and they make a good living….[but the Farting Man] has captured the imagination of the whole country.”

No comments: