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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Month: November 2013

Guest Post: How to Read a Book

A Tale for the Time Being invites us to read in a slightly
different way than many of us are used to. 
Not only does the book alternate between two narrators, but when we read
Nao’s diary, we’re reading it as annotated by Ruth, whose chapters are told from in the third-person voice.  It took me a while to realize that the
footnotes in Nao’s diary are written as though they were written by the
character Ruth, not the author Ruth.

If you’re interested in other approaches to reading, you may want to listen to
the November 24, 2013, edition of the public radio show To the Best of Our Knowledge.  The Nov 24 show is all about “How to Read a Book.” Hearing Billy Collins’ read his poem “Reader,” immediately made me think
of Tale.  There’s also an interview with an author who
wrote a novel which features another novel written in the margins of the book,
among other thought-provoking segments.

Beth Harper
Reference Librarian, Memorial Library

Go Big Read Films and Visual Resources

I would like to recommend some visual resources from our campus
libraries that relate to this year’s Go Big Read book, A Tale for the
Time Being
.

Documentary films about Kamikaze Pilots:

The Last Kamikaze: Testimonials from WWII Suicide Pilots

(streamed online; UW login needed)
http://search.library.wisc.edu/catalog/ocn677927717
http://search.library.wisc.edu/catalog/ocn701798421

Wings of Defeat (DVD)
(D792 J3 W56 2007)
http://search.library.wisc.edu/catalog/ocn259700968

Zen Buddhism:
Erleuchtung Garantiert (Enlightenment Guaranteed) (DVD)
(PN1997 E723 2000)
http://search.library.wisc.edu/catalog/ocm57362252
Two
middle-aged German brothers travel to Japan in search of inner peace.
But many obstacles await them. Will they find the key to enlightenment?

Zen (DVD)
(BQ9449 D657 Z46 2011)
http://search.library.wisc.edu/catalog/ocn793432576
This recent feature film, starring the famous kabuki actor Kankuro Nakamura VI, relates the biography of the Zen master Dogen, who figures prominently in Ozeki’s book.

One Precept: Zen Buddhism in America

(streamed online; UW login needed)
http://search.library.wisc.edu/catalog/ocn701798307

Funeral Rites in Japan:
Departures (Okuribito) (DVD)
(PN1997.2 O387 2009)
http://search.library.wisc.edu/catalog/ocn754887460
Winner
of the 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, this film
chronicles an ex-cellist’s transition to a new life as a mortician in
his hometown in the Tohoku region of Japan.

Ayako Yoshimura
Japanese Studies Collection Assistant

Interview with Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney

Did you miss seeing Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney discuss her book Kamikaze Diaries at Central Library on Tuesday? If so, don’t worry! Check out this interview with Professor Ohnuki-Tierney, filmed at the Virginia Festival of the Book in 2010.  

Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers is one of the texts used by Ruth Ozeki in her research for A Tale for the Time Being, and details the lives and deaths of Japanese students drafted as kamikaze pilots during World War II.

Thanks to Laurie Wertmer of the Memorial Library Reference Department for finding this video for us!

“Zen and the Arts” at the Kohler Art Library

On November 14, the following books will be featured in an
informal table display at the Kohler Art Library. They are meant to complement Professor Gene Phillip’s
lecture: “Zen Buddhism: an Art Historian’s Perspective” which is scheduled for 6:00
pm in L140 Elvehjem Building as part of the Go Big Read program.Containing wonderful
examples of Zen painting, calligraphy, ceramics, sculpture, and architecture, the
books were selected by Lyn Korenic, Director, Kohler Art Library.

The art of twentieth-century Zen: paintings and calligraphy by Japanese masters /
Audrey Yoshiko Seo. Boston: Shambhala, 1998.

Oversize ND 1457 J32 L63 1998


The art of Zen:
paintings and calligraphy by Japanese monks, 1600-1925
/ Stephen Addiss. 
NY: H.N. Abrams, 1989.
Oversize ND 2071 A328 1989


Awakenings: Zen figure painting in medieval Japan / Naomi Noble Richard and Melanie B. D. Klein. NY: Japan Society; New Haven: Yale
University Press, c2007.

Oversize ND 2071 A98 2007

Daitokuji: the visual
cultures of a Zen monastery
/ Gregory P. A. Levine. Seattle: University of
Washington Press, c2005.
N 8193.3
Z46 L48 2005


Japan and the West: the filled void / Stephen Addiss et al.
Wolfsburg: Kunstmuseum
Wolfsburg ; Köln : DuMont, c2007.

Oversize N 7429 J36 2007


Japanese ink paintings from American collections: the Muromachi period : an exhibition in honor of Shūjirō Shimada /
Yoshiaki Shimizu and Carolyn Wheelwright.
Princeton, NJ: Art Museum, Princeton University, c1976.
Oversize ND 2071 J36

Kamakura, zen no genryūwa; Kamakuara: the art of Zen Buddhism.
Tokyo: Tokyo Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan, 2003.

Oversize N 8193 J3 K36 2003


“Kyōto Gozan Zen no bunka” ten: Ashikaga Yoshimitsu roppyakunen goki kinen = Zen
treasures from the Kyoto Gozan temples.
 Tokyo: Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha, 2007.

N 8193.3 Z46 J35 2007

Sengai: master Zen painter / Shōkin Furuta. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2000.
ND 1059 S45 F87 2000


Song of the brush:
Japanese paintings from the Sansō Collection
/ John M. Rosenfield. Seattle:
Seattle Art Museum, c1979.
Oversize ND 2071 S36 1979

Zen and the fine arts
/ Shin’ichi Hisamatsu. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1971.

N 8193.3 Z4 H513


Zen Buddhist landscape arts of early
Muromachi Japan (1336-1573)
/ Joseph D. Parker. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, c1999.
NX 676.3 Z45 P36 1999

Zen painting /
Yasuichi Awakawa. Tokyo: Kodansha
International, 1977.
ND 197 A9413 1977

Zenga, brushstrokes
of enlightenment
/ John Stevens. New Orleans, LA: New Orleans Museum of
Art, 1990.
Oversize ND 2071 Z47 1990

Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney at Central Library, 11/12

Kamikaze Diaries by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney

If you attended Ruth Ozeki’s talk on October 28, you may have heard her mention Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney.  Ohnuki-Tierney wrote Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers and Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History, which Ozeki used for her research for A Tale for the Time Being.  In her interview with NPR, Ozeki says in reference to Cherry Blossoms:

It was a collection, a study of the diaries of the kamikaze pilots who had been conscripted from Japan’s top universities. So these were the young, bright minds of Japan, and these men, these young men, were beautiful writers. And they wrote these just heartbreaking letters and diaries….Many of them did not want to participate in this at all but, you know, the situation was hopeless — there was no option for conscientious  objection, for example — so they were forced into this, accompanied by an enormous amount of angst. And so I think the idea for those three characters came from this reading and studying that I was doing.

If you are interested in learning more about the experiences of the Japanese soldiers, Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney will be at the Central Library, 201 Mifflin St. on Tuesday, November 12 at 7:00 pm. Ohnuki-Tierney is the William F. Vilas Professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Lisa, Librarian at Madison Public Library – Central Library

The Lasting Impact of Nao’s Tale

After Ruth Ozeki’s presentation last week, it is important to remember that Go Big Read book selections continue
to have a lasting impact on our campus. A Tale for the Time Being has
become a platform for positive campus-wide discussion around mental health
issues and suicide, something that Ozeki herself hoped would happen. These
conversations raise awareness and serve as reminders to take care of ourselves
and our community. One student has chosen to share personal reactions to the
book from the perspective of someone who has struggled with anxiety and
suicidal thoughts. This student’s story reminds us that while Nao is a
fictional character, her experiences are certainly very real for many young
adults. This student story also speaks to the message that seeking help changes
lives for the better.

If you or a friend is struggling,
call University Health Services at (608) 265-5600, select option 9
for our 24-hour mental health crisis line. Help is always available. Remember, Umatter.  

—–
Begin student reaction —–
 

Nao held onto her suicide as a way of coping with her
uncertainties in life. It makes sense. I can’t stand uncertainty either, and I
had a really hard time accepting the uncertainty that comes with college.

Will I like my roommate?
Will I get into the business school?
Will I stay with my boyfriend or will one of us find
someone we like more?
Will I get a job after college?

The list goes on and on. Starting college, I wished
that I could just know the answers. It kept me up at night. Questions circled
round my head all hours of the day. I never felt at peace. I couldn’t stand
still, couldn’t relax, and always had headaches. 

It only got worse as my freshman year stretched on. I
was worried about a lot of things, but most of all, I feared what happened when
someone dies. During my senior year of high school, a girl in my grade
committed suicide. I had never understood what it really meant to feel haunted
until that day in 2011. I would wake up convinced that she was standing in my
room, watching me. As I would try to fall asleep, I imagined her hovering over
me, whispering into my ear. I couldn’t escape it, and I couldn’t understand why
she would do it. Why would anyone willfully take away their own life?

Well, as my anxiety raged on, I started to understand.
I was so worried about the future; wouldn’t it just be easier if I had no
future? Those worries would all go away. I would go away. I, like Nao, could
just hang onto the idea of suicide as a form of comfort. “Oh, it doesn’t matter;
I won’t be around much longer anyway.”

Lucky for me, as soon as these thoughts entered my
mind, I pictured my school the day after that girl died. I’m sure while she was
standing on those tracks that night in 2011, she had no idea how many lives her
actions were about to affect. She touched everyone at our school, from her best
friends to those freshmen that were pretty sure they had passed her in the
hallway a few times. Her death broke us. Any one of us would have given
anything to have her back in school again. You see, she was loved. She may not
have felt it, she may have been told contrary, she may have convinced herself
that she was utterly alone. It didn’t matter. She was loved. We loved
her.

Thinking back on those weeks after her death reminds
me of the value of a life. We had such an aversive reaction to her death – it
must be because we are made to live! As social beings, we need to rely on one
another. And when someone takes themselves out of the game, it affects all the
players. 

After my freshman year, I got help for my anxiety. I
was diagnosed with Generalize Anxiety Disorder, and started seeing a therapist
at UHS. Those hours we spent together changed my life. I understand that life
will always have uncertainties, and I’m working on embracing them. Now, I’m running
into life, not hiding from it. And although I still have bad days, overall I’m
much happier. For the time being, and hopefully for much longer than that, too. 

Are
you a student who is passionate about suicide prevention or mental health
promotion? Do you want to work to end stigma surrounding mental health issues
on our campus? Check out ASK.LISTEN.SAVE. to connect with student engaged in
these efforts or email outreach.spuw@gmail.com to learn more.

Zen Buddhism: An Art Historian’s Perspective

 
Next Thursday, November 14, join Go Big Read and the Center for East Asian Studies for a discussion of Zen Buddhism, the Japanese belief system explored in A Tale for the Time Being. Gene Phillips, Professor of Art History and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies, will present a talk titled “Zen Buddhism: An Art Historian’s Perspective.”
The lecture begins at 6:00pm and will take place in room L140 of the Elvehjem Building. We hope to see you there!

The Power of Books

In
Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being,
both Nao and Ruth (the character) show their changing views on life through
their relationship with books.  I
have also learned how to better connect with fellow students and staff through
reading.
Ruth
is a novelist who moves from New York City to Vancouver Island with her husband
and mother.  She initially
struggles with the move, as is illustrated by her dependent relationship on
books.  Ruth feels a connection to
her home through her books. 
However, this tie begins to wither with time.  Ozeki writes, “Recently, however, she had started to notice
that the damp sea air had swollen their pages and the silverfish had taken up
residence in their spines.  When
she opened the covers, they smelled of mold.  This made her sad.” 
The degradation of her books mirrors her creeping misgivings about
moving to “Desolation Sound.”  Ruth
is again comforted and intrigued when she discovers Nao’s diary.  After finishing the journal, her husband
Oliver asks whether she is happy, to which she responds, “Yes, I suppose I
am.  At least for now.”  Readers are led to believe that
although Ruth is now settled in her new home, she is still motivated to
continue writing and living.
Nao
is young girl living in Tokyo. 
Ruth learns her story by reading her diary, which is in a “hacked” book
by Proust.  The more Ruth reads in
Nao’s diary, the more readers get to know her, discovering that she is really a
complex character with many burdens. 
We learn Nao is suicidal and only wants to live long enough to write
down her grandmother Jiko’s story. 
By the end of the story, both characters have come a long way.  My favorite passage in the book was the
last paragraph when Nao decides to continue writing.  She expresses a new keenness to learn, and it seems as
though her ambition has been restored. 
Readers can only hope this means a new beginning for Nao.
            
Books
are used throughout the novel to help characters transition in both places and
states of mind.  I have also
learned how books affect my life in my own experiences at UW-Madison.  I came from a small town in northern
Wisconsin, and moving to a large school was a big change.  The Go Big Read book has helped me feel
welcome in such a different place by connecting me with other students.  Also, like Ruth, I brought a couple of
books from home as a comfort in a new place.  When I was speaking with one of my professors, I mentioned
how I had brought The Great Gatsby
with me.  This is one of his
favorite books and we ended up talking in length about it.  I realize I have undergone a
transformation, just as Ruth and Nao did. 
Books are no longer just a comfort to me; they are a way to connect with
others.  I am now more confident
and social in light of this transformation.  I enjoyed learning these characters’ stories and look
forward to applying the lessons they learned to my life.
Dana Kampa

UW-Madison student