Saturday, August 30, 2014

[Tale of the Heike] I've had a copy of this for a while...

I bought the Royall Tyler translation of The Tale of the Heike last summer for reference and then never read it. A friend was explaining part of the end to me the other day, and I spent most of the time feeling like a dork for having no clue. Not that I would have remembered specific details of the ending even if I had read it, but anyways, now seems like a fine time to give it a shot. Chipping away at it a little bit every day will help give my life some purpose, especially on the weekends, and I should pay attention to the classics.

Right now I'm just reading the introduction, but this is sort of obnoxious to me, "Sutoku was banished to the province of Sanuki on Shikoku, where (according to The Tale of Hōgen and other sources) he cursed the victors. Widespread opinion attributed the Heiji Conflict and other troubles to his wrath."

Shouldn't they attribute it to his dad, Tobu, for forcing him to abdicate?! Seriously, why should the "Retired Emperor" even be allowed to do something like that? Didn't anybody think it was totally absurd? Seems like Sutoku just got screwed over and over for no reason. Was there a reason? I am interested in Sutoku.

Something else I don't understand is how for the Heiji Conflict Yoshitomo and Kiyomori ended up on opposite sides after fighting together in the Hōgen Conflict. Did their clans just have their own issues that had to be put aside momentarily or what?

Yes, I made columns in a spreadsheet because I couldn't remember who was with who.

History is so weird. Really, what is all the power for, anyways? I thought I couldn't imagine caring about titles, but then I thought that seemed kind of weird considering I have a hard time personally subtracting who I am from what I do (or what I think of myself as doing, or aspire to do better, or whatever: being a translator), but in my case it's my [chief in attitude if not in hours] occupation so the "title" describes my occupation, not a power hierarchy, right? But then if you imagine there were ranks of translatordom that one could work oneself up by appeasing the higher bester godlier translators, maybe I would care.

Actually, I would probably just cease being a translator (and possibly also existing). I guess I can't imagine caring about titles after all.

Other things I cannot imagine including believing in God, much a whole bunch of buddhas or kami or [take your pick]. This is interesting to me in the same way it would be if I read it in a fantasy or sci-fi novel, "A dying person might wish to face an image of Amida and hold a five-colored cord attached to the image's hands, so that Amida should be able to draw the departing soul straight to paradise." Christians do some weird stuff, too. I'm not saying it's weirder, just that it's exotic from my point of view. I wonder if Catholic confessionals seems the stuff of fantasy novels to non-Christian tradition media consumers.

Oh, this is an interesting note about deities': "In theory such names should be restored in English to their Sanskrit original, if it exists. I practice, however, the confusion is so great that consistency is all but impossible. This translation does not attempt it. Some names appear in their Sanskrit form, others—the more common ones—as they were pronounced in Japan."

I think I would have just gone full-on Japanese pronunciation at that point, and include an appendix or something. Man, and all the name readings. Taketa vs. Takeda etc. History really is weird.

I'm glad there are people who are interested in translating the classics, but so far I am not one of them.

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