Another example of an approach to the Eastern theory of the body

Let us take a look at Ongaku suru shintai [The Musicking Body] edited by Yoichi Yamada, published in 2008.23 Yamada is a professor at Kyoto City University of Arts and a scholar of ethnic musicology' and acoustic anthropology'. The English title of this Japanese book is “Musicking and the Body: Resounding through the Being-in-the-World.” The word “musicking” came from Musicking: The Meaning of Performance and Listening (Wesleyan University Press, 1998) by' Christopher Small from New Zealand, according to Yamada. This word signifies an attitude of understanding music not as a piece but as an occurrence; in other words, it emphasizes the process of an act. Yamada criticized Small for not stepping into the problem of the body to raise the problem as a theory of the body. He asserted that musicking—singing, listening, feeling emotions etc., in music—contains all occurrences involving the body; in other words, their point of commonality is the body. Therefore, musicking is bodily experience; the body is the parent body of musicking.24

In this book, phenomenological considerations of the appreciation of music are carried out. Furthermore, a phenomenology of the body performing the music is attempted. According to the discussion in the book, the music performance engraves the music onto the body; the music activates the listener’s body again; thereafter, the performer’s body and the listener’s body synchronize.23 In this theory' of the body about music, an issue of intelligence is mentioned, and it is stressed that the body is intelligent. A view of recognizing intelligence in the hands of someone playing a cadenza of a piano piece is presented in this book.26

In terms of a similar new aesthetics of music, we can refer to Piano wo hiku shintai [The Body playing the Piano] by Akeo Okada et al. published in 2003.2/ This work is published prior to The Musicking Body mentioned above. Okada, a scholar of musicology and a professor at the University' of Kyoto, was a key' person behind this book. He confessed that the discrepancy' between piano lessons in his childhood and the music study' that he was conducting at the university' was the starting point of this work.28 He stated that due to the scarcity' of discourses on how we experience music when we play' it, particularly' in the historical study' of Western music, his book was an introduction to the study of music history' from the standpoint of the theory' of the body.29 As Okada studied musicology' at the University' of Munich and at the University' of Freiburg, his experiences seemed to be a strong motif in this study. Therefore, his work was realized not simply from a Japanese perspective, but as a Japanese scholar’s sincere reports regarding a situation where the clue to overcome the heavily' Westernized study of musicology’ in Japan was the theory’ of the body. Okada directly' proposed the theory’ of performance through playing. Okada pointed out that the tendency’ to exclude the body from the theory’ of performance was related to the stance of the Western music traditional study' carried out only' from the standpoint of the listener.30 Further, he expressed his feeling of how strange it was that people could write articles about performances, even though they' had no experience of playing at all.31 Music was not what was listened to with closed eyes, he said, but that which should be performed by' the whole body first of all. Okada believed that there was an essential phase of music that could be clarified only through bodily movements in performance, that is, Musizieren. Such an innovative music study was one of the objectives of his book. ’2

This issue relates to the problem of theory and practice. Apart from those in music, general discussions in traditional aesthetics are conducted from the viewpoint of the observer. Recognizing the experience of the performer and conducting phenomenological inquiries into this experience were, in fact, preceded by the aesthetics of sport. This was my' Aesthetics of Sport mentioned in Chapters 1 and 2.

The thought of bunbu or literary and military arts

To extend the Eastern theory of the body, we shall focus on the Japanese word bunbu ryodo. This word signifies nowadays an image of the ideal student who devotes oneself seriously to both study and sport at a high school oriented toward the preparation for university entrance. This word originally came from Bushido or the way of the warrior, which signified a form of cultivation for the warrior class during feudal times. Bunbu means bungei (literary arts) and bugei (military' arts), which became bundo and budo through their association with the thought of do (Tao). These bungei and bugei in the traditional cultures of the literary' and military arts were known as [geijutsu] (arts) in the Edo period. In short, a Japanese traditional concept of [geijutsu] included martial arts, such as kenjutsu (swordsmanship) and jujutsu (an original form of judo). [Geijutsu] was a cultivation of the ruling class in politics. On the other hand, as already' considered in Chapter 3, the notions and matters of liberal arts and fine arts emerged in Japan at the beginning of the Meiji period, at the end of which fine arts became geijutsu after some meandering. The conventional concept of arts in Japan now means Western fine arts, not the traditional Japanese [geijutsu]. As a result, we may' be able to approach the Eastern (Japanese) thought of bunbu to relativize the modern Western concept of fine arts.

Historically, while martial arts were excluded from the traditional concept of [geijutsu], they were merged with the modern Western concept of fine arts under the word bunbu ryodo, but this was only a superficial reunion. The restoration of the old martial arts occurred after the Seinan War (1877), the Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) in the Meiji period of the modern nation-state. As the techniques of the martial arts, such as kenjutsu and jujutsu, were no longer effective in the modern war, martial arts were regarded as something for cultivation containing the thought of Tao, although the substantial contents of budo were fighting techniques. This perception shifted to the context of education. Bunbu ryodo was restored not as a source of culture of the elite for the modern state, but as a source of cultivation of people’s character. While the apparent spirit of Bushido disappeared after the 1880s, its core idea survived in the Japanese spirit of the cultivation of character.33

By contrast, if we look at sport as a foreign culture, baseball was especially' accepted as martial arts at the First High School, one of the former institutes of the University' of Tokyo at the beginning of the Meiji period. Although the actual practice of sport was diverse and could be an avenue to manifest quite liberal and progressive spirit, its ordinary image in society' belonged to the area of bu or the military arts. To cultivate an appropriate reception of sport in Japan, education (physical education) and the enhancement of national prestige in the Olympics were emphasized. Such a connection with nationalism played a role in forming the image of sport as bu.M

Budo revived after the Second World War. It was, however, regarded as sport in education to remove militarism and feudalism from its image. The Japanese spirit of the cultivation of character was still alive. In such a situation, a school

Eastern body theory and somaesthetics 63 culture was produced, where acquiring a scholarship and the arts was regarded as ban and participating in sport, including martial arts, was regarded as ba. Where did our stereotyped images of sport, fine arts, school, and education in relation to the Japanese environment for the ideal cultivation through both bun and ba come from? This is another issue for further consideration.

A sort of dichotomy in the thought of bunbu tangled with various other dichotomies—such as West and East, Europe and Asia, modern and pre-modern, modern and postmodern, art and non-art, art and sport, mind and body—is still prescribing our way of thinking.

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