Download A Woman's Weapon: Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji by Doris G. Bargen PDF

By Doris G. Bargen

During this sophisticated and hugely unique analyzing of Murasaki Shikibu's eleventh-century vintage the story of Genji (Genji monogatari), Doris G. Bargen explores the function of owning spirits (mono no ke) from a feminine standpoint. in different key episodes of the Genji, Heian noblewomen (or their mediums) tremble, converse in unusual voices, and tear their hair and garments whereas below the spell of mono no ke. For literary critics, Genji, the male protagonist, is imperative to selecting the function of those spirits. From this male-centered point of view, woman jealousy presents a handy reason for the emergence of mono no ke in the polygynous marital approach of the Heian aristocracy. but this traditional view fails take into consideration the work's girl authorship and its mostly woman viewers. depending upon anthropological in addition to literary facts, Doris G. Bargen foregrounds the explanations of the possessed personality and found mono no ke in the politics of Heian society, reading spirit ownership as a feminine procedure followed to counter male options of empowerment. Possessions turn into "performances" via girls trying to redress the stability of energy; they subtly subvert the constitution of domination and considerably adjust the development of gender.

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Additional resources for A Woman's Weapon: Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji

Example text

Even as the imported religion of Buddhism with its impressive paraphernalia threatened to dominate native Shinto, the Buddhist clergy began to adopt non-Buddhist rituals of purification and pacification. By the mid-Heian period, when all manner of spirits were rampant, religious exorcisms associated with Shinto were performed by Buddhist priests, contrary to earlier Buddhist doctrine. Underlining this syncretism, William H. ”84 The story of the brilliant scholar-statesman Sugawara Michizane (845–903) exemplifies the curious blend of culturally diverse beliefs about the spirit world.

Dutifully acting upon the Shinto imperative to purify pollution and pacify wronged spirits, people were reassured that they exercised a degree of control over the invisible world. 18 A Woman’s Weapon With the arrival of Buddhism in 538, mainland cultural lore about the spirit world greatly complicated indigenous Japanese views. 82 The Japanese appropriated elements of this systematic approach to the art of controlling resentful and harmful spirits through “exorcistic weapons,” “magical binding,” and “oaths and spells,”83 but the Japanese also contributed to the syncretic result.

72 This incompetent exorcist fails to exert control over his female medium (yorimashi), who was supposed to become possessed through his magic spells and incantations (kaji; darani). This last case is especially interesting because Sei Shònagon names the benign spirit that was supposed to enter the medium. 75 He attempted, as it were, to gain a male ally in his confrontation with an array of women. Sei Shònagon takes pleasure in noting this exorcist’s discomfiture. In section 322, “The House Had a Spacious Courtyard” (matsu no kodachi takaki tokoro no higashi),76 Sei Shònagon portrays a young, handsome priest who succeeds in expelling a mono no ke from a female patient.

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A Woman's Weapon: Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji by Doris G. Bargen


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