This lecture will explore the philosophical legacies of modernism by considering its theoretical and stylistic consequences on Japanese literature during the Shōwa period. Specifically, this will be done through an inquiry into the topographies of writing and identity as depicted in the work of Kobo Abe. To this end, the speaker will focus on Abe’s novel The Boxman, which will show to be of significant value in assessing the legacies of modernism, and his theoretical writings on identity and literature found in The Frontier Within. Most importantly, however, is the intention to read Abe through the lens of Kojin Karatani’s notion of inversion, with particular emphasis on the topographical centrality of the concept of “landscape” and its role in the development of the space of interiority. Central to both of these exceptional thinkers is the question of the role that literature plays in the creation of a subjectivity premised on the idea of interiority. Given the importance placed on the expression of the interiority of the writer during the Taishō period, this lecture will argue that a systematic engagement with Abe’s work, in particular, his notion of “sustained flight” and its relation to the act of writing, is the ideal context for considering, and perhaps reconsidering, the central concepts of Japanese modernism.

This is the eleventh installment in the “TUJ Philosophy Lecture Series,” organized by Professor Jordanco Sekulovski. The TUJ Philosophy Lecture Series is a non-profit forum of Temple University, Japan Campus (TUJ) for the promotion of critical thinking. The lectures are free, open to the public, and feature speakers from various universities around the world. The lecture series is a great way to learn about recent research in philosophy and in the humanities as a whole.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019
15:20–17:00 (doors open at 15:00)
Temple University, Japan Campus, Room 306/3F (access)
Not required

About the Lecturer

Douglas Atkinson is currently Visiting Professor of Literature and Literary Theory at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel where he lectures in critical thinking and academic composition. Additionally, he gives courses in comparative literature and advanced English proficiency for students in literature and linguistics. He holds a PhD in philosophy and specializes in twentieth century continental philosophy, with a focus on the intersection between philosophy and literature. His current work is on the philosophic import of Maurice Blanchot and his influence on the philosophy of language. His interests focus primarily on Beckett, modernism, and Japanese literature.