The Heart in the Machine

Discussant
Thomas Lamarre, McGill University, Montreal, Canada 

Presenters
Nakagawa Shigemi, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, Japan 
Kimura Saeko, Tsuda College, Tokyo and International Research Center for Japanese Studies, Kyoto, Japan 
Livia Monnet (Chair, Panel Organizer), University of Montreal, Canada 

The Heart in the Machine: Reading Film and Anime Adaptations of Sōseki’s Kokoro

This panel examines three film and anime adaptations of Sōseki’s masterpiece Kokoro (1914): Ichikawa Kon’s 1955 adaptation, Shindo Kaneto’s 1973 adaptation, and the anime adaptation included in Studio Madhouse’s 2009 TV anime series, Aoi bungaku shirîzu. The presentations argue that film adaptations of Sōseki (indeed media adaptations in general) should be regarded as affective ecologies that were built, and continue to evolve by means of both material and immaterial factors; and that such adaptations necessarily require ecological methods and theories of reading – i.e. transdisciplinary, experimental practices of thinking and discovery. 

Kimura Saeko argues that Shindo Kaneto’s radical reenvisioning of Sōseki’s Kokoro sheds new light both on the source text and its time, and on the culture of the sixties and seventies. Thus the film seems not only to point to a queer subtext in the novel, and to question the latter’s staging of two suicides (that of K and of Sensei), but at the same time to articulate a subversive reading of nationalist-modernist discourses on Sōseki’s text. 

Nakagawa Shigemi’s reading of Ichikawa Kon’s adaptation of Kokoro identifies a latent current of queer desire in the film. Arguing for a rehabilitation of Ichikawa’a unjustly forgotten film, Nakagawa insists that such a revival should pay attention at once to the relation between Ichikawa’s screen version, its script, Sōseki’s source text, and the film’s production process in context, and to the asubjective potentials and becomings materializing in and through the film.

Finally, Livia Monnet teases out a biotopological aesthetics in Studio Madhouse’s anime adaptation of Kokoro. Drawing on Arakawa and Gins’s architectural theory, and on philosophies of affect, process, and event, Monnet traces a “tentative constructing toward a holding in place” (Arakawa and Gins) of a nexus of architectural bodies in this anime production. She also argues that this anime articulates an aesthetic practice of embodied cognition, as well as a practice of immanence.