Essay about Kobo Abe's unpublished short story titled "Angel".
Kobo Abe's "Angel", which was written at his 22, unpublished, has been published today, November 7, 2012 by Shincho, which is a monthly magazine of Japanese literature.
I have purchased it immediately and have read it. Following is my essay about this novel.
A hero of this novel is living in regular hexahedron, that is, in a cube.
(Kobo's favorite readers may immediately think associated with The Box Man.)
(This regular hexahedron represents one dimension which contains one time, as such, one unlimitedness. The hero knows this fact quite well through thinking logically, mathematically and geometrically as well as through deep insight of what time is.
Therefore, this regular hexahedron is expressed as " it borders the world by six gray planes which mean the unlimitedness or rather better to say, five and half planes and a half, the latter of which means the future while the former five and half planes mean the unlimitedness."
This is an expression which reveals what Kobo Abe feels really and it is his reality.
The same truth is thought through and through and written in his intensive, philosophical essay titled "Poetry and Poet (Consciousness and Unconsciousness) - refer to page 109 and 110 of volume 1 of Kobo Abe's Complete Works - and the part here where such a cube does exist is only an expression of the fact which he thought is truth utterly and deeply at his 20 year old when he wrote that essay.
This reality is the mathematical, logical and language-theoretical truth and
not any others and it is just a truth as it shows. It is not some metaphor of expression at all. This is characteristic with Kobo Abe's words. Mathematical, logical and language-theoretical words about the truth.
This dimension in which the hero is living is said in later years more plainly, for readers, not by using mathematical formula, but by transforming his thought into written words as follows in his The Ruined Map.
「The city - a closed unlimitedness. Labyrinth where you are not at a loss. It is a map only for you, with quite same address numbers allocated to any address.
As such, you cannot be at a loss even if you lose your way.」
The hero is satisfied with his living in such a closed space which is unlimited because of it being so closed.
Every day, "Angel of Life" comes to him to give him a meal which he needs to eat to live.
One day, something extraordinary happens. Angel of Life does not appear and leaves a meal for him.
By this chance, the hero is going out of his cube and is sure that he is an angel. Outside is a land of angels.
While he wanders through the land of angels, he eventually found out, at a certain fence, "a scarlet rose which is there a sole rose having no distance and is made abstract by it being pressed out of a space and is burning cold" and picked it up and put it on his breast.
This rose is a rose which Rainer Maria Rilke loved so much. Rilke's rose contains many class-structured cosmos inside, being in bloom , well balanced and represents such a cosmos as a rose. It can be said that his rose is a world of the death since there is not time there and only a space. He loved it so much that his grave has, as an epitaph, his poem about this cosmological rose. I translate it from German into English.
Rose, oh reiner Widerspruch, Lust,
Niemandes Schlaf zu sein unter
Niemandes Schlaf zu sein unter
Rose, oh, paradox in its purity, delight,
to be nobody's sleep under so many eyelids.
The hero sees many angels passing and give a greeting, laughing and laughing very loud and much to each other at every time he see them and they see him.
The angels laugh at him because his scarlet rose on his breast causes them to feel extremely surprised at the death he has and he laughs at them because he knows the distance, which is made by his scarlet rose, between angles and him. They both are laughing and laughing and cannot bear stopping it, departing from each other.
Here, and there is already born here the distance between him and angels living in this angel's land.
Kobo Abe wrote an essay titled "Rilke" at his 43 in 1967 - refer to page 436 of volume 21 of his Complete Works.
I have just remembered this essay when I came to read this part of laughing between the hero and other angels.
One evening Kobo Abe was in a certain restaurant in Roppongi, Tokyo with one of his friends who said him, suggesting a certain direction, to let him see a certain foreign man who was said to be a son of Rainer Maria Rilke. All of sudden, Kobo was attacked by laugh and laughed and laughed and could not stop laughing, laughing loudly.
When I read this essay, I wondered why he must laugh so much and could not stop laughing. And I can know now, after I have read this novel, "Angel", why he laughed so much at sight of Rilke's son. Why it was so?
It was because it was a fake-Rilke, that is, a fake-father, which is one of the most important motives and images which his literature has.
And it was because Rilke lived so much deeply inside of Kobo Abe's mind and soul, so much deeply as he must laugh so much. (I will write about his Rilke separately later.)
Why the hero of "Angel" laughs and laughs, seeing and greeting other angels on the road and vice versa? It is because he comes to know that there is a father angel who governs the land of angels, when he see one small angel eventually, wandering, who cries "Oh, father!" and rejects his coming closer to him to communicate with him.
Therefore, he can be ware that all the angels seeing him laugh, surprised at his scarlet rose of the death and laugh because he is not an angel who belongs to this angel's land while the hero angel see other angels laugh, knowing a reason of their laughs unconsciously. It means that the angels of angel land are fake-angels, that is, they are angels who can become fake-fathers.
The death of that rose on his breast is utterly different from the death of other angels.
Father is a being who governs a family or a tribe and does not spare his life to throw for his family or tribe once there is a war.
There is a father in angle's land and that small angel seeks the refuge and asylum to be given by his father for rejecting the hero for his securing himself against horror of the death.
However, the hero is an angel who does not become a father and who does not die such a death as a father and who is with the death which is different from that of other angels. He dies, sleeping nobody's sleep.
Now, the novel ends there where the hero is going to a window of the angel's land in order to know the world outside since he feels that this land is not a land in which he should live.
The window is one of the most important motives and images he has since he was a schoolboy at elementary school until like in his Kangaroo Note in his last years. It is a place of conjunction which connects a space where he lives, with the dimension which exists outside.
Where the hero is going to the window, there is a poem written by Kobo Abe like in the same way as Kangaroo Note. The poem must be here at the window inevitably. Kobo Abe always writes his poems at window.
I will write about Koboe Abe's window in this coming 3rd issue of Mole Gazette this month as titled "Mole Sense 5 : Window".
I am glad if you may read this my article.