Hiromi Itō & Julia Kristeva

by on Oct.29, 2010

A few moments ago, I found online this video of a mash-up of lines from the important Japanese feminist poet Hiromi Itō and theorist Julia Kristeva. This is a brilliant and telling combination.

As I was working on my translations of Itō’s work for the book Killing Kanoko, which was published by Action Books in 2010, Itō told me that she first learned about Kristeva in the late 1980s from the man who was her husband at the time, the literature scholar Masahiko Nishi. As she worked through her own pregnancy and the psychological traumas of post-partum depression, the concept of abjection became quite important to her, and she spent a great deal of time working through issues of the feminine body, its leakiness, its limits, and its excesses in her own organic way. One of the results of this exploration was a book of poems that included “Killing Kanoko,” which is quoted along with Kristeva in this video.

This video was posted at ladyblogblah.wordpress.com.

BOOKMIX MASHUP: Killing Kanoko/Powers of Horror from lady blogblah on Vimeo.

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7 comments for this entry:
  1. Lucas

    I love the glittery “Congratulations on your death” at the end.

    So many brilliant lines in that book! It would also be cool to see Ito paired with images from Pasolini’s 120 Days of Sodom. All those kids smeared with shit.

  2. Johannes

    Yes, I like it. The writer is actually a student of the Notre Dame MFA program, Carina Finn, who occasionally leaves comments here.


  3. Jeffrey

    Ah, thanks, Johannes-san. I was wondering who she was. I hope that our paths cross someday.

  4. Jeffrey

    @Lucas, interesting idea indeed! In her books on childhood, she would sometimes say that giving birth to a child is like taking a huge shit. This, of course, was picked up by the press and became a sensational(ized) phrase, and people repeated it over and over. For that reason, the idea of her lines against Pasolini’s children makes lots of (ironic?) sense.

    Ito once did an astounding book of photos of extreme close ups of her own naked body. The book shows both the very beautiful details of her body as well as the scars, the hair in private places, the orifices, the insides of the ears — all of the places that represent the limits and ragged edges of the body, where the body intersects the world. These images are enlarged to the point that they become abstract, strange, unfamiliar.

    Personally, I think it would be great to take some of those images of her body, in all of its glorious, beautiful ugliness and place them against some lines from her book. (Actually, Ito is strikingly beautiful in a rough, intensely real way.)

  5. Carina Finn

    wow, I never really anticipated anyone seeing this! so cool…

    It was interesting to hear that Ito was thinking about Kristeva while working on some of these poems. I just happened to be reading the two of them at the same time, and couldn’t stop making connections between the two texts. I was quite frustrated, actually, that I couldn’t mash them together — and then I realized that I could 🙂 There was something almost feral and yet lusciously feminine about both Kristeva and Ito’s writing that I found really intoxicating — a quality which brought to mind the Regina Spektor song that’s playing in the background of the video.

    On a side note: Jeffrey, your translation is absolutely lovely!

  6. Sarah Fox

    This is so wonderful!

  7. Jeffrey

    Carina, thanks for doing this! This is great, and when I showed it to Itō, she liked it too!

    One small clarification… Itō wasn’t really reading Kristeva directly, but she was hearing about her indirectly from her husband. I do know, however, that she was reading Melanie Klein, and that inspired a few of her poems.

    Incidentally, Itō’s daughter Kanoko was in a band called “Cinnamon.” They did a song with the lyrics to “Killing Kanoko.” (It is not my translation they used but another, older translation.) We’ll have to find an MP3 of that next!