Hiraide Takashi: Excerpts from Portrait of a Young Osteopath, translated by Eric Selland

Opening Scene
Between the huge rocks where the water’s foam frothed upward to become irregular granules of fire and then fall, possessed by the shadow of a jellyfish just dead, one pair of gloves whirled round and round. The ten fingers, some broken off and others twisted, strained to reach out in every direction. But according to observation, only the stars of partial destruction existed on the tips of the various fingers. There I fixed my gaze still harder. Was it as much as fourteen seasons had passed; the burnt aroma of a beehive drifted out of the wide-mouthed cave half submerged nearby, and as if it were all signs, the corpse of one juvenescent piece of bark stood up out of the cave, pulling a bunch of sleep-disheveled hair along with it, up toward the indigo sky of early dawn. Pressing the palm of one hand against my pounding heart, I sensed a new way of thought welling up within myself. These rocks could be just mist congealing darkly in the moss. And the cave could be something like the hollow interior of an anatomical model of the human body which has begun to dissolve, a two-layered crucible as it were. Of course, the uncertainty about speculations such as these cannot be alleviated even with positive proof to the contrary. Then, just to add on for good measure, the following thing happened. The objects imagined to be stars up till that point, each scattered here and there in the branches of the expanding hair, suddenly spread wings of stone, and leisurely began to preen themselves. Later, pulling back so as to hide themselves, they let out a cry, and fell into the extremely shallow sea trench near the cave. It was because at this time the pair of gloves suddenly stopped spinning, and while the right hand flopped against the other churning up foam, the left snuggled up close as if to grasp a small gem, and though they were two, stood straight up from the surface of the water that I understood. It was this time the wind was a resin wind, a number of meters.
September 7, 1949, afternoon with sun beating down; I had fallen into the sleep of rotting isu trees on the shore near my birthplace. Sleep brought me sufficient material. I had found the stuff for a fine experiment which would allow me to perform a sort of osteopathy on all things living and dead, without simply leaving prosaic scratches.

Chest and Shoulder, or the Frantic Vortex
Moving the prism’s narrow roost up and down with a rustling sound as if he had been surprised made it look like a shadow play due to the slanting sunlight. Far, far away in what looked like the west, clouds were approaching at ease, so I kept on running lightly around in the manner of thread being wound around a spool, and occasionally stopping, made as if to peer into the middle from the mountain ridge stitch. For him it must be a terrible thing. The sun hazed. Behaving as if I were something with insect wings I became transparent like the bones of bony creatures laid out in the sun, and then in the shadows felt as if I were the clouds themselves which blurred myself and this tract of land. Upon which something giving way around the shoulders and something bubbling up around the vicinity of the chest showed signs of setting about the circulation of a boundless and ancient memory.
The sun shown, and my shadow also, vitreously in bold relief. By and by it sprung upward, and passing into two or three leaves again the sun came beating down. Now rest. As if I were a slender god playing with the movement and disappearance of my own black shadow.
November 14, 1949, 2:00 pm; I happened upon a certain method of criticism… am I my habits? If a vortex were to appear in the sky, holding my breath I would smash into its simplified network, what ought to be called its essence, the center of his absence, from below. He pulled the thread and then fell. He might be saved if there were a thicket below. The attack was a flash, the record posing extreme difficulty even for the observer. When the battle ended, I quickly fixed my makeup there on the sandy soil, and turning him over absorbed the liquid flowing from his mouth, also licking between the chest and hips. Occasionally I nibbled at the membranous base of the hip, but the purpose of this is obscure. At any rate, the children given birth from my poisonous characteristics, and who should be suspended in the empty sky, would no doubt leave his redolent glory behind in the earth in the form of one side of a huge jaw.
3:00 pm, the wind which collects resin, deeper now the sun hazed over. The fingers of the clouds which, lacking fingernails, could only raggedly part began to catch hold of me and my enemy despite our being two, and began to envelop us. He became sand from the shoulder on down and began to fall, while my chest began to flow out from itself. It was as if ascending above this purplish blue field now with one breath where generations had no doubt perished were mirrored in the eyes of someone hidden.


The Motif the Water Whispered
The leaves had already been cut out as if with a dressmaker’s pattern. I am the one who, feeling a slender bone in the intense sunlight which oozes out like waste matter, makes it into an artist’s tool and tries to paint several small hazy scenes taking place just before my birth and which grow increasingly hazy. Already the vascular strands of the leaves of the Isu trees had been severed.
The initial, excessively painful measures for the purpose of life’s bursting forth. It waits patiently for the leaves to droop limply over the others. When another man, shaking the tree’s trunk, awakens inside, it rolls up the leaves like lost letters in which his distressing future is endlessly wrapped, and cuts off the leaf with one last bite, sending it to the ground. It is a cradle unloosed, meant for my bone-writing soul.
Bones of boiling water, swamp bones, waterfall bones, bones of the beach. At the end of one of the ensuing precious moments which these things gradually enfold, a faucet rusts while continually shining, cut off facing the blue sky. I flowed out from there, faster than one could press one’s lips to it.
From February to March, 1950, the above was taught me by the whisper of the water all around.

One Response to “Hiraide Takashi: Excerpts from Portrait of a Young Osteopath, translated by Eric Selland”

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