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Kawakami, Akane (2016)
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: CAL
This article explores ‘Tokyo underground’ as described by Régine Robin and Michaël Ferrier. In the strange spaces beneath the surface of the city, these writer-flâneurs discover forms of universality which they identify as Tokyo’s ‘syntax’; specific configurations of the common language spoken in and by metropolises all over the world.
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    • 1. Since the publication of Tester's classic volume, The Flâneur, there have been a number of excellent studies of flânerie of various kinds, for instance Catherine Nesci's Le flâneur et les flâneuses: Les femmes et la ville à l'époque romantique (Grenoble, ELLUG: 2007), and a collection of essays on flânerie and the senses in Dix-Neuf, 16:2 (2012), a special issue edited by Aimée Boutin.
    • 2. H. Hazel Hahn provides a helpful discussion of the figure of the “discerning” flâneur abroad in “The Flâneur, the Tourist, the Global Flâneur, and Magazine Reading as Flânerie,” in Boutin, ed., 193-210.
    • 3. Rob Shields, “Fancy Footwork: Walter Benjamin's Notes on Flânerie,” in Tester, The Flâneur (77-78).
    • 4. See Hahn for a nineteenth-century take on the “colonial flâneur” (204).
    • 5. Michaux satirizes the “three-day China expert” in Ecuador (Paris: Gallimard, 1928), 82.
    • 6. See Chris Jenks and Tiago Neves, “A Walk on the Wild Side: Urban Ethnography Meets the Flâneur,” Cultural Values, 4:1 (2000): 1-17.
    • 7. For an account of two twenty-first-century travelers who succeed, and one who over-compensates for the sins of his predecessors, see Akane Kawakami, “Flâneurs cosmopolites: Écrire/voyager entre Paris et Tokyo,” Fabien Arribert-Narce, ed., Détours par le Japon: Réceptions de la culture japonaise en France depuis 1945 (Paris: Honoré Champion, 2016).
    • 8. See Jacques Roubaud, Tokyo infra-ordinaire (Paris: Inventaire/Invention, 2003).
    • 9. Livio Sacchi, Tokyo, architecture et urbanisme (Paris: Flammarion, 2005), 90.
    • 10. Régine Robin, Mégapolis (Paris: Éditions Stock, 2009), 223.
    • 11. See Akane Kawakami, Travellers' Visions: French Literary Encounters with Japan, 1881- 2004 (Liverpool: Liverpool U P, 2005), introduction.
    • 12. Anne Friedberg, Window Shopping: Cinema and the Postmodern (Berkeley: U of California P, 1993), 118-19.
    • 13. Robin is perhaps thinking about the Japanese station here as a concrete instance of Deleuze and Guattari's rhizome, “an acentered, nonhierarchical, nonsignifying system” with “multiple entryways and exits.” Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, Brian Massumi, trans. (Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1993), 21.
    • 14. Roland Barthes, L'empire des signes (1970), Œuvres complètes (Paris: Seuil, 1994), 2:774- 75.
    • 15. “Ville souterraine” is, of course, the accepted appellation for the underground section of Montréal.
    • 16. Walter Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire (London: Verso, 1997), 54.
    • 17. Peter McLaren, “The Ethnographer as Postmodern Flâneur: Critical Reflexivity and Posthybridity as Narrative Engagement,” William G. Tierney and Yvonna S. Lincoln, eds., Representation and the Text (Albany: State U of New York P, 1997), 144.
    • 18. For a discussion of Ernaux's “external diaries” in which she writes about everyday scenes witnessed in the “Ville Nouvelle” of Cergy-Pontoise, see Akane Kawakami, Photobiography: Photographic Self-Writing in Proust, Guibert, Ernaux, Macé (Oxford: Legenda, 2013), 85-92. Ernaux has also published Regarde les lumières mon amour (Paris: Seuil, 2014), a year's worth of observations made during visits to the Auchan “hypermarché” in a CergyPontoise shopping center.
    • 19. Again, the resemblance here with Montréal may play a part in Robin's feelings of reassurance in the Tokyo underground. In Montréal, the “ville souterraine” is a particularly protective space because of the inclement weather outside; this was in fact one of the reasons for its creation.
    • 20. See R. G. Saisselin, The Bourgeois and The Bibelot (New Brunswick: Rutgers U P, 1984).
    • 21. “The mall is not a completely public place. Like the arcade before it, the street is made safely distant inside the mall” (Friedberg 113).
    • 22. La tentation de la France: La tentation du Japon (Paris: Philippe Picquier, 2003).
    • 23. Le goût de Tokyo (Paris: Mercure de France, 2008).
    • 24. Kizu, la lézarde (Paris: Arléa, 2004); Japon, la barrière des rencontres (Paris: Éditions Cécile Defaut, 2009); Fukushima, récit d'un désastre (Paris: Gallimard, 2012).
    • 25. Michaël Ferrier, Tokyo: Petits portraits de l'aube (Paris: Arléa, 2004), 43-44.
    • 26. Nathalie Sarraute, “Roman et réalité,” Œuvres complètes (Paris: Gallimard, 2000), 1652.
    • 27. See Akane Kawakami, “Nathalie Sarraute's Accent: The Poetry of Tropismes,” French Studies, 58:4 (2004): 499-512.
    • 28. I am grateful to Paul Davis for pointing out the connection between the guides of epic heroes and Ferrier's guide, and the fact that both types of journey occur underground.
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