Tentacles Are Hair You Wear On Your Spleen, Ideally
“You might define the general trend in my work as a synthesis of aesthetics and psychology. Traditionally, in Japan, these are not two different things. Neither is aesthetics in conflict with realism. I believe this is unique to Japan.” – Yukio Mishima
At the beginning of Henry & June (1990) Anaïs Nin’s character is looking at a postcard of this painting. According to Wikipedia, it earned the film the first ever NC-17 rating. Wonder if that makes this NSFW? Funny, because it’s featured in Bertram Cooper’s office in Mad Men. I once “read” Une semaine de bonté on a train, next to a middle-eastern man – I don’t get prudes, but I do eat prunes for breakfast sometimes. Personally, I think the rating has more to do with the lesbian scene, or the Beaux Arts Ball. But whatevs.
Hokusai (dude who painted the thing) spent most of his life making pretty pictures of waves. For some reason he did this one in 1820, making it an early example of tentacle erotica. Tentacle erotica (especially tentacle rape) is common in hentai, so common that, for no apparent reason, “Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” appears in both of those Wikipedia articles. So what almost certainly began with an extremely personal fetish, has become a minor cultural symbol which, like all symbols, holds its own set of truths about the seedy underbelly of human nature (that sounds delicious).
Because Teraoka tweaks the symbol here, in order to highlight the shift in Japan’s noodle-gaze toward ladies of the western persuasion (it’s what he does), I will tell you that one of my favorite Japanese films, Tampopo (1985), a self-described “Noodle Western,” confuses the issue of food and sexuality to the point where you may begin to wonder it wouldn’t be better to have beds in our kitchens or kitchens in our bedrooms or dining room tables in our bedrooms or at least more TV trays everywhere sex could be accomplished, which is everywhere, including (and especially) the sea.
“It is said that with a rope in which are twisted strands of a woman’s hair the mighty elephant may be bound…” – Kenko
Which brings me to why I brought you here, I think, which is that this book, Hair’em Scare’em, looks hot and says a lot. Too bad I can’t afford it.