Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Guest Post: How to Read a Book

A Tale for the Time Being invites us to read in a slightly different way than many of us are used to.  Not only does the book alternate between two narrators, but when we read Nao’s diary, we’re reading it as annotated by Ruth, whose chapters are told from in the third-person voice.  It took me a while to realize that the footnotes in Nao’s diary are written as though they were written by the character Ruth, not the author Ruth.

If you’re interested in other approaches to reading, you may want to listen to the November 24, 2013, edition of the public radio show To the Best of Our Knowledge.  The Nov 24 show is all about “How to Read a Book.” Hearing Billy Collins’ read his poem “Reader,” immediately made me think of Tale.  There’s also an interview with an author who wrote a novel which features another novel written in the margins of the book, among other thought-provoking segments.

Beth Harper
Reference Librarian, Memorial Library

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Go Big Read Films and Visual Resources

I would like to recommend some visual resources from our campus libraries that relate to this year's Go Big Read book, A Tale for the Time Being.

Documentary films about Kamikaze Pilots:
The Last Kamikaze: Testimonials from WWII Suicide Pilots
(streamed online; UW login needed)

Wings of Defeat (DVD)
(at MMC*: D792 J3 W56 2007)

Zen Buddhism:
Erleuchtung Garantiert (Enlightenment Guaranteed) (DVD)
(at MMC*: PN1997 E723 2000)
Two middle-aged German brothers travel to Japan in search of inner peace. But many obstacles await them. Will they find the key to enlightenment?

Zen (DVD)
(at MMC*: BQ9449 D657 Z46 2011)
This recent feature film, starring the famous kabuki actor Kankuro Nakamura VI, relates the biography of the Zen master Dogen, who figures prominently in Ozeki's book.

One Precept: Zen Buddhism in America
(streamed online; UW login needed)

Funeral Rites in Japan:
Departures (Okuribito) (DVD)
(at MMC*: PN1997.2 O387 2009)
Winner of the 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, this film chronicles an ex-cellist's transition to a new life as a mortician in his hometown in the Tohoku region of Japan.

The MMC (Microforms Media Center) is located in Memorial Library, Room 443.

Ayako Yoshimura
Japanese Studies Collection Assistant

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Friday, November 15, 2013

Interview with Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney

Did you miss seeing Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney discuss her book Kamikaze Diaries at Central Library on Tuesday? If so, don't worry! Check out this interview with Professor Ohnuki-Tierney, filmed at the Virginia Festival of the Book in 2010.  

Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers is one of the texts used by Ruth Ozeki in her research for A Tale for the Time Being, and details the lives and deaths of Japanese students drafted as kamikaze pilots during World War II.

Thanks to Laurie Wertmer of the Memorial Library Reference Department for finding this video for us!

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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

"Zen and the Arts" at the Kohler Art Library

On November 14, the following books will be featured in an informal table display at the Kohler Art Library. They are meant to complement Professor Gene Phillip’s lecture: “Zen Buddhism: an Art Historian’s Perspective” which is scheduled for 6:00 pm in L140 Elvehjem Building as part of the Go Big Read program.Containing wonderful examples of Zen painting, calligraphy, ceramics, sculpture, and architecture, the books were selected by Lyn Korenic, Director, Kohler Art Library.

The art of twentieth-century Zen: paintings and calligraphy by Japanese masters / Audrey Yoshiko Seo. Boston: Shambhala, 1998.
Oversize ND 1457 J32 L63 1998

The art of Zen: paintings and calligraphy by Japanese monks, 1600-1925 / Stephen Addiss.  NY: H.N. Abrams, 1989.
Oversize ND 2071 A328 1989

Awakenings: Zen figure painting in medieval Japan / Naomi Noble Richard and Melanie B. D. Klein. NY: Japan Society; New Haven: Yale University Press, c2007.
Oversize ND 2071 A98 2007

Daitokuji: the visual cultures of a Zen monastery / Gregory P. A. Levine. Seattle: University of Washington Press, c2005.
N 8193.3 Z46 L48 2005

Japan and the West: the filled void / Stephen Addiss et al. Wolfsburg: Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg ; Köln : DuMont, c2007.
Oversize N 7429 J36 2007

Japanese ink paintings from American collections: the Muromachi period : an exhibition in honor of Shūjirō Shimada / Yoshiaki Shimizu and Carolyn Wheelwright. Princeton, NJ: Art Museum, Princeton University, c1976.
Oversize ND 2071 J36

Kamakura, zen no genryūwa; Kamakuara: the art of Zen Buddhism. Tokyo: Tokyo Kokuritsu Hakubutsukan, 2003.
Oversize N 8193 J3 K36 2003

"Kyōto Gozan Zen no bunka" ten: Ashikaga Yoshimitsu roppyakunen goki kinen = Zen treasures from the Kyoto Gozan temples.  Tokyo: Nihon Keizai Shinbunsha, 2007.
N 8193.3 Z46 J35 2007

Sengai: master Zen painter / Shōkin Furuta. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 2000.
ND 1059 S45 F87 2000

Song of the brush: Japanese paintings from the Sansō Collection / John M. Rosenfield. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, c1979.
Oversize ND 2071 S36 1979

Zen and the fine arts / Shin’ichi Hisamatsu. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1971.
N 8193.3 Z4 H513

Zen Buddhist landscape arts of early Muromachi Japan (1336-1573) / Joseph D. Parker. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, c1999.
NX 676.3 Z45 P36 1999

Zen painting / Yasuichi Awakawa. Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1977.
ND 197 A9413 1977

Zenga, brushstrokes of enlightenment / John Stevens. New Orleans, LA: New Orleans Museum of Art, 1990.
Oversize ND 2071 Z47 1990

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Monday, November 11, 2013

Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney at Central Library, 11/12

Kamikaze Diaries by Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney
If you attended Ruth Ozeki's talk on October 28, you may have heard her mention Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney.  Ohnuki-Tierney wrote Kamikaze Diaries: Reflections of Japanese Student Soldiers and Kamikaze, Cherry Blossoms, and Nationalisms: The Militarization of Aesthetics in Japanese History, which Ozeki used for her research for A Tale for the Time Being.  In her interview with NPR, Ozeki says in reference to Cherry Blossoms:

It was a collection, a study of the diaries of the kamikaze pilots who had been conscripted from Japan's top universities. So these were the young, bright minds of Japan, and these men, these young men, were beautiful writers. And they wrote these just heartbreaking letters and diaries....Many of them did not want to participate in this at all but, you know, the situation was hopeless — there was no option for conscientious  objection, for example — so they were forced into this, accompanied by an enormous amount of angst. And so I think the idea for those three characters came from this reading and studying that I was doing.

If you are interested in learning more about the experiences of the Japanese soldiers, Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney will be at the Central Library, 201 Mifflin St. on Tuesday, November 12 at 7:00 pm. Ohnuki-Tierney is the William F. Vilas Professor at the University of Wisconsin.

Lisa, Librarian at Madison Public Library - Central Library

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Lasting Impact of Nao’s Tale

After Ruth Ozeki’s presentation last week, it is important to remember that Go Big Read book selections continue to have a lasting impact on our campus. A Tale for the Time Being has become a platform for positive campus-wide discussion around mental health issues and suicide, something that Ozeki herself hoped would happen. These conversations raise awareness and serve as reminders to take care of ourselves and our community. One student has chosen to share personal reactions to the book from the perspective of someone who has struggled with anxiety and suicidal thoughts. This student’s story reminds us that while Nao is a fictional character, her experiences are certainly very real for many young adults. This student story also speaks to the message that seeking help changes lives for the better.

If you or a friend is struggling, call University Health Services at (608) 265-5600, select option 9 for our 24-hour mental health crisis line. Help is always available. Remember, Umatter.  

----- Begin student reaction ----- 

Nao held onto her suicide as a way of coping with her uncertainties in life. It makes sense. I can't stand uncertainty either, and I had a really hard time accepting the uncertainty that comes with college.

Will I like my roommate?
Will I get into the business school?
Will I stay with my boyfriend or will one of us find someone we like more?
Will I get a job after college?

The list goes on and on. Starting college, I wished that I could just know the answers. It kept me up at night. Questions circled round my head all hours of the day. I never felt at peace. I couldn't stand still, couldn't relax, and always had headaches. 

It only got worse as my freshman year stretched on. I was worried about a lot of things, but most of all, I feared what happened when someone dies. During my senior year of high school, a girl in my grade committed suicide. I had never understood what it really meant to feel haunted until that day in 2011. I would wake up convinced that she was standing in my room, watching me. As I would try to fall asleep, I imagined her hovering over me, whispering into my ear. I couldn't escape it, and I couldn't understand why she would do it. Why would anyone willfully take away their own life?

Well, as my anxiety raged on, I started to understand. I was so worried about the future; wouldn't it just be easier if I had no future? Those worries would all go away. I would go away. I, like Nao, could just hang onto the idea of suicide as a form of comfort. "Oh, it doesn't matter; I won't be around much longer anyway."

Lucky for me, as soon as these thoughts entered my mind, I pictured my school the day after that girl died. I'm sure while she was standing on those tracks that night in 2011, she had no idea how many lives her actions were about to affect. She touched everyone at our school, from her best friends to those freshmen that were pretty sure they had passed her in the hallway a few times. Her death broke us. Any one of us would have given anything to have her back in school again. You see, she was loved. She may not have felt it, she may have been told contrary, she may have convinced herself that she was utterly alone. It didn't matter. She was loved. We loved her.

Thinking back on those weeks after her death reminds me of the value of a life. We had such an aversive reaction to her death - it must be because we are made to live! As social beings, we need to rely on one another. And when someone takes themselves out of the game, it affects all the players. 

After my freshman year, I got help for my anxiety. I was diagnosed with Generalize Anxiety Disorder, and started seeing a therapist at UHS. Those hours we spent together changed my life. I understand that life will always have uncertainties, and I'm working on embracing them. Now, I'm running into life, not hiding from it. And although I still have bad days, overall I'm much happier. For the time being, and hopefully for much longer than that, too. 

Are you a student who is passionate about suicide prevention or mental health promotion? Do you want to work to end stigma surrounding mental health issues on our campus? Check out ASK.LISTEN.SAVE. to connect with student engaged in these efforts or email outreach.spuw@gmail.com to learn more.

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Zen Buddhism: An Art Historian's Perspective

Next Thursday, November 14, join Go Big Read and the Center for East Asian Studies for a discussion of Zen Buddhism, the Japanese belief system explored in A Tale for the Time Being. Gene Phillips, Professor of Art History and Director of the Center for East Asian Studies, will present a talk titled "Zen Buddhism: An Art Historian's Perspective."

The lecture begins at 6:00pm and will take place in room L140 of the Elvehjem Building. We hope to see you there!

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