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Fukuoka meets fusion–“lasagna gardening”

13 Jun

In the US, a woman named Patricia Lanza has made popular Fukuoka Masanobu’s techniques of “do-nothing” farming–she followed, in turn, the earlier work of a woman named Ruth Stout.

Her concept selects and adapts particular features of FM’s work, and is known as “lasagna gardening.” It’s called this because it starts off with sheet mulching and wild mulching–laying sheets of cardboard over grass to tame it and get rid of weeds, and using plant matter on the spot for compost, letting it have its unruly way, rather than putting it in a tidy (“”) pile in a corner to gestate. It’s a kind of translated version of do-nothing farming that still involves some of the processes (sheet mulching, notably, and lack of interest in tilling). But it also drops some key features, such as the compelling autobio, the relation to a general critique of modernity, and questions about the role of the local vis-à-vis spiritual/mystical/Romantic/poetic histories.

Cover of Lanza's Fukuoka adaptation/localization

See what you think, by paging through it at Amazon

Is anything added? Anything lost? How does she imagine the task of adapting, localizing, translating? And what does “culture” (i.e. from cultivare, the word meaning ‘to grow’) mean to her, do you think?

Giants and Toys contexts–handout for Nov 9

8 Nov

I will pass this out, but here is a copy, for reference. (Some of the graphics have been lost.)

Page numbers refer to Michael Raine’s article.

Giants and Toys contexts Handout for Nov 9

1955    both the US and Soviet Union announce plans to get spacecraft launched @ 1957-8
1957    Sputnik is launched by the Soviet Union
1958    Giants and Toys
1961    Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin
JFK proposes Apollo space program (runs through 1975)
1969    Men on moon


Satō Tadao
the “dean” of postwar film critics. Same era as Donald Richie. A leftist humanist.
Library:     Kenji Mizoguchi and the Art of Japanese Cinema, in Cinema/TV library, PN1998.3.M58S2813 2008
Online:    “An Introduction to Early Japanese Cinema,” in on-line journal Screening the Past:
review of “Masterpieces of Silent Japanese Cinema,” supervised by Satō:

Ozu Yasujirō
postwar (mostly) director beloved by art critics and cinephiles for his “quiet” family dramas. Is seen to break the stranglehold of Hollywood cinematic codes while remaining lyrical and poetic. Early silent films are quite funny.
LibraryGood Morning, EA collection @ Doheny, JDVD 0116
Online: Midnight Eye review of Good Morning:       


Giants and Toys contexts

Dazai & reading questions

19 Oct

iconic New Directions cover of The Setting Sun

Please read to 78 for Thursday, and the 4pp essay on decadence, and finish Dazai for Tuesday. As you read, consider:

1) why is the sun “setting”?

2) in his essay on decadence, SAKAGUCHI Ango (referred to as Ango) is disenchanted with the aristocracy, and with samurai. Why? What is becoming decadent, and why is it inevitable?

2) the narrator of The Setting Sun says that Mother is “one of the last of that kind of lady” (7). What kind of lady, and how does food figure in?

3) we move from food to drink–and lots of it–in this book. Some tea, but mostly booze. Is Naoji decadent in Ango’s sense?


Class prep for October 14–Thursday

12 Oct

We will watch the Momotarō film in class. As you watch, and as you read, think about:

?: what elements seem to vary, between versions? What elements are a constant–and seem to resemble a structure, something fixed?

?: like Ryuji, Momotarō is a young peach. How do the qualities people usually look for in a child help him in his cause as a warrior?

Note: the NDL (national diet library) book is much better when viewed on line here.

Don’t forget to watch the Momotarō jazz opera [search for Momotarō in the blog search box]

No blog entry–blog entry is due on a “mythic or propagandistic food” on Tuesday, October 19.

Reader/course pack update

2 Sep

So the reader is now available at Magic Machines, at the UV. It runs about $17 for part 1; part 2 is slightly longer, but not much.

I had a long conversation with the owner, when I turned it in. He basically was reluctant to print it at all, if the whole class does not use it. (He is familiar with ARLT courses & sizes.) Apparently he loses a bunch of money and gets lots of random orders at random times, when people get sick of printing and want to buy the reader at sporadic times during the semester. This makes him unhappy. The upshot is that we’re just going to do it with the reader–I did split it into two, though, to make it easier to handle. Pick it up and read the Fukuoka and Shimazono for next Thursday.

Readings update

28 Aug

The reader is assembled; it took more time to save money than I had thought. It is quite large, and going to the copy shop Monday, as they are closed for the day. You won’t need it until the week after next, but here is the next batch of readings, and a final syllabus, with more specific due dates. I swapped a couple of readings out, after reading the info you all wrote on Thursday, to incorporate things people were curious about.

Syllabus:* for current syllabus please see page titled”Exciting soba news–and new syllabus!”

Fukuoka reading: 2_fukuoka

Shimazono reading (new): on food and new religions/philosophies as AKMs, or “alternative knowledge movements”: 3_shimazono

Questions to think about: how does Fukuoka resemble kinds of counter-culture you may be familiar with? Why does he term his movement a “revolution”? And what is alternative about the kinds of knowledge Shimazono talks about?

Printed copy of course pack, or on-line materials?

24 Aug

This is useful to know, so I can tell the guy at University Village how many to make. Thanks!

If you mark “other,” please fill in the adjacent blank, or leave a comment, so one can imagine what this alternative might be.