Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Chapter 1, Part 2. Continued II – Insect Collectors and Sexual Deviancy (Bonus Vibe – ‘Owning’ Kafka)

The chapter continues in a speculative vein but attempts to delve further into what kind of man it was that has disappeared. We learn that his wife gave out the information that he was off on an insect collection trip. This initially quashed the first wave of speculation in the text (the narrator) as to the nature of the disappearance only to shift focus to the kind of adult who would engage in a hobby such as collecting insects.

‘It’s surely no mere coincidence that insect collectors often possess character traits such as a highly developed acquisitiveness, the attitude of the obsessive loner, kleptomania, homosexual tendencies could argue that from there it is just a step away from misanthropic suicide.’

Apparently they aren’t healthy people! (Or rather this kind of thing is ok for a schoolboy but for an adult a worrying thing – signs of an Oedipus complex even according to the text). I had some difficulties with translating this part (as you might notice), for example,

I translated this as kleptomania and it may be a touch too much for something which the kanji suggests as just a stealing habit, but in the context of the stereotyped negative image of the adult insect collector, it seemed to fit. Similarly with terms such as 極端に排他的 I wanted to convey the Gollum like loner, mumbling 'my preciousss desune!' over a few rare black winged moths! 排他 comes out in my denshi-jiten as 'boycott/reject others at the expense of ones friends' but again the context of the solitary collector seems to imply a man who has retreated into his boyhood hobbies. (Note to Self: Must check on my full set of hand painted Sailor Moon figurines - only joking..or AM I?). Maybe his only 'real' friends are moths....moving on.

But to be fair rather than a character assassination, this first chapter has the atmosphere of nonplussed exasperation at there being no clues to the vanishing act. Chapter 1 seems to be the alpha and omega of the case and end s with the casual statement of fact of the man’s ‘missing presumed dead’ official status after 7 years of no news. Chapter 2 starts with the day in August again but it’s an August day outside of the open and shut Universe of Chapter 1. We are finally with the man as he sets out on his fateful collecting trip.
Bonus Vibe – ‘Owning Kafka’
My little joke here, Kobo seems to be riffing on Metamorphosis here with the man’s insect collecting hobby. The insects are subject to the protagonist’s will and seem to me to be an embedded reference or ‘nod’ to Kafka’s Metamorphosis. I thought it looked as though Kobo was ‘owning’ Kafka by saying ‘Yeah I got Kafka here in a little glass jar held by the protagonist!’ Ironically the man later becomes the trapped insect so the ‘owning’ is purely on Kobo’s part not the protagonist’s and of brief duration. Just a nod as I said.

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