Download Double Visions, Double Fictions: The Doppelgänger in Japanese Film and Literature PDF

TitleDouble Visions, Double Fictions: The Doppelgänger in Japanese Film and Literature
PublisherUniversity of Minnesota Press
ISBN 139781517902636
CategoryArts - Film
File Size2.3 MB
Total Pages262
Table of Contents
Half Title
Introduction. A Strange Mirror: The Doppelgänger in Japan
1 Stalkers and Crime Scenes: The Detective Fiction of Edogawa Rampo
2 Repressing the Colonial Unconscious: Racialized Doppelgängers
3 Projections of Shadow: Visual Modernization and Psychoanalysis
4 Rampo’s Repetitions: Confession, Adaptation, and the Historical Unconscious
5 Compulsions to Repeat: The Doppelgänger at the End of History
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Double Visions,
Double Fictions

Page 131

124 rampo’s repetitions

the subject, and then subsequently making the imaginary in itself pro-
ductive for capital.

To recapitulate an earlier discussion, in the context of interwar Japan,
a sense of crisis was induced by rapid urbanization and the emergence
of a burgeoning consumer culture facilitated by the increasing com-
modification of all aspects of social life coupled with colonial expansion.
This expansion left vast swaths of unevenness in its wake, which meant
the turning of cities into contact zones. Against this backdrop of rapid
social and material transformations, taking place within a milieu of newly
circulating images, commodities, and bodies marked by a sense of dis-
location and alienation, parallel discourses that rendered legible these
anxieties and tensions, among which modernism, detective fiction, psy-
choanalysis, nativist ethnographies, and nationalist mythmaking make
their appearance, and out of which the figure of the doppelgänger appears
as an excess. But the story of the doppelgänger does not end there. Fit-
tingly, in its role as an embodiment of doubling and repetition, once
again a renewed interest in the motif in contemporary films and fictions
appears, alongside a renewed critical interest in the figure against the
backdrop of several historical developments—the increasing financializa-
tion of capital and the rise of transnational corporations, decolonization
and the emergence of a new global division of labor, new forms of media
relations and the circulation of spectacles and image- commodities—
whose foundations can be traced back to the aftermath of the 1973 oil
crisis and the collapse of the Bretton Woods system.

Several examples can be named here. Abe Kōbō (1924– 1993) frequently
made use of the motif of a mirroring of identity as a part of his existential
meditations in such metaphysical detective stories as Moetsukita chizu
(The Ruined Map, 1967) or Hakootoko (The Box Man, 1973). In line with
his tendency to tell stories organized around a division between this
world and another world, twins, alter- egos, and doppelgängers also pop-
ulate many of the writings of Murakami Haruki (1948– ), from the twins
of 1973- nen no pinbōru (Pinball 1973, 1980), the visions of other selves
in Nejimakidori kuronikuru (The Wind- up Bird Chronicle, 1994– 95) and
Supūtoniku no koibito (Sputnik Sweetheart, 1999), to the doubled narra-
tive structure of Sekai no owari to hādoboirudo wandārando (Hard- boiled
Wonderland and the End of the World, 1984). Horror filmmakers like

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rampo’s repetitions 125

Kurosawa Kiyoshi (1955– ) have employed the doppelgänger both in its
more conventional version as a figure of horror as well as in its subver-
sion. Kon Satoshi repeatedly featured scenes of encounters with one’s
alter- ego as a part of his metacinematic explorations of the dreamlike
worlds of film and animation in such titles as Pāfekuto burū (Perfect Blue,
1997) and Papurika (Paprika, 2006).

I must therefore disagree with Watanabe Masahiko’s suggestion that
Japanese literary interest in the doppelgänger motif has died down since
its heyday during the Taisho and early Showa period.1 In fact, even if
one were to provisionally accept this claim, it should be noted, though,
that Watanabe premises this observation on a narrowly construed con-
ception of the literary, which specifically excludes popular genres such as
detective fiction, horror, or science fiction, not to mention other cultural
forms like comic books, film, television, or animation. Even if one were
to concur with Watanabe’s suggestion of an end to the literary doppel-
gänger, it is telling that one of the possible reasons he gives for this sup-
posed decline of interest is precisely the saturation of doppelgängers and
other related motifs like disguises, multiple personalities, clones, virtual
avatars, and cyborgs in Japanese popular culture, and especially in visual
culture, hence rendering it too much of a cliché or predictable plot twist
to be the subject of proper literary interest.2 However, given that the
origins of the doppelgänger are already rooted in the development of a
media ecology constituted out of the historical process of visual mod-
ernization, any move to isolate the figure as purely a literary motif strikes
me as misguided. After all, given the preceding discussion of the under-
pinnings of the formation of doppelgänger fictions as a coherent cate-
gory of texts in the development of mass cultural forms like detective
fiction in conjunction with the rise of cinematic technologies and new
regimes of visuality that such technologies engendered, it seems only apt
that it is in the form of visual and popular culture that the doppelgänger
continues its life. For this reason, I believe that the prevalence of images
of the doppelgänger in contemporary Japanese popular culture— and
especially in visual culture— is in fact more significant than Watanabe
makes it out to be.

Perhaps the texts with the most potential to open up the discussion
of another historical site of doubling are precisely films, specifically, the

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baryon tensor posadas is assistant professor of Asian languages
and literatures at the University of Minnesota.

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