Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Yoshie says she respects her “sensible approach to the problem of Hiroshima.” She wants to apologize to this city, give lives back, plant flowers. But she is only human. She is thinking of calling her project:

“The Problem of Hiroshima”

Flowers for Hiroshima

Apologies to Hiroshima

Today she collected fallen leaves and damp bark from the A-bombed Eucalyptus tree at Hiroshima Castle. She cried when she walked around to the back of the tree and saw it literally weeping thick burgundy tears, bleeding. (She must go back with her good camera to make better photographs.) She made a rubbing of the trunk. One Japanese man walked by and said “beautiful.” She also did a rubbing of the burlap ropes tied around the A-bombed Willow tree and snapped off a little branch to contact print on cyanotype paper. She managed to do lots of rubbings today: the 1930s wooden floor and walls pockmarked with shards of glass at the old bank – one of the only remaining buildings after the A-bomb – now an exhibition center. The current show is of a million paper cranes heaped and hung and arranged in aisles; the memorial plaque to medical doctors at the time of the A-bomb.

She reads about “horseweed” growing wildly shortly after the A-bomb. This is what people boiled to eat out of necessity. What is horseweed?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

She returns to the A-bombed Eucalyptus and takes lots of photographs of the bloody stigmata in the trunk of the tree. There are actually several, all eye shaped and oozing. She walks and walks today – all the way to Hiroshima Station and supposedly on a “historical-cultural path” to shrines and temples. She only makes it to one temple and feels so out of place, not knowing what to do, how to enter or be. She walks back through the train station and has a yummy Japanese lunch: soba noodles, shrimp tempura, triangles of rice stuffed with unknown delights and wrapped in seaweed, cold tea. She walks all the way home, even up the hill, in the bright bright sun. She is sweating but takes a cool break in the temple cemetery at the base of Hijiyama Park’s hill, her hill. Stone buddhas with red bibs; tall gravestones and wooden markers, flowers, shrines, narrow steep paths, fountains, women clearing and replenishing the flowers. She is painting more leaves from her walk and has begun taking photographs of dandelions about to blow away. She thinks of Carol’s essay again, “like a dandelion blown,” and thinks she may take photographs of 1945 dandelions for Hiroshima: small, fragile balls of wishes, wispy, tiny stars, blossomed, blooming, so temporary.

Friday, June 6

David thinks she should figure out the average number of “blooms” on each puffy dandelion head so that each photograph of each dandelion would represent that number of victims of the A-bomb, rather than photographing 1945 dandelions – which is too many and could defeat “the power of the small gesture,” as Susanne puts it.

She is waiting for her watercolor to dry so she can take it with her to her lunch meeting with the contemporary curator today. She made a CD of 22 photographs of the dandelions to give her.

She is amazed that her children are eating seaweed salad, miso and corn coup, milk dumplings, salmon, rice cakes, edamame, tempura and grilled fish. They miss their friends and pets and home but they seem to be enjoying this adventure. Guthrie has a wrestling partner at school, Kenta, and he comes home with bruises and happy scratches. Harper has almost stopped crying in the mornings when her mother drops her off. Mommy just has to smother her with kisses and hugs while promising watermelon popsicles at the end of the day and have Guthrie take her hand down the shoeless hall to his classroom for a while.

Andrew sent her Barthes’ Empire of Signs and she began gulping it down last night. She underlines most of it and writes in the margin. What is opposed to representation and writing – just being? She feels as if she is missing half of what Barthes is writing – the half about emptiness and Zen, signs and language. Maybe she is missing all of it but she relates to it – the fictive, foreign country, the absence of recognizable symbols, the impossibility of the Orient.

Lucy sent her the box of big thick black lumber crayons. She plans to do some big rubbings next week of monuments.

She is still waiting for the cyanotype paper and has been collecting plant samples. She needs to walk around with a book in which to place fragile leaves with lots of holes in them, mutations, decay, dust.

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