Sōseki & Glenn Gould
Kato, I've never heard of Natsume Sōseki, nor his works.
I know... Most Canadians don't know his name.
Is he well-known in Japan?
Yes, he is. If a person doesn't know his name in Japan, he or she is not a Japanese.
Are you sure about that?
I'm absolutely sure of that. You can bet on that. From 1984 until 2004, his portrait appeared on the front of the Japanese 1000-yen note. So almost all the Japanese know his name and his face.
Can you find his books in the library?
Yes, of course, you can. Why don't you borrow one of the following books at Vancouver Public Library?
■"Actual Catalogue Page"
So there are 31 books written by Natsume Sōseki, aren't there?
Yes, you can read the translated version such as Kokoro, Sanshirō, and Kusamakura.
Which one do you recommend, kiddo?
I recommend "Kusamakura (草枕)."
Why is that?
...'Cause this book was Glenn Gould's most favorite book. When he died on October 4, 1982 at the age of 50, there were two books at his bedside: the Bible and "Kusamakura."
Did he read the book in Japanese.
No, he didn't. He read the translated version.
What does the title mean?
Literally, "Kusamakura (草枕)" means "grass pillow", which implies "camping in the wild."
How did he find the book?
Well ..., at the age of 35, Glenn Gould travelled to the eastern part of Nova Scotia, and met Professor William Foley in the train. In the course of conversation, the professor told him about the book 'cause he was greatly moved while reading it.
So, Glenn Gould bought the book, didn't he?
Yes, he did, and loved it so much so that he actually read the whole book on the phone to his sister.
This is a true story---one of his eccentricities.
You see, Diane ... if Glenn Gold lived beyond 50, he intended to abandon the piano and devote the remainder of his career to conducting and other projects.
He might have produced documentaries about life in the Canadian wilderness 'cause he loved "Kusamakura" from the bottom of his heart.
What makes you think so, Kato?
Actually, Glenn Gould made numerous television and radio programs for CBC Television and CBC Radio such as his music-concrète "Solitude Trilogy," which consists of "The Idea of North"---a meditation on Northern Canada and its people, "The Latecomers" about Newfoundland, and "The Quiet in the Land" about Mennonites in Manitoba. All three use a radiophonic electronic-music technique that Gould called contrapuntal radio, in which several people are heard speaking at once--—much like the voices in a fugue—--manipulated through the use of tape.
So, Kato, you're saying, Glenn Gould was really influenced by the book written by Natsume Sōseki.
Yes, I am.
But how come you're telling me his story?
...cause you love music as well as wilderness in the North. You enjoyed life in Faro---a town in Canadian North, didn't you?
Oh yes, I did.
So, I thought you might just as well want to read "Kusamakura."
If you've got some time,
Please read one of the following artciles:
■"From Canada to Japan"
■"From Gyoda to Vancouver"
■"Midnight in Vancouver"
■"Dead Poets Society"
■"Letters to Diane"
■"Wright and Japan"
■"Memrory Lane to Sendai"
■"Titanic @ Sendai"
■"Roly-poly in the wild"
■"Silence is dull"
■"Zen and Chi Gong"
■"Diane Girdles the Globe"
■"Diane in Casablanca"
■"Sex, Violence, Love"
■"Halifax to Vancouver"
■"A Thread of Destiny"
■"God is Near!"
■"Holy Cow@Rose Garden"
■"You Love Japan, eh?"
■"Fright on Flight"
■"From Summer to Eternity"
Hi, I'm June Adams.
Glenn Gould was widely known for his unusual habits.
He usually hummed while he played the piano, and his recording engineers had mixed results in how successfully they were able to exclude his voice from recordings.
Gould claimed that his singing was subconscious and increased proportionately with the inability of the piano in question to realize the music as he intended.
It is likely that this habit originated in Gould's having been taught by his mother to "sing everything that he played."
This became his unbreakable and notorious habit.
Some of Gould's recordings were severely criticised because of the background "vocalise".
Many listeners would find the groans and croons intolerable.
Glenn Gould: A Portrait (1985)
Gould was renowned for his peculiar body movements while playing and for his insistence on absolute control over every aspect of his playing environment.
The temperature of the recording studio had to be exactly regulated.
He invariably insisted that it be extremely warm.
The air conditioning engineer had to work just as hard as the recording engineers.
The piano had to be set at a certain height and would be raised on wooden blocks if necessary.
A small rug would sometimes be required for his feet underneath the piano.
He had to sit fourteen inches above the floor and would play concerts only while sitting on the old chair his father had made.
He continued to use this chair even when the seat was completely worn through.
His chair is so closely identified with him that it is shown in a place of honour in a glass case at the National Library of Canada.
■『軽井沢タリアセン夫人 - 小百合物語』