NEO-SHAMANISM--Towards a Culture of Ex-stase|
The Appearance of Intensive Expanse in the Digital Realm
RESIDING AMONG THE DEAD
ITOH: The "vision quest" rite that you performed in "Be Still, Sit And Listen Well" was not in a cave, but in its antithesis, at the top of a mountain. Up before the first morning light, watching this vantage point emerge from darkness into light, was like watching the border crossing between the living and the dead, I'm sure it must have been a place seeped in enormous powers. Could you tell us a little bit about the extase of this experience?
HOSONO: The town of Santa Fe itself is about 1,500 meters above sea level to begin with, and we climbed up from there, so the mountain that you see in that footage is over 2,000 meters above sea level. The shapes and forms in the surrounding landscapes are truly fascinating. It was certainly unlike any that one could experience in Japan. When you arrive at the top of the "table mountain," you find it an enormous plain, very much like one might imagine heaven to be like. You really think that it would be a perfect place to take a nap on a nice day. It is entirely covered with something like a moss. Walking on it is like floating on air, it really feels good. There are rattlesnakes here and there though, so you do have take some care. (laughs)
ITOH: It is said that the shaman makes his base in a continuum between the living, the dead and the natural world, not only as a medium between humans and the holy ghost, but also for any number of other forces that come to call from the other side. I'm curious about Shin'ichi's special interest in the Mt. Mitsumori (Yamagata Prefecture, at the edge of Tsuruoka City) rite, where on the first day of bon [Buddhist All Souls Day] in the old Chinese calendar a multitude of souls assemble. On that day and only that one day in the whole year they bring out the Uba-sama Kuneri or "Twisted Old Broad," a strange and portentous wooden sculpture of an elderly woman, and perform the mori kuyo--rite of bon. Then carrying the Twisted Old Broad, the living climb up the mountain to meet a multitude of the dead. I suppose that mountains are especially good paths for commuting dead souls--NAKAZAWA, what do you think?
NAKAZAWA: The word "mori" [sacred ground or forest] in "mori kuyo" apparently has its linguistic origins in the word "death." In the old days the dead were buried in the forests. These days when we want to go meet the dead we go to the cemetery.
ITOH: You once wrote, "Through bringing back multiple manner of encounters with the dead, the living gain an unparalleled new perspective on what it means to be alive." This seems one new way of apprehending shamanism.
NAKAZAWA: It could be an issue of memory. We all live with the memories of the dead. We exist together with memory. We are living here now, in this same space, this same place where other souls went before us. This hall is in this corner of Shinjuku--this, right here, was once the haunt of hunters and practitioners of shamanistic religions. The dead are watching us. And to say that they are watching us, is nothing more than a recognition of the fact that we live within a collective memory, a memory which in itself exists to illuminate some meaning about our existence. It is no more definitive than any meaning of any other time. Not any more definitive than the value of any one thing can define the value of all things. Any thing must have been appraised very differently in a different time. And the people who understood that different value were living in a world with just as much integrity as we. We are living completely surrounded by such collective memories. And the fact that we live our life surrounded in their collective memories only points to the fact that we are coexisting with them. This relates very closely to our problems in understanding history.