Download PDF by Doris G. Bargen: A Woman's Weapon: Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji

By Doris G. Bargen

During this refined and hugely unique analyzing of Murasaki Shikibu's eleventh-century vintage the story of Genji (Genji monogatari), Doris G. Bargen explores the function of owning spirits (mono no ke) from a feminine standpoint. in different key episodes of the Genji, Heian noblewomen (or their mediums) tremble, communicate in unusual voices, and tear their hair and garments whereas lower than the spell of mono no ke. For literary critics, Genji, the male protagonist, is vital to picking out the position of those spirits. From this male-centered standpoint, girl jealousy presents a handy reason for the emergence of mono no ke in the polygynous marital process of the Heian aristocracy. but this traditional view fails take into consideration the work's woman authorship and its mostly lady viewers. depending upon anthropological in addition to literary proof, Doris G. Bargen foregrounds the factors of the possessed personality and found mono no ke in the politics of Heian society, examining spirit ownership as a feminine process followed to counter male options of empowerment. Possessions develop into "performances" by way of girls trying to redress the stability of strength; they subtly subvert the constitution of domination and considerably regulate the development of gender.

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Additional info for A Woman's Weapon: Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji

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Lewis takes the middle ground. ”48 The prototypical shaman is a special kind of Siberian medium who Enter mono no ke 11 suffers an initiation sickness known as “arctic hysteria”—an “out-ofbody” experience culminating in a mantic flight that transforms him into a communicator with other worlds. He then becomes a communal healer. Once initiated, the shaman has the ability to induce altered states of consciousness. His role as charismatic intermediary between two worlds must, however, be carefully distinguished from the roles of the exorcist and the medium who are summoned to deal with the affliction of spirit possession.

When there is no audience to witness the ritual drama of exorcism,59 the possessed person’s effort to communicate his or her distress is only partially successful. The audience, like the medium and the exorcist, is likely to be more concerned with the identity of the possessing spirit than with the motivations of the possessed person. Indeed, spirit possession is a psychological strategy so oblique that questions about the motivations of the possessed are hardly ever asked. ”60 Although my main purpose here is to shift the focus of attention Enter mono no ke 13 from the identity of the possessing spirit to the motivations of the possessed person, I do not mean to imply that the exorcism is insignificant.

Consequently, the critics’ Genji-centric view has led to the demonization of this formidable woman whom Genji, through his identification, makes responsible for the possession of his wives. The critics conclude with Genji that Rokujò is the incarnation of female jealousy. My study presents a radical reassessment of this traditional approach—including a debunking of Rokujò’s demonization. By shifting the focus from the mono no ke, as interpreted by Genji, to the pos- Enter mono no ke 27 sessed person I am hoping to restore the forgotten presence of the true agent of spirit possession.

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