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Remotely Japanese

Remotely Japanese

William Faulkner Indigenous and Trans-Pacific

(p.151) 6 Remotely Japanese
Weak Planet
Wai Chee Dimock
University of Chicago Press

This chapter takes up the question of reparation. How can we begin to make amends, and how to ensure that such efforts are not fantasies? The chapter looks at the long-distance atonement of Faulkner as he reaches out in apology to Japan after World War II, hoping in the same gesture to reach out in apology to displaced Choctaws and Cherokees in Mississippi. This attempt at reparation, largely wishful, becomes less so when crowd-sourced by chance, distributed to Native and immigrant authors far from Faulkner’s orbit, whose weak connectivity makes them resourceful mediators. Gerald Vizenor, Jim Barnes, and Lucien Stryk are rarely seen in the company of Faulkner. Unbeknownst to him, they have built a resilient set of ties giving substance to his hoped-for atonement. Taking many forms over the years, from teaching appointments in regional universities, to dedicated translation of Japanese haiku, to the sending and receiving of postcards, this trans-Pacific network, low-key and steadfast, links the catastrophe of New World genocide to the catastrophe of the atomic bombs without being fixated on either—a nonlinear mediation, speaking for Faulkner and perhaps in his despite.

Keywords:   William Faulkner, Japan, World War II, Choctaw, Cherokee, indigenous dispossession, Gerald Vizenor, Jim Barnes, Lucien Stryk, atomic bombs

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