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The Butoh of the “Mummy” - Ko Murobushi

Tatsumi Hijikata

Since back in the day, I’ve received luxurious Japanese sweets from Murobushi. They were substantially fine sweets brought back from all of his travels across the country, and I received so many of them; he brought me some melon the other day, and now I have nothing to write about. Once I write about you, or about anybody really, quite out of my usual character I start to reflect and reconsider. So today, I will talk instead.

It is summer again. When summer comes, I am reminded of your dance, and I hope this will continue from here on out. Incidentally, the majority of people do not want to touch on the “Mummy” you danced at the Gotaishi performance last year. It seems they are brushing it off as something eccentric and strange, but I think differently. When I saw that dance, I felt that I had come face to face with the new remains of Buddha himself. That unusual force grasps the actual image of a demonic scene. In addition, with you rolling about in front of us, it was a new discovery of the “Mummy” projected into my retinas. In the midst of those who dance Butoh, or the act of opening one’s own body as a Butoh space, we become something like human beings, and because of that we are made to possess worn-out forms, mouths loosely swaying. Finally, in the end, we even learn to sell this act. I believe I indeed witnessed the discovery of a new Butoh that upturns the roots of that kind of thing, or to put it in an old-fashioned way, a starting point with my own eyes. Thinking in terms of an unweaned infant embraced by a ghost, that infant of a mummy looked about 7 years old to me. There, I was knocked over, and felt that it was exceedingly close to the starting point of Butoh 20 years ago, in which I relished in the deep emotions in the things I could see. The deep emotions I had just left there. Nevertheless, I believe your “Mummy” is something that has been further developed.

In the end, the sentiment in wanting to use sharp nails to scratch the bare, sluggish way of living that is full of torture, is necessary, and includes something that can deeply move people in any age. However, the point is the influential power in the immediate perception of the people who saw the dance. Well, there is the fact that I have grown older and that I lack an aptitude in speed. In your “Mummy,” many different wailing spirits pressed their hands together in prayer. There were four or five elderly people in the audience who put their hands together, and in my experience certainly this was strange, but the “Mummy” in Butoh that had never been tried is hidden within the infantile included in that strangeness, and the Mummy is rolling and wriggling; an expression rushes up and I discover a dangerous eroticism. Even now, I think that there may have been a point in question around here. Even for our bodies, or your releasing energy, like ironsand and bathed in cosmic dust, that drives dance to the utmost limits, if we search for this dark body, as if looking for a steamed bun hidden within the body... If we walk steadily under the blazing sun, faces of the dead may be vividly revived here and there; the face of the dead may have been that curving road over there in the first place. Well, for myself, whenever I was scorched by the hot sun, in some way or other I would tear up in a daze and fall into something stupid where I’d think about the age of dogs. But no matter where I step into, it is filled with water that is darker than death or something else, and that underground water of Butoh is what I saw in the facial expression of the 7-year-old mummy in your dance. I saw the remains of Buddha that dangled a piece of burnt meat. It was holding onto a faint, unknown memory. Rather, the sister of fire was also a medium in that burning vortex. These things mix together and produce forms with their hands pressed together in prayer. I believe those are extremely precious things, and are impossible to grasp within the body theory that is popular now. Well, of course there are various ways of research in Butoh, but wanting to separate my body into pieces once, or if there is a carriage carrying the sun, wanting to be who pulls it and walk under the blazing sun, or picking up a rock rolling down the road over there and milking the rock... Butoh is attracted by such ancient memories or that kind of thing. That is what I think. Yes, within your dance, I also saw a side that was another fierce inactivity, an inactive act. Gazing at this through the faint light that is human, the self enters into nothingness, wishing to be burnt, transforming into a toad while wearing the heat of the summer, hearing things... And so, our thinking is slowly folded into itself, is put in a drawer, has camphor thrown on it, and there is a point in which it comes to an end. Even in such kind of situation, however, a brutal kindness comes close. As you were enwrapped in flames and rolling around in front of us, I was slightly crouched behind and dropping a pitch black tube. And so the infant mummy as it is carries the summer and makes us envision seeds, burnt black, magnificently falling like a waterfall falling like utter blackness. If I slowly spin my eyes from that place, whether it be hardened thinking, human beings, or anything really, an anger filled with gunpowder or that kind of thing can be envisioned. It is as if it would explode with even a small spark, and in that place, blooming gourd flowers bask and rustle. A place in which answers cannot be made, there is the Butoh of the “Mummy.”

Something like the suicide of Butoh does not grow new sprouts. Despite the plants there vigorously committing suicide and growing new sprouts, it seems that Butoh is letting its future go out of order to a dangerous, or not dangerous but easy, place. First of all, no one with a determined resolve to end as human can be found. Well, there’s no end to talking on and on about this kind of thing, but having seen the performance this time, I overlaid it with the dance last time and my own younger days. Truly, in the “Mummy” there, I was able to witness a moment that felt as if my listless flesh was bound with straw ropes, and I hope that this can be the starting point, the hearth of Butoh. The Butoh that you created and I, at this moment, a parasol is walking under the blazing sun in my mind, as if a monster is walking behind while protecting it, and yet like loaches peeping through the froth--I overlay it with that kind of thing; Yes, I believe it to be something that wishes to enter into a state of suffocation in which no one has stepped into before.

translation
Vinci Ting
July 11, 1977
“pamphlet of HINAGATA”

Related Work

“Komusou - Wandering Monk”

“Komusou - Wandering Monk”

1976