Organized Panel Session
My paper examines author Ozaki Kōyō’s (1867-1903) efforts to reconcile language and vision through the framework of photography, a technology which suggested for him the possibility of providing an accurate record of personal experience via literary means. Late in life, Kōyō seized upon the technology of photography as a metaphor for the ideal text, or one capable of overcoming the barriers of artistic mediation in order to transmit the author’s personal experience of the world directly to the reader. After acquiring his own set of American-made magazine cameras in the late 1890’s, produced by companies such as Adams and Westlake and the Western Camera Manufacturing Co., he participated in the formation of a photography appreciation club, the Tōkyō Shayūkai (Tokyo Friends of Photography Society), and scoured the city for scenic shots that could accurately capture his experience of viewing the landscape within their frames. In 1899, during a break in the serialization of his seminal best-seller, The Gold Demon (Konjiki yasha, 1897-1903), Kōyō travelled to the hot springs resort town of Shiobara, where he observed a natural landscape that he later described at length in his novel, as though endeavoring to impress his vision of the location clearly upon the imagination of his readers. He coupled his literary description of Shiobara, however, with an actual photograph, whose stylistic departure from his verbal description suggested an unbreachable gap between physical vision, literary language, and subjective experience.