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[ Reading ] ➸ 箱男 [Hako otoko] Author Kōbō Abe –

箱男 [Hako otoko]Kobo Abe, The Internationally Acclaimed Author Of Woman In The Dunes, Combines Wildly Imaginative Fantasies And Naturalistic Prose To Create Narratives Reminiscent Of The Work Of Kafka And BeckettIn This Eerie And Evocative Masterpiece, The Nameless Protagonist Gives Up His Identity And The Trappings Of A Normal Life To Live In A Large Cardboard Box He Wears Over His Head Wandering The Streets Of Tokyo And Scribbling Madly On The Interior Walls Of His Box, He Describes The World Outside As He Sees Or Perhaps Imagines It, A Tenuous Reality That Seems To Include A Mysterious Rifleman Determined To Shoot Him, A Seductive Young Nurse, And A Doctor Who Wants To Become A Box Man Himself The Box Man Is A Marvel Of Sheer Originality And A Bizarrely Fascinating Fable About The Very Nature Of IdentityTranslated From The Japanese By E Dale Saunders

[ Reading ] ➸ 箱男 [Hako otoko] Author Kōbō Abe –
  • Paperback
  • 178 pages
  • 箱男 [Hako otoko]
  • Kōbō Abe
  • English
  • 07 March 2017
  • 9780375726514

    10 thoughts on “[ Reading ] ➸ 箱男 [Hako otoko] Author Kōbō Abe –

  1. says:

    Are you up for some weird fiction I mean REALLY weird fiction Reading this K b Abe novel, I had the feeling I was floating six feet off the ground reader as artist of the floating world If you are up for existentialism of the oddball variety, The Box Man may count among your all time favorite novels The core of existentialism is the opposite of abstract theory rather, artists and writers of the existential school tend to focus on a particular individual facing the very human dilemma of living in a world frequently absurd and alienating, a world where two men wait for Godot or a teacher walks the streets of a French town with a sense of nausea So, keeping within the spirit of existentialism, I will refrain from generalizations and zero in on specific passages of K b Abe s 1974 one of a kind novel This is the record of a box man I am beginning this account in a box A cardboard box that reaches just to my hips when I put it on over my head The narrator of the tale is a writer who sheds his past identity to become a box man I agree completely with Jerome Charyn s statement from his 1974 New York Times review The action of the novel seems to take place inside the box, which has become a kind of labyrinth for the box man, a porous, breathing skin The most important reason to use the standardized form is that it is hard to distinguish one box from another Here the box man shares a key concept for others who might consider becoming box men if you want to shed individual identity, go all the way become a box man who cannot in any way be distinguished from other box man become as indistinguishable as humanly possible He goes on to provide advice on the ways one can deal with useful objects within one s box thermos, flashlight, towel, pens, change of clothing To construct your box there is no particular procedure to follow The greatest care must be taken when making the observation window Last of all, cut the remaining wire into one , two , four , and six inch lengths, bending back both ends, and prepare them as hooks for hanging things on the wall Indeed, the most important aspect in being a box man is viewing the world through your slit in your box Curiously, the box man sounds as if he has developed his own distinctively creative way to become a voyeur, so imaginative that he views himself viewing through his slit as much as the people and objects of his gaze I recall Ernesto Sabato saying hell is being looked at So, for the box man, he can create hell for others via his own gaze while not becoming the subject of the gaze of others As soon as anyone gets into this simple, unprepossessing paper cubicle and goes out into the streets, he turns into an apparition that is neither man nor box A box man possesses some offensive poison about him I can imagine the reaction of others in the city to the box man Back in the 70s I recall a college student who wore a black cloak over his body down to his shoes and called himself The Black Bag He said after a few days the other students on campus got used to him Actually, I thought this fellow was rather cool He squeezed the trigger The barrel of the gun, and then the box, made a noise like that of a wet trouser cuff snapped by an umbrella handle The lead bullet must have bored into the fellow s body with great force But neither the screams nor the jeers he had anticipated were forthcoming Ah The box man reports a number of case studies, including how one box man was attacked by a gunman Not everybody in society will remain passive when confronted by a box man The rebounding bullet flying about inside his cranium would doubtless set his brain functions askew After observing the neighborhood for a while, he drew the curtains over the windows and gingerly crawled into the box The place seemed very homelike He wanted to stay like that forever, but in less than a minute he came to his senses and crawled out So the gunman tries out the box for himself Sorry, it might appear like an appealing way of life conceptually or for the first five minutes, but, as he soon discovers, not everyone is cut out to be a real, live box man I want to spy on all sorts of places, and the box is a portable hole that occurred to me under the circumstances, it being impossible to punch holes throughout the world Now that s worth chewing on The ordinary way of moving around in the world, you are part of the outside thus nothing like looking through a slit in a box No question the only way to gain first hand experience of the box man is to do it yourself The reason men somehow go on living, enduring the gaze of others, is that they bargain on the hallucinations and inexactitude of human eyes Very true Could you take being seen as you truly are, with all your foibles and quirks If it wasn t for others misperceptions we might be running for our boxes Or so thinks the box man I personally feel that a box, far from being a dead end, is an entrance to another world I don t know to where, but an entrance to somewhere, some other world But one has the distinct impression the box man has not succeeded in his desire to be in the world without a particular identity In his box, he actually goes about inventing his own past life and future dreams But then again, perhaps the box man has a past he wants to hide Clinging to one s outward appearance interferes with living How much weight do you put on your outward appearance Would you gain or lose freedom if you chose to live in a box I recall one of my roommates back in college said if he had a continuous supply of LSD, he d be than happy to live his entire life in a closet How about that a closet At least with a box, you can move around Recall I said this novel is REALLY weird back there I wasn t kidding Japanese author K b Abe, 1924 1993

  2. says:

    A mystery filled riff on the nature of identity, the significance of the gaze, the nature of looking and being looked upon and how this defines who we are.The story is told primarily in the first person but we never know exactly who is doing the telling Is it the box man a man who, no surprise, lives in a box he has strapped on over his body so he cannot be seen , the fake box man a doctor who tries on a box for himself and is a wannabe box man or someone else perhaps Kobo Abe who is obsessively scribbling this story on the inside of his own box There is a murder, or a suicide or an assisted suicide but we re never sure who the victim is or exactly what goes down.There is a menage trois between the box man, the fake box man and a seductive nurse who allows these men to gaze upon her in various states of undress.There are questions about what it means to be looked upon How does it define who we are If you re hidden in a box and nobody looks at you, what are you Like the proverbial falling tree in the forest, if you re not seen, do you exist Or does the box become a kind of coffin In seeing there is love, in being seen there is abhorrence One grins, trying to bear the pain of being seen But not just anyone can be someone who only looks If the one who is looked at looks back, then the person who was looking becomes the one who is looked at.

  3. says:

    A Strange, Dry, Inhuman Book Just the Kind of Thing I Like Note these are brief notes If you re intrigued by this book I have a longer essay, with information about the very rare catalog of Abe s own street photography, here 4 6 kobo abe th Box men are homeless men who walk around inside cardboard boxes The boxes are fitted out with viewing portholes, little shelves, hooks, and supplies Several things make this book odd, as well as bitter, misogynistic, and misanthropic.The descriptions of the box are so vivid, so precise and unexpected, that it seems they could only be the result of actually building such a box and living in it Abe is extremely precise about what goes into the box what the box man carries around with him and how such a box is constructed I would expect that from any realist or surrealist novel but the details are inserted into unexpected places in the narrative, where they would only occur to someone who has actually spent time in such a box The stains on the inside of the box, the uses of a small shelf under the observation window, the uses of a plastic tablet they outdo Nabokov in their myopic realism, and they produce, for me, a creeping sense that the novelist did than just research his subject I haven t looked into this, but it wouldn t surprise me if there were such things as box men in 1970s Japan, and if Abe wasn t one himself That s a kind of narrative unreliability that goes well beyond what a reader might infer about the author of In Cold Blood or Lolita The story turns around a box man, another person who may want to become a box man, and a nurse they both like The other man is explicitly a Doppelgaenger and projection of the narrator, so in terms of men s roles, the book is about the nakedness of walking around in public without a box, the temptations of the box s security, and the odd feeling of slipping out of society and living in, and as, a box In terms of women s roles, the book is substantially bleak The nurse only exists in the story to take off her clothes and pose She is watched by the box man, once from outside a window, and later from inside a hospital room The narrator fantasizes about cutting her up and eating her, but that s just a passing thought Mostly he is stricken with embarrassment about his own body, and the sum total of his idea of relations with women is watching them undress It s an openly childish, masturbatory fantasy Over the course of the book, the effect of that relentless, unreflective, supposedly natural way of representing relations is extremely unpleasant When he wrote this book, his imaginative universe was so shriveled, so dried up and poisoned, that he could only imagine women as things that are peered at from inside cardboard boxes I have no problem with violent, misanthropic, deranged or psychotic narratives or narrators but this one is also unreflective.The narrative is quirky to the point of opacity, often uncontrolled, wandering, and shapeless At one point the narrator admits he has made up the other box man entirely several pages are devoted to a fantasy of turning into a fish and drowning the narrative is often interrupted by notes about the color of the writer s ink or the nature of the paper he is writing on I take all those shapeless experiments as strategies to keep writing, to get the bizarre story down on paper I also take the entire novel as a purge Abe has lived this way, somehow, or tried it, or wanted to, and now wants to get past it The combination of polymorphic perversions, sociopathic encounters, dry descriptions, obsessions with squalor and excretions, grainy street photography, detailed how to instructions for living in carboard boxes, and smallm, badly reproduced, disconnected photographs makes this one of the most memorable books in all postwar fiction.

  4. says:

    There is no denying the allure of the cardboard box as a protective carapace Children know this inherently It s why they are always building forts out of boxes When I was a kid, my dad repurposed the same cardboard box several years in a row to make Halloween costumes for me and my siblings I was a robot one year and a turtle the next Before that my sister had been a dog All using the same box The box fit snug over my body, hanging down to my hips, much like that of the box man in this book It felt safe and comfortable in the box, despite the severe reduction in peripheral vision it caused.This novel is a mystery of sorts Part of the mystery is how many box men there really are Or rather, how many authentic box men For there is at least one false box man He wears a box that is identical to the real box man, and it s set up in a nearly identical manner But why pose as a box man, particularly when box men are considered to be the detritus of society Perhaps to win over the affection of a certain nurse And yet the nurse wants the real box man to ditch his box, and is even willing to pay him to do it So her attitude towards boxes as coverings for men remains in question Another part of the mystery is how does one identify a true box man What constitutes authenticity in this case At times the real box man interprets the false box man as simply another version of himself Both the false box man coincidentally or not, also a false doctor and the nurse may not truly exist The box man is recording his story the book is a collection of personal notes on his life as a box man He appears to suffer from an identity crisis, perhaps brought on by his life inside the box He is reluctant to leave the box, though at one time he lived a normal unboxed life, working as a photographer This is significant, his being a former photographer, for the best photographer is invisible The box man is obsessed with appearances and with looking He does not want to be looked at, but he wants to be able to look at others Hence the box Later in the book we find out about the false doctor and false box man through his written affidavit, which also sheds light on certain previously related events We are also presented, through case reports, with further insights into what may have made the box man who he is today, e.g., what ultimately drove him into the box But none of this coheres into a stable narrative.The book includes photographs of at best peripheral relevance, accompanied by cryptic captions, which enhance the mysterious nature of the text For despite the attempts at organization in the form of case reports and affidavits, what the text engenders most effectively is perpetual disruptions in perception through disorientation As we draw near to an understanding, the ground shifts and again we are stumbling in confusion Much like it feels to wander around, as I once did so many Halloweens ago, with a box covering the upper part of one s body From the human chrysalis that is the box man,Even I know notWhat kind of living being will issue forth.

  5. says:

    This is possibly Abe s craziest book, which is really saying something Not necessarily best, as book Secret Rendezvous 10004 is crazy AND highly coherent, but the ways in which this is flirts with incoherency are extremely interesting It s got the odd, broken time frame diary format of Rendezvous but in actually a ambiguous and complex manner, while the actual story has been stripped back to what first seems sheer bizarre simplicity, but then becomes an echo chamber of variations There are a few cogent plot organizations, if you dig, but it s really experiential than that This isn t necessarily a book to be dissected for clues so much as traveled through, getting jerked back and forth by all the narrative switchbacks and rug pulling maneuvers.Any, what s it actually about As I said, simple Put on a box, disappear Also about gaze, looking, being looked at There s some arguably problematic theory in this, but the structure is so self undermining that it s hard to hold Abe accountable, exactly There s a lot going on, better to just soak it in, reflect, consider In retrospect, perhaps all Abe s books are actually about disappearances About the thin corrugated cardboard barrier that doesn t always prevent us from falling out of our lives entirely and into some other mode of unheretofore imagined existence This seems to be Abe at a pivotal point, reflecting all that came before or after in a sanely insane box labyrinth.

  6. says:

    The Box Man was cancelled by the Atikokan Public Library after men began disappearing and reappearing with boxes over their heads probably in the young adult section One less person to read a newspaper on a stick in 1982 was no big thing but in 1987 two people checked out and then checked out Cancelled is stamped on the title page Cancelled again on the next, and the next page in case any wives of veterans were tempted to buy a box big enough for their Juice Newton hair dos In case any teenaged volunteers were lured by the forbidden cancelled is stamped again in places inside the book Someone got carried away with their stamper They must have been issued their own stamper that cancellation day How bad could the box man trend have been I started a broken bones trend when I was eight Five kids in my elementary school just had to be like me and sport casts It is dangerously painful to be trendy I have no idea where Atikokan is It could be a place of box people One day someone came along and packed all the boxes away, including the cancelled book.Now it s mine I wish I felt like I had won The shut your eyes to another view out of your own window man.Televisions are boxes The first thing I ever learned to draw properly was a box I skipped the all too important step of stick figures Drawing is like math I ll be able to paint a mural on the ceiling of a cathedral before I ll ever draw a decent stick figure Shoulder pads from 1987 Aha were boxy So what the hell is so free about living in a box It s BOXED IN because you can t get out Because The Box Man didn t make a case for invisibility inside a box People are people okay some are like stick figures than others You can be ignored by the person you are sitting next to Even before cellphones and portable gaming machines people were ignored Put on the same outfit and vacant expression that everyone else is wearing Look like you should be there and you ll be ignored than anyone wearing a cardboard box It s not hard to go through a day without talking to a single person Don t open your mouth Don t smile at anyone Does it feel like freedom to be ignored It is freedom if you don t care What is freedom worth to you if you don t care Boxes have been seen floating on their own Like dust bowls Is anyone carried away inside The Box Man reads like a how to I don t care how many times you say that putting on a box means that no one will notice you I will notice I m really worried about this homeless chick I used to see every day She looked a lot like goodreads author KI Hope so I called her Homeless KI She was probably murdered He cares in the same telling way of do this and do that on how to be a box man He shouldn t have felt so My stuff and Get off my lawn But he did The Box Man is the voyeur feeling of knowing that there are guys who go to peep show booths in triple x shops I felt as close to him as I feel to those guys The box should have had a hole for his dick and he could have sat in a movie theater because what he saw was not real My stuff Oh, my stuff Rupert Murdoch was found sleeping on piles of News of the World Someone kicked him out of his own and he s going to take up shop in all of our boxes.What was so contagious about box men If you see one and there s a part of you that notices that there are box men you will have to become one YOU DON T NEED TO BE INSIDE A BOX TO NOTICE PEOPLE This book was built on a cheap ass piece of cardboard Hiding is from self hate It is not freedom Any invisibility fantasy I ever had was not about voyeurism I don t care what the stupid movies tell you about horny teen boys spying on their French teachers Kobo Abe, you really don t get it People who don t notice box men are pretending not to notice them, just as your box man was pretending not to notice themselves Too bad you didn t have the depth my box is 3d to see it.Kids used to bump my head with my twins on the school bus They d ask me if I felt it when they abused her There s a kind of feeling it too that s called empathy If you re going to make a case for actual infection you are going to have to do better, Kobo Abe Get under my big enough umbrella.Maybe I d get a disguise like Kobo Abe s thick black frames Or one with a fake nose and mustache Four eyes and extra powerful sense of smell If I mimed a box I could open new invisible doors this book really was bullshit.In seeing there is love, in being seen there is abhorrence One grins, trying to bear the pain of being seen But not just anyone can be someone who only looks If the one who is looked at looks back, then the person who was looking becomes the one who is looked atHogwash You have to look at yourself and MAYBE you ll understand a little bit of what anyone else is about because you bothered to step out of a tiny box to live in Now why would anyone want to hide I know why I would.P.s I realized that because my uncle is homeless by choice I can thank Jamie Foxx or Will Smith That s almost as good for portraying homeless people on the big screen with such compassion.

  7. says:

    This novel messes with your head Really.As far as Kobo goes, I prefered Woman in the Dunes for pure entertainment, but the Box Man goes into uncharted territory whereas Woman in the Dunes grasps at fairly traditional existentialism, albeit from a unique perspective Who is the Box Man Is he one Two Three Everyone You could read this book a thousand times and still not unravel the mystery I, of course, have my own opinion, but the beauty of this book is that you just can t stop trying to figure things out I definitely recommend a read I can t guarantee you ll enjoy it, but I can guarantee that you ll be either completely befuddled or completely obsessed And befuddled.

  8. says:

    Promising as its weirdness may have seemed to me, sadly I failed to connect Having read and loved The Woman in the Dunes, I like to believe that there was a certain philosophical depth to The Box Man but it clearly evaded me Other than a few spot on existential gimmicks, it was mostly a drag for me, since I had lost interest rather early in the book, while the endless monologues following the narrator s non linear thoughts didn t really help the situation By no means trash Just not what I expected.

  9. says:

    So this book is weird, and I have to confess that I wasn t always exactly sure what was going onMainly the story reads like a journal of a Box Man or basically someone who has decided to drop out of society in favor of wearing a cardboard box at all times However, you can also tell that Abe has a background in science medicine , because we are given detailed directions at the beginning regarding the construction of the box and specific details about survival methods, as though we were reading a manual on How to be a Box Man The story can be viewed as an examination of the intentionally homeless, existentialists, or a comment on the nature of identity There s also a lot concerning the act of seeing and being seen Also, sexual frustration or deviancy seems to have a correlation with choosing the box There isn t a very concrete plotline, but we know that a box man is shot a by an air rifle and also offered 50,000 yen to discard his box Tension is great between box men and the rest of society Later, he has interactions with a fake box man and a woman who seems to be perpetually nude Overall, I enjoyed the format and the issues the story examines An unconventional read.

  10. says:

    A surreal tale about a fragile identity, and a place of the individual in this uncertain world We are ready to believe the narrator, but before long we are asking who is he and how much can we believe of what he tells Was it a real experiment or mystification, fantasies of a troubled mind, or just a dream There can be numerous interpretations.

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