Sailent Ranks


 In the impetuousness of its infancy, River Q carved a way for itself through the mountains. Clouds, in at hick mist, covered the gorge.
     From time to time, the sedimentary rock that formed the mountains loomed black like Chinese ink, through the mist. Down valley after valley, hugging the surface of the river, wound the mist. It seeped through cracks in the many-layered rocky walls, to swell up into vapor at the first glimmer of the open air.
       The mountains enclosing the River Q were fated to give way before the water’s rushing and the dense mist.
         Above the jagged rocks at the mountain peaks, the Great Bear shone in nightly haughtiness. Yet, the Great Bear in its overweening pride did not see Perseus, advancing hourly to seize its throne. Beneath them, day and night, the River Q engaged in its unwearying struggle for watershed with the neighboring River S.


           No human groups came near the narrow gorge that the River Q was eroding for itself. But it was different in the gentle vale of the River S, where the hamlets increased in number each year.
             In that age, the kings held long sway over the land. Daily, the people felt their despotism.
               The river S ate through the soft bed of the geological age. Then, as it was silently building up an alluvial delta for itself at its estuary, the seething rebelliousness of the people finally broke out in a violent attack on the monarchy.
                 A fierce struggle was waged between people and monarchy. But the monarchy was brought down by the indolence of ages, and its members slaughtered by the people. The handful of them that survived, shunning men’s eyes, fled into the unfrequented mists of the River Q.
                   They laid aside their arms. The steep slopes of the mountains safeguarded them as its green leaves changed softly with the seasons. They trod narrow tracks on the sloping layers of lofty mountain sides. On a crag overlooking the mountain stream, far from the eyes of others, they reared a sturdy race of descendants.


                     The struggle for watershed between the River Q and the River S grew over more intense. The River S, in the course, no doubt, of many victories, gradually built up at its estuary a mighty deposit of sand. As a result, its erosive action grew far more sluggish than that of the River Q. Its alluvial delta, however, reared up slowly, magnificent, from the sea. New, smooth, virgin land was born on either side of the estuary. Groups of men built their rugged homes on the flats of the delta. They were men of the earth, pure and simple. Their lot was to till the soil beneath the yoke of the rulers of the land, who were no longer of the common people.
                       The monarchy had, in bygone days, been overthrown by the common people. Yet the people who overthrew it were fated to be ruled once more, this time by their own barbarian overlords. Thus feudalism gained a firm grip on their land. In time, a castle was erected on the dissected delta made by the River S.


                         The activities of the River Q left their infancy and entered on full maturity. Its rushing waters spread wider, eating into the gent1y sloping layers of the tertiary period. The balance was upset, and water flowing into the watershed of the River S was increasingly diverted into the River Q.
                           Amid the dense mists surrounding the River Q, the remnants of the monarchy bore their sons straight and tall. Yet in time they forgot how their ancestors had been overthrown by the people, and the hatted that arose from that fact. As oblivion overtook disgrace, their fecundity carried them down the River Q, out of the thick mists, and over the river’s broad estuary. They owed allegiance to no king. Yet they were fated to be ruled by the direct descendants of the fathers of their fecundity. In the basin of the River Q, a powerful clan emerged as a unifying force. It, too, in order to counter the group of natives living on the delta of the River S, built a castle, a castle of radical design, on a crag at the mouth of the river.
                             But their puny resources could not pit themselves against the abounding vitality of the dwellers by the River S. They turned their main energies, therefore, to the acquisition of military might.


                               As the struggle between the waters of the River Q and the River S grew fiercer, so did the struggle between the two castles built in their respective basins. Yet, despite the frequent subjection of the castle of the powerful clan of the River Q to the natives of the River S, the rivers themselves always showed the reverse phenomenon. The erosive action of the River Q, breaking through the strata of the cretaceous period, grew ever keener. The erosive power of the River S grew feebler and feebler as its alluvial delta gradually formed a so1id bed. And the River Q began rapidly to steal the tributaries of the River S.


                                 There was a ceaseless observer of this give-and-take between the two rivers S and Q: the Great Bear. Yet the Great Bear itself, slowly but surely, was sinking in the heavens. Finally, Perseus seized the northernmost position that the Great Bear had once held. A new northern constellation began to shine over the renewed struggle between the two rivers.
                                   The time was approaching when the people of the castle at the mouth of the River Q were to start up against the long oppression of the lords of the castle at the mouth of the River S; for the tributaries of the River Q had by now completely stolen away the tributaries of the River S. The main stream of River S had become a vast stretch of parched land, with ugly layers exposed where it had been eroded.
                                     The River Q, on the other hand, waxed increasingly fat on the waters it had snatched from the River S. At the same time, the trade which had hitherto been carried on at the mouth of River S came to center without exception on the mouth of the River Q. The meager finances of Q castle flourished as the estuary flourished. New production started. New weapons were purchased. And its expanding energy, replacing that of S castle, began to exert pressure on it in turn.


                                       The might of the powerful clan of Q castle spread daily over still wider territories. The group of men gathered at the estuary of Q river grew greater each year. Their villages became towns, their towns ports. And the once petty struggle against S castle came to be waged with abundant resources of arms and money.
                                         The citizens of S saw that their impoverishment was due to the drying-up of River S. And they set to devoting all their finances to digging out the River S in the attempt to give it back its waters.
                                           The citizens of Q, to hinder them in their work, dammed up with stout stone barriers every single tributary on the upper reaches of the River Q.
                                             But the people of S promptly battered down their dams.
                                               A great war began between the two castle towns. Day in day out, mounted bands butchered each other on the upper and lower reaches of the river. In the end, however, the new, unconventional arms of Q overwhelmed S mercilessly.


                                                 Just as the River Q had snatched the waters of the River S, so Q castles seized S castle. S became a buffer state for Q, and direct vassals of Q became the new lords of the castle. The might of Q, sweeping all before it, began to spawn new forms of life in the basin of the River S. The strains of Q and S intermingled, and the new forms of life ran riot. Thus those who defended S castle gradually came to have their own characteristic organization, and to develop a new youth.
                                                   At the same time, the people of S began to hope for the rebirth of the River S. Many times they besought the lord of Q castle to remove the stone dams on the tributaries of the River S. Yet the lord of Q castle could not but fear a resurgence of the power of S. So long as the River S remained dry, S must forever maintain its smarting allegiance as a buffer state of Q. So, as its power expanded, Q gradually strengthened still further its tyrannous sway over S.


                                                     Time went by. Perseus’ new position as the northern constellation was being threatened insidiously by Andromeda.
                                                       In the world below, the people of S suffered, year in year out, under the oppressive sway of the lords of Q castle. Prostrate on the earth, the rebellious spirit sank within them.
                                                         Yet though the tyranny of Q proved as enduring as its stout stone dams holding back the River S, so did the tyranny of the Q River. The more greedily it collected to itself the waters proper to the River S, the higher its massive erosive power built up deposits at its own estuary. These deposits were a cancer gnawing at the vitals of the people of Q. The harbor of which they were so proud grew shallower. Vessels from foreign lands began to avoid their territory in favor of neighboring countries.
                                                           It was evident that this phenomenon would, in the natural course of events, result in a balance of strength between the two castle towns of Q and S.


                                                             Eventually, the lord of Q castle ordered the removal of the dams on S river. It had become necessary to regulate the deposits carried down by the Q river’s erosion.
                                                               The River S began to come to life again. The flow of the River Q had become sluggish in proportion to the size of the alluvial delta it had built at its mouth. Thus it was easy for the River S to take back its waters. The dried-up course of the River S, moreover, had been prepared by thorough dredging. With each day of rain the waters of the River S swelled abruptly. It was as though it were steadily nourishing the seething sense of rebellion of the citizens of S.
                                                                 The basin of the River S began to grow fertile. Silently, the citizens of S began to expand their industry. Their produce increased. Trade arose. And tacitly they worked towards independence of the rule of Q castle.


                                                                   The erosive action of the rivers Q and S had been maintaining a balance. But the River Q, little by little, raised the surface of the deposit at its mouth, 1ike a bosom swelling above the surface of the sea. A new coastal plain was born by the side of the old layers of rock. The streets of the town spread impressively up the graded delta. At the same time, the erosive action of the River Q grew still more sluggish.
                                                                     The River S, on the other hand, behaved in exactly the opposite fashion. Just as it had once had its waters stolen by the River Q, now it began to make off with water-lines from the watershed of the River Q. Its erosive action increased by leaps and bounds. And on top of the horizontal strata of the old delta of its estuary, it began to lay down, like a brand new coat, a new spiral layer. But though the citizens of Q were oblivious of the activity at their river-mouth, the citizens of S were all the while keeping the course of their own river clear.
                                                                       The power of S reared up at a great rate. For the citizens of Q, the prospect of destroying S came to seem pleasanter than that of waiting to be ruined themselves.


                                                                         The lord of Q castle ordered S castle, his outer bulwark, to dam up the branches of the River S once more. But this time the lord of S castle resolutely rejected the imperious command.
                                                                           From Q castle, the troops advanced on the upper reaches of the River S. On behalf of the lord of their castle, they set about building new stone barriers themselves.
                                                                             S castle promptly responded by dispatching its own troops. Battle was joined in a thick mist: the waters of Q and S bore away a steady flow of blood and grease and corpses.
                                                                               But the troops of Q castle were the through bred remnants of the monarchical age, and their solidarity was greater than that of the hybrid troops of S castle, with their mixed ancestry. The victor in a lengthy engagement between two armies is sure to be the possessor of the stouter unity. The troops of Q castle battered steadily at S castle. And, once more, the Q army won.


                                                                                 The troops of S were beaten by their own rough-and-readiness. But Q castle could not wrest from S castle its life-source, the waters of the River S, since the lord of Q castle could not look with favor on anything that would drive to desperation the rebelliously-inclined citizens of S.
                                                                                   The River S was allowed to flow on as before. The lord of S castle was executed for treason. But this time the lord of Q castle did not give S castle a new master. In this way, the citizens of S were forever deprived of on means of insurrection.
                                                                                     The struggle between the two castles ceased. S castle was forced into quiescence under the rule of Q castle. But among the citizens of S, now that their lord was dead, there developed under the surface a fierce, individual economic activity independent of the rest. The merchants amassed fortunes for themselves. Struggles between individual and individual began to grow more violent.
                                                                                       Nevertheless, for the lord of Q castle this was a welcome phenomenon, since the fiercer the struggle between individual and individual the more the unity of their hatred for Q castle was weakened. However much strength an individual might amass, he could not, the lord knew, defeat the ruler of a whole province.


                                                                                         By the time the struggle between the two castles had been eradicated, the power of the monarchy had been restored over the land. The common people who had once rebelled against the monarchy in support of their own provincial leaders now abandoned their leaders in favor of the monarchy. The feudal system began to collapse. The people were liberated from their local lords. The local lords, now members of the masses, disappeared underfoot.
                                                                                           The lord of Q castle, too, plunged without warning to the same level as the common herd he had once employed.
                                                                                             But the only people who profited from the sudden upheaval were the merchants. The people of S had made up for the long deprivation of their military might under Q by becoming merchants and amassing enormous private fortunes. Thus the financial power of the people of S far exceeded, person for person, that of the people of Q. The citizens of Q and S, liberated from their local lords, began suddenly to extend the authority of the individual, depending on the extent of his private wealth.


                                                                                               Through the consolidation of private wealth, the productive capacity of S town expanded more and more. The more its productive capacity grew, the more its wealth increased. The more its wealth grew, the more its productive capacity expanded.
                                                                                                 Q could no longer order the blocking of S river as the one way of checking the power of S. Its citizens had to remain poor, in proud observance of their true tradition and dignity.
                                                                                                   On the coastal flats of S town, however, strange new factories were rising side by side. From their miscellany of strains, the citizens of S began to build up a new culture. They had no tradition. They had no established customs.
                                                                                                     They were the new ancestors. They were concerned only with power, with the expansion of their production and their wealth. They set about destroying every old custom and form that might hinder them. They were free. They had no restricting conventions. Dignity and rank they trampled underfoot. They abhorred solidarity, exalted individuality. They spread out horizontally, each driven by his own separate, personal passions.
                                                                                                       In no time, the mayor of S had absorbed the citizens of Q city into his own.


                                                                                                         With its abundant wealth, the town of S constantly dredged the river S. But the town of Q, with its straitened finances, let the River Q go on depositing steadily. As the erosive activity of the River Q slackened, so that of the River S increased indefinitely. The more the erosive action of the River S increased, the more it deprived the River Q of its waters. But S town's power of expansion was even fiercer than that of the River S. By now, its requirements of river water could not be met by the River S alone. And for the first time the tributaries of the River Q were dammed, in order to help the River S.
                                                                                                           Even so, the citizens of Q could not rebel against the citizens of S; for they had become citizens of S themselves. So, thanks to the two rivers that had fought for power for so long, the towns of S and Q became one large city.


                                                                                                             On the dissected delta of SQ city, the factories came to stand in unbroken rows. The number of railways increased steadily. Electric power from the River S stepped up its output. The masts of ships reared in forests. The whole town rose from the flat to the three-dimensional, from the wooden to the stone: barracks, government offices, factories, shops, schools, theaters, offices, churches, bridges . . . . Glass and metal glittered constantly at each other through the air, and the roar of engines and the clatter of steel hammers made a vigorous counterpoint.
                                                                                                               But it was the power of money that had constructed the mighty city, and to the power of money the citizens of SQ were to bow in the end. The merchants who invested the money came to employ more and more of the masses. The labor of the masses became a form of service to them. The town became an investors’ town. Thanks to them, freedom and equality went by the board. The proud waters of the River S might have flowed for them in vain.
                                                                                                                 The workers grew pale for the sake of the money that employed them. Increasingly, the sweat of their brow went to swell the wealth that made them suffer. Yet how could they flee from the town that gave them sustenance? And the vaster the great town which their strength was building grew, the more its whole weight came to bear down on their shoulders. In this way the citizens of SQ city, who had at first valued equality so highly, became aware of the inevitable existence of classes, each according to its own financial strength.


                                                                                                                   The have-nots of SQ city united. They show resistance as a warning to the haves of the value of their labor. The men of property used the authority of their wealth to suppress them.
                                                                                                                     The have-nots rose up.
                                                                                                                       A great war began on the delta.
                                                                                                                         Group bore down on group.
                                                                                                                           Waves of the human heart beat against the proud banks of materialism.
                                                                                                                             The objectivity of the streets was torn apart.
                                                                                                                               Stones, and arms, and bullets, and naked blades.
                                                                                                                                 Blood, and explosions, and groans, and shrieks, and howls.
                                                                                                                                   Flight, clashes, slaughter, bewilderment, flinging, deluge.
                                                                                                                                     The whole town’s silhouette collapsing . . .
                                                                                                                                             Colors glinting and sound pulsing and black smoke.
                                                                                                                                               Then, the estuary of the River SQ once more exposed the flats of its delta naked to the shining air.
                                                                                                                                                 The mass of the great town had dissolved into the atmosphere.
                                                                                                                                                   Silent ranks of wounded flesh, twisted weapons, churned-up bloodstains, stones, wood, grease, and the river.
                                                                                                                                                     And the silent meteorites went on falling day and night, new life clinging to them, falling on the naked delta.
                                                                                                                                                                                              Translated by John Bester

                                                                                                                                                      Yokomitsu Richi (1898-1947) entered the Department of English of Waseda University in 1914, but gave up after little more than a year. He re-entered the university in the Department of Political Science and Economics, only to abandon the course halfway once more. Together with the novelist Nakayama Yoshihide (1900-1967), he founded the literary magazine Tower (To). His first published work was Village Activities (Mura no Katsudo, 1917). At first he tended toward naturalistic realism, but in time was influenced by expressionism and constructivism, and concentrated his energies on working out new modes of expression and on finding novel approaches to his subjects. Hae (Fly) and Hibun (Inscription, 1923) were followed by Nichirin (Sun's Disk), which established his position as a new author of note. In the meantime, he had made the acquaintance of the novelist and dramatist Kikuchi Kan (1888-1948), and had started contributing to the periodical Bungei Shunju. In 1924, he founded the literary magazine Bungei Jidai along with the novelists Kawabata Yasunari (1899-1977), Kataoka Teppei (1894-1944), and Nakagawa Yoichi (1897-1994), and became a champion of the theories and practice of the new “Sensualist” movement. And opponent of proletarian literature, he also rejected naturalistic realism, championing a new, self-consciously artistic style and establishing a technique, full of depth and shadows, which depended on a kind of free association and on the sensuous ordering of words.
                                                                                                                                                        He published Shizuka Naru Raretsu (translated in this issue under the title Silent Ranks) in 1925. In Haru wa Basha ni Notte (Spring in a Horse-drawn Carrage), written in 1926, he went back to his earlier realistic trend, and in Shanghai achieved his own mature style. In 1930 he published Kikai (Machine) and other works under the influence of Joyce and Proust, in which he analyzed psychologically the intellectuals of the day caught, in their uneasy social setting, between self-awareness and action, and plagued by over-consciousness of their own position. Around 1933, the decline of proletarian literature and the rise of fascism was accompanied by a new emphasis on action, which led him to produce Monsho (Crest). In 1936 he visited Europe. In 1937 he started writing what was to be his longest novel, Ryoshu (Melancholy Journey) destined to remain uncompleted. From 1943 on he produced little of particular note, and he died of a stomach ulcer in 1947 after producing his last works Bisho (Smile) and Akunin no Kuruma (Bad Man’s Vehicle)

                                                                                                                                                          (Work Posted)
                                                                                                                                                             Shizukanaru Raretsu (Silent Rank) published in the 7th issue of Bungei Shunjuu magazine in 1925 is a work as a “Shinkankakuha” (New Sensationalist School) writer. Bringing in view the proletarian movement of those times, Yokomitsu depicted in his distinct writing style of the school, a theme of class struggle historical view of rise and fall of nations and economic growth under capitalism heading to disparity of the rich and poor in the form of an abstract time space citation. Shizukanaru Raretsu (Silent Rank) was translated into English and published by The Japan P.E.N. Club in 1964. (From The Japan P.E.N. News No.12 1964)

                                                                                                                                                            YOKOMITSU Riichi
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                                                                                                                                                            YOKOMITSU Riichi

                                                                                                                                                            Novelist. March 17, 1898~December 30, 1947. Born in Kita-Aizu County, Fukushima Prefecture. In 1923 became a contributing writer for Bungei Shunju founded by Kikuchi Kan and received acclaim for Nichirin (The Sun) and other works. In 1924 co-founded Bungei Jidai with Kawabata Yasunari and others in the Shinkankaku (New Sensationalist) literary movement which developed an impressionistic literary style. Was widely popular and in the vanguard of modernism with such works as Haru wa Basha ni Notte (Spring Riding in a Carriage.), Shanghai, and Kikai (The Machine). His incomplete lifework Ryoshu (A Traveler’s Sadness) serialized during the war years was criticized post-war for ideological nationalist elements but his post-war short story Yoru no Kutsu (Night Shoes) helped in reevaluating his literary legacy.

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