Typewritten Letter Signed, initials, one page, large quarto, [Windsor, Vermont], September 29, 1978. With original envelope. To Amy Kassak in Japan. With the original envelope.
“Please excuse this late reply. (The truth be told, I’m usually later still. I’m the world’s worst correspondent, and I usually can manage about one letter to a friend annually. I don’t know what the hell to do about it. As it is, I’m at the typewriter all day anyway.) I thank you for all that nice stuff. I didn’t read the story, because I don’t, cannot, may not read anything that even remotely resembles something that should be sent to an editor-an old, gray, possibly sour, but hard-fast rule of some twenty-five years’ standing. Very likely yours wasn’t a script at all but was meant for my eyes only, and I almost bent the Rules & Regulation Book for Shut-In Writers a bit, but didn’t. I am sorry. (Sorry about my sloppy typing here too. It’s 9:03 PM, and I’ve been at this desk since 6-somehting this morning. Which is why I’m such a bore about answering mail very late or never or hardly at all.) Thanks, too, for the copy of the book, Barefoot Gen. New to me. I’ll have a look later tonight. At first glance, it looks remotely like the TinTin books, with Batman balloons (WHAM!, etc.), but I see by the Introduction that serious and well meant things about wars and A-Bombs are in the cartoonist’s mind, and I will read on respectfully. Yes, I did watch ‘Holocaust’ on TV. The young SS officer with the soft voice seemed to me interestingly sinister, and I like Rosemary Harris pretty well, but the rest seemed to me hackneyed and not in any way really and truly up to reality, to history itself. The only outstandingly good, appropriately deadly thing I’ve ever read on the subject was a book by (I think-not sure) Lucy Davidowicz. Factual[l]y, reportorial, sane charming family or actors playing Schubert or Mozart on the piano.
“I know a little about Yukio Mishimi, yes, and his very strange seppuku gesture, protest. It was widely written about at the time, but not, as far as I know, by anyone who had any more than a reporter’s access to whys and wherefores. It may well be, as you say, that he writes admirably about Buddhism and Oriental studies and Zen itself. I don’t really know. Performed with a certain style and purity and privacy, the seppuku act is Zen-related, classical, surely, or is surely said to be anyway. And why not, I suppose. Very few literate Japanese that haven’t frisked Zen for some practical or aesthetic purpose or other-the samurai code, tea-making, sword-making, archery, etc. Zenful disembowelling was bound to be taken up pretty widely in that powerful and stunning culture.
“Thanks for the picture, too. Respectably reluctant photographic subject, or Unsmiling Girl with Earrings and Birthday/Christmas Presents. A good-looking, doubting, meditative face, strong and very nice. You closed your letter saying you felt vital, and vital, indeed, you look. You look as if you have what it takes to live sensibly and independently and well. Good for you. Your big envelope came just as I was catching a plane for N. Y. one morning. Played several hangman games on the back of the envelope with my seat mate, who was young and full of word games and I was sure it would be O.K. with you.
“I am a little hard on 60 Minutes. And it is often interesting or watchable. It’s really only the bad style and complacency and unction and probably undeserved security of the interviewers that I don’t care for at all. It’s here to stay, though, the whole thing, we can be sure. Goes with the times. Beautiful autumn here. I hope it’s nice where you are, too. Autumnal haiku by Basho, Issa, Shiki, Buson, etc., are especially fine, bleak, wild with weather.”
Matted in talc and iris with a bust-length portrait of J D Salinger in coat and tie. Framed in antiqued gilt measuring 23 inches wide by 23 1/2 inches high.
This item is associated with the following category in our inventory:
- Literature – American