Scattered All Over the Earth

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Scattered All Over the Earth

Scattered All Over the Earth

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In Chapter 8, Susanoo is living in Arles, working at a sushi restaurant. He recalls his childhood, during which his mother left him and his father built robots, one of which was used in the Homeland PR Center to tout the benefits of nuclear power before the reopening of a nuclear power plant. Susanoo left Japan to attend university in Kiel. He then followed a woman to Arles who turned out to be otherwise attached to another man. He has lived in Arles ever since and has lost the ability to speak. In Tawada’s curiously placid future world, no one is surprised that Hiruko can communicate in a language of her own making. The host is politely interested, and Knut, a self-styled linguist watching from home, is smitten—even aroused—by her mingling of grammars. She calls her personal language Panska, for Pan-Scandinavian, and she explains that she began to speak it because as an immigrant she was shuttled among Scandinavian countries: “no time to learn three different languages. might mix up. insufficient space in brain. so made new language.” Scattered All Over the Earth (2022) has no polished, clean-cut ending. It is the first installment of a planned-out trilogy that aims to answer some of Tawada’s philosophical and existential questions. Even without sequels to carry its weight, Tawada’s latest release is both a brilliant homage to language and a thoroughly entertaining fiction novel to let yourself get lost within. However, such a journey would not be possible without the sophisticated linguistic Sherpa, Margaret Mitsutani, who guides it all into language you can easily follow. While I might be losing my ability to speak fluent Japanese the way I used to, I’m finding deeper connections with these Nashvillians than if I were to simply walk into a room filled with people who speak Japanese. A language, after all, is not just about the spoken and written word. It’s also about sharing food, music, plants, and art. It wasn’t until I came to a place where Japan was so distant from me that I realized I’d rather be half-fluent in a language but make one lasting friendship, than become fluent in multiple languages and have no one to talk to and become vulnerable with. This story is itself translated, of course—by Mitsutani from the Japanese—and it is a bravura performance. Elsewhere, Mitsutani and Susan Bernofsky, Tawada’s translator from the German, perform impressive feats with her linguistic effects (and her simplest sentences, too—few things are as hard to translate as artful candor or casual vernacular). Some interlanguage play is surely lost; in the Japanese version of Scattered All Over the Earth, for example, “Hiruko” is rendered in Latin script, making the character a kind of Western-Japanese hybrid not unlike a young woman in an earlier story who is described as “start[ing] to have one of those faces like Japanese people in American movies.” But what is lost in one place is compensated for elsewhere. Japanese words as foreign objects (usually in transliterated form) are very much a part of Scattered All Over the Earth.

God instructed Adam and Eve, and they in turn taught their posterity concerning Christ’s atoning sacrifice and relevant gospel principles and practices (see Moses 5:5–12, 13–15, 58–59; 6:1). The ancient patriarch-prophets taught the gospel to succeeding generations throughout the ages (see Moses 6:22–23, 27–30; 8:13, 16, 19–24). Eventually, Abraham sought for the blessings, truths, and priesthood that his ancestors had received from God (see Abraham 1:2–4). He was told by the Lord that he would be taken with God’s blessings and power to another land (see Abraham 1:16, 18–19). The Lord later told Abraham that he would become a great nation with numberless posterity that would be a blessing unto all nations (see Abraham 2:9–10; 3:14). Israel’s punishments follow the classic pattern of the law of justice: our actions or reactions to the laws of God and the universe lead to certain consequences, which will result in experiences and feelings, which bring either happiness or sorrow into our lives. The law of justice relates to the other divine laws and provides the means by which people receive their just reward. In essence, the law of justice might be ­summarized as follows: Thus, the first group scattered (the ten tribes) will be the last group gathered as the New Jerusalem is finally established and the Savior’s millennial reign begins. And the last group scattered (the remnants of Israel, especially descendants from Ephraim, who are probably a sub-group split off from the ten tribes that settled among the gentile nations) would be the first group gathered as the early Church leaders, who come from this group, began the restoration of all things and received the keys for the gathering of Israel (see D&C 109:57–60). This distinctive pattern of scattering and gathering is illustrated in the following chart:Modern conceptions of race, religion, sexuality, and language merge together and become nearly impossible to distinguish as separate concepts. Hiruko movingly explains, “When you think about it, since we’re all earthlings, no one can be an illegal resident of earth. So why are there more and more illegal aliens every year? If things keep on this way, someday the whole human race will be illegal.” Japan was already gone in more ways than one. Urbanization led to the leveling of the country’s sacred mountain ranges. The nation’s sex drive had become “practically extinct.” The overworked and neglected Japanese people eventually could not “distinguish between the virtual and real worlds” once human connections became a luxury most people could not afford. Japan was not the only country destined for disappearing. The apocalypse casts a shadow that spreads over Europe, where environmental poisons decimate populations of oceanic wildlife.

In the spiritual and religious realm, Christianity, which had its roots in earlier Judaic practice, has become the religion of 1.9 billion people, or 31.1 percent of the population of the world. The Judeo-Christian tradition, which derives from the spiritual labor of Abraham’s descendants, is a foundation of Western civilization, providing social and political values and the moral and ethical basis of the legal systems. That same tradition has made an emotional and psychological contribution in defining the value and purpose of life, the goodness of God, His love for all, and the Golden Rule as a guide for human conduct. In the social and cultural realm, the themes of the Bible have provided inspiration for great works of architecture, music, art, literature, and entertainment. The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Tawada, Yoko. Scattered All Over the Earth. New York: New Directions, 2022. Readers who crave explosive drama will probably not enjoy the quiet narrative, which is heavily centred on conversations and the power of listening.

As a young woman, Tawada took the same six-thousand-mile railway trip, on a visit to Germany in 1979; she left Japan permanently three years later. “When I was a child, I thought all people in the world spoke only Japanese,” she has said. But a larger world of letters revealed itself through her father, who owned a bookshop in Tokyo and imported titles from abroad. Tawada studied Russian literature at Waseda University and yearned to pursue further study in the Soviet Union—an impossibility, as it turned out, because of the Cold War. Instead, Tawada went to Hamburg, where she initially took a job at one of the companies that supplied her father’s bookshop. At Hamburg University, she fell under the influence of writers like Gertrude Stein, Jorge Luis Borges, Walter Benjamin, and especially Paul Celan, a German-speaking Jew from Romania, whose poetry became a model for her anti-nationalist vision of language and translation. Throughout Scattered, different characters provide separate reasons for why the concept of a native language or a mother tongue is “rather childish.” When Hiruko realizes that the person she thought was Japanese actually was something else, she surprises herself with her own reaction: “When I found out we didn’t share a mother tongue, I wasn’t disappointed in the least. In fact, the whole idea of a mother tongue no longer seemed to matter; this meeting between two unique speaking beings was far more important.” Tawada unveils another undeniable truth: woven into languages are the threads of loss and pain sewn by its speakers. As more and more languages become globalized, the very nature of speech will become stained with the experiences and cultures of people across the world – weakening the very idea of a “native tongue.”

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