DOLL No. 11, August 25, 1982
The Passionate Oppression of Conformist Rock
(The Decline of Oppressive Desires: The Ultimate Battle)
Kazuhiro Watanabe vs. Michiro Endo
Translated by w_b

Could you explain what point you wanted to make in 'Dan'atsuteki yokujou no kageri'? (1)

Well... None of the things I wanted to say made it to print, but what I had wanted to do was comment upon the link between 'words' and 'sound'. Especially in relation to songs. What are 'words' and 'sound' where songs are concerned. Although something very similar did also come up in Miyazawa (Shoichi)'s interview (Doll No.9). That's really all we ever talk about any time we're together.

There's one side to music that makes me the most miserable. And those are the times when I have no choice but to make a living from it, in the same way that ordinary people have to make money to support themselves. It makes me feel weak.

Beat Takeshi says that a lot, doesn't he, that it's deplorable. *smiles*

Well what I think is interesting is that if you take literature for example, it consists of literature only, yet you can't create rock without both 'words' and 'sound'.

I guess you could say that when it comes to rock, I simply listen to the music, it's something that I simply listen to with the beat of my heart. So ultimately, it doesn't matter to me whether it's rock or punk or disco. And in any case, there's something about it that inevitably appeals to your human emotional sensitivity, isn't there. So I even like folk, and Ryudo Uzaki's laments too, simply because they're there.

I think what you call 'sound' is by nature one of the senses. And there is no old or new when it comes to senses. They can only be highly sensitive or dull, that is all. Take primitive man, for example. He must have been surprised when he first came to Japan, but he wasn't particularly anxious. Trust me on that one. No, he was able to enjoy himself, and that's because he understood his situation a bit, to a certain degree. Just like the ultimate reason why I do enjoy myself when I go, let's say, to South-Eastern Asia, or any other place, is that I can imagine it to a certain extent. If I couldn't imagine it at all, there'd only be fear. It's then that you realize that the senses really are vague, undefined. I'm serious. Yet 'language' is neither of those things because it has been created by man. You can't destroy words because they have a solid foundation, and sometimes that makes them troublesome, or problematic to use.

The truth is that you can't accomplish anything without using 'words'. I don't believe in 'sound', to be frank, because there's no way that 'sound' can be turned into a medium I'd find believable. I really do think that 'sound' is spatial. In other words, with 'sound', time does not come into play. 'Words' prolong time. 'Sound' can easily melt into life, however if I tried doing the same to 'words' I would find myself completely alienated from them.

And likewise, to me rock is nothing other than 'song'. You don't talk about sound on its own, you can only really perceive it as a song. As in, perceive when something is new or old, and if it's new then what is it? I do wonder what exactly is it that makes sound radical.

Ultimately, if you look at 'sound' from the perspective of old versus new, there's the 'sound of time'; a transient sound, nothing but a fad which can never become the 'sound of an era'. Yet the question of what is real in Japan that has always been more important. It's the 'sound of an era' that'll become a permanent stigma. It'll reflect that era's cultural standards, the good and the bad, and naturally will be completely different in Japan and in England.

In the end you won't get the lyrics of a foreign song even if you actively focus on them. Which means that what you're listening to in that case is the 'voice'. See, the 'voice' is the most powerful element. When you listen to a Japanese song, you can't help but understand it. And to understand the language is to get the history. Yet when you listen to a foreign song, you don't get a sense of their history. Therefore you can live with it being just the 'sound of time' or... A fad. Yeah, it can even be a fad. That's all there is to it.

What about the Olympics? They wave the Japanese flag, everyone chants "Japan! Japan!" It's inevitable you'll shed a tear in some parts.

There's an 'illusion of freedom' in Europe. There's no such thing in Japan, instead we have the 'illusion of equality'. If you're wondering then what unites both places, it's that in both everyone is destitute. *laughs*

Is it nationalism? ...well, that is a Japanese trait. I must be a good feeling seeing as it has a certain unrivalled tendency to unclench people's tear ducts. In other words, more than anything it intuitively enables you to become a radical. And me? I'm definitely no lyrical radical. At all. I talk about both sides, you know. That's why I'm dangerous.

You know the other day I received money from home. And with it, a letter. I'm paraphrasing but it said something to the effect of "I cannot wait for you to graduate into adulthood". I'm telling you, reading that brought tears to my eyes. I'm pretty sentimental so a letter wishing for my return home is enough to right away have me thinking about it. There are times when I want to burn all my bridges but on the other hand, I am my parents' child... I mean, I can never erase the fact that I was born of my mother, can I.... So yeah, doing something like that would simply be loathsome. It's unpleasant having to live with both sides of myself, the maudlin side and the one that wants to burn those bridges.

In my case, my parents never had any domestic problems of the sort. We really were this post-war democracy, an exact replica of those family dramas, very much a typical, ordinary family. And well... After a while I couldn't stand it. I'd wonder, why weren't we miserable? *laughs*

I find domestic bliss to be absolute misery. See, I wonder whether the existence itself of a family unit isn't an anomaly in our kind of world. The family alone cannot generate the right conditions for an individual's happiness. That is, there's a misery for every happiness, within the family.

I wonder what would happen if you destroyed the family unit. Let's assume a law has been implemented stating that parents have the right to discard a child before it turns 20, and after turning 20 it's the child that can discard their parents....

No, the family unit is here to stay. It won't accept any such laws. Laws are meant to simultaneously protect and control out lives. The more democratic the country, the more they'll try to save face by telling you the laws are there to protect you, while in reality it's a cunning way of exerting control. The family opposes that. It's the last stronghold among all human relations where you can live ungoverned by law.

Aren't you going to start a family?

I might. Maybe. But I can't even start to imagine what kind of family it would be. I'm not sure I could take responsibility for my children.

I don't think having something to protect would make me act conservatively. Rather, having something to protect is what enables my becoming a radical.

And girls? I'd want a thin one. No way I'd want a fat, hysterical one. I instinctively can't stand them.

I think it might've been Focus that ran a story about a stunt show the other day. Turned out that the stunt man died after being hit by a crosswind, but then at the end of the article it said, and I quote, "to live or to die, both are equally ludicrous". I was incredibly moved.

Nothing aside from possibly death has ever made me feel that yes, this thing here belongs to me. I'm not talking about suicide, but rather that only death can belong to me. ...So I'm tremendously impressed by those who so much as hint at it. It's why I love Miyazawa (Shoichi), he's the one who opened my eyes to it.

In the end, I'm convinced that life is just one big joke. I'm not kidding.

And when it comes to being called sexy? Yeah, it simply makes me glad.

The only ritual I observe before getting up on stage is makeup. See, music feminizes men. Rock by nature is a 'woman'. So it doesn't make any sense to me to call rock violent.

1. Dan'atsuteki yokujou no kageri, (The Decline of Oppressive Desires) was a series of 5 essays by Endo that ran in Doll volumes 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8 from 1981-82. I believe the first essay was titled Defecation and the second Illness (I don't know about the rest). The interview above is a final commentary of sorts.