I will try to be as tautological as Yokoyama. Like Yokoyama I will carry on and on about the same things till you know the torture of reading Six Four. And who will return my money which could have been invested in some high yielding cryptocurrency? I will write inane asides as Yokoyama does…
Interested parties explain the culture industry in technological terms. It is alleged that because millions participate in it, certain reproduction processes are necessary that inevitably require identical needs in innumerable places to be satisfied with identical goods. The technical contrast between the few production centers and the large number of widely dispersed consumption points is said to demand organisation and planning by management. Furthermore, it is claimed that standards were based in the first place on consumers’ needs, and for that reason were accepted with so little resistance. The result is the circle of manipulation and retroactive need in which the unity of the system grows ever stronger. No mention is made of the fact that the basis on which technology acquires power over society is the power of those whose economic hold over society is greatest. A technological rationale is the rationale of domination itself. It is the coercive nature of society alienated from itself. Automobiles, bombs, and movies keep the whole thing together until their leveling element shows its strength in the very wrong which it furthered. It has made the technology of the culture industry no more than the achievement of standardisation and mass production, sacrificing whatever involved a distinction between the logic of the work and that of the social system.
from The Culture Industry: Enlightenment as Mass Deception by T.W. Adorno & Max Horkheimer
After all, we have Hideo Yokoyama’s Six Four. And they call it in my circle, a popular- culture studies’ artefact. It now appears to me that popular is another name for being dumb. I should have heeded Adorno and the following four writers on about how to go about reading: F. R. Leavis, Harold Bloom, Allan Bloom and late Professor John Senior. Professor John Senior was brought to my attention by Dom Philip Anderson: another voice for high-culture guiding us from within a cloister in rural Ohio.
Six Four is the toast of reviewers. Let us then mourn for 30 seconds the death of the art of the review. Or, should we say, the selling out of reviewers to the capitalist juggernaut? The reviewers praising this book have something of the eager insurance agent and the stockbroker in them. May I add as an aside: this is neither the world of Bret Easton Ellis or Sherman McCoy.
Six Four’s reviewers are exactly what minion’s of Donald Trump would do — do a hard-sale. In the back-blurb we have the Observer say “The twist and the pay-off are worth the wait”. The ‘twist’ of what? Thankfully, we never get to know that answer. And there is no ‘pay-off’. It is all money and man-hours gone down the drain.
Epic in ambition, it unfurls like a flower in the spring sunlight.
Geoffrey Wansell in the Daily Mail of Six Four.
Six Four’s blurbs are seductive in their gush about the book and its reclusive author (thank God for the small mercies), and I was bought in by the pseudo-Joycean crap that is this police procedural. If the biggies recommending the book are anything to go by, then Yokoyama is one of our greatest detective-writers ever; even better than Jim Thompson.
If one were to believe reviewers Yokoyama’s characters are more sparkling than Patricia Highsmith’s narcissistic power-kegs. They are more haunting than those of both Wilkie Collins and Arthur Conan Doyle. Highsmith is an heir to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Yokoyama is a disgrace to Shūsaku Endō and more recently, to the likes of Haruki Murakami and Kazuo Ishiguro. Therefore the forgettable interview of Yokoyama by David Peace at the end of this abomination is entirely redundant.
I have wasted two days reading of the petty politics that go on in Japanese Prefectures between police who are not detectives and police who are detectives and their administrative-overlords aka bureaucrats. Yokoyama has produced monumental contemporary effluvia. Were John Dryden and Alexander Pope been alive then they’d have included Yokoyama in their poetry: I am reminded of Dryden’s Absalom and Achitophel:
But far more numerous was the herd of such,
Who think too little, and who talk too much.
Yokoyama thinks too little and writes too much.
Just another aside: we now know that Yokoyama’s police think of their own (detectives) as hunters. This again has nothing to do with the heart being a lonely hunter. Yak! Yokoyama style book-review.
The words that purportedly make this book literature are futon, koban and all sorts of meaningless signs which try to create a faux Japanese atmosphere and the Zen-like solipsism pervading this effluvia will shame Satan’s underlings in Milton’s hell. Mikami, the protagonist who has no real agon keeps obsessing about how he is perceived by others; by everyone else except his doll – wife, the ex-police officer Minako. Minako is the only mother in this whole wide world who accepts the disappearance of their only daughter Ayumi as natural and proper for the(ir) daughter. Yeah, you got it right; Minako thinks her daughter has done the right thing by running away from her parents. This gem lurks near the end of this thing called a book. And for no reason at all, Yokoyama brings in the beauty and the beast motif within this thing called a novel, but to no purpose at all. Think, Mikami’s daughter has left home since she looks like her ugly father and the father just thinks on and on of the police department and Tokyo and his infantile need to become once again a detective. Though this sounds like some Lacanian nightmare, or return to the womb Freudian phantasy, it is just word-games and one does not read either Lacan and Freud to read Yokoyama. Yokoyama is as dense as Lacan. Another aside: if Freud were not read and Lacan read alone; then that’s a scholarly disaster. I am trying to to be a scholar as Yokoyama tries to be a writer.
Six Four is not about Ayumi as it should have been but about a child murdered more than a decade ago. Ayumi, I repeat, ran away from her parents since she thinks she is ugly. And her parents are fine with it. This is Six Four’s only and unintended horror.
We remain in a limbo whether Ayumi is mentally ill or she is just a spoilt brat of an ugly father and an Ooh La La mother. Even at the end of this tedious romp through nothing we do not know what happened to Ayumi except the fact that it is fine for children to run away from their own families if they think doing so is cool. This may be the only horror in this gone-cold bad turkey of a hideous book. Yokoyama in his interview at the end of the novel remembers Herman Hesse. Sounds obscene in the mouth of a man who would have better served society as a journalist. Yokoyama feels strongly about non-fiction, his opinions on fiction are repulsively exhibited in Six Four. Ooh La La. By the way, Yokoyama insults the memory of Herman Hesse since he thinks he is of Hesse’s calibre because like Hesse, he loves gardening. This is like saying that since I spin words, I am like all Nobel Laureates. Yokoyama’s comparisons, metaphors and use of similes are awry.
We are supposedly in the presence of the best that popular culture can offer. (no wonder Adorno is clever compared to I!) And it is so nauseating that I am resolved to never touch a best-selling paperback anytime at all. To cut the millions of words short — the guy whose daughter was murdered keeps ringing all the citizens of God- alone- knows whether a whole city or a Prefecture or what they mean within the context of this verbiage, till he gets to hear the voice of his child’s murderer. So to sum up, a bereaved dad keeps calling hundreds of people till he gets to the murderer after fourteen years. And all that the police were doing in the meanwhile were sucking up to their seniors at Tokyo. The guys from Tokyo have Kurtz like halos to them. But I wonder whether Yokoyama knows of Kurtz. I take it that Yokoyama does not feel like Joseph Conrad since Yokoyama does not go sailing. Remember, he feels like Herman Hesse since he gardens like Hesse did.
My advice, stick to real literature and if one needs to read Japanese thrillers and noirs, begin with Natsuhiko Kyogoku’s The Summer of the Ubume.
Six Four is a scam.