Title: “The (Un)translatable Poetry of War: Hagakure as a Samurai Text in Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.”
Abstract: This presentation examines Hagakure as a samurai text in the Jim Jarmusch film Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999). Animating this presentation is the question of whether or not cultural knowledge can be transmitted via a translated text as well as the corollary issue of what happens to the teaching of a tradition during the processes of translation and “deterritorialization.” Furthermore, this presentation explores the way a reader’s identity is (trans)formed by their encounter with a translated text. In the film, Hagakure is referred to as “the poetry of war.” On the basis of this conception of the text, this presentation interprets Hagakure as (un)translatable poetry and demonstrates from a poststructuralist vantage point the unavoidable transformation of texts in the process of translation. Translation, in other words, is conceptualized as poiesis, as a process which invariably creates new meanings and forms new identities. Finally, this presentation considers the way the titular character played by Forest Whitaker turns into an urban samurai through his reading of “the poetry of war,” thus becoming a Western warrior with an Eastern spirituality.
Bio: Evelina Kazakevičiūtė is a PhD student in the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies (JOMEC) at Cardiff University. Her thesis is entitled The Poststructuralist Conception of Communication as Reflected in Jim Jarmusch’s films. She holds a BA in English Philology from Vilnius University, Kaunas Faculty of Humanities, and an MA degree in Journalism from Vilnius University, Faculty of Communication. Her areas of interest are communication theory, philosophy of communication, poststructuralism, and film.