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By Douglas Mao, Rebecca L. Walkowitz

Modernism is sizzling back. on the sunrise of the twenty-first century, poets and designers, designers and critics, academics and artists are rediscovering the virtues of the former century’s so much bright cultural constellation. but this common include increases questions about modernism’s relation to its personal luck. Modernism’s “badness”—its emphasis on outrageous habit, its elevation of negativity, its refusal to be condoned—seems necessary to its energy. yet as soon as modernism is authorised as “good” or important (as loads of modernist artwork now is), its prestige as a subversive aesthetic intervention turns out undermined. The members to undesirable Modernisms tease out the contradictions in modernism’s dedication to badness.

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One gets a hint of this in one of the rare instances when Ranpo mentions desire between women, namely in the round-table discussion “Dōseiai no risō to genjitsu” (The ideals and reality of same-sex love), conducted in 1948 with Taruho. ”56 The fact he qualifies the word dōseiai with josei (women) in order to talk about erotic love between women reveals that dōseiai by itself is not enough to pinpoint either male–male or female–female desire specifically. For this, Ranpo had to employ a supplementary term.

Over the course of his early career, Ranpo seems to have struggled to find an appropriate idiom to describe eroticism between adult males. At times, he compromises with expectations imposed by the fad for ero, guro, nansensu and associates male–male erotic desire with strangeness, criminality, or even deviance. A careful reading of his works, however, reveals strong Introduction 35 hints of his personal interest in male–male love, and even his most damning representations contain passages that contradict or even subvert these negative associations.

Much like Arthur Rimbaud (1854–91), who shocked the French literary world of the nineteenth century with his bold, iconoclastic visions, Kaita saw himself as a leader of a vanguard that would revolutionize the ways Japanese artists and writers see the world. For this reason, he was quick to turn to new modes of expression such as symbolism and (in his prose works) a hallucinogenic brand of protomodernist writing. Also, like Rimbaud, Kaita saw his own propensity for male–male desire as allowing him to see the world through a different lens than others around him.

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