Before getting started, I should note that the initial post on the suspected CIA et al. operatives that have infiltrated the Noh, including focuses on Monica Bethe, Patricia Pringle and an introduction to Pellecchia, has been revised. Each individual should probably have been treated in separate pieces prefaced with an introduction, etc., but expedience and circumstances resulting in my adopting the present approach, and Pellecchia is the newcomer whose activity is currently being promoted in various print and online media. At any rate, I have carried out the revision in a manner such as to provide a degree of narrative cohesiveness starting from my encounters with John McAteer, per the lawsuit.As was the case with Adelstein, there is far too much flotsam and jetsam littering the Internet about this suspected intelligence operative fraud for me to clear it in one fell swoop. Taking a look at the blog Pellecchia writes, here, for example, it is readily apparent that the gentleman has nothing but time on his hands. Accordingly, there will be a series of posts examining the pretentions with which the CIA et al. have attempted to bestow on this so-called “spy.”
In this post, I will examine the previously linked to interview from the CIA’s “Kyoto Journal”. The next post will examine a paper that Mr. Pellecchia has produced called “Ezra Pound and the Politics of Noh Film.” The third post will examine a chapter he contributed to a book, which I’ll describe later.
KJ: Did you already have an interest in Japan or did this develop alongside your interest in Noh?
DP: I suppose I was interested in the way that everyone probably is. I hadn’t been studying the language. I couldn’t even read furigana. Of course I can now, but back then, I would play a tape of Udaka-sensei reciting. By the time I met him, I already knew his voice very well because I’d been listening to it every day for a year and a half. Because I didn’t understand a word, I could let my mind fly along and imagine. I knew the story and I knew the translation, so I understood what I was saying, more or less. I studied with him for two months and then we had a recital. […] I liked it so much when I was here, and I wondered how I could continue. I didn’t know Japanese, I didn’t have a degree in Japanese studies, and I was twenty-seven. So I decided to apply for a Ph.D and I was lucky enough to get a scholarship from Royal Holloway, University of London…
- Pellecchia hadn’t studied Japanese and couldn’t event read the phonetic characters (which one can learn in about 2 weeks by oneself), but he mimed the voice on a tape for a year-and-a-half.
- He had a background working at a studio as a ‘pop music’ producer.
- Despite the fact that he didn’t have any academic background or professional experience as a performer in any dramatic art, he was awarded a scholarship to pursue a PhD at Royal Holloway, University of London.
KJ: You said that you used to be a music producer. The environment of your former profession is so different to what you do now.
DP: I was working with pop music, in recording studios and with some important acts. Nowadays, in pop music, producers work with computers. You can basically do anything you want in the studio... You are lost in a myriad of possibilities... What Noh offered was the opposite: something apparently very defined and regulated. In a studio, you’re relaxed. You’re there to work, but you smoke cigarettes, eat pizza, and play. At some moment you get inspired and then create something. At some point, you have a deadline and you have to hand the work in. It could have been done in a thousand other ways. It’s very random and very creative. This randomness didn’t appeal to me anymore when I discovered Noh. When you’re too free, it’s not interesting...
- Pellecchia had a background working at a studio as a ‘pop music’ producer, where he could be “randomly creative.”
- He found discipline in the traditional dramatic art of Noh, and found that appealing.
KJ: What was it about the early training sessions that interested you so much?
DP: At the beginning of Noh training, you rely entirely on your teacher. He or she would tell you what to do and you have to do it. Period. Unlike contemporary theatre there’s no intellectualization or psychoanalysis of the character. You take two steps, you go two steps back. You lift your right hand and then your left. You open your arms and then go back to the basic position. You just have to do it very well. I like the idea of polishing one simple action and taking it to perfection. It’s probably closer to what people like about martial arts rather than about artistic endeavors like painting. I think noh is very close to martial arts. You repeat a movement until it’s good. That’s all you have to do in the beginning. The only way I could understand noh in the beginning was through practice. This appealed to me. If I didn’t practice it didn’t exist…
- He found the repetitive training exercises appealing in the same manner that he imagined a martial art might be.
- It seemed to him that if he didn’t practice Noh, it didn’t exist.
KJ: Why do you think that anybody can perform Noh?
I can’t think of a reason why not. You can learn many things through practicing. I hope that more and more people from other areas of existence will come to our group. For example, other Asians or Africans. I also hope people with disabilities will try it. I’ve seen some disabled Japanese people perform, mostly very elderly people and both professionals and amateurs with difficult issues. There are many studies and efforts to study theatre and disability, especially in England and North America, but I haven’t seen much with regards to Noh.
- Pellecchia could not think of any reason why anyone can’t do Noh, and hopes that “more people” from “other areas of existence” will join his group. He specifically mentions “other Asians or Africans,” and “people with disabilities.” He laments that there aren’t more studies in Japan related to “theatre [Noh] and disability.”
KJ: In your upcoming performance of Kiyotsune, you’re providing explanations in English, French, Italian and German. It seems like you want to open Noh up to foreigners. There’s also an International Institute of Noh in Milan, so there’s this idea of trying to reach out to a Western audience. What values does Noh have that you think would appeal to this audience?
DP: What I’m hoping to do is to transmit the ethics of Noh. Respect for the space and discipline, work ethics, orderliness, cleanliness. The problem with teaching these aspects, at least in Italy, is that as soon as you start talking about discipline, rigor and respect, you sound like a nationalist. Unfortunately, tradition runs with facism in Italy now.
- Pellecchia is hoping to “transmit the ethics of Noh.”
- For Pellecchia, those ethics consist of “[r]espect for the space and discipline, work ethics, orderliness, cleanliness.” He fears that he would be considered a right-wing nationalist in Italy if he espoused such “ethics” as “discipline, rigor and respect.”
KJ: Was there anything in your upbringing or in Italy that has helped you with Noh?
DP: Knowing nothing about Noh helped me learn about Noh. Complete ignorance of the language also helped a lot. If Noh comes up for some reason when I talk to some Japanese, they might say their great-grandfather used to practice it. The way Noh is presented on TV and commercial media here in Japan really is that way. They don’t show very young or cool actors, even though there are plenty of them. They have this image of Noh being a very boring, aesthetic art. I didn’t have any of these preconceptions. For me, Noh was really cool.
- Pellecchia claims that the fact that he had no background knowledge about the Noh and had “[c]omplete ignorance of the language” helped him “learn about Noh.”
- He states that he found Noh to be “really cool,” and that there are a lot of “very young or cool actors” that the media refuses to show, which he presumes to be a reason why Japanese people think Noh is “a very boring, aesthetic art.”
In summary, from the above interview we see a number of contradictions, and a number of connections made where there seem inhere no rhyme or reason. For example, Pellecchia starts by asserting that he left his career as a pop music producer (“with some important acts”) to pursue training in the Noh, which he contrasted as being appealing because it represented a form of repetitive, disciplined activity that he compared to a ‘martial art’ and contrasted to the ‘random creativeness’ of producing pop music, but he then reverts to a pop culture mode of characterization to describe Noh as “really “cool,” with “cool actors.” In fact, he seems to be marketing his school, calling for “other Asians or Africans”, in particular. He denigrates the tradition of his friends great grandfathers and claims that anyone can do it, because it is a simple, mindless practice comprised of repetitive movements, but it’s “really cool.”