Ethics of incorporation: (Im)possibility of accepting otherness in Kawabata’s 'One Arm'

Fusako Innami

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On touching, an object mediates and equally prevents our contacts with others. But what if one incorporates another's body? Japanese author Kawabata Yasunari, in his ‘One Arm’, describes a peculiar encounter with the other's body: the protagonist replaces his arm with a girl's arm and incorporates it, causing him some spasms, a sense of otherness, and affective as well as repulsive feelings. This replacement of body parts questions the possibility of getting in touch with the other, as well as risky intersections with the other. In considering this (fictional) bodily encounter and the process of being together with another body, I aim to examine the rupture of contact, the (im)possibility of accepting otherness and the ethics of communication in Kawabata, through the phenomenon of incorporation. By examining the under-researched topic of incorporation and touch in Kawabata in dialogue with relevant theories by Jean-Luc Nancy, Emmanuel Levinas and Melanie Klein, this paper aims to advance theorisations of touch and incorporation at the intersection of literature and critical theories.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)373-390
Number of pages18
JournalCulture, Theory and Critique
Issue number3
Early online date28 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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