September 1, 2011 at 12:59 am | Posted in Art, Economics, Film, Financial, Globalization, History, United Kingdom | Leave a comment









Walt Disney‘s 1964 film Mary Poppins

The movie opens in 1910

Fidelity Fiduciary Bank in the movie

“Fidelity Fiduciary Bank” is a song from Walt Disney‘s film Mary Poppins, and it is composed by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman.

Written in the style of Gilbert and Sullivan, it is a song sung by the stodgy old bankers, led by the “Elder Mr. Dawes” (Dick Van Dyke), to the two children Jane and Michael, in the bank. It is sung in an attempt to get Michael Banks to invest his tuppence in the bank. As the song continues the pressure is on Michael and Jane’s father, a junior clerk at the bank, to sway Michael. When Michael refuses to give the Elder Mr. Dawes the tuppence, Dawes takes it from him. Michael protests very loudly, which causes panic and mayhem. A run on the bank ensues.

The song is not present in the stage musical version of the score.

A verse which Mr. Banks sings in an attempt to convince Michael to invest his money goes like this:

Railways through Africa
Dams across the Nile
Fleets of ocean greyhounds
Majestic, self-amortizing canals
Plantations of ripening tea

has as its origins an essay by C. C. Turner titled ‘Money London’ in the book edited by G. R. Sims called Living London (London: 1903):

It is not possible to realize without much thought the industrial power that is wrapped up in money London. Railways through Africa, dams across the Nile, fleets of ocean greyhounds, great canals, leagues of ripening corn – London holds the key to all of these, and who can reckon up what beside.

Literary sources

The Dawes, Tomes, Mousely, Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank

In the fine musical Mary Poppins, Mr Dawes, the elderly banker who employs the children’s father, optimistically attempts to persuade young Michael to put his money in the bank on the grounds that “If you invest your tuppence/Wisely in the bank/ Safe and sound/ Soon that tuppence/ Will compound.”

Not only will the lad get a slice of the action in “railways through Africa, dams across the Nile, majestic self- amortising canals and plantations of ripening tea”, promises Mr Dawes, but he will “achieve that sense of stature/ as your influence expands/ To the high financial strata/ that established credit now commands”.

Michael, understandably reluctant to entrust his precious tuppence-worth of pocket money to a baritone banker with full backing orchestra, protests, prompting the other customers in the bank to take fright and frantically begin withdrawing their lives’ savings. This in turn forces the Dawes, Tomes, Mousely, Grubbs Fidelity Fiduciary Bank to temporarily suspend trading. The children’s unfortunate father, who – perhaps tellingly – is called Mr Banks, faces disciplinary action and is eventually fired for triggering the first run on the bank since 1773. The enduring popularity of this film might be seen as evidence of a popular lack of confidence in the banking system.

Railways through Africa
Dams across the Nile
Fleets of ocean greyhounds
Majestic, self-amortizing canals
Plantations of ripening tea



June 12, 2011 at 2:43 am | Posted in Art, Asia, Film, History, Japan | Leave a comment










One of the topics discussed casually in the Japanese movie, “Still Walking” is the status and condition of the art treasures of the Takamats-zuka Tomb and “Asuka Beauty,” one of the murals.

Still Walking (歩いても 歩いても Aruitemo aruitemo) is a 2008 Japanese film directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. The film is a portrait of a family over roughly 24 hours as they commemorate the death of one member.


The Yokoyama family are briefly reunited to commemorate the death of the eldest son, Junpei, who drowned accidentally 12 years ago. His retired doctor father Kyohei and mother Toshiko are joined by surviving son Ryota, daughter Chinami and their respective families. The family share nostalgia, humour, sadness and tension as memories are shared and ceremonies performed.



In a Chicago Sun-Times review, Roger Ebert gave Still Walking four stars (out of four). Ebert’s review argues that director Kore-eda is an heir of Yasujiro Ozu.[1]


  1. 1.                              Ebert, Roger (26 August 2009). “Still Walking”. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 13 November 2010.

Takamatsuzuka Tomb

The Takamatsuzuka Tomb (高松塚古墳 Takamatsuzuka Kofun) or “Tall Pine Tree Ancient Burial Mound” in Japanese is an ancient circular tomb in Asuka village, Nara prefecture, Japan.

The tomb is thought to have been built at some time between the end of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th century. It was accidentally discovered by a local farmer in the 1960s.

The mound of the tomb was built of alternating layers of clay and sand. It is about 16 meters in diameter and 5 meters high. Digging yielded a burial chamber with painted fresco wall paintings of courtiers in Goguryeo-style garb. The paintings are in full color with red, blue, gold, and silver foil representing four male followers and four abigails together with the Azure Dragon, Black Tortoise, White Tiger, and Vermilion Bird groups of stars. The paintings are designated as a national treasure of Japan.

For whom the tomb was built is unknown, but the decorations suggest it is for a member of the Japanese royal family or a high-ranking nobleman. Candidates include:

  1. 1.     Prince Osakabe (? – 705), a son of Emperor Temmu
  2. 2.     Prince Yuge (? – 699), also a son of Emperor Temmu
  3. 3.     Prince Takechi (654? – 696), also a son of Emperor Temmu, general of Jinshin War, Daijō Daijin
  4. 4.     Isonokami Ason Maro (640 – 717), a descendant of Mononobe clan and in charge of Fujiwara-kyo after the capital was moved to Heijo-kyo
  5. 5.     Kudara no Konikishi Zenko (617-700), a son of the last king of Baekje, one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea.


The Cultural Affairs Agency of Japan is considering taking apart the stone chamber and reassembling it elsewhere to prevent further deterioration to its wall paintings. A painting called Asuka Bijin, or “beautiful women”, is one of the murals in the tomb facing deterioration. The unusual preservation method is being considered because the tomb’s current situation makes it impossible to prevent further damage and stop the spread of mold.

Unlike the Kitora Tomb, also in Asuka, removing pieces of the Takamatsuzuka wall plaster and reinforcing them for conservation appears difficult because the plaster has numerous tiny cracks.

Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda

Written by Hirokazu Koreeda

Starring Hiroshi Abe Yui Natsukawa

You Music by Gontiti

Cinematography Yutaka Yamasaki

Editing by Hirokazu Koreeda

Release date(s)

June 28, 2008 (Japan)
August 28, 2009 (USA)

Running time 114 minutes

Country Japan

Language Japanese



June 2, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Posted in Film, Germany, History, USA | Leave a comment










 Shadows In Paradise: Hitler’s Exiles In Hollywood

By 1939 30,000 intellectuals and radicals were exiled from Europe, 80% were Jewish. These dramatic events sent many of the greatest minds of the 20th century into exile in the United States. The manna of creative intensity that hovered over Berlin in the 20’s, – in music, art, theater and film -that glow of aesthetic productivity was extinguished. In some ways, Los Angeles in the 30’s and early 40’s may be seen as its afterglow…when scores of émigrés, fleeing the upsurge of European fascism, briefly transformed Southern California into one of the capitals of world culture, and profoundly altered the horizons of American music, literature and the arts. 
Studio Kultur Films Inc.

Orig Year 2008

Discs 1

Release Date Sep 30, 2008

Running Time 60 Minutes

Movie Details  Color

 Shadows In Paradise: Hitler’s Exiles In Hollywood



May 24, 2011 at 1:49 am | Posted in Art, Film, India, Literary, Philosophy | Leave a comment











The Hungry Stones

Rabindranath Tagore (Author)  
Title:     The Hungry Stones
Author: Rabindranath Tagore

“My kinsman and myself were returning to Calcutta from our Puja trip when we met the man in a train. From his dress and bearing we took him at first for an up-country Mahomedan, but we were puzzled as we heard him talk. He discoursed upon all subjects so confidently that you might think the Disposer of All Things consulted him at all times in all that He did. Hitherto we had been perfectly happy, as we did not know that secret and unheard-of forces were at work, that the Russians had advanced close to us, that the English had deep and secret policies, that confusion among the native chiefs had come to a head. But our newly-acquired friend said with a sly smile: “There happen more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are reported in your newspapers.” As we had never stirred out of our homes before, the demeanour of the man struck us dumb with wonder. Be the topic ever so trivial, he would quote science, or comment on the Vedas, or repeat quatrains from some Persian poet; and as we had no pretence to a knowledge of science or the Vedas or Persian, our admiration for him went on increasing, and my kinsman, a theosophist, was firmly convinced that our fellow-passenger must have been supernaturally inspired by some strange magnetism” or “occult power,” by an “astral body” or something of that kind. He listened to the tritest saying that fell from the lips of our extraordinary companion with devotional rapture, and secretly took down notes of his conversation. I fancy that the extraordinary man saw this, and was a little pleased with it.

When the train reached the junction, we assembled in the waiting room for the connection. It was then 10 P.M., and as the train, we heard, was likely to be very late, owing to something wrong in the lines, I spread my bed on the table and was about to lie down for a comfortable doze, when the extraordinary person deliberately set about spinning the following yarn. Of course, I could get no sleep that night.

When, owing to a disagreement about some questions of administrative policy, I threw up my post at Junagarh, and entered the service of the Nizam of Hydria, they appointed me at once, as a strong young man, collector of cotton duties at Barich.

Barich is a lovely place. The Susta “chatters over stony ways and babbles on the pebbles,” tripping, like a skilful dancing girl, in through the woods below the lonely hills. A flight of 150 steps rises from the river, and above that flight, on the river’s brim and at the foot of the hills, there stands a solitary marble palace. Around it there is no habitation of man–the village and the cotton mart of Barich being far off.

About 250 years ago the Emperor Mahmud Shah II. had built this lonely palace for his pleasure and luxury. In his days jets of rose-water spurted from its fountains, and on the cold marble floors of its spray- cooled rooms young Persian damsels would sit, their hair dishevelled before bathing, and, splashing their soft naked feet in the clear water of the reservoirs, would sing, to the tune of the guitar, the ghazals of their vineyards.

The fountains play no longer; the songs have ceased; no longer do snow-white feet step gracefully on the snowy marble. It is but the vast and solitary quarters of cess-collectors like us, men oppressed with solitude and deprived of the society of women. Now, Karim Khan, the old clerk of my office, warned me repeatedly not to take up my abode there. “Pass the day there, if you like,” said he, “but never stay the night.” I passed it off with a light laugh. The servants said that they would work till dark and go away at night. I gave my ready assent. The house had such a bad name that even thieves would not venture near it after dark.

At first the solitude of the deserted palace weighed upon me like a nightmare. I would stay out, and work hard as long as possible, then return home at night jaded and tired, go to bed and fall asleep.

Before a week had passed, the place began to exert a weird fascination upon me. It is difficult to describe or to induce people to believe; but I felt as if the whole house was like a living organism slowly and imperceptibly digesting me by the action of some stupefying gastric juice.

Perhaps the process had begun as soon as I set my foot in the house, but I distinctly remember the day on which I first was conscious of it.

It was the beginning of summer, and the market being dull I had no work to do. A little before sunset I was sitting in an arm-chair near the water’s edge below the steps. The Susta had shrunk and sunk low; a broad patch of sand on the other side glowed with the hues of evening; on this side the pebbles at the bottom of the clear shallow waters were glistening. There was not a breath of wind anywhere, and the still air was laden with an oppressive scent from the spicy shrubs growing on the hills close by.

As the sun sank behind the hill-tops a long dark curtain fell upon the stage of day, and the intervening hills cut short the time in which light and shade mingle at sunset. I thought of going out for a ride, and was about to get up when I heard a footfall on the steps behind. I looked back, but there was no one.

As I sat down again, thinking it to be an illusion, I heard many footfalls, as if a large number of persons were rushing down the steps. A strange thrill of delight, slightly tinged with fear, passed through my frame, and though there was not a figure before my eyes, methought I saw a bevy of joyous maidens coming down the steps to bathe in the Susta in that summer evening. Not a sound was in the valley, in the river, or in the palace, to break the silence, but I distinctly heard the maidens’ gay and mirthful laugh, like the gurgle of a spring gushing forth in a hundred cascades, as they ran past me, in quick playful pursuit of each other, towards the river, without noticing me at all. As they were invisible to me, so I was, as it were, invisible to them. The river was perfectly calm, but I felt that its still, shallow, and clear waters were stirred suddenly by the splash of many an arm jingling with bracelets, that the girls laughed and dashed and spattered water at one another, that the feet of the fair swimmers tossed the tiny waves up in showers of pearl.

I felt a thrill at my heart–I cannot say whether the excitement was due to fear or delight or curiosity. I had a strong desire to see them more clearly, but naught was visible before me; I thought I could catch all that they said if I only strained my ears; but however hard I strained them, I heard nothing but the chirping of the cicadas in the woods. It seemed as if a dark curtain of 250 years was hanging before me, and I would fain lift a corner of it tremblingly and peer through, though the assembly on the other side was completely enveloped in darkness.

The oppressive closeness of the evening was broken by a sudden gust of wind, and the still surface of the Suista rippled and curled like the hair of a nymph, and from the woods wrapt in the evening gloom there came forth a simultaneous murmur, as though they were awakening from a black dream. Call it reality or dream, the momentary glimpse of that invisible mirage reflected from a far-off world, 250 years old, vanished in a flash. The mystic forms that brushed past me with their quick unbodied steps, and loud, voiceless laughter, and threw themselves into the river, did not go back wringing their dripping robes as they went. Like fragrance wafted away by the wind they were dispersed by a single breath of the spring.

Then I was filled with a lively fear that it was the Muse that had taken advantage of my solitude and possessed me–the witch had evidently come to ruin a poor devil like myself making a living by collecting cotton duties. I decided to have a good dinner–it is the empty stomach that all sorts of incurable diseases find an easy prey. I sent for my cook and gave orders for a rich, sumptuous moghlai dinner, redolent of spices and ghi.

Next morning the whole affair appeared a queer fantasy. With a light heart I put on a sola hat like the sahebs, and drove out to my work. I was to have written my quarterly report that day, and expected to return late; but before it was dark I was strangely drawn to my house–by what I could not say–I felt they were all waiting, and that I should delay no longer. Leaving my report unfinished I rose, put on my sola hat, and startling the dark, shady, desolate path with the rattle of my carriage, I reached the vast silent palace standing on the gloomy skirts of the hills.

On the first floor the stairs led to a very spacious hall, its roof stretching wide over ornamental arches resting on three rows of massive pillars, and groaning day and night under the weight of its own intense solitude. The day had just closed, and the lamps had not yet been lighted. As I pushed the door open a great bustle seemed to follow within, as if a throng of people had broken up in confusion, and rushed out through the doors and windows and corridors and verandas and rooms, to make its hurried escape.

As I saw no one I stood bewildered, my hair on end in a kind of ecstatic delight, and a faint scent of attar and unguents almost effected by age lingered in my nostrils. Standing in the darkness of that vast desolate hall between the rows of those ancient pillars, I could hear the gurgle of fountains plashing on the marble floor, a strange tune on the guitar, the jingle of ornaments and the tinkle of anklets, the clang of bells tolling the hours, the distant note of nahabat, the din of the crystal pendants of chandeliers shaken by the breeze, the song of bulbuls from the cages in the corridors, the cackle of storks in the gardens, all creating round me a strange unearthly music.

Then I came under such a spell that this intangible, inaccessible, unearthly vision appeared to be the only reality in the world–and all else a mere dream. That I, that is to say, Srijut So-and-so, the eldest son of So-and-so of blessed memory, should be drawing a monthly salary of Rs. 450 by the discharge of my duties as collector of cotton duties, and driving in my dog-cart to my office every day in a short coat and soia hat, appeared to me to be such an astonishingly ludicrous illusion that I burst into a horse-laugh, as I stood in the gloom of that vast silent hall.

At that moment my servant entered with a lighted kerosene lamp in his hand. I do not know whether he thought me mad, but it came back to me at once that I was in very deed Srijut So-and-so, son of So-and-so of blessed memory, and that, while our poets, great and small, alone could say whether inside of or outside the earth there was a region where unseen fountains perpetually played and fairy guitars, struck by invisible fingers, sent forth an eternal harmony, this at any rate was certain, that I collected duties at the cotton market at Banch, and earned thereby Rs. 450 per mensem as my salary. I laughed in great glee at my curious illusion, as I sat over the newspaper at my camp-table, lighted by the kerosene lamp.

After I had finished my paper and eaten my moghlai dinner, I put out the lamp, and lay down on my bed in a small side-room. Through the open window a radiant star, high above the Avalli hills skirted by the darkness of their woods, was gazing intently from millions and millions of miles away in the sky at Mr. Collector lying on a humble camp- bedstead. I wondered and felt amused at the idea, and do not knew when I fell asleep or how long I slept; but I suddenly awoke with a start, though I heard no sound and saw no intruder–only the steady bright star on the hilltop had set, and the dim light of the new moon was stealthily entering the room through the open window, as if ashamed of its intrusion.

I saw nobody, but felt as if some one was gently pushing me. As I awoke she said not a word, but beckoned me with her five fingers bedecked with rings to follow her cautiously. I got up noiselessly, and, though not a soul save myself was there in the countless apartments of that deserted palace with its slumbering sounds and waiting echoes, I feared at every step lest any one should wake up. Most of the rooms of the palace were always kept closed, and I had never entered them.

I followed breathless and with silent steps my invisible guide–I cannot now say where. What endless dark and narrow passages, what long corridors, what silent and solemn audience-chambers and close secret cells I crossed!

Though I could not see my fair guide, her form was not invisible to my mind’s eye, –an Arab girl, her arms, hard and smooth as marble, visible through her loose sleeves, a thin veil falling on her face from the fringe of her cap, and a curved dagger at her waist! Methought that one of the thousand and one Arabian Nights had been wafted to me from the world of romance, and that at the dead of night I was wending my way through the dark narrow alleys of slumbering Bagdad to a trysting-place fraught with peril.

At last my fair guide stopped abruptly before a deep blue screen, and seemed to point to something below. There was nothing there, but a sudden dread froze the blood in my heart-methought I saw there on the floor at the foot of the screen a terrible negro eunuch dressed in rich brocade, sitting and dozing with outstretched legs, with a naked sword on his lap. My fair guide lightly tripped over his legs and held up a fringe of the screen. I could catch a glimpse of a part of the room spread with a Persian carpet–some one was sitting inside on a bed–I could not see her, but only caught a glimpse of two exquisite feet in gold-embroidered slippers, hanging out from loose saffron-coloured paijamas and placed idly on the orange-coloured velvet carpet. On one side there was a bluish crystal tray on which a few apples, pears, oranges, and bunches of grapes in plenty, two small cups and a gold- tinted decanter were evidently waiting the guest. A fragrant intoxicating vapour, issuing from a strange sort of incense that burned within, almost overpowered my senses.

As with trembling heart I made an attempt to step across the outstretched legs of the eunuch, he woke up suddenly with a start, and the sword fell from his lap with a sharp clang on the marble floor. A terrific scream made me jump, and I saw I was sitting on that camp- bedstead of mine sweating heavily; and the crescent moon looked pale in the morning light like a weary sleepless patient at dawn; and our crazy Meher Ali was crying out, as is his daily custom, “Stand back! Stand back!!” while he went along the lonely road.

Such was the abrupt close of one of my Arabian Nights; but there were yet a thousand nights left.

Then followed a great discord between my days and nights. During the day I would go to my work worn and tired, cursing the bewitching night and her empty dreams, but as night came my daily life with its bonds and shackles of work would appear a petty, false, ludicrous vanity.

After nightfall I was caught and overwhelmed in the snare of a strange intoxication, I would then be transformed into some unknown personage of a bygone age, playing my part in unwritten history; and my short English coat and tight breeches did not suit me in the least. With a red velvet cap on my head, loose paijamas, an embroidered vest, a long flowing silk gown, and coloured handkerchiefs scented with attar, I would complete my elaborate toilet, sit on a high-cushioned chair, and replace my cigarette with a many-coiled narghileh filled with rose-water, as if in eager expectation of a strange meeting with the beloved one.

I have no power to describe the marvellous incidents that unfolded themselves, as the gloom of the night deepened. I felt as if in the curious apartments of that vast edifice the fragments of a beautiful story, which I could follow for some distance, but of which I could never see the end, flew about in a sudden gust of the vernal breeze. And all the same I would wander from room to room in pursuit of them the whole night long.

Amid the eddy of these dream-fragments, amid the smell of henna and the twanging of the guitar, amid the waves of air charged with fragrant spray, I would catch like a flash of lightning the momentary glimpse of a fair damsel. She it was who had saffron-coloured paijamas, white ruddy soft feet in gold-embroidered slippers with curved toes, a close- fitting bodice wrought with gold, a red cap, from which a golden frill fell on her snowy brow and cheeks.

She had maddened me. In pursuit of her I wandered from room to room, from path to path among the bewildering maze of alleys in the enchanted dreamland of the nether world of sleep.

Sometimes in the evening, while arraying myself carefully as a prince of the blood-royal before a large mirror, with a candle burning on either side, I would see a sudden reflection of the Persian beauty by the side of my own. A swift turn of her neck, a quick eager glance of intense passion and pain glowing in her large dark eyes, just a suspicion of speech on her dainty red lips, her figure, fair and slim crowned with youth like a blossoming creeper, quickly uplifted in her graceful tilting gait, a dazzling flash of pain and craving and ecstasy, a smile and a glance and a blaze of jewels and silk, and she melted away. A wild glist of wind, laden with all the fragrance of hills and woods, would put out my light, and I would fling aside my dress and lie down on my bed, my eyes closed and my body thrilling with delight, and there around me in the breeze, amid all the perfume of the woods and hills, floated through the silent gloom many a caress and many a kiss and many a tender touch of hands, and gentle murmurs in my ears, and fragrant breaths on my brow; or a sweetly-perfumed kerchief was wafted again and again on my cheeks. Then slowly a mysterious serpent would twist her stupefying coils about me; and heaving a heavy sigh, I would lapse into insensibility, and then into a profound slumber.

One evening I decided to go out on my horse–I do not know who implored me to stay-but I would listen to no entreaties that day. My English hat and coat were resting on a rack, and I was about to take them down when a sudden whirlwind, crested with the sands of the Susta and the dead leaves of the Avalli hills, caught them up, and whirled them round and round, while a loud peal of merry laughter rose higher and higher, striking all the chords of mirth till it died away in the land of sunset.

I could not go out for my ride, and the next day I gave up my queer English coat and hat for good.

That day again at dead of night I heard the stifled heart-breaking sobs of some one–as if below the bed, below the floor, below the stony foundation of that gigantic palace, from the depths of a dark damp grave, a voice piteously cried and implored me: “Oh, rescue me! Break through these doors of hard illusion, deathlike slumber and fruitless dreams, place by your side on the saddle, press me to your heart, and, riding through hills and woods and across the river, take me to the warm radiance of your sunny rooms above!”

Who am I? Oh, how can I rescue thee? What drowning beauty, what incarnate passion shall I drag to the shore from this wild eddy of dreams? O lovely ethereal apparition! Where didst thou flourish and when?” By what cool spring, under the shade of what date-groves, wast thou born–in the lap of what homeless wanderer in the desert? What Bedouin snatched thee from thy mother’s arms, an opening bud plucked from a wild creeper, placed thee on a horse swift as lightning, crossed the burning sands, and took thee to the slave-market of what royal city? And there, what officer of the Badshah, seeing the glory of thy bashful blossoming youth, paid for thee in gold, placed thee in a golden palanquin, and offered thee as a present for the seraglio of his master? And O, the history of that place! The music of the sareng, the jingle of anklets, the occasional flash of daggers and the glowing wine of Shiraz poison, and the piercing flashing glance! What infinite grandeur, what endless servitude!

The slave-girls to thy right and left waved the chamar as diamonds flashed from their bracelets; the Badshah, the king of kings, fell on his knees at thy snowy feet in bejewelled shoes, and outside the terrible Abyssinian eunuch, looking like a messenger of death, but clothed like an angel, stood with a naked sword in his hand! Then, O, thou flower of the desert, swept away by the blood-stained dazzling ocean of grandeur, with its foam of jealousy, its rocks and shoals of intrigue, on what shore of cruel death wast thou cast, or in what other land more splendid and more cruel?

Suddenly at this moment that crazy Meher Ali screamed out: “Stand back! Stand back!! All is false! All is false!!” I opened my eyes and saw that it was already light. My chaprasi came and handed me my letters, and the cook waited with a salam for my orders.

I said; “No, I can stay here no longer.” That very day I packed up, and moved to my office. Old Karim Khan smiled a little as he saw me. I felt nettled, but said nothing, and fell to my work.

As evening approached I grew absent-minded; I felt as if I had an appointment to keep; and the work of examining the cotton accounts seemed wholly useless; even the Nizamat of the Nizam did not appear to be of much worth. Whatever belonged to the present, whatever was moving and acting and working for bread seemed trivial, meaningless, and contemptible.

I threw my pen down, closed my ledgers, got into my dog-cart, and drove away. I noticed that it stopped of itself at the gate of the marble palace just at the hour of twilight. With quick steps I climbed the stairs, and entered the room.

A heavy silence was reigning within. The dark rooms were looking sullen as if they had taken offense. My heart was full of contrition, but there was no one to whom I could lay it bare, or of whom I could ask forgiveness. I wandered about the dark rooms with a vacant mind. I wished I had a guitar to which I could sing to the unknown: “O fire, the poor moth that made a vain effort to fly away has come back to thee! Forgive it but this once, burn its wings and consume it in thy flame!”

Suddenly two tear-drops fell from overhead on my brow. Dark masses of clouds overcast the top of the Avalli hills that day. The gloomy woods and the sooty waters of the Susta were waiting in terrible suspense and in an ominous calm. Suddenly land, water, and sky shivered, and a wild tempest-blast rushed howling through the distant pathless woods, showing its lightning-teeth like a raving maniac who had broken his chains. The desolate halls of the palace banged their doors, and moaned in the bitterness of anguish.

The servants were all in the office, and there was no one to light the lamps. The night was cloudy and moonless. In the dense gloom within I could distinctly feel that a woman was lying on her face on the carpet below the bed–clasping and tearing her long dishevelled hair with desperate fingers. Blood was tricking down her fair brow, and she was now laughing a hard, harsh, mirthless laugh, now bursting into violent wringing sobs, now rending her bodice and striking at her bare bosom, as the wind roared in through the open window, and the rain poured in torrents and soaked her through and through.

All night there was no cessation of the storm or of the passionate cry. I wandered from room to room in the dark, with unavailing sorrow. Whom could I console when no one was by? Whose was this intense agony of sorrow? Whence arose this inconsolable grief?

And the mad man cried out: “Stand back! Stand back!! All is false! All is false!!”

I saw that the day had dawned, and Meher Ali was going round and round the palace with his usual cry in that dreadful weather. Suddenly it came to me that perhaps he also had once lived in that house, and that, though he had gone mad, he came there every day, and went round and round, fascinated by the weird spell cast by the marble demon.

Despite the storm and rain I ran to him and asked: “Ho, Meher Ali, what is false?”

The man answered nothing, but pushing me aside went round and round with his frantic cry, like a bird flying fascinated about the jaws of a snake, and made a desperate effort to warn himself by repeating: “Stand back! Stand back!! All is false! All is false!!”

I ran like a mad man through the pelting rain to my office, and asked Karim Khan: “Tell me the meaning of all this!”

What I gathered from that old man was this: That at one time countless unrequited passions and unsatisfied longings and lurid flames of wild blazing pleasure raged within that palace, and that the curse of all the heart-aches and blasted hopes had made its every stone thirsty and hungry, eager to swallow up like a famished ogress any living man who might chance to approach. Not one of those who lived there for three consecutive nights could escape these cruel jaws, save Meher Ali, who had escaped at the cost of his reason.

I asked: “Is there no means whatever of my release?” The old man said: “There is only one means, and that is very difficult. I will tell you what it is, but first you must hear the history of a young Persian girl who once lived in that pleasure-dome. A stranger or a more bitterly heart-rending tragedy was never enacted on this earth.”

Just at this moment the coolies announced that the train was coming. So soon? We hurriedly packed up our luggage, as the tram steamed in. An English gentleman, apparently just aroused from slumber, was looking out of a first-class carriage endeavouring to read the name of the station. As soon as he caught sight of our fellow-passenger, he cried, “Hallo,” and took him into his own compartment. As we got into a second-class carriage, we had no chance of finding out who the man was nor what was the end of his story.

I said; “The man evidently took us for fools and imposed upon us out of fun. The story is pure fabrication from start to finish.” The discussion that followed ended in a lifelong rupture between my theosophist kinsman and myself.”

Rabindranath Tagore’s short story: The Hungry Stones

Product Details:

  • Paperback: 212 pages
  • Publisher: 1st World Library – Literary Society
  • May 20, 2005
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1421804816
  • ISBN-13: 978-1421804811



April 17, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Posted in Art, Film, History, Philosophy, United Kingdom | Leave a comment










The Man Who Knew Too Much Film from 1934:

Churchill, Hitchcock and the 1911 Sidney Street Disturbances

The Man Who Knew Too Much is a 1934 suspense film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, featuring Peter Lorre, and released by Gaumont British. It was one of the most successful and critically acclaimed films of Hitchcock’s British period.

Hitchcock remade the film with James Stewart and Doris Day in 1956 for Paramount Pictures; it’s the only film he ever remade. The two films are, however, very different in tone, in setting, and in many plot details


Bob and Jill Lawrence (Leslie Banks and Edna Best), are a British couple on vacation in St. Moritz, Switzerland, with their daughter Betty (Nova Pilbeam). Jill is participating in a clay pigeon shooting contest. They befriend a foreigner, Louis Bernard (Pierre Fresnay), who is staying in their hotel. One evening, as Jill dances with Louis, she witnesses his assassination as a French spy. Before dying, the spy passes on to them some vital information to be delivered to the British consul.

In order to ensure their silence, the assassins, led by a charming and nefarious Abbott (Peter Lorre), kidnap their daughter. Unable therefore to seek help from the police, the couple return to England and, after following a series of leads, discover that the group intends to assassinate a the Ambassador of an unidentified European country, during a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. Jill attends the concert and distracts the gunman with a scream.

The assassins are tracked to their hide-out in a suburban church. Bob enters and is held prisoner, but manages to escape. The police surround the building and a gunfight ensues, the assassins holding out until their ammunition runs low and most of them have been killed. Betty, who has been held there, and one of the criminals, are seen on the roof, and it is Jill’s sharpshooting skills that dispatch the man, who, it emerges, was the man who beat Jill in a shooting contest in Switzerland.

One of the assassins commits suicide rather than be captured, and Betty is returned to her parents.


Peter Lorre was unable to speak English at the time of filming (a Jew, he had only recently fled from Nazi Germany) and learned his lines phonetically.[1]

The shoot-out at the end of the film was based on the Sidney Street Siege, a real-life incident which took place in London’s East End (where Hitchcock grew up) on 3 January 1911.[2][3][4] The shoot-out was not included in Hitchcock’s 1956 remake.[5]

Hitchcock hired Australian composer Arthur Benjamin to write a piece of music especially for the climactic scene at Royal Albert Hall. The music, known as the Storm Clouds cantata, is used in both the 1934 version and the 1956 remake.

Alfred Hitchcock’s cameo appears 33 minutes into the film. He can be seen crossing the street from right to left in a black trench coat before they enter the Chapel.

The siege was the inspiration for the final shootout in Alfred Hitchcock‘s original 1934 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, although not his own 1956 remake.

The Siege of Sidney Street, popularly known as the “Battle of Stepney”, was a notorious gunfight in London’s East End on the 2nd of January 1911. Preceded by the Houndsditch Murders, it ended with the deaths of two members of a supposedly politically-motivated gang of burglars supposedly led by Peter Piatkow, a.k.a. “Peter the Painter“, and sparked a major political row over the involvement of the then Home Secretary, Winston Churchill.

The siege was the inspiration for the final shootout in Alfred Hitchcock‘s original 1934 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, although not his own 1956 remake.

The Houndsditch murders

On 16 December 1910, a gang of Latvian thieves attempted to break into the rear of a jeweller’s shop at 119 Houndsditch, EC3, working from 9, 10 and 11 Exchange Buildings in the cul-de-sac behind. An adjacent shopkeeper heard their hammering, informed the City of London Police (in whose area the shop was), and nine unarmed officers — three sergeants and six constables (two in plain clothes) — converged on Exchange Buildings.

Sergeants Bentley and Bryant knocked at the door of No. 11 Exchange Buildings, unaware that the first constable on the scene had already done so, thus alerting the thieves. The gang’s leader, George Gardstein, opened the door, but when he did not answer their questions they assumed he did not understand English and told him to fetch someone who did. Gardstein left the door half-closed and disappeared.

The house consisted of a single ground-floor room, into which the front door directly opened, with a staircase leading to the upper floors on the left, and a door to the open yard at the back on the right. It was later deduced that Gardstein must have moved left towards the staircase, since if he had gone right and out of the yard door he would have been seen by one of the plain-clothed officers standing outside, who had a clear view of that side of the room.

Growing impatient, the two sergeants entered the house to find the room apparently empty, before they became aware of a man standing in the darkness at the top of the stairs. After a short conversation, another man entered through the yard door, rapidly firing a pistol, while the man on the stairs also started shooting.

Both officers were hit, with Bentley collapsing across the doorstep, while Bryant managed to stagger outside. In the street, Constable Woodhams ran to help Bentley, but was himself wounded by one of the gang firing from the cover of the house, as was Sergeant Tucker, who died almost instantly.

The gang then attempted to break out of the cul-de-sac, Gardstein being grabbed by Constable Choate almost at the entrance. In the struggle Choate was wounded several times by Gardstein, before being shot five more times by other members of the gang, who also managed to hit their compatriot in the back. They then dragged Gardstein ¾ of a mile to 59 Grove Street, where he died the next day. Constable Choate and Sergeant Bentley died in separate hospitals the same day. An intense search followed, and a number of the gang or their associates were soon arrested.

The Siege of Sidney Street

On 2 January 1911, an informant told police that two or three of the gang, possibly including Peter the Painter himself, were hiding at 100 Sidney Street, Stepney (in the Metropolitan Police District). Worried that the suspects were about to flee, and expecting heavy resistance to any attempt at capture, on 3 January, two hundred officers cordoned off the area and the siege began. At dawn the battle commenced.

The defenders, though heavily outnumbered, possessed superior weapons and great stores of ammunition. The Tower of London was called for backup, and word got to the Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, who arrived on the spot to observe the incident at first hand, and to offer advice. Churchill authorised calling in a detachment of Scots Guards to assist the police. Six hours into the battle, and just as the field artillery piece that Churchill had authorised arrived, a fire began to consume the building. When the fire brigade arrived, Churchill refused them access to the building. The police stood ready, guns aimed at the front door, waiting for the men inside to attempt their escape. The door never opened. Instead, the remains of two members of the gang, Fritz Svaars and William Sokolow (both were also known by numerous aliases), were later discovered inside the building. No sign of Peter the Painter was found.[1]


All the fatal shots in what became known as the “Houndsditch Murders” came from the same Dreyse pistol belonging to Jacob Peters, but as he had left it with the mortally wounded Gardstein to be found by the police, it was assumed to be his and that he was the killer. This was despite the fact that Gardstein had completely different calibre ammunition for a Mauser C96 pistol both on him when he died and in his lodgings, but none at all for the Dreyse. Gardstein’s “guilt” was further compounded by the mistaken belief that it was Gardstein who had opened fire at 11 Exchange Buildings from the yard door, on the grounds that it was he who had opened the front door to the police shortly before they were shot.

Of seven supposed members of the gang captured by the police, five men — including Peters — and two women were put on trial, but they all either had their charges dropped, were acquitted, or had their convictions quashed. Peters later returned home, and after the October Revolution served as deputy head of the Cheka. He perished during the Great Purge in 1938.

The role Churchill played in the Sidney Street Siege was highly controversial at the time, and many, including Arthur Balfour, the former prime minister, accused him of having acted improperly. A famous photograph from the time shows Churchill peering around a corner to view events. Balfour asked, “He [Churchill] and a photographer were both risking valuable lives. I understand what the photographer was doing but what was the Right Honourable gentleman doing?”

The gang’s superior firepower led the police to drop the Webley Revolver in favour of the Webley semi-automatic in London.

On film

Much of the siege was captured by newsreel cameras, including the moment a bullet passed through Mr Churchill’s top hat, coming within inches of killing him. This footage was later shown at the Palace Theatre, London, under the billing, “Mr Churchill in the danger zone”

The siege was the inspiration for the final shootout in Alfred Hitchcock‘s original 1934 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much, although not his own 1956 remake. The events were depicted directly in the 1960 film The Siege of Sidney Street.[2]

In popular culture

The siege was parodied by the Goon Show in the episode The Six Ingots of Leadenhall Street.,[3][4] A bullet was supposedly fired which passed through Churchill’s hat, though this has been dismissed by historians.

The events were portrayed fictionally in the Sherlock Holmes pastiche Sherlock Holmes and the Railway Maniac by Barrie Roberts.


  1. 1.                              Siege of Sidney Street — 1911 (Metropolitan Police history) accessed 4 Feb 2008
  2. 2.                              The Siege of Sidney Street (1960) at the Internet Movie Database
  3. 3.                    
  4. 4.                    

The Man Who Knew Too Much Film from 1934:

Churchill, Hitchcock and the 1911 Sidney Street Disturbances



April 17, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Posted in Art, Books, Economics, Film, Financial, Literary | Leave a comment









“Treasure of the Sierra Madre”: Howard’s Theory of Gold prices

Howard: Say, answer me this one, will you? Why is gold worth some twenty bucks an ounce?

Flophouse Bum: I don’t know. Because it’s scarce.

Howard: A thousand men, say, go searchin’ for gold. After six months, one of them’s lucky: one out of a thousand. His find represents not only his own labor, but that of nine hundred and ninety-nine others to boot. That’s six thousand months, five hundred years, scramblin’ over a mountain, goin’ hungry and thirsty. An ounce of gold, mister, is worth what it is because of the human labor that went into the findin’ and the gettin’ of it.

Flophouse Bum: I never thought of it just like that.

Howard: Well, there’s no other explanation, mister. Gold itself ain’t good for nothing except making jewelry with and gold teeth.

Comment: This is the Labor Theory of Value in economics



April 13, 2011 at 7:56 pm | Posted in Books, Film, Philosophy | Leave a comment










Signs and Meaning in the Cinema
Peter Wollen (Author)
Product details:

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: BFI Publishing; 2nd Revised edition
  • 1 Oct 1997
  • Language English
  • ISBN-10: 0851706479
  • ISBN-13: 978-0851706474

Product Description:

A revised second edition of the text, this work explores the way in which a new approach to the cinema can be combined with a new approach to aesthetics. The book is divided into three main sections: the first deals with the work of S.M. Eisenstein, both as a director and theorist of his art. The second concerns the auteur theory and investigates the recurrence of themes and images throughout a director’s career. The third section shows how the study of cinema can be considered as a province of the general study of signs.

Signs and Meaning in the Cinema
Peter Wollen (Author)



April 3, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Posted in Art, Film, History, Science & Technology | Leave a comment











Directed by Ernst Lubitsch (1943)


In your papa’s time, papa kiss mama and then marry.

But this is 1887! Time of bicycle, the typewriter has arrive, soon everybody speak over telephone, and people have new idea of value of kiss.

What was bad yesterday is lot of fun today. There is a wonderful saying in France: “Les baisers sont comme des bonbons qu’on mange parce qu’ils sont bons.” This mean: “Kiss is like candy. You eat candy only for the beautiful taste, and this is enough reason to eat candy.”

Henry Van Cleve:

You mean I can kiss a girl once…


Ten times! Twenty times! And no obligation.

Cast & Crew:

Ernst Lubitsch Director

Gene Tierney Martha Strabel Van Cleve

Don Ameche Henry Van Cleve

Charles Coburn Grandfather

Marjorie Main Mrs. Strabel

Laird Cregar His Excellency

Spring Byington Bertha Van Cleve

Allyn Joslyn Albert Van Cleve

Eugene Pallette E. F. Strabel

Signe Hasso Mademoiselle

Louis Calhern Randolph Van Cleve




March 26, 2011 at 3:41 pm | Posted in Art, Books, Film, History, Philosophy, Research | Leave a comment










Landscape After Battle (1970)

Krajobraz po bitwie (original title)


Andrzej Wajda


Andrzej Brzozowski, Andrzej Wajda, and 1 more credit »


Daniel Olbrychski, Stanislawa Celinska and Aleksander Bardini


Film opens with the mad rush of haphazard freedom as the concentration camps are liberated. Men are trying to grab food, change clothes, bury their tormentors they find alive. Then they are herded into other camps as the Allies try to devise policy to control the situation. A young poet who cannot quite find himself in this new situation, meets a headstrong Jewish young girl who wants him to run off with her, to the West. He cannot cope with her growing demands for affection, while still harboring the hatred for the Germans and disdain for his fellow men who quickly revert to petty enmities.

In the DVD version of that classic of Polish cinema, Wajda’s “Landscape after Battle,” there’s a “Special Features” interview with one of the participants who mentions the Polish writer Melchior Wankowicz who supposedly says somewhere that the purpose of Polish art is to reopen old wounds so they might heal rightly for the first time.

Bruno Bettelheim, himself a Jewish camp survivor, speaks of “symbolic wounds.”

Melchior Wańkowicz

Melchior Wańkowicz (10 January 1892 – 10 September 1974)

Melchior Wańkowicz (10 January 1892 – 10 September 1974) was a Polish writer, journalist and publisher. He is most famous for his reporting for the Polish Armed Forces in the West during World War II and writing a book about the battle of Monte Cassino.


Melchior Wańkowicz was born on 10 January 1892 in Kalużyce near Minsk. He attended school in Warsaw, then the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, which he graduated from in 1922. An activist in the Polish independence movement, he was an officer in the Riflemen Union (Związek Strzelecki). During the First World War he fought in the Polish I Corps in Russia under General Józef Dowbor-Muśnicki.

After the war he worked as a journalist, for a time working as a chief of the press department in the Polish Ministry of Internal Affairs. In 1926 he founded a publishing agency, “Rój”. He also worked in the advertising business, coining a popular slogan for the advertisement of sugar – “cukier krzepi” (sugar strengthens). He wrote three books during the interwar period, all of them gaining him increasing fame and popularity. A few decades later he coined another famous slogan – “LOTem bliżej” (“closer with LOT”), advertising the Polish LOT airlines.

After the German invasion of Poland he lived for a while in Romania, where he wrote about the events of the Polish September. Later, from 1943 to 1946 he undertook what would be perhaps his most famous endeavour – he become a war correspondent for the Polish Armed Forces in the West. Later he wrote an account of the battle of Monte Cassino, his most famous book. One of his daughters, Krystyna, died as a member of Polish resistance Armia Krajowa during the Warsaw Uprising in 1944.

From 1949 to 1958 he lived in the United States, afterwards returning to communist Poland. He opposed the communist regime, writing and lecturing about the Polish Forces in the West (whose participation was minimized by the government, which tried to emphasize the role of the Soviet-aligned Berling Army). His most known work is a three tome book about the battle of Monte Cassino, a tribute to the soldiers of the Anders Army – a book that was published in Poland only in a shortened, censored form (until the fall of communism in 1990).

After he cosigned the letter of 34 in 1964, protesting against the censorship, he was repressed by the government – the publication of his works was prohibited, and he was himself arrested, charged with slander of Poland[1] and “spreading anti-Polish propaganda abroad” (partially due to the publication of some of his works by Radio Free Europe,[2] but the chief evidence was a private letter to his daughter living in the USA[1]) and sentenced to three years of imprisonment. However the sentence was never executed, and he was rehabilitated in 1990, after the fall of communism in Poland.[2]

Wańkowicz died on 10 September 1974.


  • Anoda-katoda
  • Bitwa o Monte Cassino (t. 1-3 1945-47)
  • C.O.P – ognisko siły (1938)
  • Czerwień i Amarant
  • De profundis
  • Drogą do Urzędowa (1955)
  • Dwie prawdy (połączone w jednym wydaniu dwie rzeczy: “Hubalczycy” i “Westerplatte”)
  • Dzieje rodziny Korzeniewskich
  • Hubalczycy (1959)
  • Karafka La Fontaine’a (t. 1 1972, t. 2 pośm. 1980)
  • Kaźń Mikołaja II
  • Klub trzeciego miejsca (1949)
  • Kundlizm (1947)
  • Monte Cassino (skróc. wyd. krajowe Bitwy o Monte Cassino, 1957)
  • Na tropach Smętka (1936)
  • Od Stołpców po Kair (1969)
  • Opierzona rewolucja (1934)
  • Polacy i Ameryka
  • Prosto od krowy (1965)
  • Przez cztery klimaty 1912-1972 (1972)
  • Reportaże zagraniczne
  • Strzępy epopei
  • Szczenięce lata (1934)
  • Szkice spod Monte Cassino (1969)
  • Szpital w Cichiniczach (1925)
  • Sztafeta (1939)
  • Tędy i owędy (1961)
  • Tworzywo (Nowy Jork 1954, wyd. kraj. 1960)
  • W kościołach Meksyku (1927)
  • W ślady Kolumba (cz. 1 Atlantyk-Pacyfik 1967, cz. 2 Królik i oceany 1968, cz. 3 W pępku Ameryki 1969)
  • Walczący Gryf (1964)
  • Westerplatte (1959)
  • Wojna i pióro (1974)
  • Wrzesień żagwiący (1947)
  • Ziele na kraterze (1951, wyd. krajowe 1957)
  • Zupa na gwoździu (1967, wyd. 3 pt. Zupa na gwoździu – doprawiona 1972)

Aleksandra Ziolkowska-Boehm has written introductions, footnotes, etc., to:

  • Melchior Wankowicz, Reportaze zagraniczne (Reportage from Abroad), Krakow, 1981, ISBN 83-08-00488-1
  • Series: Dziela emigracyjne i przedwojenne Melchiora Wankowicza (8 titles), Warsaw, 1989–1995
  • Korespondencja Krystyny i Melchiora Wankowiczow (Correspondence between Krystyna and Melchior Wankowicz), Warsaw, 1992, ISBN 83-85443-21-5
  • Jerzy Giedroyc and Melchior Wankowicz, Listy 1945-1963 (Series: Archiwum Kultury; correspondence between Jerzy Giedroyc and Melchior Wankowicz), Warsaw, 2000, ISBN 83-07-02779-9
  • King i Krolik. Korespondencja Zofii i Melchiora Wankowiczow (correspondence between Zofia and Melchior Wankowicz), Warsaw, 2004, ISBN 83-7163-496-X


A private journalism school on ulica Nowy Świat in Warsaw, the Higher School of Journalism, founded in 1995, is named after Wańkowicz.[1]


  1. 1. a b “A Symptom”, TIME, Friday, Nov. 20, 1964
  2. 2. a b Melchior Wańkowicz, biography in “Tworzywo”, an online monthly of Wyższa Szkoła Dziennikarska im. Melchiora Wańkowicza (Polish)




March 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Posted in Asia, China, Film, Financial, History, Japan | Leave a comment










Manchukuo and Pan-Asian Narco-Utopian Dreams

The Setting Sun (Rakuyou) is a Japanese film released in 1992, based on a novel of the same name by the director Rou Tomono. The U.S. release was in 1999.

The Japanese movie “Setting Sun” which features Donald Sutherland and Diane Lane depicts the Japanese takeover of Manchuria from 1928-1945 and the narco-utopian pan-Asian daydreams of certain Japanese military leaders such as Ishiwara Kanji.

It stars Masaya Kato, Diane Lane, Yuen Biao and Donald Sutherland.

Directed by Rou Tomono

Produced by Lee Faulkner

Written by Duane Dell’Amico

Rou Tomono (novel)

Rou Tomono (screenplay)

Starring Masaya Kato, Diane Lane, Biao Yuen, Donald Sutherland

Music by Maurice Jarre

Cinematography Yoshihiro Yamazaki

Editing by Osamu Inoue

Release date(s) 1992

Running time 150 min.

Country Japan

Language Japanese

Kanji Ishiwara (Ishiwara Kanj, 18 January 1889 – 15 August 1949) was a general in the Imperial Japanese Army in World War II. He and Itagaki Seishirō were the men primarily responsible for the Mukden Incident that took place in Manchuria in 1931.


Early life

Ishiwara was born in Tsuruoka city, Yamagata prefecture into a samurai class family. His father was a police officer, but as his clan had supported the Tokugawa bakufu and then the Northern Alliance during the Boshin War of the Meiji Restoration, its members were shut out of higher government positions.

At age thirteen, Ishiwara was enrolled in a military prep school. He was subsequently accepted at the 21st class of the Imperial Japanese Army Academy and graduated in 1909. He served in the IJA 65th Infantry Regiment in Korea after its annexation by Japan in 1910, and in 1915 he passed the exams for admittance to the 30th class of the Army Staff College. He graduated second in his class in 1918. [2]

Ishiwara spent several years in various staff assignments and then was selected to study in Germany as a military attaché.

He stayed in Berlin and in Munich from 1922-1925, focusing on military history and military strategy. He hired several former officers from the German General Staff to tutor him, and by the time he returned to Japan, he had formed a considerable background on military theory and doctrine.

Prior to leaving for Germany, Ishiwara converted to Nichiren Buddhism. Nichiren had taught that a period of massive conflict would precede a golden era of human culture in which the truth of Buddhism would prevail. Japan would be the center and main promulgator of this faith, which would encompass the entire world. Ishiwara felt that the period of world conflict was fast approaching, and Japan relying upon its vision of the kokutai and its sacred mission to “liberate” China, would lead a unified East Asia to defeat the West. [3]

Ishiwara and Manchuria

Mukden Incident

Ishiwara was assigned as an instructor to the Army Staff College, followed by a staff position within the Kwantung Army in Manchuria. He arrived there at the end of 1928, some months after the assassination of Zhang Zuolin by Daisaku Komoto. Ishiwara quickly realized that the confused political situation in northern China, along with Japan’s already significant economic investments in the area provided the Kwantung Army with a unique opportunity, and began a plan to take advantage of the situation.

On 18 September 1931, a bomb was secretly planted on the tracks of the Japanese-controlled Southern Manchuria Railway. Charging that Chinese soldiers had attacked the rail line, Japanese troops under Ishiwara’s orders quickly seized the Chinese military barracks in the nearby city of Liutiaokou. Without bothering to inform the new Kwantung Army commander General Shigeru Honjō or the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff in Tokyo, Ishiwara ordered Kwantung Army units to seize control of all other Manchurian cities.

The sudden invasion of Manchuria alarmed political leaders in Japan, and brought international condemnation down on Japan from the world community. Ishiwara thought it most likely that he would be executed or at least dishonorably discharged for his insubordination. However, the success of the operation brought just the opposite. Ishiwara was adulated by right-wing younger officers, ultranationalist societies for his daring and initiative. He was returned to Japan, and given command of the IJA 4th Infantry Regiment in Sendai.

Army revolutionaries

Ishiwara was appointed to the Imperial Japanese Army General Staff in 1935 as Chief of Operations, which gave him primary responsibility for articulating his vision for Japan’s future. Ishiwara was a strong proponent of pan-Asianism and the hokushinron philosophy. He proposed that Japan should join with Manchukuo and China to form an “East Asian League”, which would then prepare for and then fight a war with the Soviet Union. After the Soviet Union was defeated, Japan could move to the south to free Southeast Asia from European colonial rule. Japan would then be ready to tackle the United States. [4]

However, in order to implement these plans, Japan would need to build up its economy and military. Ishiwara envisioned a one-party “national defense state” with a command economy in which political parties were abolished, and venal politicians and greedy businessmen removed from power.

However, Ishiwara stopped short of calling for a Shōwa Restoration and violent overthrow of the government. When the February 26 Incident erupted in 1936, rebels assassinated a number of major politicians and government leaders and demanded a change in government in line with Ishiwara’s philosophies. However, Ishiwara confounded their expectations by speaking out strongly against the rebellion and demanding proclamation of martial law. After Vice Chief of Staff Hajime Sugiyama pulled in from garrisons around Tokyo, Ishiwara was named Operations Officer of the Martial Law Headquarters.

Return to Manchukuo, and disgrace

In March 1937 Ishiwara was promoted to major general and transferred back to Manchukuo as Vice Chief of Staff of the Kwantung Army. He discovered to his dismay that his Army colleagues had no intention of creation a new pan-Asian paradise, and were quite content to play the role of colonial occupiers. Ishiwara denounced the Kwantung Army leadership, and proposed that all officers take a pay cut. He confronted Kwantung Army commander in chief General Hideki Tojo over his allocation of funds to an officers’ wives club. After becoming an embarrassment to his seniors, he was relieved of command and reassigned to a local army base at Maizuru on the seacoast near Kyoto.

Back in Japan, he began to analyze Soviet tactics at Nomonhan, where Japanese forces were defeated, proposing counterstrategies to be adopted by the Army. He continued to write and give public addresses, continuing to advocate an East Asia League partnership with China and Manchukuo and continuing to oppose the invasion of China. He became a lieutenant general in 1939 and was assigned command of the IJA 16th Division.

His political nemesis, Hideki Tōjō, now risen to the highest ranks, felt that the outspoken Ishiwara should be retired from the Army, but feared the reactions of young officers and right-wing activists. Finally, after Ishiwara publicly denounced Tōjō as an enemy of Japan, who should “be arrested and executed,” he was put on the retired list. Ishiwara went back to Yamagata, where he continued to write and study agriculture until the end of the war.

After the end of World War II, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers called upon Ishiwara as a witness for the defense in the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. No charges were ever brought against Ishiwara himself, possibly due to his public opposition to Tōjō, the war against China and the attack on Pearl Harbor. He displayed his old fire in front of the American prosecutor, observing that U.S. President Harry S. Truman should be indicted for the mass bombing of Japanese civilians.[5]



  • Maga, Timothy P. (2001). Judgment at Tokyo: The Japanese War Crimes Trials. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2177-9.
  • Peattie, Mark R. (1975). Ishiwara Kanji and Japan’s confrontation with the West. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691030995.
  • Samuels, Richard J. (2007). Securing Japan: Tokyo’s Grand Strategy and the Future of East Asia. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0801446120.


  1. 1. Japanese
  2. 2. Ammenthorp, The Generals of World War II
  3. 3. Peatty, Ishiwara Kanji and Japan’s confrontation with the West
  4. 4. Peatty, Ishiwara Kanji and Japan’s Confrontation with the West
  5. 5. Maga, Judgement at Tokyo

Opium poppies

The opium poppy was grown to obtain opium. In November 1932 the Mitsui Zaibatsu conglomerate held a state monopoly for poppy farming with the “declared intention” of reducing its heavy local use. Fixed cultivation areas were set up in Jehol and northwest Kirin. For 1934-35, cultivation area was evaluated as 480 square kilometres (190 sq mi) with a yield of 1.1 tonnes/km². There was much illegal growing, and its high profitability retarded the effective suppression of this dangerous drug.

“Nikisansuke”, a secret Japanese merchant group, participated in the opium industry.

This group was formed by:

The monopoly generated profits of twenty to thirty million yen per year.

The military prohibited the use of opium and other narcotics by its troops (punishment was loss of Japanese citizenship) but allowed it to be used as a “demoralization weapon” against “inferior races”, a term that included all non-Japanese peoples.

One of the participants, Naoki Hoshino negotiated a large loan from Japanese banks using a lien on the profits of Manchukuo’s Opium Monopoly Bureau as collateral. Another authority states that annual narcotics revenue in China, including Manchukuo, was estimated by the Japanese military at 300 million yen a year.

Similar policies operated across Japanese-occupied Asia.


Next Page »

Entries and comments feeds.