Rhetoric of Taxonomy: The Pillow Books of Sei Shonagon, Peter Greenaway, and Ruth L.
The two author-protagonists, the narrator, Jane Takagi-Little, and her Japanese counterpart, Akiko Ueno, define themselves in relation to a third author, Sei Shonagon, and her tenth-century miscellany text known as The Pillow Book.
Ozeki's My Tear of Meats' spans not only the spatial distance between America and Japan but also temporal and linguistic distances, as the two protagonists Jane Takagi-Little and Akiko Ueno relate their lives and words to Makura no soshi, popularly known as The Pillow Book.
It aims to show how the authorial dynamics at work in Ozeki's text connect to issues of readership and agency in The Pillow Book.
6) We see a similar attempt at individuality in The Pillow Book, when the Empress asks Shonagon and her fellow gentlewomen to produce an ancient poem.
In fact, in her translator's note, Meredith McKinney describes her anxiety over the inclusion of section breaks for ease of reference, recognizing that the original Pillow Book did not have such numerous divisions.
This bricolage precisely describes Shonagon's composition of The Pillow Book and also reflects the lesson that Jane must unearth from reading it.
In The Pillow Book, which McKinney muses may very well be a "handbook of poetic references" (2006a, xxi), Shonagon emphasizes that certain productive collaborations are to be valued above others.
In her introduction to The Pillow Book, McKinney takes this observation aboout Shonagon's lists one step further, describing them as having "an okashi aesthetic" (2006a, xxiii)--that is, a sensibility inundated by what can be roughly translated as "delight" or "pleasure.
She settles happily in an apartment near Dyann and Lara, and finds a quiet room of her own to write beside her copy of The Pillow Book (Ozeki 1998, 346).
Various other unattributed references to The Pillow Book abound; for example, BEEF-EX uses Shonagon's list format and titles to indicate the crew's focus on "Desirable Things" over "Undesirable Things" (Ozeki 1998, 11-12).