『異郷』—西江雅之が「居る世界」と「見る世界」。

 わたしはいつしか昆虫採集を止めて、写真を撮るようになった。被写体となる事物も、それぞれの道を持つ。景色には、季節や天候や背景が整って、良い顔を見せるまでの道がある。人は人生という道を歩みながら、それぞれの場でそれぞれの表情を見せる。わたしは路上に立ち、求める対象が気に入った場面の中に姿を表すと、シャッターを切る。
 この本に残されている写真は、ある時、ある場所で、わたしの眼前に現れた事物から掬い採った影なのである。


西江雅之。20代で独力でスワヒリ語の辞書を作り上げ、50カ国以上の言葉を操る傑物。しかし、足取りに軽やかに異郷へと入り込んでいく西江は、なんだか身近さを感じさせます。
この『異郷』は、西江雅之のエッセイと彼の撮った写真で構成されています。

僕は、今まで読んだどの本よりも「この景色を見てみたい」と感じました。それは、西江雅之が赴いた土地を直に見てみたい、という思いと、西江雅之が見るように世界を見てみたい、という願いです。

この本を開いて始めて名を知る島の数々。写真には、似た様相が並んでいます。黒い肌。申し訳程度に羽織る布、もしくは裸。粗野な家。体に響いてくるような鮮明な色彩。
遠い遠い異郷。西江はなぜこれらの土地を目指すのでしょうか。

彼が足を踏み入れる土地は、まずそこに行くまでの道が至難です。片道に3日もかけて奥地探検用の車を飛ばすこともあれば、乗り込んだカヌーの横からワニが顔を出す。飛行場は金網に囲まれているだけで施設も何もない。

彼が旅をする理由について、少し触れている箇所があります。小型飛行機を一機借りてトゥルカナ湖へと向かった時の話です。

 その土地に特別の用事あある訳ではない。それどころか、アフリカの友人に言わせれば、「あそこには荒れた土地と猛暑があるだけさ」と、そっぽを向くようなところである。
 それでも、その土地はわたしを妙に惹きつける。東アフリカの話題が出ると必ず、いつかはそこに行ってみたいという気持ちが、心のどこかに湧き上ってくるのだ。何のためにと問われても困る。結局、そこに行って、「なるほど」、と一言だけ口にしたいためと言うほかない。

彼の「なるほど」という言葉、それだけだと実に小さい響きです。しかし、その言葉をポツリと呟くためには、地球の裏側へと飛んでいくこともいとわない。そんな静かな激情を胸に抱く西江が見る世界は、どんなものなのでしょうか。彼が見る赤は、僕が見る赤よりも強く、鮮やかなのでしょうか。彼が見る世界を見てみたい。その夢を少し叶えてくれるのが、彼が撮り溜めた写真たちです。

西江雅之の写真

西江雅之の写真

このマスクを見て、ロンドンで見かけた写真集を思い出しました。

著者であるPhyllis Galemboも西アフリカを旅し、多くの覆面や衣装を撮り続けています。

西江は、その語学力でもってスッと現地に入り込んで行きます。

ボーイが来たので、フランス語で最近のコモロの様子などを話していると、彼の出身地はタンザニアなのだと言う。それならばスワヒリ語でと、会話の言語を切り替える。観光案内所の中には、コモロではスワヒリ語が話されていると書いてあるものあるが、この国ではスワヒリ語の話者に出会うことはあまりない。

インド式の造りの宿の外壁は、見事に咲き乱れるブーゲンビリアに覆われている。宿の主人はインド系の品の良い初老の夫婦で、その土地のクレオル語はもちろんのこと、立派なフランス語と上手な英語を話した。わたしがヒンディー語で話しかけると、インドの言語はまったく駄目だとのことである。インドには、数年前に一度だけ行ったことがあるらしい。

西江雅之の授業を受けた教授の話を聞いたことがあります。
講義の中で、スペイン語を話していたと思ったらフランス語を。また次の瞬間には中国語を話しながら授業を展開していた、とのこと。
多くの言葉を持つということは、多くの感性を持つということ。その感性が彼を旅に駆り立て、また彼にしか見ることの出来ない世界を映しているのかも知れません。

『異郷』を読んでいて、「人はなぜ服を着るのだろう」という疑問がムクムクと沸き上がってきました。

道中で行き交うカリモジョンの男たちは素っ裸だ。彼らは胸を張って荒野の中を歩いている。キョロキョロ辺りを見回したりしない。そんな時、速めの歩調に合わせて右に左にスッスッと規則正しく揺れ動く彼らの立派なペニスは、あたかも前進の筋肉運動の調整を計っている指揮棒のようだ。それは音無しの世界の音楽であり、見ることのできるリズムなのだ。

寒さや危険からの保護のため、服を着ることはあるでしょう。それとはまた別に、近代化と、服を着ることはどう関わっているのでしょうか。

到着の翌日、本島から仕事に来たお偉方たちのための歓迎会が学校で用意され、わたしもその場に動向することになった。一階建ての小さな校舎の前の庭で、校長の指揮のもと、伝統的な踊りが披露された。見事な体格の女子生徒たちが、膝上の短い腰みの一つ着ただけの裸の姿で活発な踊りを見せてくれた。その伝統も近いうちに、「好ましくない」と批判され、姿を消す運命にあるのだろう。

webページでは、こちらが参考になりました。

人はなぜ装うのか

以下、参考書籍です。

ただ、どれもが社会学的な視点で書かれている本のように思います。
もちろんそれも十分参考になるのですが、文化人類学的に「服を着ること」について書いている本がないか、目下探しているところです。

伝統的な生活が失われていくことにたいして、西江は「失われて欲しくない、とは思わない。しかし、失われる前に一目見たいという願いは否定できない」といったことを述べています。
この本に描かれている景色も、10年後、いや数年後には全く世界から消えているのかも知れません。
今消えようとしている景色、色、匂い、熱気。それらに打ちのめされながら「なるほど」と言いたい。
旅に出たい、という思いは往々にして自然と消化されていくものです。でも僕は、この景色が見たい。衝動の種火を絶やしたくありません。
部屋の中で迷っている暇は、ないのかも知れません。

 村の真ん中に入っていけば、そこはもう幻想の世界である。青い空の中に景色がめり込むようである。まばゆいばかりの陽の光の中に、娘の豊な黒い胸が活発に揺れ動く。全裸で砂の大地を踏みしめて歩く、長老の雄大なる男根が、ゆさゆさと揺れて、威厳というおのを感じさせる。素っ裸の黒い子どもたちの微笑みの中で、白い歯が輝いている。子どもの背丈ほどの大きな魚の背骨が、オブジェのように砂地を飾る。砂丘の遥か向こうでは、湖の青が小刻みに波打ち、白銀色に光る。
「なるほど」
わたしは一言だけ口にした。
 トゥルカナの太陽が頭の真上で割れそうだ。

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