Math, Mishima and Gender Outrage

Shortly before his death, Yukio Mishima adapted his 1966 short story, “Yuukoku” into a short film, the English title of which is “The Rite of Love and Death.” Edward Frenkel, a math professor at UC Berkeley, produced his own short film “The Rite of Love and Math,” which mostly frame for frame replicates Mishima’s film, albeit in a math context.

Originally, the “The Rite of Love and Math” was to be shown along with Mishima’s film under the sponsorship of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute. However, after cries from students and colleagues that Frenkel’s film contained misogynistic messages that girls can’t do math, or at least have to suffer while men tattoo math on their bodies, the sponsorship of the MSRI was pulled but the showing went as planned. It is likely that the controversy generated more than enough publicity for the film.

You can judge for yourself whether Frenkel is a misogynist or not. It’s rare that math generates much controversy of this kind, let alone intersections of math and Japanese film.

“Rites of Love and Math” screening in Berkeley from Edward Frenkel on Vimeo.

and the original, which is, of course, vastly superior:

About Pete Larson

Researcher at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research. Lecturer in the University of Michigan School of Public Health and at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I do epidemiology, public health, GIS, health disparities and environmental justice. I also do music and weird stuff.

4 responses to “Math, Mishima and Gender Outrage”

  1. Ferunando-Sama says :

    We can discuss when you come to Sapporo, but there is lots of anti-Japanese propaganda in USA. Best example is how the toyota prius thing was handled.

  2. curious says :

    “original… is, of course, vastly superior” — what is this statement based on?

  3. Pete Larson says :

    Uhh… I saw it? Just my opinion.

  4. Pete Larson says :

    Are you Ed Frenkel? I would think that you would agree, otherwise you wouldn’t have made the film.

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