I was out of action for half of last week, but I’m hoping to finish up The Last Samurai today and get together some concluding thoughts on the book in short order. In advance of that, here’s something that I can’t quite reconcile: I’m struck by the fact that Ludo compares declaring a man is his father to an elegant samurai cutting down a man with one awe-inspiring blow of his sword.
It’s funny, because in the first few iterations of this little game Ludo is playing, this oddness of this comparison didn’t register. But then it hit me, and now that I’ve seen it, this thought is coloring all the scenes where Ludo engages with prospective fathers. Where did Ludo get this idea that making a man his father is killing him?
This thought keys into another thought that I’ve been resisting since I started reading The Last Samurai: that one should have seen Seven Samurai to read this book. I generally don’t like to insist on the necessity of extra-textual materials to understanding a book, but given the centrality of this scene to Ludo’s understanding of life, one begins to believe that the scene should be apprehended as Ludo would have seen it. There might also be some value in knowing how this scene relates to other key scenes that are repeatedly evoked in The Last Samurai (e.g. the scene in which the samurai poses as a monk to kill the thief), as these scenes are quite clearly part of the “language” Ludo uses to comprehend the world.