April 30, 2006

Memories of Hanami

It is now almost May--two and a half hours to be precise. I had an amazing weekend at Nick's wedding in Nachi Katsuura. It was a joy to be down there and share in his and Kyoko's big day. The train ride up left me ruminating on my life--where I have been and where I am going.

Well, not too much to report tonight. I have my first regular classes this week, after a stretch of inactivity at the workplace. Also, this photo surfaced from some weeks ago, but I vow that it is a staged scene with an empty bottle. The California wine my brother brought with him was good, but I am not that bad...

April 25, 2006


"I know only what is enough." This is a phrase I came across in Alex Kerr's Dogs and Demons, a phrase which signifies what Kerr calls the "pure poverty" of Japanese traditions (which are disappearing or already have). So now Japan has a more profane indigence, one of pachinko and not tea ceremony, a sheer lack of common sense instead of the self-less action and intuitive revelations of Zen koans. There is a Zen saying that I read somewhere that reads, " Better to see the face than to hear the name." In modern Japan, certainly the name, the ideal, the thing as it is represented, remade, or just re-named (and what Kerr tragically asserts has relinquished all grasp and importance of the thing itself) takes precedence over something authentic, genuine, a thing, act, or quality which is valuable in itself and not just functional for a technique. I have harped on this theme far too many times in my earlier blogs, but there is always a need for repetition. One clause of Kenneth Burke's definition of man is that he is "estranged from his environment by instruments of his own making." Another is that he is "goaded on by a sense of hierarchy." As I finish this book, finish my term up in Japan, I see where, when, with whom, why, how, and to what degree I have been goaded and estranged; I see that what Kerr talks about in his book as the "demons" of modern Japanese society can easily be transposed onto other nations. He talks about how the Japanese education system, in asserting the solidarity of "us" versus the remaining "them," the hermetically sealed vacuum of uchi(inside) that elicits xenophobia and bullying of every kind, also stifles an "awareness of the brotherhood of mankind." Since we are on this topic, I could relate it to some part of society anywhere I go. In a book about the fundamental and far reaching differences between Native American tribes' world views and that of the various colonial powers who entered America, the author (whose name I forgot, the books is called "The Way of the Human Being") phrased it as an "ontology of fear." We (who am I talking about now?) identify ourselves by what we are afraid of, who or what is above and below us, and what was once originally a plan to keep us safe, bring us happiness and longevity, comes back to unravel our minds and lives in a strange sense of order beyond our disorderly sense of order.

Well, this entry has certainly unravelled. Perhaps, in the midst of an intense intellectual drought and emotional aporia I have come to the realization that I, like most of us these days, don't know enough. Either that, or I am just too late in realizing I have gone too far.

April 16, 2006

The Past Three Weeks in Images

Here is a recap of what I have done and whom I have been with at the beginning of spring. (In descending order): *Anpanman at Miyawaki Bookstore *My friends Yuka, Ryuichi, and some children at their surrogate hanami party (rained out) *Nick, Kyoko, Mayumi and Emi looking cute *Saki and Kaoru, friends from Wakayama, at yozakura viewing *You guys want some salami sandwhiches...? *Sean, dreaming of dark beer, tests out Rashomon, Wakayama's finest sake...*This poor fellow had to be carted off *View of Wakayama Castle moat *Asakusa (Tokyo)
*Sadachiyo, the best place to stay in the world *Zabba Zabba TONKYATSU!

April 04, 2006

When People Reject You

Thus my afternoon started, being kicked out of the meeting solely because my presence was a nuissance--an invisible and inaudible wraith of presence like something stuck in your teeth, an itch at the back of the brain, a tiny splinter in your conscience. While I am paid for these hours of studying and writing, for my otiose performance of this daily tragical farce, I see that perhaps if I were to act more vigorously at the spur of conscience, by reason's whip's sharp sting, I would pull myself up by my own bootstraps and redesign the curriculum for our school's Oral Communication class. However, I don't see how teachers who fail to communicate among themselves can teach communication to others. It is a dangerous business, the language business, for it has the potential to lead kids down the path of having everything put into a controlled system, English in little vaccum-sealed packets that they can open at any time and savor as much as they like. Lighten up, Jeff, right? Don't worry if you are doing nothing now and getting paid for it, you are learning something, even if it is the retrograde lessons of anomie which give you less job skills or tangible assets to parade around for job hunters of every degree. Now I have only one more thing to say, which is that every time I sit down at this computer, I realize how much I need something else to do besides sit, read, and write. They are all good skills, things which we need but which cannot sustain us in our days. There is something else we need. Out there, it is life. Isn't it a bit paradoxical to be kicked out of a "meeting"? Of course they did it so politely and with utmost respect to form, as if I was having a tooth pulled out, or was bullied at school and deserved tender, loving care.

April 03, 2006

Apriru Fooru

That's me folks, a fool. A blazing bright mass of foolishness, like a comet burning itself out in the distances of the night sky. Countless people have reproved me for my lack of self-confidence, my abundance of unquestioned quilt and hypersensitivity, my analytical way of mentally taking apart things which should stay put together, and of course they are right. That is never the question. What is the question?

Well, to divulge such a riddle to you, to myself, would be like strumming the harp whose key is that of life. The Stevie Wonder reference aside, there is such a harmony in everyone's life, but it is often inaudible, the sound of a droplet hitting the bottom of an endless well.

Well, well, well. Today's long overdue entry has swayed from the original course of reporting the facts of the weekend:

Friday: First Hanami party (Flower viewing party) of the season. It was a night party and very cold. I decided to compare Budweisser with Asahi and Kirin, and to my expectation, found that Budweisser is certainly not the King of Beers. After that it was on to Japanese grain alcohol, sleepiness, and the malaise that I've gotten used to on weekends that start out so hazily.

Saturday: Woke up and read for a few hours. Another visit to Wakayama Castle, lunch, wasting time, went to bed at nine o'clock. Meant to write some friends letters/emails/telepathic modes of correspondence, but was too tired to lift my thoughts out of the abyssmal quagmire of sleep and peace.

Sunday: Early rise again. Reading Alex Kerr's "Dogs and Demons: The Fall of Modern Japan," which is a disparraging account of modern Japan's corruption, sterility, and the anomalies which infects every form of bureacracy in Japan. At noon I headed to Burakuri cho, a district in Wakayama with an old shopping arcade, a McDonald's, a demolished movie theater, and nothing else. Played a double gig with my blues band and reggae band. Lot's of friends showed up, including a special "someone." After the show it was the same dilly dallying with my time, an onsen at night on Wakayama's manmade island, Marina City, and then sweet, sweet rest.

Now its time to get going. Monday morning. Time to read, work, study, and clean my apartment. Lots to do. I'm off....