August 14, 2006

Reading the Map

Dear Reader,

However inappropriate this entry may seem, I beseech you to read on a little bit more and consider in a manner unique to your way of seeing things some aspects of the present age that have currently been on my mind throughout this particularly uneventful afternoon.

This morning the sunlight's soundless warmth brought me out of the shoaled regions of a dreamless sleep, my thoughts never venturing far beyond the shores of consciousness. Thus I started today with a less than adequate amount of sleep. I rode through traffic from a suburb of Osaka to Wakayama, a journey that normally takes half an hour. Today it took ninety minutes, all while toughing out the sweltering summer heat in a groggy, slightly nauseated condition. Upon getting home, I took a cold shower and turned on the air conditioner. I reclined on the lonely couch, whose days are numbered now, and read the Master Word Lists's "a" section in the GRE test book, a book that I have neglected in the past three years. Three years, yes. Wow. I still can't tell you with aplomb what aberrant truths of existence I have garnered by default in my abortive labors to prepare for a test that I should have taken long ago. In any case, even though I don't feel that I have gained anything, what I have lost may be important. That which I have lost has a singular name in this endless list of persons, places, and things: time.

In fact, it took me over an hour to start writing this blog. Where did that time go? Mostly to the unreal task of looking for a job online, an undertaking that deadens even the most active and fruitful mind. I got as far as sending a few emails, and as I got up to refill my drink here at the internet cafe, I realized that the back of my shirt was stuck to my back with a brackish lagoon of sweat indicating my toil was certainly real, if only for a moment. After I returned from the drink station, I sat myself down, resolved to make a statement on how much time gets wasted here at the internet cafe, all while there are people writing songs, writing books, living their lives creatively, exploring themselves.

It seems that I have yet to conquer the neuroses of the times, the constant reversion to diversions that end in a nauseatingly rootless "anomie" (one which is the solipsists's revered euphemism, and which merely masks a sterility that, oddly enough, abounds these days). In Sawako Ariyoshi's "The River Ki", the protagonist Hana silently and imperceptibly resists her daughter's rejection of traditional Japanese customs and gender roles. Hana has Fumio study koto, traditional Japanese harp, despite the latter's dislike of such antiquated and impratical pursuits expected of women. In one of their lessons, Hana observes her daughter's struggle to come to terms with tradition and understands that however much Fumio champions the cause of "progress" or "change," she is still left in a lonely and vulnerable position without understanding of what she is changing.

I realize that this example may not be immediate to everyone, seeing as it comes from a novel few people will care to read. Yet in talking about these "neuroses," these ways in which we "kill time," to use a very ambiguous cliche, I cannot help but to turn to literature for guidance. After all, what else could I be remembering from four years in college if not what T.S. Eliot calls the "present moment of the past," being aware "not of what is dead, but of what is already living"? As the hours pass by, I find that the internet has the uncanny power of blinding this awareness, giving one instead what is "already dead." My thoughts may be like ghosts to you, things which you can imagine but neverthless do not believe. Even so, I often think back to the difference between what people say about a world without truth, as if just saying so magically invokes the presence of something we should all realize, something which is, oh no...true. I might as well have spoken up when there was time, but now what looked like a shortcut has only gotten us back to the same fork in the road--the same point which, for some reason, we can't find on the map. And what a strange, wonderful, and endless map it is. Something that you sure as hell can't google in your free time...

2 Comments:

Anonymous fumy said...

Have i should let you go home by train?? anyway i hope you go back to the US safe. Ciao!!

6:55 AM  
Blogger Jefu said...

no, it was a very kind deed that you did. it was no fault of yours that the traffic lights turned red or that the cars were unaccountably numerous. Thanks, Fums...

10:52 AM  

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