Thursday, February 15, 2007

Compensations

The basic thesis is that memories of the past are not fixed. They transform themselves and change their shapes and appearances every time you return to them.

When I was into the low teens, I suddenly became seized by Lucy Maud Montgomery's "Anne of Green Gables" series. I first read all the Japanese translations, and went on to read the originals. It was actually the Anne series, together with J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, that kick-started my serious build-up of English as a foreign language.

I carried my enthusiasm somehow into the low twenties. I have been to Prince Edward Island twice.

Recently, I was reflecting on how I enjoyed this particular piece of juvenile literature, when I suddenly realized a hidden agenda.

One of the things that attracted me at that time was the beauty of the nature depicted in the writings. The famous landscapes in the novel such as "the lake of shining waters", "the haunted woods", etc. captured the imagination of the young me. I have been aware of this line of influence, but I had not realized that this sentiment had a lot to do with the destruction of environment that went with the rapid economical growth of Japan at the time of my childhood.

When I was a kid, the forests that I loved would be suddenly destroyed. As I visited my favorite woods after some period, it was not unusual to see the trees having been cut down, with bulldozers doing an immeasurable damage, revealing the bare soil, the men working seemingly without any pains in their conscience. As I look back, I realize that these incidents were deeply hurting to the naive person that was me.

Reflections make it seem likely that the Anne series in a sense provided the much needed psychological compensations for the natural beauties that rapidly disappeared from my childhood environment. Avonlea (the imaginary village in which Anne Shirley lives) represented in my mind an ideal place to inhabit where the enchantments of your childhood are preserved for ever, in a time capsule the existence of which is not to be hoped for in the real world.

5 comments:

LINUS said...

This text is so helpfull for me that I decided to learn English sereously again. I thank to Dr.Mogi for giving many chances, and would like to write my favorite book in my childhood. For me, that was "A night of the galaxy express" written by "Kenji Miyazawa". I visited Hnamaki hot spring after growing up to adult. "Iwate prefecture" (where Kenji teached and wrote some books) was full of beauty of nature. On the other hand, older my favorite picture book is "Curious Monkey George" series, especially "Curious George goes to the space". I hope to go to the space with George's figure, and to gaze the blue, green, brown, and white earth ! I will be staying at the garden under like "Kenji" without any "Rings"

susie said...

What a coincidence! I, too, read the Anne series againa and again in my teens. And I went to Prince Edward Island in my early twenties with my girlfriend who also loved Anne.

You are the first man I know who loves and reads the Anne series.

Anonymous said...

I had made an wrong idea that you had been girlish to love Anne's dreams.
Now I got you.

Moreover I got courage to see my own PAST seriously which would change time and time again!!!

Petrusa said...

This is very interesting. You, growing up on the other side of the world in a totally different culture, found yourself attracted to the beauty of the English country-side so lovingly described in "Anne of Green Gables". I, growing up in a totally different environment in Africa, was also attracted by these descriptions of nature. Furthermore, as a teenager I was intrigued by Japan and the remaining indigenous forests/woodlands. Growing up in a place where there are no natural lakes, I was totally captivated by photos of lakes, waterfalls, a bamboo-forest, trees on a steep mountain-side. The fact that the Japanese people would plant lots of trees in a park and thus create a small forest, so inspired me that I still plant trees whenever and wherever I can (I try to stick to indigenous trees as far as possible). In modern times, we often have to compromise and get our nature-"fix" from the pages of a book. Still, I think we all have this vague longing for nature and the shade of a tree.

Ken Mogi said...

Dear, Petrusa.
Thank you for your comments
and thank you for the insight of how you looked to the far side of the earth.

Your post got me interested and when I searched I discovered some entry on "guerrilla tree planting" .
Fascinating idea.