Monday, June 15, 2009


On 3rd January 2007, I posted in this journal an essay titled "Managing insanity in a proper way". Therein I quoted Ken Shiotani, my philosopher friend. I reproduce his words of wisdom here.

Another Shiotani quote stayed with me. I think it was one of these days when I was wont to hang out with him in Tokyo bars and Izakayas. After speaking wishfully of his friends who was "climbing the ladders" smoothly and becoming authors and associate professors, Shiotani sighed and said thus.

"I don't want to be a star myself. I would rather like to be the dark void in which all these constellations shine".

From "Managing madness in a proper way". The Qualia Journal, 3rd January 2009

Coming back from Hong Kong to Tokyo on the airplane, I thought that one could certainly imagine that one was the dark void in which the stars shone. Imagining the self as "voidness" makes one feel so eerie, lonely, transparent, isolated, omnipotent, permeating, and yet so intimate. I think it was this touch of intimacy which struck me most when I first heard Ken Shiotani mention the phrase.
We all need to have an element of the void sensu Shiotani in our heart, in order to remain a decent human being. We should never be dazzled by the stars alone.

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