Saturday, July 02, 2011

This is entropy!

The novelist Yoshinori Shimizu once wrote a masterpiece titled "Don't talk about entropy on your date". This humorous short story (written in Japanese) depicts how a science student, once he starts talking about entropy, gets carried away and forgets to take care of his lover, only to be dumped. Serves him right, right?

Don't talk about entropy on your date. This is a very valuable piece of advice for certain kinds of people, including myself. The subject of entropy is so fascinating, deep, and engrossing that it is really a danger to start talking about it.

Oh, you don't know what entropy is? Well, in a nutshell, it is a measure of the...wait, don't get me started. I will never stop.
Mr. Masanobu Koike, a long-time editor for the great literary critic Hideo Kobayashi, told me this fascinating story. One evening, Kobayashi drank with his artist friend in Tokyo. On their way back to Kamakura, Kobayashi started talking about entropy.

Kobayashi was a man of incredibly broad and deep learning. He once discussed at length the philosophy of Henri Bergson, in a famous unfinished work titled "Reflections".

They talked all the way on the train, but the artist friend did not understand what entropy was. Getting off the train at Kamakura station, they kept talking, walking along the road that runs parallel to the precincts of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.

As the artist friend did not get it, Kobayashi became all the more excited. While explaining entropy, Kobayashi got closer and closer to the artist friend, with the result that the artist was cornered towards the shallow stream along the road, until finally, he lost balance and dropped into the water.

Splash! The artist lay on his back, quite surprised and bewildered, wet all over. He looked up at Kobayashi, who triumphantly said, "now you see? This is entropy!"

We don't know how and if the artist got even.

I sometimes visit the beautiful old residence of Hideo Kobayashi on the mountain. Getting of the train at Kamakura station, and passing the aforementioned road, I tend to remember this great story of a passionate intellect. With entropy even Hideo Kobayashi can be carried away.

1 comment:

sonboo7 said...

Thank you for introducing the very intriguing episode of Hideo Kobayashi. I love this kind of story as maybe it sometimes reveals the person's "true self" clearer than anything else.

My father's eldest brother (who was the ex-husband of Shoko Ema)had a temper. As he was the editor of publisher Kaizo, he had a too much excited argument with Seizo Oogiya, then the editor of Weekly Asahi, and this argument led to the fight outside of a bar in Shinjuku, and as my uncle pushed down Mr.Oogiya to the pavement, Mr.Oogiya in revenge bit off my uncle's ear. After my uncle left Kaizo because of some kind of fight, the editor of Bungeishunju Shinpei Ikejima introduced him to the representative of Sankei, "This is the man who has got his ear bitten off by Oogiya", and because of this (rather) impressive episode, my uncle could get the position in Sankei. I wonder if he knew Hideo Kobayashi personally.

My father had this extraordinary temper perhaps from my uncle, then although I hated his temper as a child, I inherited it as well unfortunately.

Is there a book or an article about entropy written by you? I think I understand only the vage idea of entropy, but recently I have been thinking about it a lot, and kept being bewildered the fact that even the birth of our life is the part of it.

I would be careful not to talk about it on a date, if I had one.