Thursday, December 31, 2009

The knack is to be struck unawares.

I love the Beatles. The definition of my heaven is when I drive in the U.K. countryside, listening to a Beatles album, preferably St. Peppers or Abbey Road.

My manner of encounter with the music of Beatles was unexpected. When I was 12, I was listening to the radio, and all of a sudden this music just jumped into my ear. I knew it was something quite different from what I had been hearing. That was the Beatles.

The time was 1975. Although by then the fabulous four had already dissolved the group, there were always waves of revival, and I was caught in one of them.

Once, I narrated my own initiation into the kingdom of Beatlemania to the famous photographer Shimpei Asai, who captured many memorable moments of the group's Tokyo tour. Shimpei said that it was an ideal way of getting to know the music of Beatles.

The knack is to be struck unawares. Without any prior knowledge, suddenly you're exposed to a whole new realm of the unknown. It is love at first sight or hearing.

What bliss. Life is full of surprises. You have to wait for one.

Writing this, I am reminded of Miranda's immortal speech in Tempest.

"O wonder!
How many goodly creatures are there here!
How beautious mankind is!
O brave new world,
That has such people in't!"

What a genius is William! How well he captures the blessings of the unknown!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Full of life!

I had several dialogues with the artist Shusaku Arakawa in 2006, including one television shoot. The location for the TV dialogue was in the “Reversible Destiny Lofts MITAKA -In Memory of Helen Keller“. The producer was Goichi Hanano.

Shusaku Arakawa is a fascinating person. He speaks with energy and passion, and his words are poems in motion.

Once Shusaku gave a lecture at the Tokyo University of Fine arts and Music. For those who attended the lecture, and for those who subsequently listened to it on the internet through the MP3 file, the talk is now a legend.

I particularly remember the moment when Shusaku cried aloud, noticing that he has inadvertently let out some saliva as he was talking too enthusiastically.

"Look! In that saliva, there are billions of organisms. You see? The world is like that! Full of life!"
The memory of that "full of life!" moment would stay with me for a long long time.

Human memories are strange. I somehow remembered my time with Shusaku Arakawa this morning.

With Shusaku Arakawa in the “Reversible Destiny Lofts MITAKA -In Memory of Helen Keller“, April 2006.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The ultimate role model

It is interesting that intellectuals who are not ostensibly religious are drawn to the life of Jesus Christ. Oscar Wilde, whose life on the surface seems to be one of indulgence and extravagance rather than prudence, came to a deep understanding of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ in his last years. Wilde was imprisoned for a "crime" which by today's standards is nothing but an expression of personal traits best left for discretions. Wilde's De Profundis, written in the prison, delights the reader with the artist's in-depth interpretation of the man that was Jesus Christ.

Leo Tolstoy, the novelist of Anna Karenina and War and Peace, dedicated his later years to writing on Christianity. His book "The Gospel in Brief" had a profound effect on Ludwig Wittgenstein, arguably the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. Wittgenstein carried the book everywhere, and recommended it to people he encountered, so that he came to be known as the "Gospel man".

It is interesting to observe in what context Jesus Christ became an inspiration for these valuable people. It was the principle of individuality. In Jesus Christ we find a man who did not become fearful of obeying one's inner voice even if that was against the common sense and codes of morality of the society at that particular time. Creativity is often proportional to the courage to venture into unbeaten paths, and Jesus Christ provided the ultimate role model.

In the pursuit of individuality, "God" could be a metaphor. God represents that which is unchangeable and ever life-supportive in the battles of individuality in a society where the peer pressures are sometimes too strong and the codes of behavior too demanding.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Soseki without stomachache

Sanshiro is one of my beloved novels by Soseki Natsume. As I was transferring data into my new notebook computer, I had some time, and was reading an English translation of Sanshiro.

Haruki Murakami writes the preface. What Mr. Murakami says is quite interesting. I quote.


The protagonist of Sanshiro, however, is different. He, too, is unable to find his proper place amid dislocated circumstances, but he never fully confronts those circumstances as a problem within himself. Instead, he accepts them in a relatively natural way, with a young man's particular kind of nonchalant resignation, as something entirely external to himself. "Oh, well, that's how it goes," he seems to say. Stomach pain has not yet entered his world. I think that Sanshiro is a personal favorite of mime because it depicts this natural functioning of the young protagonist's psyche in an utterly mellifluous style. Sanshiro watches life sweeping him along the same way he looks at clouds sailing through the sky. The free movement of his gaze draws us in almost before we know it, and we forget to view him critically.

Haruki Murakami, Preface to Sanshiro, translated by Jay Rubin.


Here, Mr. Murakami's usage of the "stomachache" metaphor is interesting. It is well known that Soseki Natsume suffered from stomach conditions for most of his career, especially in the late years. It may well be that such physical circumstances influenced what Soseki wrote as a novelist in a profound way, affecting the world view and the manner in which the protagonist of the story moved around in the fictitious world.

In this context, Haruki Murakami himself might be regarded as "Soseki without stomachache".

Sanshiro. Translated by Jay Rubin.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


My twitter account is

Please look in, and follow me if you like what you see.

Autobiography too soon

People have this idea that autobiographies are written by people who have "done it", whose merits and achievements have been more or less established.

There are times, however, when an autobiography is produced in the middle of a career, "prematurely" or too soon according to the above stated criterion.

Richard Wagner's "My Life" (original German title "Mein Leben") was one such autobiography out of context. Covering the composer's life between 1813 and 1864, it describes the often turbulent events and life's courses of the composer of Tannhauser, Lohengrin, and Tristan und Isolde. It was dictated to Cosima Wagner, his second life, in response to a request by King Ludwig II of Bavaria.

At the time of the publication of Mein Leben, Wagner's career was far from over. He went on to compose Die Meistersinger, complete Der Ring des Nibelungen, found the Bayreuth festival, and create his final opera Parsifal.
What was the significance of Mein Leben? I suspect that it led to a resurgence of Wagner's creative momentum at a critical period.

The significance is a psychological one. Looking back on one's past, searching for hidden meanings, discovering latent agenda, understanding one's own choices and coming to terms with one's own self is sometimes a necessary and benevolent process for the creator. In the healing of soul, in the journey into one's spiritual magma there is often a key for a renewed surge of the creative dynamo.

For these reasons, I regard the dictation of Mein Leben as a process of reconciliation and regeneration for the great artist.
Even if one doesn't actually go as far as producing a premature autobiography, reflecting on one's past is surely a panacea for the soul when the waters are troubled and your volcano remains silent.

Richard and Cosima Wagner

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Star of the Giants

When I was a kid, one of the things that I admired was "guts".

It was in part influenced by pieces of the Japanese manga. For example, "Star of the Giants" ("Kyojin no Hoshi"). This legendary sports anime was aired just as I entered the elementary school. The hero, Hyuma Hoshi, overcomes obstacles after obstacles to become a true star of the Tokyo Giants, the one and only powerful and popular baseball club at that time.

The idea was to make efforts, to show perseverance, and try to transform yourself, both physically and spiritually.

Somehow the idea of making strenuous efforts gripped me. When I was eight, I remember quite vividly how I started to run along the school track with some of my friends in the after hours. As my friends dropped running, I continued to run around, never stopping.

The theme tune of the Star of Giants was in my mind, inspiring the eight year old. It was a stupid thing to do, but fun.
I gave up running only when the bell rang and the school teacher came to tell us that it was time to go home.

To this day, I sometimes wonder if I don't carry the flag of perseverance still in my spirit. When things get hard and the circumstances are against you, I sometimes remember the small child that was I who made bold efforts to overcome.

I suspect that I was a loner in that respect. The influence of an amine has many colors for different people.

Some scenes from the now legendary "Star of the Giants"

Friday, December 25, 2009

Thunderbird 2, my friend.

Although less than 1% of Japanese are Christians, the custom of Christmas festivities and present givings are avidly followed here, especially by the ever eager kids.

When I was six, I wanted so badly the secret base of thunderbirds, complete with Thunderbird 1 and Thunderbird 2. I repeatedly looked at the picture of the machine-equipped and gadget-filled island in the advertisements with shining eyes.
If only I could get the secret base!

The world will be mine, I thought.

I could not get the secret base itself, though. To my great disappointment, the local store did not carry it, and the idea of internet shopping was a futuristic non-existence in those days.

I got a Thunderbird 2 instead.

Although not particularly stylish, because of its abilities to carry tons of equipments, Thunderbird 2 fascinated me. Its fat shape was universally popular among boys.

Maybe that's why my body around the belly resembles the Thunderbird 2 nowadays.

Thunderbird 2, my friend.

The secret base ("Tracy Island").
Something similar to this infused
the 6 year old me with yearning and desire.

Thunderbird 2. My friend.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Comment moderation

Due to the increase of comment spams, the comments to this blog are now moderated. They would appear after I review and approve them. Thank you for your understanding. I hope you guys keep posting interesting and stimulating comments. Your comments are always very encouraging and inspire me. Thanks!

Quite close to the weakness often lies one's strength

One is naturally shy of exhibiting one's weakness. It might be a point of attack for the enemy, making us vulnerable in the world when at large.

However, one should also know that quite close to the weakness often lies one's strength.

One of the brain's most important functions is to adapt to the environment. In order to do that, one needs to read the context, and adjust one's activities. However, sometimes the failure to be flexible in the context can be actually become one's jump board to greatness.

Albert Einstein, for example. He was a non-conformist, dropping out of the gymnasium and traveling in Europe alone in the teens. At the university, he refused to address his professor in anything other than "Herr" ("Mr."), a social blunder in the German speaking world at that time. Albert's reasoning was that he did not respect him.

A more "context-intelligent" person would have acted otherwise, but then Albert Einstein could not have been the historical figure we know. The simple refusal to adapt to the context led to the great originality of the theory of relativity, which revolutionized the way we view the universe. Albert's weakness was also his strength.

The greatest physicist since Newton might appear to be an extreme example for our daily relevance, but we do learn a lot from the extremities. We should all be more tolerant of our own weaknesses.

The young Albert Einstein

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Paper hat

While I was studying in Cambridge, I was invited to my mentor Horace Barlow's Xmas party once. It was a small and cozy party, with Horace's family and lab members.

Horace at that time was already of a venerable age, and yet it was fun to watch how he enjoyed opening the Christmas cracker, just like a child.

Out of all the contents of the Christmas cracker, the paper hat was the main thing. People wore them without exception, including Horace.

I have a vivid recollection of how Horace was smiling, with the paper hat on his head, looking like a five year old trying to pretend to be a king. To this day I cherish the memory of the wonderful sunshine emanating from Horace's countenance.

A Christmas crackers is a great inducer of the child in one. A child inducer is always a good thing.

Horace Barlow.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Giant trees

When I went to Cambridge, U.K. for the first time some 15 years ago, I was fascinated by the trees. Walking along the path in Jesus Green, my heart was won by the huge old trees flanking the straightway. The fact that people in Cambridge took care so that these lovely things could be preserved, was enough testimony of the generally benevolent spiritual environment of the city, not to mention the excellent colleges and the University.

Wherever I go, I look for giant trees, and try to make friends with them. I touch the bark, look up at the leaves, and feel the lights and winds that have nurtured the remarkable specimen for all those years.

The giant camphor tree in Kamo, Kagoshima is one of my favorites. I have visited the tree several times, and get a renewed inspiration every time.

Over the years, the giant camphor tree has been revered as a deity. The tree is estimated to be about 1500 years old.
It is interesting how the passage of time left traces on the surface of the bark, and twisted the whole body in an impressive, dynamic form.

Time brings venerability, and venerability is made visible by the interaction of so many elements, directed by nobody, meant for no admirer.

Thus, I am just an incidental admirer.

Giant trees are one of the most ancient and powerful art forms found in Nature. The incident makes one cry.

The giant camphor tree in Kamo, Kagoshima.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Can we really speak of "red"?

Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote, at the end of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, that "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."

I was discussing things with Ken Shiotani, my philosopher friend, during the annual "Ojisan Onsen" ("Middle-agers hot spring") trip.

Shiotani referred to the philosophy of Spinoza, Frege, and Leibniz. Shiotani stressed how in some systems of thought God appeared as an absolute infinite, something beyond human comprehension. Of God, no description is in principle possible.

Then I said to Shiotani that God-like things should be everywhere. Can we really speak of "red"? How about "love"? "Time"? The conversations we carry are full of intractable and distant things, the distance closed only incompletely by our incessant efforts to make the world tangible. But in the end, the essence of things remain inaccessible. Shiotani responded with his observations on the difference between the systems of Spinoza and Leibiz.

I and Ken Shiotani have been friends since we were the sweet age of 18. Talking about essential things in the small hours made us feel like students again.

Small hours talk. My best friend and philosopher Ken Shiotani, at the Shuzenji Onsen 20 Decemebr, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Sumo wrestling with Akira

Akira Wani, now teaching at the law department of University of Tokyo, is a good friend of mine since senior high school. He is a legendary genius. Akira's score for the test conducted by the National Center for University Entrance Examination was top of the nation, taking 981 out of 1000. For the graduation essay book of the senior high, Akira wrote an essay titled "On the concept of glory in the Latin civilization", while the other students wrote on the memories of school life and other mediocre themes.

In the senior high school, we discussed many things, history, philosophy, esthetics, politics, etc. Meeting with Akira was one of the most fortunate encounters in my life. It uplifted my spiritual and intellectual conditions tremendously. When I entered University of Tokyo, I felt that the intellectual atmosphere rather deteriorated, compared to the intense interaction I used to have with Akira, although the university is supposed to attract the academically high achieving kids of the nation.

So the senior high school days with Akira was a heaven. I remember quite well one particular day, when I happened to see Akira Wani at the train station. He was reading a book. It was a biography of Queen Elisabeth I of England. Out of curiosity, I asked Akira "Why are you reading such a book?" Akira answered, "as I am busy with studies, I need to read such a book from time to time, otherwise I cannot maintain the balance of my spirit".

This morning I am writing about Akira as I suddenly remembered one episode from the senior high days.

In the sports class, we were one day told by the teacher to do sumo wrestling. Chance had it that I was to do a match with Akira. The idea of sumo wrestling with my respected friend was something beyond my imagination. Out of the blue, I started to laugh, and I could not really control myself. It was ridiculous, absurd, and yet so fascinating.

Finally, sumo wrestling we did. I don't quite recall who won. I remember though that Akira was quite solemn in the match, and conducted his duty as a serious wrestler all the same.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The variable unconscious

In the Brain Club (our research group's journal club) yesterday, Tetsuro Ishikwa, (Ph. D student) introduced Shurger et al. (2009). Their research reported that reproducibility distinguishes conscious from nonconscious neural representations.

I found the idea quite interesting. When we see an object, the conscious percept remains basically the same, no matter how often we may observe it. The unconscious cognitive processes associated, however, might be quite variable, corresponding to the heterogeneous multiple processes that makes our cognition robust.

Take the particular example of an apple. The visual image of an apple is basically the same, if we look at a particular apple from a certain angle and under specific lighting conditions. The significance attributed to the apple, however, might be different from time to time, depending on one's mood, memory, feelings, and the context in which the fruit is presented.

The picture emerges that conscious perception corresponds to the invariable in perception, while there is much variability in the related unconscious processes. It is the co-existence and co-dynamics of two processes of distinguished nature that makes human cognition robust and evolvable.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Portable texts

I think it was youtube which changed my attitude towards the portable modalities.

Used to be that I listened to the music on the portable audio player a lot, whether it was walkman or iPod. Nowadays, I don't listen to portable music that much.

The fun of listening to music on the youtube in the hotel room when traveling has changed my sensitivities to the portables. When you are walking on the street, or on the train, you are exposed to a lot of noise naturally. Listening to a portal music is done on top of that, which is sometimes OK, but not really perfect.

Listening to music in a hotel room, based on your whimsical moods, has opened a pathway for joy hitherto unknown, and in a sense made the portable music outdated.

Now I am more interested in portable reading. Whether it is the Amazon Kindle or Sony Reader, I think portable text has a great future.

In my life, portable music would keep having a place, but I foresee more importance assigned to portable text, while the music would return to the room and concerts. In that mood, I would be needing less of the earphone.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wuthering Heights

The Wuthering Heights was one of the novels that I read in my teens in English language as I built up my linguistic ability and sensitivities for life in general.

The thing that struck me the most was the revelation of how Heathcliff, after Catherine's death, has been wandering around the Wuthering Heights in search of the loved one's spiritual afterglows. The image of the man walking in the wilderness, seeing the invisible, remained with me vividly, although the details of the novel has now escaped.

It is interesting how a certain type of human nature fascinates one. The respect for someone pursuing something that is beyond the scopes of the everyday has been the persistent trait of my adult life.

That kind of attitude has been nurtured by encountering a novel like the Wuthering Heights, and sharing the feelings and understandings with friends of the same feather.

Precious things are hard to find and keep.

Lawrence Olivier as Heathcriff in Wuthering Heights (1939), with Geraldine Fitzgerald.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reading fever

It seems that something in me has sparked recently. I simply cannot stop reading.

I get on the subway just because I can read in the car. I read Spinoza, Wittgenstein, Schopenhauer, Wagner, Dazai, Natsume, Terada, Penrose, etc. and can never get enough of it.

I remember my past reading spells quite well. When I was 9, scientific fiction novels suddenly captured my imagination. I read all the juvenile novels available in the library. In the senior high school, I learned to read English novels starting from Lucy Maud Montgomery to Jane Austin and Emily Bronte.

I don't know what brought the current reading spree. I could keep reading all day, if it were not for the writings and meetings and lectures and television shootings that necessitate me.

I think there is something in my brain that has now gone over the threshold, and that "something" is telling me to keep reading, infusing me with a never satiable urge.

The reading fever is quite interesting in that it perhaps symbolizes a period of inner transformation, when one is carried by the tides of the unconscious dynamics to hitherto unknown territories of intellects and feelings.

This passion is interesting. I highly recommend people to be infected from time to time.

200 days

The entry "My mother and Hibari" marked 200 consecutive days of continuous entries, the writing streak starting on the 6th of June 2009.

I look back on my own perseverance with a feeling of humble satisfaction and resolve to keep the streak as long as the circumstances allow.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My mother and Hibari.

Hibari Misora is a legendary Japanese singer, sadly no longer with us. Hibari had a concert in the Tokyo Dome once, shortly before she passed away.

The thing is that my mother is a great fan of Hibari, and was lucky enough to go to the Tokyo Dome concert.

Yesterday, passing a Tokyo street, I happened to hear Hibari's voice, singing "Kawa no Nagare No Youni" ("Like the flow of a river"), and immediately remembered how my mother was enthusiastic about Hibari Misora and was overjoyed to be able to attend the concert. At that time, of course, mother did not know Hibari was to pass away so soon.

When I remembered the Hibari concert episode, I felt tremendously happy for my mother, who is up and well at the mature age of 75.

Well, that's all.

Hibari Misora singing at the now legendary 1988 concert.
(From a DVD cover)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Imagine no universities

I know a university is a good thing. You meet your mentor, friends, and colleagues. It nurtures human knowledge, and updates and creates concepts for future generations.

On the other hand, a university is an institution. It harbors its members, while rejecting others. I know people whose lives have been crushed because they could not enter the universities they wished. There are the pompous and self-important types who just pride themselves on being or having been a member of a particular university. Since any institution has its elements of malice, and since we are living in the internet era, let's do what we can to promote the goodies and discourage the vices.

Imagine no universities. On the internet, you can access to endless sources of academic information. Do we really still need institutions whose members are limited, due to physical constraints, which have no significance in the internet era? Why don't we tell the kids that they can explore the universe of knowledge without necessarily belonging to a particular institution? Why don't we encourage the crushed people that they don't have to feel inferior because of some stupid entrance exams taken at the age of 18?

Why don't we say loud that knowledge is open, for everyone, for someone from the street, as well as for those in the "ivory tower"?

Imagine no universities.

You just need to know how.

The tools are here and now.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Eight Below

Here it is getting colder and colder. In a metropolis like Tokyo, the time you spend inside is considerable. As a consequence, I don't wear a coat, even in the middle of winter. I don't like the feeling of being "suffocated" by heat as one enters a building, subway, or a taxi with one's coat on. I would rather bear the biting wind as I walk for a few minutes on the Tokyo street, in order to spend the indoors in comfort.

Things were quite different when I traveled to Germany in January. It was very cold. Actually, I later learned that Europe was experiencing an unusual freeze spell at that time, with the temperature reaching 20 below zero Celcius.

Here's a picture I took in Weimar, as we were walking on the street one late morning in that beautiful city. The sky was clear,
and the sun was out. Even so, the thermometer read eight below.

On the night of arrival in Weimar, I think it was 15 below or something. When it is cold as that, I discovered that your nostril
hairs would freeze.

"Paki paki". That is the Japanese expression for something that gets frozen and stiff. I remember quite well how my nostril hairs went "paki paki" as I walked through the Weimar night. Actually, that was not an unpleasant sensation.

Even a cold-stupid person as I had to wear a coat then. One could not simply survive otherwise. It seems that I have a high (or rather, a low) threshold for coat wearing, and in Weimar that threshold was reached.

The thermometer reading eight below, in Weimar, January 2009.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Gino Yu came to visit

Gino Yu came to visit Tokyo. Currently Gino is a professor at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He was kind enough to accept our invitation, at a very short notice, to give a lecture at a class room at Meiji University, which was arranged by Prof. Masato Goda.

I came to know Gino when I visited Hong Kong for a conference. His personality fascinated me immediately.
He talks with such gaiety that sunshine seems to emanate from him. Gino is a "natural" in grasping what are salient and finding deep connections between things. Listening to his ideas is a delight for the soul.

I was glad that my students were exposed to his good influence. When you give a talk, the manner is as important as the content. A dull speaker bores the audience not necessarily because of poor ingredients but often due to a bad attitude.

Had a fun time afterwards in a Izakaya near the university.

Many thanks for your time and inspirations, Gino.

Gino Yu giving the lecture in Tokyo

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tree house

When I made my pilgrimage to Bayreuth this last summer, there were several things besides Wagner that I captured my imagination.

I remember one house on the street vividly, on my way to the Festival house from the hotel. There was a tree house in the garden.

And it was just a private house. Imagine a tree house in your backyard! What fantastic child years you would have!
I have always been fascinated by the trees. Staying high up among the boughs for a prolonged time has been one of my unfulfilled dreams.

We noisy brats used to climb the trees, to the horror of the onlooking adults, and do various things. Somehow the tree time liberated our spirit.

From evolutionary point of view, it might be that one is more at ease and relaxed when one is on the tree, avoiding the hazard that comes from being on the ground, which makes one vulnerable to the attacks by predators. Climbing the tree, needless to say, gives one a magnificent view.

Books are made of trees, and the spiritual effects are accidentally similar to those by the trees. Reading books gives you the vantage point of a wider vista, where you can breathe more freely and without restraint.

Reading books on a tree bough becomes thus a fascinating combination. Something I haven't done to my satisfaction yet in my life.

The lovely tree house in Bayreuth.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pub time in London

As the year comes near to the end, I remember things that have passed me. One of the highlights of my sojourn this round of the earth's sun-wise orbit was the visit to London with Shinya Shirasu in summer.

Although it was a short visit (only a crazy two nights stay), some things stand vividly in my memory. The Pub time for example. My favorite memory is facing Shinya in the London Pub, especially the one in Kensington, where we sipped the typically lukewarm liquid of English pride in that golden afternoon. I would have liked to spend more time like that. In actuality, our heavenly pastime lasted only for one hour, at the most.

I always say that one can "grow" the past if you return to it repeatedly in your memory. The pub time in London with Shinya is one of the precious mnemonic seeds that I would like to nurture as I close my eyes and escape into the kingdom of recollections and imaginations.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The lights corridor

The Meiji Shrine is one of my favorite places. I would like to stroll this haven in the heart of Tokyo.

The lights are never the same, as they come through the leaves of the trees, which have grown into mature shapes 100 years after they were transplanted from many places across the island. Before the transplantation, the shrine site used to be a grassland, I hear.

I would like to ponder and weigh, as I pass through the lights corridor. I come face to face with my unconscious, where I find many strange animals and vegetations.

And my whole body including the brain is the only recording devise. Photography has a limited power in capturing the moment. As I stroll, I vividly sense the environment and myself. I hark, remember, and project.

Before long I find myself in the busy Tokyo streets again. The magic is over.

The Meiji Shrine forest on a recent visit.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

The headmaster's platform.

I visited a couple primary schools on Uku island, an small island off Kyushu with a population of 3200.

In the school play ground, I found a very familiar platform.

Used to be that when there was a school gathering, usually in the morning, the headmaster would stand on the platform, and deliver a list of "dos and don'ts" to the pupils.

Other teachers and sometimes pupils would stand on the platform. When I occasionally stood on the platform, to make announcements as a representative of the pupil's body or to receive an award from the headmaster, I became very nervous. My legs would literally tremble.

Such a bittersweet nostalgia surges within one's bosom as one looks at such a object of sentimental values. The headmaster's platform.

All because a child has a magical power of imagination.

The headmaster's platform

Monday, December 07, 2009

In a nutshell, yes.

I am in Hakata right now, writing this entry. In the afternoon I am going off to Uku island, where an internet connection is not likely available. I am writing this entry in advance, and register it on the blogger system to be published on Monday morning JST, in order not to break the writing streak of the qualia journal, which would achieve 200 consecutive days in a row on 15th December 2009.

I am with Prof. Meguro of Kyushu University. We are discussing lunch. When I was asked what I would like, I answered "well, I would love to have something that comes in white, opaque soup, with a long thing made of flour, and a red fish roe which is rather spicy as topping, and you could have a second helping of the long flour thing if you wanted."

Mr. Atsushi Sasaki of Dentsu laughed, and simply said "you want a ramen noodle!"

In a nutshell, yes.

Prof. Meguro is giving directions as to where to find a ramen noodle restaurant. I am not sure if my wishes would come true.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

I could not have been otherwise.

A few days ago I wrote about the Kaki (persimmon fruit). The sight of a tree standing against the blue sky, with its boughs full of kaki fruits, is one of the most striking and vivid in the seasons of autumn and early winter. As an inhabitant of the Kanto plane, I am so accustomed to it. When out in the suburbs, I am unconsciously seeking for the signs of season, the Kaki trees and Susuki (Japanese pampas grass), for example.

That sensitivities and feelings are products of the environment is not a striking observation. It is very much true nevertheless. We humans are products of the soil, just as the trees, which cannot move about by themselves, are products of the grounds on which they grow.

Spinoza, in his magnum opus "Ethica", argues that this universe could have been otherwise, due to the perfect nature of God. If so, we are products of this particular universe by necessity, and we could not have been otherwise.

To think that I could not have been otherwise brings a strange consolation.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Orange Revolution.

When I was going to the Kindergarten there was only one drink that a kid loved. Fanta. In the children's gatherings, the adults would bring bottles of Fanta, as special treats.

First everybody seemed to love the grape flavor. When the pleasure time came, our small hands would invariably reach for the Fanta Grape bottles. There was actually a competition, in order to secure our own grape bottles, and not to be forced to accept the less desirable orange. It appeared as if the Reign of Grape would flourish for ever.

Then something extraordinary happened. One day somebody realized that the orange was not such a bad flavor. Maybe it was even better than the grape. A silent revolution was developing in front of our little eyes. Like a dramatic turn of events in a Reversi game, more and more kids would start preferring the orange flavor, until one day the little hands would reach only for the orange bottles. The grape bottles stood unattended. It was a sad sight.

To this day, I remember quite vividly how my world-view shook as the trend changed. Although it was a surely small shift in taste, I felt as if the ground on which my feet stood collapsed.

By the time I entered the elementary school, the Orange Revolution was complete. For some years, some of us small mortals did not forget how our sensitivities had been touched.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Eating Kaki

In Japanese, some words have double meanings. "kaki", for example, can indicate a persimmon fruit. It can also mean the "oyster". A strange property of natural language comprehension is that based on the context, one tacitly assumes that "kaki" is one or the other. When "kaki" is used in the context of the persimmon fruit, one almost never thinks of the other possible meaning.

There is a famous haiku poem which can be translated as "Eating kaki, The bells of the Horyuji temple, Ringing"

Kaki here obviously refers to the persimmon fruit, which is a fruit of the autumn. It is fitting. One remembers how beautiful Horyuji temple, one of the oldest surviving wooden buildings, appears when the leaves turn red in preparation for winter.

Yesterday, when walking in the street, it suddenly occurred to me, for the first time ever in my life, that based on the sound alone, "kaki" in the famous haiku poem can also mean "oyster".

"Eating Oyster, The bells of the Horyuji temple, Ringing".

The scene is changed dramatically. What a mismatch! A comical feeling is invoked, and the haiku poem is changed beyond recognition.

The strange thing is that it never occurred to me to interpret the poem in this way--until yesterday, that is. I wonder what struck my brain out of the blue. A strange combination of neural activities, perhaps.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Collision without prior knowledge

I came to a Haiku meeting ("Kukai") at Yugawara, a famous Onsen (hot spring) retreat, about one hour from Tokyo.

The meeting was organized by Madoka Mayuzumi, my good friend and a famous haiku poet.

I took the bath after a strenuous and yet enjoyable haiku session. A hot spring is a godsend for a schedule-pursued, overworked brat like me. I stretched my arms and legs, and took a deep sigh.

After thus bringing back life to my system, I was putting my clothes on. In Japanese Onsens, it is customary to have an official notice of the effective elements contained in the hot spring water in the room next to the hot spring. It is somehow required by law, I think. Anyway, I have somehow made it my custom to read the list of effective elements only after I have taken the bath.
It is just a matter of taste. I don't like to pre-configure my mind. I would like to dip myself into the hot water without consciously knowing what the experience is supposed to do for me. If I had preconceptions, it would "taint" the purity.

The philosophy is not just for taking the hot spring. Knowing the factual details only after the actual experience has become my way of life. Since we know so little about the conditions of life, collision without prior knowledge seems to be the only way.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Make me whole

De Prufundis, an essay in the form of a letter written during imprisonment by Oscar Wilde, has such a beautiful ending.

Wild imagines how he would feel on the day of release, and he thinks of the flowers that would greet him.

I tremble with pleasure when I think that on the very day of my leaving prison both the laburnum and the lilac will be blooming in the gardens, and that I shall see the wind stir into restless beauty the swaying gold of the one, and make the other toss the pale purple of its plumes, so that all the air shall be Arabia for me.

Then the essay ends as Wilde ponders how he would still be rejected by society, but would be made whole by nature, who would cleanse him in great waters.

Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer; but Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed. She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.

When I read this, I realized that all pieces of conventional reasoning about the famous "Mary's Room" thought experiment by Franck Jackson have been missing one crucial thing.

Mary, when she is released from her black-and-white world, and sees the wild flowers for the first time, would not only learn the color qualia but also weep, deeply moved, her very existence shuttered and them made anew, by her encounter with the brave new world.

She has been made whole.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Hideo Kobayashi

Close to midnight I had a phone call from Shinya Shirasu. He was drinking with his friends, and wondered if I could join them. I had my work, so I said regretfully that I could not make it.

Maybe Shinya's call had a strange effect on my unconscious. I had a dream. In it I was lecturing in a room. After the lecture, I realized that Hideo Kobayashi was among the audience. In a sudden pang of regret, I reproached myself for not noticing the legendary critic's presence. Then my heart started to appreciate how warm and embracing the smile of Hideo Kobayashi has been. Because of the warmth, it was now all right. I still thought I would have loved to talk to Hideo Kobayashi, but all was well as it was.

When I awoke, I realized that Hideo Kobayashi is dead for a long time.

Hideo Kobayashi is Shinya's grandfather. It is strange how a small experience can be wondrously interpreted in one's unconscious, reflected in the occasional manifestations in the conscious, while the vast ocean of the unconscious remains inaccessible.

Monday, November 30, 2009


I don't know what is happening, but I seem to be less interested in the physical testimonies of life such as photos, and sound recordings these days.

They are certainty useful. Without photography, for example, I would have never known how Albert Einstein looked. If even a second of Napoleon's voice was here with us, it would have changed our perception of history beyond recognition.

However, as far as I am concerned, I seem to have come to the realization that in my life, precious things are never recorded. These moments would remain within me as a faint trace of memory, if they retain their feeble presences at all.

I would certainly keep taking photos and making MP3 recordings. But at the same time I would be harking, attending to my inner traces, remembering the times that have been, which is possibly the only significant action, against civilization, in the continuation of an ancient spirit.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


Right now I am in Kochi city, where the ENJIN 01 conferences are being held.

In the evening, after a long day of strenuous and yet enjoyable schedule, we went to a Sushi restaurant. We ordered some delicacies. The Aori Squid was one of them.

As I chewed the sweet and strongly-textured meat, I suddenly remembered how as a child it was hard to swallow a squid.

I always wanted to behave like an adult, so when the Sushi came I tried the squid like the grown-ups. However, as I chewed on, the squid in my mouth would start to have the texture of gum. I could not bite them into pieces. Gradually the squid would lose all tastes. A mouthful of culinary nightmare was in the making.

It may have been the junior high school days when I finally learned how to swallow a squid. Now I enjoy them hugely, accompanied by beer and sake.

Growing up is learning how to swallow a squid.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

My canals

On a recent visit to an elementary school, I remembered one thing which has been cherished in my bosom for so many years.
I don't quite know how it started, but when I was a 2nd grader the fad among boys was to make "canals" on the desk in the classroom. The wood was soft, and you could cut tracks with the ball point pen. The ball would eventually come off the pen, which one used as a "vessel" which "voyaged" through the canals.

Needless to say, the vandalism was not particularly recommended by the school teacher. You were not supposed to damage the school property. In a strange twilight of illegal activities that is open only to a child, we competed who could make the most interesting map of canals on the desk.

It was a play in imagination. I developed a kingdom, named the places, and the network grew in my mind like a throbbing organization.

At the end of the semester, there was a desk shuffle, and I had to say goodbye to my beloved kingdom. The canals were still within my reach though. In March, when I became a 3rd grader, we moved to a new classroom. On the last afternoon, I went to touch the wood. I vividly remember my canals lit by the sunshine from the window.

I have not seen my canals since. How I miss them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Flower-like life

I was reading Oscar Wilde's De Profundis, and came across this sentence, where Wilde refers to Jesus Christ.

"He was the first person who ever said to people that they should live 'flower-like lives.' He fixed the phrase. He took children as the type of what people should try to become. He held them up as examples to their elders, which I myself have always thought the chief use of children, if what is perfect should have a use."

How true. We should all try to become children. The children in us is the only hope in our lives on this earth.

Science tells us about neoteny. We retain that special gift of childhood, to learn new things, and integrate them into our system.
The everyday of a child is literally the succession of a flower-like life, where, with learning new things, flowers bloom and blossom. Without awakening to the previously unknowns, the plants in our heart perish.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


On the Shinkansen train back from Kyoto, I was returning to my seat after going to the deck. Passing by, I saw a traveler with his girlfriend, apparently an American.

The sight of him made me jealous. Not because of his beautiful girl friend. The reason lay in what he was doing.

He was reading something with his Amazon Kindle. I couldn't tell what he was reading, as I did not stop to confirm or anything. He was apparently enjoying himself, relaxed like a slug and smiling in the spring sunshine.

I had an Amazon Kindle in my backpack, too. It carried loads of things for me to read. Oh, the heavenly bliss for an absorbed bookworm! But the pleasure was not to be mine.

I had to finish manuscripts, papers, send e-mails. It was my destiny to work like a dog, even after I going through a strenuous work schedule in the ancient capital, devoid of a leisure time to enjoy the legendary autumn leaves of the Kyoto mountain. Once in Tokyo, another assignment was waiting for me.

How I wanted to dive into the vast ocean of alphabets on the digital ink, travel through time, and meet deceased people. I desired to hear distant voices, and watch strange forms. The wish was so strong. But alas, it was not to be. Not like this lucky guy!

These thoughts went through my central nervous system only for a very brief time.

With a sigh traveling at a speed of 300 kilometers per hour, I returned to my seat, and duly started typing, like a ferocious fox in the field.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fighting with the floor

I have several masters whom I respect very much. The writer Makoto Shiina is one of them.

Makoto Shiina is known for his poignant novels based on his own experience, as well as humorous essays in the outdoors.
He is well-built, and yet smart, and keeps a good figure.

When I asked him how he kept fit, he said it was simple. "You fight with the floor once a day". "How do you mean?" I asked.

"You do 200 push-ups, 200 sit-ups, and 200 squats every day. You don't use a machine. You just fight with the floor. That's all."

"When do you do that?"

"Before I go to sleep."

Makoto Shiina is known for his love for beers.

"Even when you are drunk?" I asked.

"Yes, even when I am drunk. It is like brushing your teeth, you see. If you don't do it, you don't feel good".

So the master told me how he kept fit.

For some reasons, I love running outside, but I have never really accustomed myself to fighting with the floor. I try from time to time, but I can never continue the exercise. Thus, it is difficult to be true to the master.

One of these days I would try to be true to the master. But then 200 times each is a tall order. Maybe I should start from 30 times each.

Life is so hard.

With the writer Makoto Siina in a recent meeting.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tokyo Sky Tree

I was going to a theatre for a practice, when the car passed by the Tokyo Sky Tree.

I stopped typing on my laptop computer and looked up at is looming figure in a mixture of expectation and appreciation.
The tower, planned to reach the height of 634 m when completed, is now under construction.

The postwar Japan experienced rapid recovery and economic growth. People were still poor, but there was much hope and the future was perceived as bright.

The Tokyo Tower, completed in 1958 was a symbol of that era, depicted in a popular film ("Always san-chome no yuhi") recently.

More than 50 years later, The Tokyo Sky Tree is constructed into a new symbol. What Zeitgeist would it be seen to represent in the years to come, I wondered. I am living in it, yet I do not see clearly. Maybe things can be seen clearly only with the benefit of hindsight.

The Tree disappeared into the rear. After a concealed sigh, I went back to typing. The car reached the destination however before I could do any meaningful chunk of work.

The Tokyo Sky Tree, to be completed in 2011.

The Tokyo Tower, symbol of the postwar recovery of Japan.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Bittersweet reflections

In Japan, the Meiji era is known as a great time of change. Under Western influences, Japan tried to catch up, importing many ideas and technologies from Europe.

At such a time, it is psychologically natural to focus on new things to come. The bright images of a new civilization. Steam locomotives. Brick and stone buildings. The electric lights. These novel sights astonished people and moved their hearts. They testify the irreversibility of time.

On the other side of the coin, however, there must have been people who looked on the past era with nostalgia and longing. The Edo era was a unique civilization in itself. Perhaps even more harmonious and balanced than the decades that followed from the aesthetic point of view.

Yesterday, a series of events made me wonder how the Edo era must have appeared to people in the Meiji era. This exercise in imagination led to reflections on my own life.

Naturally, I am concerned about my future, as future is the only available degree of freedom for a living organism. I also look back on the past. The bittersweet reflections. Things that are gone for ever into the enigma of time.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Amazon Kindle

A few days ago, my Amazon Kindle arrived. I have been purchasing several books on the online store since.

My friends know well that I am a gadget man. The possession of the e-book reader has added much sparkle and joy to my train rides in the capital of Tokyo.

It has also solved a practical problem. As I am a VERY disorganized man, in the course of reading a book, I am likely to leave the copy somewhere. Then I forget where I have left it. When I have the urge to read on, it is often the case that I have to do an extensive office searching before I can satisfy my bookworm urge. This delay is sometimes fatal, as the urge can become stagnant and dissolves as times fly.

With the Amazon Kindle, I can read several books in parallel, and never lose track of them. Theoretically speaking, of course, there is the chance that you misplace Amazon Kindle in the office, and you are obliged to organize a one man search party again. However, the enigma is that I am very good at holding to a digital devise. I almost never lose track of them. It's my digital instinct, perhaps.

Thus, the first few days of my partnership with Amazon Kindle has been just lovely. I have a very long list of books that I would like to read on this devise. My train rides and toilet times would continue to be enriched by it for many days to come.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Inner pictures

Nowadays, we are used to the idea of capturing moments of life with camera.

Needless to say, it used to be quite different in the old times.

Although photos do help us in recalling things in the past, most of the precious things in early life is remembered privately, without any photographic records to testify them.

When I was about 7 years old, there was a baby sparrow on the road in front of home. It was apparently feeble and helpless, unable to fly by itself.

I held it in my palms in an endeavor to give protection, and carried to the living room. Looking at the sparrow, my mother said, "maybe it wouldn't eat anything". I went to a pet shop with my sister, and bought some bird food. My mother was right. No matter how hard we tried, the baby sparrow would not swallow a thing. I knew that wild animals sometimes would refuse to eat in captivity. I was very worried.

Then things started to move very quickly. First there was a slight commotion outside. I heard the sound of wings. The baby sparrow started to react.

Before I realized that the mother sparrow have come to the rescue, the baby sparrow was already airborne. The strength left in it surprised me. Although I thought the windows were closed, there was this tiny gap. The baby sparrow flew straight to it, and went out into the open air with mother sparrow before I could do anything.

Thus all was well in the end. I was delighted, although there was a slight pang of loneliness.

To this day, I can recall the scenes of this incident very vividly. Although there are no photographic records, I still carry the inner pictures with me. I sometimes recall the gallery of images that made one of the most memorable experiences in my early life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Precisely because it is absurd.

After writing about "Alice in Wonderland" yesterday, I remembered many different things.
The sequel, "Through the Looking-Glass", is also very delightful. I love, for example, the remark by the Red Queen.

"Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"

Historically, this sentence has been giving inspirations to evolutionary biologists.
When I first read the Looking-Glass in the teens, the Jabberwocky poem struck me with its sensitive sense of humor.

This was the poem that Alice read.


'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!'

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought--
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

'And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

'It seems very pretty,' she said when she had finished it, 'but it's
RATHER hard to understand!' (You see she didn't like to confess, even
to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all.) 'Somehow it seems
to fill my head with ideas--only I don't exactly know what they are!
However, SOMEBODY killed SOMETHING: that's clear, at any rate--'

" However, SOMEBODY killed SOMETHING: that's clear, at any rate".
What a fine spirit of nonsense!

Nonsensical things lifts our spirit.
And the world is the merrier, precisely because it is absurd.

The Jabberwocky. Illustration by John Tenniel.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A picture or conversation, please!

The immortal "Alice's adventures in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll begins thus:

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, 'and what is the use of a book,' thought Alice 'without pictures or conversation?'

I really love the way Alice expresses her preferred condition for a book, namely "with a picture or conversation in it".
A picture or a conversation is like a scaffold which attracts a child's attention. As one is drawn deeply into the story, other things come to the rescue of the "keep going on", but there must be some initial inducers.

The necessity for a "spoonful of sugar" continues well into adulthood. There are things that makes our eyes gleam with kindled enthusiasm when we encounter a strange thing.

We are children deep inside, with things setting fire to our investigative mind in a manner like that "all in a golden afternoon".

Therefore, "a picture or conversation, please!"

Here's a picture. The white rabbit alluring Alice into Wonderland.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A tiny leaf dancing

In Andrei Tarkovsky's film "Solaris", the ocean plays an important role. The ever changing, whirling tides are living organisms, beyond human comprehension, floating above the normal modes of communication, the mundane existence of humanity.

Although the Solaris ocean is a fictitious entity, the same degree of invisibility surrounds the vast chunk of water that is earth's ocean. When I go to seaside, I never fail to be impressed by the intractable, impenetrable mass, refusing human civilization, protecting the last virgin nature on this overcivilized planet.

The point is to see that there is an ocean in each of us. The vastness of our unconscious and its uncontrollability is a scandal for anyone who professes to pursue a logical and coherent life.

Walking along a Tokyo street, I feel the ocean that is inside me swaying to-and-fro. I am a tiny leaf dancing on the waves of the vast ocean, never knowing where I am going, oblivious of what I have been.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

If you have the soul of a poet

I went to lecture at the International Conference Center Hiroshima. On the way, I passed by the Atomic Bomb Dome (Genbaku Dome).

Its shape against the sky never fails to impress me deeply. The deep impression is a testimony that inside that beauty, there resides a deep sadness. And that sadness is shared by all things in the universe, whether living or otherwise.

If you have the soul of a poet, and everybody has the soul of poet, you feel the awe and the tears flow in your inner space. Peace is a strong resolution. It is a fighting spirit, to get rid of the stupid brutalities.

Myself in front of the Genbaku Dome in the year 2000.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Surprise visit of sunbeam

On Saturday and Sunday, I was in Shinjo village to attend a symposium. Shinjo is such a hidden treasure. There is a street with cherry trees on both sides. Hazy mountains surround the cozily small plain on which the human habitation finds itself. The houses stand in a quiet harmony. Shinjo is one of these best kept secrets.

Apart from a single Minshuku, there aren't any hotels or ryokans in Shinjo. Therefore the participants of the symposium stayed at private houses. I was staying with Mr. Katsuthoshi Shishido. Before going to bed, (or rather, futon), I strolled along the cherry street. It was an incredible night. There were several drinking parties going on, with people from the symposium gathering here and there.

I enjoyed chatting with people over beer and sake as well as finding solace in the solitude as I ventured into the night air from time to time.

Strolling the stretch among houses dimly lit by candles, I pondered why precious things are hard to give explicit expressions for. The practical and vulgar things get easily distributed. While the gentle and poignant suffer. People hardly gave a thought, for example, to the destruction of nature for a long, long time. Or the deterioration of conscience.

No wonder self-consciousness suffers in modern times. Each one us is bleeding internally from the effects of civilization. But then the fact that I am I have always suffered, the brutal forces of nature and society trespassing and degrading its sovereignty, while the comfort comes occasionally, like a surprise visit of sunbeam through a thick black cloud.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Obama speech

On Satuday, I went to the Suntory hall in Akasaka, Tokyo to attend President Barack Obama's speech. Mr. Obama was on his two day visit to Japan, as he involved himself in the first part of the Asia visit.
I arrived at the venue at past nine. Katsuhiko Hibino, my artist friend was in the queue. Once seated, I discovered Takeshi Kitano was in the seat front of me.

First there was music. A string quartet played Mozart. Then there was silence. While the audience in the arena waited in great anticipations, the man himself came onto the stage.

That magical moment of transformation. People standing up. Applauding enthusiastically. History being developed and made in your own eyes.

Charisma is an art depending on synthesis and balance. That a nation as large as the United Stages needs a leadership in the form of a human being in the flesh is an interesting fact of the world we live in. Although a human being is not without shortcomings, he or she is irreplaceable by any advanced technologies. We are, each one of us, the dynamo which drive history. Literally. How humble and awesome one feels.

Mr. Obama was as charming as I have always imagined him to be. Slim and warm, with enthusiasm like a teenager, and a soundness of judgment apparent from his demeanours.

The talk was over before I knew it. After s deep sigh, I walked out into a Tokyo which looked different from what I have known.

Something has landed.

(This entry is published in advance of the 15th November date, for which it is designated, in view of the value of rapid reporting on current affairs and for the reason I would be on Sunday in a region where an internet connection might be difficult).


President Barack Obama is now visiting Japan. According to a news report, he expressed his wish to taste "Kobe beef" during his stay.

It is true that Kobe beef is a delicacy. The Japanese take great care in the preparation of food. I hope President Obama will have an opportunity to make his wishes come true here.

I once visited a steakhouse in Orlando, Florida. The name was "Kobe".
The chef held a knife and fork, and prepared the food in a very entertaining manner. During the procession, he actually made a "Mount Fuji" with sliced onions. Then he put some alcohol into the volcanic "crater" and set fire.


A great fire momentarily came out.

"Mount Fuji has erupted!" The chef shouted.

To the best of my knowledge, no steakhouse in Japan makes an onion Mount Fuji and make it erupt. I enjoyed the whole experience, though. Exotic!

I hope U.S. and Japan would be on good terms in years to come.

Friday, November 13, 2009


When I started to learn English, I was fascinated by the word "dandelions". The Japanese language has a lovely word for this particular flower, namely "tampopo" (which became, by the way, the title for the popular film about noodles by Junzo Itami). The English denomination is alluring in a different way.

It was clear to me from the beginning that the word had something to do with "lions". I imagined that the expression referred to the mane of the male lion, as they are visually similar. Later, I learned that "dandelions" are literally "lion's tooth", where the "tooth" refers to the toothed leaves. Equipped with this knowledge then, I imagined a lion with its jaws wide open, the sharp teeth inside showing the pride of living.

Etymology is fascinating. Meanings are generated from layers of meanings. But then one is aware that the meanings of words are ultimately without reason.

On a field of significance without a bottom sways the yellow heads of dandelions. The sunbeams sprayed on their petals are enchanting messages from the cosmos which is fundamentally absurd.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Apple story

My mother grew up in Kokura, the north capital of the southern island of Kyushu. After she moved to Tokyo to marry my father, she learned that the food situation around Tokyo had been much worse during the war.

"We were never out of something to eat, really," she used to say. "We used to eat an bowlful of kazunoko (herring roe)". In and around Tokyo, kazunoko was considered a delicacy to be consumed at festive times, especially the new year. So there was certainly a geometrical variability in the values of marine foods.

Although the girl that was my mother never really starved, there was one particular thing that she craved for. The apples. My mother's father (my grandfather, who is sadly no longer with us) used to buy one apple for each of the children, once a month on the salary day.

My mother was the eldest child in the family. On the salary day, or rather the apple day for the children, she would take her brothers and sisters to the railway station, where they waited the father's return. Because apples were rare in Kyushu at that time, the children awaited eagerly for this monthly treat.

My mother used to tell this apple story from time to time when I was a child. Although I did not think much of it at that time, now it is fondly remembered, as a story epitomizing the essence of happiness.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Secret base

There are certain things in life that come and go as fads, and yet stand out in one's memory as vivid and significant for years to come.

The secret base play was one of them. When I was about 5, there was a vacant space near my house. Grasses grew there, and logs and metals were stored (or rather abandoned) all over the place.

It was a perfect setting for the "secret base" play.

We brought a few cardboard boxes, and started building the secret base. We imagined that we were preparing to fight an invisible and unidentified enemy. It was fun to prepare the flags and hats of the defense team.

The context was not necessarily one of confrontation, however. There was something fundamentally cozy and intimate about hiding ourselves together in the cardboard box next to each other. The skin touch. The breath. The inexplicable comradeship of us brats.

It may be because these moments of physical and spiritual proximity are rare to come nowadays that I miss the times of secret base so much.

The secret base. Happy childhood times.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


On the way to Paris, I was chatting with a flight attendant gentleman. When he learned that I was going on to Berlin, he remarked "why, are you not going to Paris?"

"Yes, it is a shame, isn't it?" I replied.

I know. Paris is such a romantic city. When you go to Paris, something in you is stirred. There is a new breath in life. And you remember things long forgotten.

On the way back from Berlin, I passed Charles de Gaulle airport again. I saw the "Trains to Paris" sign. Then something in me moved quite strongly.

This time I did not make it. But someday I will.

Monday, November 09, 2009

"Kinder, schafft Neues!"

I went to a wonderful performance of Lohengrin in the Staatsoper here in Berlin. The inszenierung was by Stefan Herheim.
It was a performance difficult to interpret at first. But then things gradually became clear. Lohengrin, the swan knight. The beauty of trusting and then the dark shadows of doubts. Lohengrin does not come from a far-off land of magic and fantasy. He appears and then disappears from the stage ceiling. There is no topological enchantment there. Everything is stripped of the venerable machines of divination, and we are left only with brutal and prosaic facts. Then we have to start from precisely there.

At the end of the third act, the lights on the ceilings came down. And then a huge sign saying "Kinder, schafft Neues!" was hung from above. The message from Richard Wagner himself.

"Kinder, schafft Neues!" "Children, create new things". In order to create, we somehow have to let free from prejudices and
accomplishments. What words of enlightenment and liberation.

When I walked out of the theatre, the night air of Berlin was definitely warmer. And the Kinder were whispering nearby.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


When I was a kid, I gradually learned that there were all kinds of people in society. Some are bad, but they are so with some reason, and often not without a charm. Everyone is eager to live. That was one of the first lessons in life. And I keep it.

When I was about 10, I was alone at home. The door bell rang. When I opened it, I saw a man dressed in black suit outside.
"Is your mom home?" he said. I said no. "Is your papa home?" he asked. I said no. "Is anybody around?" he continued. I answered again in the negative.

Then his face became suddenly eager, all his attention apparently being concentrated on me.

"You know, son", he started. "I work for a watch company. And the company went bankrupt. I have some very expensive watches with me. They normally retail for tens of thousands yen. But I have to make money somehow. You must have your pocket money, son. Here's a very lucky proposition. For you, it would be just 1000 yen. How about it, son? Would you like to buy it? Your mom and dad will be delighted"

The man showed me a watch. There was a logo on the face. "Longtimes", it said. "This is a very famous brand", the man assured. "You are very lucky to have this watch just for 1000 yen."

At that time, I knew nothing about watch brands. Some years later, I learned that there is a famous brand "Longines". The "Longtimes" watch was clearly a fake. And a very primitive one, too.

Although I did not possess the knowledge, I said "No, thank you." to the man. Kindly, but with a firmness that a 10 year old can command. There was something oily about the man which I mistrusted. Luckily, the man was not insistent. Maybe he thought I did not have the money with me. He shrugged his shoulders and went off. Although the man was apparently a swindler, I did not dislike the person.

To this day, I vividly remember the logo "Longtimes" on the watch. It has been literally "long times" since that childhood day. It is very strange to say so, but sometimes I wish I had bought the watch. Then perhaps I could have commemorated something. The vulnerability of life, the gullibility of the deceiving, and perhaps the pang that must accompany all living on this earth.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Alienation of the familiar

I flew to Paris from Narita. Right now I am in Charles de Gaulle airport, waiting for my plane to Berlin.

On the airplane soon after takeoff, there was an announcement to the effect that Mt. Fuji was visible on the left side. I looked out of the window. The highest mountain in Japan was seen in the far distance, with its peak just above the sea of clouds. What was striking was its metallic appearance. It was as an alien object, not really belonging to this world.

It was not the Mt. Fuji that I used to look at as a kid from the Shinkansen train. It was not the Mt. Fuji in a Hokusai ukiyo-e. The fact that a familiar thing suddenly appeared as something completely unknown left a lasting impression on me, and for the rest of the flight I was thinking of parallels, the alienation of the familiar.

Then I think the universe shivered and coughed, because I began to consider strange ideas like the possibility of a direct conversation with god.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The old teacher gets drunk again

The old teacher gets drunk again

I really love Yasujiro Ozu films.

When things get too busy and business becomes nasty as usual, I turn to the Ozu treasure trove. There, I find life as a tranquil harmony, where everything is human size. By getting immersed in the motion picture flow, I literally seek the salvation of the soul.

The other day I was watching "An Autumn Afternoon"again, the last film by the great director. To be precise, I did not have time to watch it. I just let the film go while being busy at work, capturing in the subconscious background the flow of lively conversations that is so typical of Ozu's masterpieces.

In it, the old teacher gets drunk again, after complaining how he is lonely in the final years of his life. The two former pupils, who have become company executives, look after the old teacher. The teacher sleeps on the floor, and then suddenly gets up. Forgetting all that has been said already, he looks at one of his former pupils in the eye, and, as if he realized what kind of situation he is in for the first time, says, "you are mister Hirayama, aren't you?" ("Hirayama san ka?"), and sleeps on the floor again.

It is at such a moment of human stupidity and fragility that makes one convinced of the love with which Ozu depicted our earthly lives. It is so poignant that one wants to cry and laugh at the same time.

The old boys drinking and discussing the plights of the old teacher. From "An Autumn Afternoon" by Yazujiro Ozu

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Well before my first love

As a child, I collected and studied the butterflies quite seriously. As a result, I learned to recognize and identify most of the species to be observed in and near Tokyo. Sometimes, it is difficult to tell which species while the insect is in flight. But quite often, it is easy to tell the name of the butterfly while it is airborne.

It is the natural instinct of a boy to look for rare species. When you see an unusual butterfly, your heart started to throb.

Sometimes quite violently, too. You wanted to capture the butterfly with the net, but you might also fail. If the butterfly escapes your net, it could well be that you would never see it again.

The moment you see a desirable one, the drama starts. You are in a suspension whether your wishes are going to be fulfilled.

Thus, I learned the sweet anxiety of waiting for the verdict well before my first love.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Admiration of the moon.

I once visited the House of Light by James Turrell in Niigata. It was autumn, and the house was surrounded by susuki (Japanese pampas grass).

Although a work of art, you can stay in the House of Light overnight.

The night fell, and some delicious dishes were brought by the house staff. While my fellow travelers stayed inside chatting over glasses of sake, I wondered out to the large engawa and lay there.
It was full moon. The moonbeam was shining on everything, on the susuki, on me, on the trees. There was a gentle wind. The insects of the autumn were chirping sweet and consoling music.

I suddenly realized that it was a perfect setting for Tsukimi. The admiration of the moon, especially at autumn times, is deeply rooted in Japanese culture. I have been accustomed to such festivities since childhood, but I have never realized that there could be such a harmony of surrounding elements for the observation of the moon.

I also realized, with a pang of realization, that with the modernizations of Japan a perfect setting for moon admiration has become hard to come by. It was almost like a remorse. In Tokyo, and in many urbanized areas, it is no more possible to find a suitable environment for conducting one of the venerable expressions of Japanese aesthetics in appreciation of the lunar blessing.

As I pass through life, the moon seems to be represent things that have been lost, like a symbol of sweet regret.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Used to be that when I was a kid, I ate a lot of oranges (mikan).

The Japanese oranges are small in size, and the skins are soft and easily peelable. Used to be that mother would buy lots of them in a box. I would eat 5 or 6 in a row, while being seated in a kotatsu.. The oranges were mainly winter things. I associate the white tranquility of winter times with the sweet sour taste of the oranges.

When I went to Vancouver, Canada at the age of 15, I learned that the Japanese oranges were sold as "TV oranges", as people could eat the oranges while watching the TV. I don't know how widespread this particular expression is. At least Verna told me these were TV oranges.

Learning that my familiar oranges were turned into "TV oranges" conjured a strange feeling for me. It was as if my childhood favorites were being transfigured so that the identity was not recognizable any more.

At that time, I was at a stage of great change myself. Growing up is sometimes like being transformed from a mikan into a TV orange.

Monday, November 02, 2009


For mammals like us, mothers play an essential role in life. Before the arrival of civilization, infants could not survive without the milk mothers provide. With the advent of artificial nourishments for the babies, mothers are still indispensable for our existence, especially in the early periods of life.

Thus, it is not surprising that we have developed a wide usage of the metaphor "mother".

For example, the expression "mother nature" has a deep resonance for a human being. Nature provides us with food, gives us protection, and supports our day to day life materially.

The mother nature metaphor is so natural to us that it is deeply unnerving and then ultimately revealing to realize that the universal concept has originated from the very particular condition in which our specific life style is to be kick-started and nurtured. It is an instance of a particular transforming itself to a universal.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Nobody home

It is sometimes said that Japanese culture is focused on the concept of emptiness. For example, some statues of worship in the Buddhist tradition in Japan is kept as "Hibutsu" or "Secret Buddha" (The Qualia Journal, 3rd July 2009).

A relative secret Buddha can be shown to public from time to time, whereas an absolute secret Buddha should never be shown.

A famous example of secret Buddha in the absolute sense is the "Gohonzon" (main statue of worship) of Zenkoji temple in Nagano. Nobody has seen or dared to see the figure in the recorded history, including the Buddhist priests that jealously guard the reclusive object of worship, which is rumored to be tightly wrapped up with white cloth.

The idea of secret Buddha is said to have been inspired by the Shinto tradition, where it is the norm that the object of worship is not explicitly shown. Sometimes natural landscapes such as a mountain is designated as the object of worship. Thus, the concept of emptiness is deeply rooted in the Japanese tradition.

On the way to a conference in Kagoshima yesterday, I was thinking again about emptiness. Everybody knows that the brain is the seat for mental phenomena. However, if you look into the inside of human brain, you find nothing but an endless network of neurons connected to each other through the synapses, with the glial cells filling the gap. The brain is thus "empty", as far as mental activities are concerned. No light illuminates the enchanted loom, and there is nobody home.

That the essence of mentality is actually emptiness is frightening on the surface but an ultimately reassuring thought. If the truth is to be found in emptiness, then we can access to an infinite source of freedom.

Nobody is home.

But then that is where our spiritual home is.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

What is going on, in general?

In my all time favorite British sitcom Father Ted, there is a scene where Father Dougal MacGuire (the gullible one) asks a priest beside him about the situation they're in.

Dougal: What's going on?

Priest: I think Ted has a plan.

Dougal: No. I mean in general.

(From "A Christmassy Ted", broadcast in 1996 as the Christmas Special, currently viewable at youtube, the lingerie section scene being available in part 2 of 6. The remarks by Dougal above can be heard at about 3:50).

In this scene, the priests have mistakenly found themselves in "Ireland largest lingerie section" of a department store. In order to avoid a church scandal, Father Ted tries to lead the priests out of the lingerie section safely, without the customers noticing the presence of the priests. That is when Dougal makes this immortal remark.

"What is going on, in general?"

If the job of the brain is to function within a context, then Dougal's brain is sometimes out of context. There is yet genius in his gullible mind.

"What is going on, in general?"

It is nice to ask this stupid question. Understanding the context might lead to effective intellects, but asking what on earth is going on in the first place is sometimes heavenly and uplifting.

The Immortal Four. The cover of a Father Ted DVD.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Book signings

I sometimes do book signings. My record was when I signed about 300 books in Kochi. That was strenuous.

When I sign my book, I always add a small illustration. It all started with a tree and a bird perched on it. The tree symbolizes my name ("Mogi"). The bird presents some lovely things that visit my way in life.

Over the years, the illustrations have changed. My recent favorite is "an erupting volcano", under which I write the words "explode!". Needless to say, I write my name, too.

From time to time, I try to draw a different illustration for every book brought before me. That is when my brain is put to the most difficult labor. I can feel the circuits within me pressed hard against the wall.

Book signings are like ascetic trainings.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Childhood follies

When I was a kid, I used to love reading "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This short story depicts the passage of a particular day for a prisoner, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov in the Soviet labor camp in the Stalinist era. I liked the story so much that I read it again and again and yet again. Needless to say, I read the Japanese translation (by Hiroshi Kimura) at that time.

Towards the end of this novel, the protagonist is lucky enough to get hold of a piece of sausage from his fellow prisoner, Tsezar Markovich. Tsezar is rich, and from time to time receives a box of goodies sent from his family. Ivan Denisovich is poor, but he has his wits and enterprising spirits which occasionally earn him the bonuses.

Now, at the end of yet another long and laborious day, Ivan Denisovich is able to taste the delicious food that has become his.

"He himself took the lump of sausage — and popped it into his mouth. Get the teeth to it. Chew, chew, chew! Lovely meaty smell! Meat juice, the real thing. Down it went, into his belly."

(from the translation by H.T. Willets)

I was fascinated by this description of the joy to be discovered in the simple act of eating a piece sausage. Then I had to put imagination into practice.

In those days, they sold a small piece of "salami" sausage in the stores. When I got the feeling, I would buy a piece of salami,
and gingerly come back home. Imagining that I was Ivan Denisovich himself on the prisoner's bed, I would chew the sausage slowly, and then finally swallow it.

"Meat juice, the real thing".

I remember I repeated this ceremony many, many times.

Those childhood follies taught me, in essence, that there is glory and joy even in the darkest moments of deprivation.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I shall doubt myself today

I saw a bunch of people shouting slogans on the street. It is a free country, and people can say anything they like, but when people exhibit the signs of mental closure, it saddens and frightens me tremendously.

Nothing is to be avoided in this life than an absolute conviction that one is right. A grain of salt, a dash of self-doubt is all you need to breathe the air of life.

So I shall doubt myself today. And the wind begins to blow.

From twitter:

Hello world! I was born today. I greet you for the first time. How marvelous the things. Freedom is a greeting of the first encounter.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


On a cold day recently, I was walking past the streets of Yamagata, looking for a place to console my soul and fill my stomach. I had finished a full day of intensive work.

Yamagata is two and half hours train ride from Tokyo on the Shinkansen train. It is not a place which people would normally expect to be rich in the genesis of culture, high or pop. But I simply knew otherwise.

The internet has been here for 10 years, more or less. Yet people still have this funny idea that there are centers and peripheries. I have always revolted against the conventional thinking since my childhood, and I cannot really stand the misconception that you have to be in Tokyo, London, Paris, New York, and other "cultural centers" in order to lead an intellectually stimulating life. With the advent of the web, the tap for deep information is everywhere. The limits are inner, not outer.

The key is contagion. Once you get infected by a virus of passion, you can bring the vibe anywhere. The crucial point is in that first exposure.

As far as I have a very clear idea of what the manifestations of a true intellect and devoted artists are, I can go anywhere. I would be happy to live in a quiet corner, and have a feverish life culturally. The volcano that is inside me will be connected to the world through the broadband of senses. I and my close friends would be the center of the world.

I would like to be contagious, and get infected. Even if we are vehicles for memes, there is an infinitely rich life in it.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A massacre of possibilities

Today, the qualia journal celebrates 150 days of continuous entries, the streak starting on the 6th of June 2009.


I do not know why I have not done such a thing earlier. But then life is always like that, doing essential things too late too little.
Going through the every day is like trying to manage while being pressed against the wall. I am sure that by attending to a particular thing you lose track of others. Life is a infinite series of choices, forced, and sometimes out of rhythm, and yet you've got to keep your stiff upper lip.

Ken Shiotani, my best philosopher friend, once said that to live is like to experience a massacre of possibilities. You follow a particular trail, and at that moment precisely, an infinite number of alternatives perish.

I remember quite vividly the evening on which I and Ken Shiotani the fat philosopher talked about the inevitable mass death. I think we were talking about his former girl friend. We were on the river bank.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Imagining liberates

Recently, I received a very nice mail from a gentleman in Thailand. In it, he said some kind words about one of my books which has been translated to Thai. In the answer, I told him that to my regret, I have never visited the beautiful country so far, but hope to do so in the near future.

I know King Bhumibol Adulyadej Thailand, who has reigned since 1946, is ill. I can only imagine how the king's illness is affecting the Thai people. My compassion and best wishes for the Thai people.

As Ludwig Wittgenstein remarked, there's probably no private language. Intersubjectivity is the hallmark of any speech. On the other hand, each language defines a universe of its own. The English enshrines one, the Japanese creates another, and the Thai gives life to yet another cosmos in which there are numerous entities around.

To be born and grow up in one linguistic universe results in a unique world. Your neighbour is invisible, unless you make a conscious effort to immigrate. This blog itself is an experiment in that direction by somebody who started to learn English at the age of 12.

The mail from the Thai gentleman gave me thoughts. I imagined having been born and grown up in the country of smiles. I imagined being worried about and wishing the best for King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

Imagining liberates, by putting more life to circulate in one's system.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Masahiko and Katherine

I was having a conversation with my best friend Masahiko Shimada at a public lecture in Tokyo. Masahiko is a famous writer. Masahiko opened the dialogue with a criticism of the global capitalism. Then our topic shifted to how we all invariably fail.

Failure comes from facing the truth. In our mind, across our hearts, there are elements which lead to demise of the protagonist if he or she is true to them. The world is after all an imperfect place. Following the inner voice inevitably leads to disaster. Heroes and villains fail alike.

The good thing is that there will be always reincarnations, in this life.

In this life.

On the way to the public lecture I suddenly remembered how I used to love the short stories by Katherine Mansfield. The qualia in "The Garden Party" resonated as I headed for the imagined kingdom of freedom and demise.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Original sin

On the airplane, I was thinking again about Glenn Gould.

In an earlier post ("Private language of music", 14th October 2009), I wrote:

I have a hunch why Gould refrained from playing in the public later in his career. The presence of attentive minds is a great stimulator. On the other hand, it sometimes stimulates one in a vulgar way. One would like to entertain, and therefore goes out of the way. A great art lies there, so it is not necessarily a bad thing. However, it is at the same time a distraction from purity, which Gould probably hated.
For a performer like Vladimir Horowitz, the audience is a godsend. Gould, on the other hand, thrived in the absolute privacy.

The crucial thing is that the very nature of music is transformed in the presence of others. We are social beings, and confronting others come so naturally to us. However, it also affects our existence. Maybe it is the original sin.

In a sense, Glenn Gould was trying the impossible. How to make music without the presence of an audience. It is like forgetting how one looked in the mirror. Knowledge has tainted our consciousness, and we simply cannot go back. The bliss of ignorance is never to return, not even as a momentary lapse, as in the unconscious there would be always knowledge.

Sometimes beauty holds a terrible truth. Gould's music is a Pandora's box.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Secretly mischievous

I was walking to NHK, and going through the Yoyogi park. Near the entrance, there is a shop where they sell beer, drinks, and miscellaneous things.

It was a find day. The sun was setting in the Western horizon. And I bought a color ball.

It is a soft ball made of plastic, something that I used to play with when I was a kid. I don't know why I bought it. The idea somehow captured me.

I threw and caught it with my hands several times, and then put it into my backpack.

Once in NHK, I behaved like a normal adult, pretending that something like a color ball never had anything to do with my serious life.

All the while, I felt secretly mischievous. With a color ball, when nobody is around, you can always go back to five year old.
Later in the evening, I passed the security gate at Haneda airport with the color ball in my bag. I winced a little, but needless to say, the alarm did not sound.

Now I am with the color ball in the southern city of Kochi. The freedom to be a little mischievous is still with me.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Despised and rejected

It was late, as I finally made my way towards home. I was alone in the street, with the hush of night surrounding my existence.
As often happens in such a situation, I thought of the miracle of our existence. I don't understand. Why am I here and now? How come there are these elementary particles flying all over the place, with natural laws governing them all?

13.7 billions years of physical abundance, and presto, we are here, as conscious beings, the enigma of the mind-body remaining unsolvable as in the days of Baruch Spinoza. The efforts towards the solution have not moved an inch.

I am not associated with any organized religion. However, at such moments I am convinced of an order beyond human comprehension, which we might refer to in the name of God, not necessarily meaning human-like, but some "entity" responsible for the whole thing.

Among those who consider themselves rational, the very idea tends to be rejected, as something that belongs to prejudices and superstitions of past times.

The Bible describes the life's processions of Jesus Christ with poetic precision of human psychology. The observation is keen and without mercy.

He was despised and rejected.

"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering (Isaiah)."

What the Bible describes in this great passage about the fall of the savior has always been a source of inspiration for me.

What is essential and fundamental can be despised and rejected, as if it was worthless, something to be disposed of.

This truth, put to beautiful music by George Frideric Handel in Messiah, is something to be cherished and thought over when you approach an idea which tends to be ridiculed by the intellects of the day.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The next big thing

In life what you see in the periphery is often more important than what you observe in the central vision.

If your attention is stuck, then you do not have the flexibility to move your mind around, and capture what is transient and disappearing ever and ever.

Catch it if you can. The essential and important things often play hide and seek with your mind. There, in the corner of your visual field, the next big thing is secretly throbbing with excitement, for you to discover and make a contact of the soul.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Enjoy the clumsiness

One of the things I am quite sure is that when I have spare time I know how to spend it.

Without money, left alone from the world at large, I would think of loads of ways to entertain myself. I am a proclaimed self-entertainer. I would never be at a loss what to do in the next few hours.

Recently, when I was on the road, I thought of another way of entertaining myself. Left hand drawing. I am a right hander, and have almost never used the left hand to draw or write. Maybe I was a bit drunk at that time. What happened was that while I was in a hotel room, I thought hey let's draw with my left hand. Let's enjoy the clumsiness.

Enjoy the clumsiness I did. Drawing with the other hand proved to be such a fun. Much better than these "brain drills" advertised in the media, like damn calculations and repetitive puzzles.

The degree of freedom involved in drawing is incredible. There is a whole universe in it. There are big bangs and white holes. Although at every step the clumsiness of the left hand tended to let me down, I weathered on, hugely enjoying the whole thing.

Stating the obvious, as the left hand is controlled by the right brain, using it can enhance the emotive hemisphere, which is a bonus to the fun.

My proposition is thus simple. Don't you ever be bored by life. There are numerous ways that you could entertain your own brain. The only limit is your imagination.

My left hand drawing number 3. Untitled.