Saturday, October 17, 2009


From yesterday's twitter entry.

Have become the world's fastest leopard. 7C of the 9th in Shinkansen heading for Kyoto. Correction. Orangutan, rather than leopard.

I like to be idle on the bullet train. It is the utmost luxury given the hectic schedule that I am usually exposed to.

You close your laptop, and throw your legs out. You put the seat to the reclining position, then close your eyes.

The sunshine is emanating from mount Fuji. You become sweetly dizzy embraced by the gold. Memory of the past times resurge with a pang. You move in the chair a bit uneasily, as if to assimilate the upheaval in the psyche with the mass of your body.

While all this is happening, you are speeding at 300 kilometers per hour.

You have become a bullet.

A bullet conventionally kills, but this one nurtures.

It nurtures your idleness, until it grows out of proportion, shrinks again as the train arrives at your destination.

The magic is gone, and you are free to do whatever practical things you'd like.

The session is over.

Friday, October 16, 2009


I usually take a morning stroll to a convenience store nearby, and pick up some morning goods. For the last couple of days, I have walked on to the park, and dashed up the hill that flanks the woods.

It is just a little deviation, which makes all the difference. In life, you turn 90 degrees and run from your path of everyday, and then you discover a new scenery.

It is not that difficult. All you have to do is to identify an unsearched domain. And then you delve into it. Even for a very brief time.

Within a moment the storm of contingency would rage. The conviction that you are here for no reason. You taste the throbbing sensation of knowing you could have been quite another, while loving and embracing the here and now.

From a recent twitter entry.

Mediocrity hurts. The remedy is the sky.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Flower petals in the wind.

At the end of another busy day, I went to Kazahana in the Shinjuku district. Kazahana is a legendary literary bar. "Kazahana" ("flower petals in the wind") is the poetic Japanese word for snowflakes.

I did not intend to stay for long, but simply had to drop by, psychologically needing the sojourn.

Earlier, I was meeting with the novelist Makoto Shiina. Mr. Shiina is one of Japan's great weapons of the literary genre. After Mr. Shiina left, I felt rather lonely, and was naturally drawn to my favorite hanging-out place. I was with an editor and a freelance writer.

On the day, I still had several things to do. The ongoing rain occasionally became strong. The sound of drops falling was a testimony of the nuisance once outside. Listening to the sound, we became gradually uneasy.

How many ups and downs of emotion one encounters during the course of a day. Science does not tell you still.

I know from experience that when you're down, with perseverance, things would eventually improve, the clouds in the mind clearing.

Earlier, I was weeping spiritually, inside. Before long, the tears froze to become snowflakes. The snowflakes then danced in the invisible air.

Snow is the materialization of love that penetrates all life. We must observe the dynamics within, while falling, rising, and then falling again, like dancing flower petals in the wind.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Private language of music

I love the film in which Glenn Gould plays the Goldberg Variations. What a beautiful procession! Aria, 30 variations, and then aria again. At the end of the finger maneuvers, Gould holds his hands together in a gesture in which he appears to be praying. Then his whole performance impresses one as a dedication to the spirit of music, with a beautiful hindsight.

I love this set of variations from the great composer, J. S. Bach. The 30th variation, with its jovial start, always strikes me as if a huge plateful of delicious dish was being carried from the kitchen with great solemnity, to the shining eyes of the beholders.
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.
Gould's music is as close as one can come to the impossibility of the private language of music, sensu Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The school hike.

I love autumn when the sky is blue and high. My best stroll would be along a river bank, where the autumn flowers display their miscellaneous colors while swaying to and fro in the wind. Dragon flies would display their glistening of the wings in the crystal bright autumn sunbeam. I would like to walk very slowly, without goal, without aim, and breathe in the air as if it was a nectar for the soul, every minute, every second.

I particularly remember a school hike in the junior high, when we went all the way to the river from school. I was fourteen. Once on the river bank, we pupils strolled along the path, playing with cosmos flowers and autumn butterflies.

We all wore the tedious orange color school trainer, but even that fact did not hinder us from enjoying the walk. The issue was mainly about spatial distribution. Who walked where, with whom. The parallels of our existence filled us with inexplicable joys and pangs, rather like a short story by Katherine Mansfield, or a pointillism painting by Georges-Pierre Seurat.

I was foolish, and considered the hike as something that belongs to yearly regularities. I was unconsciously thinking that there would be many repeats of a hike like the one on that day. I was to learn later, only too late, that the onceness in life was to pass and gone forever.

I am bewildered even today how on earth the school hike took place on that particular day, like a miracle, without any photographic record to support my recollection. Only this vivid picture in my mind pointing to the now uncertain past stays alive.

Monday, October 12, 2009

They can't know.

"De Profundis" is a work in the form of a letter that Oscar Wilde wrote during his time in prison. In it, there is this beautiful passage.

The more mechanical people...always know where they are going, and go there...A man whose desire is to be something separate from himself, to be a Member of Parliament, or a successful grocer, or a prominent solicitor, or a judge, or something equally tedious, invariably succeeds in being what he wants to be.

That is his punishment. Those who want a mask have to wear it. But with the dynamic forces of is different. People whose desire is solely for self-realization never know where they are going. They can't know.


One never knows where one is going, if one follows one's inner voice. How true.

There is glory in being lost. Not knowing where to go, one encounters the vastness of the universe face to face.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

When friends and lovers meet

It is a remarkable aspect of human cognition that when something passes, it remains unnoticed for a long time. We recognize the golden time of childhood only when we have lost it.

Used to be that when friends and lovers meet, they would make appointments quite well in advance, designating subway stations and landmarks as the point of meeting. Then something would happen. When the time passes and the counterpart does not show up, anxiety and uneasiness would grow in the heart. Every minute that passes becomes a dance in suspension. And then, the final relief when your boy friend or girl friend appears around the corner. The sunshine has come out of the clouds again. O what joy!

Now, with the advent of the mobile phone and other means of communication, the torture and bliss of waiting is gone forever. With the SMS and emails and calls, you can "adjust" the meeting point in space and time anyway and as many times as you like. When you look back on how it was 20 years or even 10 years ago, you realize that an era has passed, for ever and ever.

Ken Shiotani, my beloved philosopher friend, is the only one that I know closely who does not possess a mobile phone. So I do have the now ancient joy of the suspense of waiting when I make appointments with Ken Shiotani. His manners of independence from the mobile network might be outdated these days. But he does remind me how sweet and fragrant the yesterdays were.