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.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Starry apparitions

As a kid I used to dream of starry apparitions.

I would be lying on the ground looking up at the night sky. While observing the twinkling stars, there is suddenly a great transformation of things. The lights become brighter, and the milky way literally turns into a ever changing river of white liquid entity filling and dancing in the overall.

Intriguingly, great wheels would appear and turn in the sky. From time to time, steam locomotives made of constellations would emerge and cross the visual field. All sorts of heavenly machinery would start appearing here and there, with their unique motions and styles of presences.

The scenery fills me with awe, and my excitement would grow uncontrollably until it invariably culminates in a gasp.

At that moment of shuddering sensations, I would regain consciousness.

I would find myself wide awake in bed, wondering whence these wondrous images came.

Although quite fantastic out of proportion and unpredictable in emergence, those visions of starry apparitions are cherished gemstones in the chest of my life's memory.