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.