Monday, May 23, 2005

Thoughts.

Hey gang. Figure it’s about time for a blog update. This is weird, I all of a sudden have gotten terribly self-conscious about this blogging business and I am not altogether sure why. I suddenly can’t bring meself to write with the care-free light-hearted adventurous spirit that so aptly characterized my earlier posts. Now I am all of a sudden stressing about who is reading this and what it might make them think of me. What the fuck?

But, I will give it a go! This weekend was a lot of fun, Toshi and Mirai came to visit me in Matsuyama. We stayed in a hotel by Dogo Onsen, which is the oldest bath in Japan (3000 years and they still haven’t changed the water!). The whole Onsen (Public Bathing) thing is really popular here, so it’s kinda something that this hot spring has been used for 3000 years. Big tourist attraction, sorta down the street from me.

So anyway, Saturday I met them at the train station and then we went to the hotel and we drank and then ate a massive, massive feast. Then napped, drank, bathed in the hotel onsen several times in various order before finally cashing in our chips for the evening.

Next morning we got up nice and early and had a breakfast almost as massive as the previous night’s dinner. It was delicious. Then we went to the actual Dogo Onsen, which is in an old building (the building itself isn’t 3000 years old, of course…it’s only a few hundred years old, making it somewhat new and tacky…) (…) It was really pretty, just massive wooden construction. The biggest surprise was how small the actual onsen was – easily the smallest public bath I have been to in Japan, with maybe like 8 little shower heads on the side and a pool with about half the area (albeit twice the depth) of your standard onsen pool. It was hot. So we sat around there for an hour. There was a yakuza, too, with a big tattoo of a naked woman looking very sad on his back. That was the first time I have seen one of the famous yakuza tats, they are generally prohibited in the baths in Niihama.

Then we went to Matsuyama Castle, one of the more famous castles around, apparently. It is really old and really massive and sits on this huge hill in the center of matsuyama. You have to take a cable car to get to the top, and from there it’s a winding 10 minute trek to the inside of the gate. There was a gate with no door right by the main gate, which confused me. The sign said “Doorless Gate: Built to Confuse Invading Enemies,” but I take that as a sign that the people making signs didn’t know what it was for either.

So like, I live in Ehime, Matsuyama is the capital of Ehime, it’s 2 bucks and an hour and a half bus ride away, and all this time I had never gone to Matsuyama castle. Two weeks ago, they started renovations, which will be going on for a year. We went into the castle, but the whole thing is covered on the outside with scaffolding and canvas and so the famous view from the top was completely obscured. Kinda put a damper on the experience.

Anyway, after that we went to this café that I know about from previous misadventures where the proprietress remembered my friend who took me there and was nice to us. We had some pita sandwiches. Afterwards, Toshi had beer, Mirai had sweets, and I had both, making me sort of a gender-bender in the after-lunch ingestion department. Toshi shook his head disapprovingly at my sweet tooth but there was whipped cream and cranberry sauce to go with my scone and the whole thing sat well enough with my Guinness, which she just happens to carry at this little shop in the middle of nowhere matsuyama. I rather like Guinness.

Then we did some strolling and made it to the train station. I was getting ready to see them off when they noticed that the bus about to leave was bound for Niihama, so we made our hasty goodbyes and I hopped the bus, trusting them that it was indeed Niihama-bound. It was.

And that was my Matsuyama Bath Adventure. It was really great to see Toshi and Mirai again – they are the first physical reminder I have had that all those people I left behind were real. Toshi and Mirai, if you guys are reading this, thanks very much for coming all the way out to Ehime to see me, it was great! If you are still around when I go to Tokyo we will go have a few drinks.

Other news. Okay. Read this article. If it excites you, warms your heart, makes you think that maybe humanity can pull the occasional rabbit out of its generally dull, dirty hat, then here’s the deal. We are doing a Finnegans Wake reading. It will start this summer, and it will be based in Columbus. Dan is sort of heading it up for now, though I actually hope to sort of keep it going perpetually. The cyclical nature of the text is perfect for that.

“Wait a second, Myk…aren’t you, uh, kinda far away for that to be relevant to your current lifestyle?”

Well, you would think so, wouldn’t you. But, here is my idea. Finnegans Wake, as is written in the introduction to the Penguin edition, challenges our notion of the “ideal reader.” The ideal reader for finnegans wake speaks 40 languages, has a profound understanding of various fields from art history to cosmology to horse racing, is sensitive to both male and female sensibilities, and in a thousand other ways is nothing that a single reader could be. In short, the text was written for a group – a large group, the more people the better; in fact, the more diverse the better. Ideally, finnegans wake is to be read in tandem, in a sort of half-drunken unison, by a cross-section of humanity. What nobody seems to have really realized here is that this is essentially asking for an internet distribution and reading system – ie, WikiWake.

Yes, this is my dream. The wiki format, which essentially means that content is user-driven (see wikipedia for the most famous example) is perfect for the wake. I want to create a WikiWake website where people interested in finnegans wake can come and listen to the interpretations and ideas of their peers – and of course, where they can add their own ideas as well. The basic sense I am getting of this is that we would create an online community dedicated to a sort of perpetual reading of Finnegans Wake. My plan for the summer, as part of this group effort, is to type up the Wake and post it chapter by chapter as we discuss it. Now, I realize that there are already various internet texts – that’s not the point, I want to type it. The challenge awaiting me when I return to the states is going to be the creation of the actual WikiWake Site, where readers can come and comment on the text. The logistics could prove a bit tricky but I am up to the challenge. I want to do it well.

Then, if this all actually works, I am going to use it as winning entrant in the 2006 Denman Undergraduate Research thing and win a big prize. I am going to contact me old professor soon and ask for his blessing in this endeavor.

The summer reading group, then, is actually my test-run for an online international reading of The Wake, which, if it works, will serve as evidence in my grant application for the thing I am planning to set up. This is actually a Really Good Idea. I am very proud of it. Please do not steal it. Instead, please participate. We have set up a page for the summer at wakeitup.blogger.com and from there we will launch our first assault. The text is challenging but rewarding – you probably won’t understand more than a tiny bit the first time through, especially without the benefit of Sebastian Knowles at the helm, but I promise you it will be fun. Especially if you are in the Columbus area – they are going to be having meetings and reading the wake as it is meant to be read, out loud in a group with a few beers. I really would like to get this ball rolling and have it work, if not for the WikiWake idea then at least to have a group going for the continued enjoyment of this text. We could turn it into a student organization even, have weekly meetings and get school funding.

What do you all think?

Also, moving on, I have come to a decision. I want to go to graduate school in New York City. Whether this will be immediately after graduation or whether I go teach English in Japan for a year or two is still not decided, but I want to live in New York City and I want to go to graduate school in English Literature, probably modernist.

One of the things Toshi and I talked about was the difference between life in America and life in Japan, and one of the things we noticed was that one is really talking about life in non-big-city America vs life in non-big-city Japan. Once you are in the city, all of the differences are marginalized – life in Osaka and life in New York are going to have more in common than they have different. Surely cities have distinct flavors, but suddenly I see the world as an urban cosmopolis superimposed on suburban/rural/uneducated wilderness. I want to be in a citadel of culture. New York is going to be my home.

On a final note as I wrap this up (or am I?), I saw Closer last night. I really, really liked it, most of it was so real, the way they hurt each other and got hurt, the way they all played these games. It is, as Roger Ebert put it, a movie about four people who really deserve each other. Two couples, betrayals and love and lust and really the terror of life. Some scenes really really moved me. Makes me worry about the dating game. I wonder if I should date more. I could. Maybe I will? But I don’t want any more entanglements before I go home. My future is sort of very-slowly beginning to solidify, sort of the fragile crispy outer shell of the ice cube is forming, and it looks as though Japan will play a smaller part than once I thought. I like it here, I will vacation here in the future, but I need English too much to live here or start a serious relationship with a Japanese girl or anything. Even if my Japanese becomes perfect, I don’t like the language nearly as much as I have come to love English. When something is cool or wonderful or amazing or great or any number of superlative adjectives in English, it is “Sugoi!” in Japanese and that’s kinda it. English has layers of complexity that Japanese, for all its kanji, cannot give me. Japanese is beautiful in its own way, and I love the very idea of Kanji, but it is a pretty, artificial pond next to the ocean of English and that is that.

But who knows. I will keep up my language studies upon my return but my heart belongs to English and particularly Joyce these days. I will shrug it off as a pretension of my youth one day, perhaps, but for now I am not just content with it I am happy with it, thinking about the prospects of my WikiWake makes me glad. It makes me feel like I have a place, a thing to do.

And that was my update. What did you think? I think maybe one of my better ones, at least content-wise. I feel as though I have talked about many things, like every paragraph was saying something, as opposed to just using words. But maybe not. Does it feel forced? Writing it felt kinda forced in parts, but really free in others. Does that come across? I want to be a writer. I want to be a critic. I am looking forward to McHale’s lit crit class this fall. I am going to read The Language Instinct this summer. Everything is sort of falling into place, egad have I found a calling?

I have seen the near-future and it is pretension. But for its own sake, for art. What?
Comments:
You suck, loser.
 
"Makes me worry about the dating game. I wonder if I should date more. I could. Maybe I will? But I don’t want any more entanglements before I go home. My future is sort of very-slowly beginning to solidify, sort of the fragile crispy outer shell of the ice cube is forming, and it looks as though Japan will play a smaller part than once I thought."

all i have to say is, don't wait, don't hold back.

so what if you get hurt - life is pain, too.

i reeeeally wanna see closer, too.
 
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