Posts tagged ‘Japanese’

February 20, 2012

Gone before you got around to missing it

After postponing  it for probably half a decade, I finally decided to go through our old CD collection with my dad. We were supposed to sort through all of it and see what’s for keeping.

I haven’t touched those CDs in years, so when we finally started going through all of them, all the cover art started giving me a veritable flood of nostalgia – games, movies and music from quite literally the previous millennium, from various phases of my life, each title releasing a small cloud of memories. There were a lot of unmarked CDs too, so I knew that there were many, many hours ahead of sorting through them and finding even more god knows what sort of old stuff I used to consume, or never got around to; and I was more and more looking forward to it.

We put probably a hundred CDs in the designated garbage bag, and almost twice as many discs in another, identical bag, for later sorting through. You can see where this is going.

When I realized I threw out the wrong bag, the feeling was so unusual that I went pretty much straight through the 5 stages of grief and into acceptance.

It’s like I’ve been given a typical script from everyday life, but with some of the bits tumbled around so that everything is a bit off and you get a twist ending. There was this whole new parallel universe, so to speak, a world of potentiality in which I was to indulge, coming into being. And, just as quickly as it came, it was gone.

What I’m sort of trying to preserve now is the memory of that range of feelings, the sudden rush of happiness coupled with the abrupt disappearance of that world of possibilities. It’s like winning a small lottery (which you in fact had all the time) and then loosing it all over again. Apart from that big lesson of sudden gain and loss, every time I think about the experience, I feel like I can learn something new.

Here’s one of the lessons I don’t want to end up in the garbage bag. Lately I’ve been trying to define some approach to keeping my Japanese alive, maybe even gain some ground with the kanji.  Among those now-gone CDs were also a few anime compilations, which inspired a new rush of motivation for studying the language when I found them. Now they’re gone and the motivation went pretty much with them.

If I know that an adequate environment is one of the important things for learning and motivation, should I really wait for blind chance to offer me with one? Isn’t there this thing called the internet where you can get pretty much anything you need? Why didn’t I do that earlier: download all the shows and  then get around to deciding what I would like to do with my Japanese?


September 23, 2008

Log 9

Read Chie Nakane’s Japanese Society a couple of days ago and Erich Fromm’s Psychoanalysis and Religion today.
Japanese Society is an excellent read, and what left the strongest impression is the utter rationality with which the Japanese society and the Japanese individual are analyzed. After all the stereotypes of “The Japanese are so mystical and incomprehensible”, it’s a strange feeling to read a book which makes you truly, rationally understand some of the fundamental attributes of Japanese society. Also has several examples from India and the Western world, which makes for some great comparisons of different social dynamics.

Fromm’s Psychoanalysis and Religion is a great read. Basically, He explores the essence of an individual’s search for meaning and happiness and the place of psychoanalysis and religion in this search. The hard (but so true) conclusion is that there’s no easy path or 12-step (or in fact a 1200-step ) program to getting there, but rather what is required is that we, through careful observation of our thoughts and actions, finally realize how misguided the “official” story of how a life should be lived is (in the modern, predominantly capitalist societies, or what he calls “the ‘marketing orientation’ of modern man”); from there, by accepting this method of constant, honest introspection, we should devote ourselves “to the realization of the highest principles of life, those of love and reason, to the aim of becoming what [man] potentially is, a being made in the likeness of God”.

Yes, I know it’s very difficult to paraphrase over a 100 pages of philosophical thought in 2 sentences and show why it shouldn’t be dismissed as hippie-talk (this stereotyping of almost any mention of searching for life’s meaning and brotherly love as some misguided bullshit for naive, misguided flower-children is a whole another story). But what’s in this book is, for the most part, very true or very near the truth, and while not offering an easy solution (since there isn’t one), it gives some good pointers to what’s not good with today’s world – and after reading it I feel as if I have a deeper understanding of the workings of today’s capitalist society and the individual trapped in it.

I’ll stop here, because this topic requires a whole new post (or three). Just a last random observation: I’m happy to say that my reading concentration is visibly improving – even though I should now probably be, for various reasons, very emotionally stressed, not only am I mostly successfully overcoming the stress (again, for various reasons), but I’m amazed to notice that my attention while reading was almost constantly on a very high level. There were several moments when I had to go back and read a sentence 10 times, like trying to start an old car, until the words started registering in my head, but my motivation never wavered and I always regained my attention. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.