These days I found my time awareness has been awakened by the power of nature. Perceiving the two rows of naked Gingko trees alongside the long and wide boulevard of my school campus at Tokyo, I soon realize that I have dwelled in this city for more than a year. If each of my memory was a piece of drafted paper fraught with redundant words, these papers would indeed be gradually blotched by outflowing time, so before they become disused fragments, I decide to put them into words.
“He-ge-ru”, “Kan-to”, “Ma-ru-ku-su” and other terms once contributed to me a sense of isolation and alienation; they gave me nothing but sound. Each of these null signifiers tried to congregate to kill my love and my passion for words. I was a mere dumb and deaf from the outset of the lecture. The miracle of the twenty-six alphabets, to which I had been accustomed and which I venerated, went suddenly into eclipse.
But it seemed that I was not the only silent listener. The only foreigner in most classes, local students observed strictly the rule of “Silence is gold”. They attended to the speech of the teacher, few transcribed into a word file and many jotted down the notes neatly to prepare themselves for written examination.
Reluctant to belong to the herd of sheep, I had to, however, blindly follow. There is always a hierarchy here between teachers and students, although you may question at times the inconsistency and arbitrariness of the former.
Piecemeal happiness can only be found from reminiscence: Some lively productive discussions in London, encouragement by teachers and mentors to try something new so long as the arguments are sound and logical, days of yore on which my inspiration and creation overflew always…
My adrenaline surged whenever a Japanese professor asked the whole class, “Do you have any questions?” With much fear and fright, I lowered my head, trying desperately to dodge direct eye contact with him.
“Perhaps there’s an insurmountable, invisible wall before me,” I shuddered at times at such a thought. Despite having mentally prepared that to be a scholar one has to fight forever his solitude and helplessness, I could have never imagined about my extreme sentimentality. An infantile writer in academic Japanese writing, I had been dejected when my supervisor pronounced the death of alphabets, and suggested euphemistically the compulsory use of the eastern language.
I am not complaining. Perhaps I am just slightly sentimental, or a bit nostalgic. My consciousness admonishes me that “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”. I have recently been persuaded into believing that everything I have been told are not reasons, but tradition. You know it’s not timely enough to give such a proposition and those arguments so long as you are JUST a student, that’s the tradition here; you know you should not put your English name on your essays because Japanese teachers do NOT like it, and yes they traditionally do NOT appreciate it; you know you should not type simplified characters even though the source you quote is written like those; the teacher normally does NOT like them – These defected characters should have disappeared in this world.
Don’t get me wrong. I like my teachers, I love the people here, and I love the city. I know I am loved, too. By what? By estrangement, and abhorrence of reasons!
[Photo taken on 11th December, 2016 at Tokyo by James]