2009年8月24日 星期一

陰影 新井一二三 心井 新井

心井 新井

Xinjing Yiersan (Arai Hifumi)
Xinjing Xinjing (My heart)


In the film "Pretty Woman", Richard Gere says to Julia Roberts, "I paid my therapist a million dollars to be able to tell my father 'I hate you." I didn't spend that much money, (maybe about half that), so maybe that's why to this day I still can't say that same line to my mother.

Obviously, movies are different from real life and America is different from Japan. If I really did tell my mother I hated her I don't think it would solve anything; it would probably just cause more problems. So, I just can't say it.

When I first went and saw my jewish therapist it was to deal with my problem dealing with people. But, it wasn't long before the problem became about my mother. From that point on, once or twice a week for a year, I would tell him my memories of my mother from my youth.

Whether all that energy, time and money spent really did anything is hard to say. Also, my parting with that therapist in the end turned out to be less than amicable. But, some of the things he said really did help me understand myself better.

For example, he once said, "People who like writing or drawing from a very young age often have a very difficult reality around them to deal with. So, they often escape to another world where no one can interefere with anything."

I've liked writing ever since I was little. Thinking about my own situation when I was younger, what he says is about right. After I grew up, I kept on writing. These past few years I've written mostly using foreign languages.

A few years ago in Hong Kong one of my books was published and I was invited onto a talk show. The host asked me, "Why don't you write in Japanese instead of writing in Chinese?"

I immediately thought of what that jewish therapist said and replied, "Because my mother can't read it." The host thought I didn't want to my mother to see the details of personal life, but in reality, I wasn't concerned with her reading any specific part. I just wanted a free space to be able breathe, to be able think.

To be honest, my trips around the world to different countries, all these years living abroad, was really just to escape my mother. It was about finding my own free space. It's just that my mother is much tougher than me. One time, when I was living in Canada, I got into some serious trouble. When my spirits were at their low point she called and told me, "Don't come home." After that, my self-imposed exile became banishment.

Around that time I was at a bar, and an older philosophy professor asked me, "How long are you planning on staying here?" I was little tipsy, and because he was a little old, I strangely decided to be honest, "Until my mother is dead." The professor smiled and said, "You're still young, so maybe you don't know, but, your kind of situation is quite common."

It was probably about that time that I started writing about my mother. First I used English, then I switched to using Chinese. I never used Japanese to write about her though. It's not just I'm scared she'll see it, it's also that I just can't do it.

Last year I gave up my wandering existence of ten-plus years and headed home. I used my husband as an excuse for finally coming back. If God hadn't let me meet him in Hong Kong I'd probably still be wandering around the world.

I've granted myself a pardon to return home, but my mother hasn't said anything. She has, however, done something. When she does something she takes her time and oftentimes she gets you when you're not looking. Luckily, I'm quite used to this. My husband, on the other hand, was quite shocked at first. Later he started to say, "Your mother really is something. You should write a book about her."

I have thought about that before, but to describe a person, a person that close to you, there's not enough words. If I write a book and make it fictional, I suppose I'd be able to make her a very fleshed-out character and finally explore a woman who's had a huge influence over my life. Now isn't the time though; better to wait until she's passed away.

Nowadays I have my own home. In addition to my husband and my son, I also have a door to keep my mother from interefering with my life, or banishing me from Japan. Among her five children, I'm the only one to lead an completely independent life. My four brother and sister all live in houses she helped with, they all use money she gives to them.

Sometimes I have to see my mother. A few days ago I started to worry about how she would hurt me when I saw her. It was a vague, but certain feeling of dread. I remembered the feeling when I was younger where I always felt that shadow cast over me.

One day, to get out from under that shadow, I'm going to write about that shadow herself.

2009年8月23日 星期日


Have the cows come home yet?

Till the cows come home.

Why we don't expressions into different languages. They don't feel right and hence lose their power. Important things are always lost. Trying to save them is often the source of the problem of dealing with letting them go.

2009年8月21日 星期五

孤獨與瘋狂 郝譽翔


Loneliness and Madness
Hǎo​ Yù​xiáng​


I really like Takeshi Kitano. A few days ago I went and saw "Achilles and the Tortoise. Only seven other people showed up to the matinee showing I attended. There in the darkness I cried my eyes out. I know this movie, and most of the other recent movies by Kitano, provoked a very mixed response, but I what can I say, I really like this film. I even loved its flaws. Even something's flaws can be part of it's appeal, like how his face won't stop twitching after he's been hurt.

Incredibly, there's a creator who can make me yearn for tolerance. This is probably the joy of being a reader. But, that's just my personal feeling. When I was in the theater, and the lights hadn't come up yet, I heard a guy get up and say to his friend in front of him, "I'm definitely going to fall asleep." They both nodded and yawned. Later, I heard couple of girls who were complaining as they walked out, "It's like a crazy person made this movie."

Sitting there with a face still wet with tears was more than a bit awkward. You would think that audeince at the Changchun theatre would be full of people who really liked movies, but their reaction was incredibly different than mine. Everybody piles into a little dark droom and for two hours develops a unique impression no one can guess at. The illusion that the projector brings about is like the director leading each person with a flashlight according to the darkness at the pit of their soul. Sometimes it really makes me think that watching a film is more solitary than reading, and maybe more sad.

I just remembered, I actually became acquainted with Kitano's work when I was a kid.

When I was in my first year of middle school my father took me to see Nagisa Oshima's "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence". That was the last time we went went to see a movie together. Even after I was older we still never went again. His take on "Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence" is something I'll never forget, with genuine shock he said, "This movie didn't even have a single woman in it!"

I still remember my father buying scalped tickets for the movie. Thinking back it's hard to imagine, but Oshima's film was full of violence. There wasn't a single open seat at two-story theater at Ximending. I had no idea it was an art film, and had no idea who the director was. Although I just stumbled into that film, when it was over it was like I was a new person. On the way home I just stared out window and didn't say a word. I was only thirteen then and I didn't know much about anything, but that movie set off something inside me. To this day I still don't know what it is about that movie that so moved me. I was so crazy for the movie that I went and saw it eleven times. I kept the story it was based on in the pocket of my school uniform for three years. I'd put my hand over it and get a strange feeling of relief. I memorized the details of that source material backwards and fowards: the culture clash of East and West, the symbolic meaning of rituals. Imagining I understood it all, I took it all in. It didn't hurt my impression of the film or lead actor Ryuichi Sakamoto's intensity.

That intensity makes me nostalgic. Kitano is also one of the leads in the film and his perfomance is no less impressive than Sakamoto's. Back then probably nobody knew, and I definitely didn't know, that that bald commander in film would one day become a famous director.

But, who cares if I didn't know? I'm nostalgic for that time when I didn't have any intellectual background or any reasons. I miss when I just had pure enjoyment. I didn't care about art or theory, I just wanted to sit in that dark room and watch people who lived in a world totally different from ours. If these days I still have some kind of romantic yearning for the past, it's probably just to sit in a packed theater. In that sealed off era, movies were the one light for our hearts.

2009年8月13日 星期四

Leiningen Versus the Ants

1. There will be pictures of the ants, eventually, or as I call them, miniature cockroaches.

2. From the 三更半夜 files. According to 我的台語老師 (goa ê tâi-gí lāu-su), the pronunciation of the 更 in fact changed from 'geng' to 'jing' after she was no longer a child and now she simply will not adjust her pronunciation. But, the interesting part of the discussion comes from the Taiwanese expression 暝時 (mê-sî) which is 晚上 / 夜間. My teacher informs me that first character in 夜市 (iā-chhī) should really be 暝, (which is read ming2 in mandarin), but that people today are a bunch of pussies. (Ok, she didn't say that last part.)

(If you can't read these characters go here: http://taigi.fhl.net/TaigiIME/。 It's all I could have ever hoped for, now I don't only use a government monitored IME, I use one made by the God-fearing people of FHL. Guess I'm a bit god-fearing with that caps on God, but not God fearing enough to go all G-d on you.)

3. And the real reason for a post (because yesterdays start at translating 從西而不化到西而化之 into English was promptly abandoned as a horrible idea, even in theory, which I knew well before I started. After translating quite a bit I finally did stop however. Maybe in the future I'll feel stupid again.


Anyway, so the reason for the post. Sometimes I hate wikipedia for a lot of reasons. Doesn't ever stop me using it as my primary everything for everything in everything. But then there are times when I truly appreciate it:

"Recently, the campaign took on a theme "hua yu Cool" (华语 Cool!), and use TV game shows and music performances by local pop stars, to increase the awareness, especially in younger people. However, this is sometimes viewed as a mockery of the campaign's intents, as Mandarin (华语) 's 'coolness' has to be expressed in English."


Ah, Mandarin promotion, an endless source of fun.

Also of note, 'cool' in the american sense of, well pretty much all the commonly used and expected american senses, seems to be poorly developed in Taiwan. I blame Japan for this (Kawaii culture), and misogyny. Cool still seems stuck in the 酷 formation meaning something closer to distant/standoffish/cool, (too cool for school, cool), which doesn't have a lot of traction in actual usage. Yes, there's a lot of expressions and phrases, but actualy usability is rather limited.

You can say, "Oh, you think you're so cool." but really this a mixture of arrogance and cool's other meaning (something like "better", but which is essentially irreducable and can only be defined at great length).

You can't really freely use "cool" to mark persons as "arrogant/standoffish/distant/cool" and if you do, you have to couch it with more elaboration.

I'd like to create an English used in spoken Chinese to English translator's guide, but I'm sure it's just another project I'll get to never. Dealing with things like "pose", "show", "care", "cool" and translating the english back into usable english.

So, how do you handle the desire to describe someone as "cool/distant/standoffish" in a succint manner? I think that's a simple thing that's lost on culture's which seem to shy away from slang vulguarity (I'm looking at and blaming you Japan, and misogyny in general.)

The guy at the party was real cool, yknow?

Oh, you mean he was a dick?
Oh, you mean that asshole in the corner who wouldn't talk to anyone?
Oh, that prick. Don't worry about him.

American english functions with a fair amount of cursing and slang. It's absense can render simple things awkward (see "cool").

4. Ok, Mandarin promotion. We'll save that for another day.

2009年8月4日 星期二

Hello Saferide, Long Lost Penpal

Hello, do you remember me?
I am your long lost penpal.
It must have been ten years ago we last wrote.
I don't really know what happened,
I guess life came in the way.
Let me know if you're still alive,
let me know if you ever used that knife or not.

Hello, yes I remember you.
I've got a husband and two children now.
I work as an accountant and make fairly good money.
I still have your letters, you used a pink pen to write them.
And you would comfort me
when my tears would stain the ink
and I would send you mix tapes with Kate Bush on them.

I have to admit I sometimes lied in those letters
tried to make life better than it was.
I still wasn't kissed at sixteen,
and I still need a friend.

There was this letter,
I never told you this back then,
but it would be fair to say it saved my life.
I sat in the window
the only one left out from a party again.
Pretty sure I didn't have a single friend,
then I checked the mailbox.

Dear long lost penpal,
I was lying the whole time.
I'm really a 46 years old man named Luke.
I have three children
and a wife, she doesn't care.
And I hope you don't resent me,
and I hope you do not hate me
for trying to find my way back to what it's like to be young.

I have to admit I sometimes lied in those letters,
tried to make life better than it was.
I still wasn't kissed at sixteen.
And I still need a friend.

Non-native-speakers. A 46 years old man? No.



你好, 我還記得你

而我會寄給你有Kate Bush的混合磁帶。