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Thread: A Japanese Perspective.

  1. #1
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    A Japanese Perspective.

    It was a narrow fronted, poorly lit bookshop of rectangular shape, somewhere in the Sakuragi-Cho District of old Yokohama; and upon seeing inside, ceiling to floor shelves crammed with old books and manuscripts, he knew he was among friends.

    For what are books, (or past friends for that matter,) but the conduit of thoughts and passions of those, giving up graciously, that which was most intimate. Here was the legacy of those, who, although perhaps achieving little or nothing in the material sense, had still sustained a curiosity to question and record that which was around them.

    To one side, a high-level fan light beamed down an obtuse angled shaft of light onto a row of bound tomes. A dark mahogany table was positioned adjacent. The entire arrangement was as if he was being led and focused to choose, by some celestial illumination, a book, in this location, at this point in time.

    It was a feeling he was comfortable with, and with some effort he lifted down one of the heavier books onto the table and let his right hands fingers arbitrarily select a page to open up.

    He had not been aware of the small figure beside him; head slightly bowed, very old and formally dressed in black; as if in a supporting supplication role at some traditional act of worship.

    The book had revealed Japanese characters, beautifully executed by brush strokes; flowing, complicated, yet maintaining a visual balance that exuded hidden comprehension.

    “How do you read them?” he asked.
    “Left to right, the other way around, or even vertically?”

    The man gazed up.

    “None of those,” he replied softly in an English that was both correct and without accent. We view the characters in their entirety and they form a picture, which each reader interprets to his own choice. You see, there is no alphabet, as in many other languages that leads one to formulate words and sentence structure.”

    “Perhaps in reality we all live in a kind of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing is never said or done or even thought; but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs. One could reason from this for example, that any landscape, visually apparent is a condition of the soul.”

    Outside in the street, one could clearly see the backdrop of the snow-capped dormant Mt Fuji volcano, where in Shinto mythology it was believed the god Kuninotokotachi was born when the earth was chaotic.

  2. #2
    On the road, but not! Danik 2016's Avatar
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    Thanks, Manicheam, I enyoied this. It retains something of the Japanese magic, that is present in the love of the people of there origin and ancestry, in their religion, their work and their food and, of course, in their writings.

    My country and specially my state have a special debit to the Japanese, who patiently grew fruits and vegetables in territories used to cultivate mono cultures.
    "You can always find something better than death."
    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm, The Bremen Town Musicians

  3. #3
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Dear Danik

    Glad you enjoyed it. I had worked overseas with a Japanese company for about 15 years, but was lucky enough to both live & work in Yokohama for 6 months which gave me greater insight into their ways at a local, more social level.

    Best wishes
    M.

  4. #4
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    Not bad, M. Please don't take this the wrong way, but I notice your prose is becoming smoother and more natural sounding lately. Clearly your time with the horseman has done you good. I'll leave you one piece of constructive criticism (also known as an opinion you are free to ignore): the second to last paragraph is a bit didactic. It's probably better to let readers draw their own conclusions rather than spelling them out. It's at least a more subtle way of writing. Otherwise, I think this is a fine piece of short fiction (if fiction it was).
    Last edited by Pompey Bum; 07-21-2019 at 10:18 AM.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  5. #5
    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    On the contrary. I know your pointers / critiques / suggestions, (call them what you will) are well meaning, and invariably good insight. Keep em coming!!

    I had to smile regards my prose. I blame it on an early simultaneous absorption of Gibbon & Bushmills whiskey at a formative age. You may well be right about “The Horseman” beginning to loosen me up. Such fun in unrestrained gallops across all lines of discipline and restriction. No thought-out plot, structure, or ending. “Bliss it was that very dawn to be alive.”

    I shall in due course return to its therapeutic embrace. In the meantime, however I’m engaged in a strategic retreat from Taiwan back to Blighty, via Bangkok.

    Best wishes
    M.

  6. #6
    The Gnu Normal Pompey Bum's Avatar
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    The retreat is well advised. July's a pretty rough time to be anywhere near "the Rock." I'm impressed you're there at all, but I suppose an old empire man must know how to shrug off the heat. Happy trails home. Be careful with that karate expert of yours. He'll be getting old enough to do you some damage one of these days.

    PS No monkey business in Bangkok.
    And this from a man in a bunny suit.

  7. #7
    Registered User Steven Hunley's Avatar
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    'For what are books, (or past friends for that matter,) but the conduit of thoughts and passions of those, giving up graciously, that which was most intimate. Here was the legacy of those, who, although perhaps achieving little or nothing in the material sense, had still sustained a curiosity to question and record that which was around them.'

    The quiet tone of the entire piece was contemplative and relaxing. For such a short read it was packed with subtle magic.

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