July 28, 2005
My dad writes me this interesting email:
I think the Japanese scholar who claims Japanese don't do "construction" didn't
really understand --- everyone constructs, all the time (in fact this is a basic
tenet of Zen as well). However, it's certainly true that Japanese culture has
a tendency to be skeptical of these constructions, not to hold onto them as
tightly as other cultures do, perhaps, partly because of the influence of Zen
and similar philosophies. Derrida clearly had a feel for this when he referenced
I picked up an obscure book of conversations by Japanese scholars and
there was one with Jacque Derrida when he came to Japan for a symposium or
something before he died. One Japanese guy's contention was basically that
deconstruction notion is useless in Japan because there is no construction
to deconstruct or statement to that effect. I think Derrida wouldn't agree
though as he was a guest and apparently a polite guy didn't totally object
especially as he didn't know anything much about Japanese culture. And
aside from the guy who studied with Derrida in the US the other guys (there
were two others) didn't really know much about Derrida though they were philosophy
scholars who taught at some of the same institutions where Derrida taught
such as Columbia, Yale and Irvine.
The thing that I got out of these conversations is that obviously Derrida
and others realized what we tend to do in the Western societies is to work
towards completion while the Japanese do not work so much towards
completion as work in progress. They don't really understand what it means
to complete anything, the reason why they tend to tinker endlessly with
cars or motorcycles for example. Their products tend to become in time
totally different concepts altogether without ever becoming
obsolete. Derrida did cite an example of the Izumo shrine in Japan which
is rebuilt every ten years so in a sense it's always under
construction. And he cited this as an example of "deconstruction" in
Japan. Also, it became clear to me that what Derrida and other western
philosophers are afraid of is that "completion" or "arrival" equates death
or "revolution". Killing and dying is a constant result of Western
civilization and somehow they are trying to change it structurally from
within. The idea of void is not so much that is empty but rather it is a
state of non-completeness as everything is in the process of journeying or
moving. One is afraid of stopping and the other does not understand what
Today had pizza at Grimaldi's, a famous brick-oven place in Brooklyn. Waited
45 minutes to get in. Worth the wait, though I have heard there is an even better
pizza place in Brooklyn to try.
I'm now becoming obsessed with the idea that I should have an even nicer bike
than my trusty Specialized Allez, which I love dearly. I went to the bike store
today and test rode a Specialized Tarmac Comp, the cheapest version ($2200) of their Tarmac
line which tops out at $7100. Specialized is known for putting high-end performance in even their bottom of the line
bikes; I've felt very lucky and happy to have an excellent performer in my low-end Allez. However, I've been wondering --- how do these expensive
bikes feel? So I tried it at the store --- blown away is all I can say. I was flying down the street --- so fast I wasn't sure
if I'd even reached Houston when I found I was already at Canal. This, after a long, tiring day of biking around the Central Park a few
times and almost all the way down to the bottom tip of Manhattan, yet on this bike my legs still felt fresh, I could sprint up and down
these streets. There's something really wonderful about the idea that one can transport oneself, without needing to buy gallons and
gallons of gas, at relatively high speeds... and a beautifully designed machine, a bicycle, can make you feel as though you're being
propelled, even though the motive force is your body.
July 22, 2005
In the local bodega:
Storekeeper: It's very nice weather, isn't it?
Woman: Oh, it's so hot.
Storekeeper: Just wait until it's winter, you'll wish it were summer! (pause) Human nature is never satisfactory [sic]... (smiles, rocking back on his heels) ... We're always moving around.
What a great choice of words: "always moving around." He didn't mean physically -- he meant that we are always
moving; feeling as though we need to move from the situation we are in to another one that is supposedly better.
(This in itself not necessarily bad --- it's the nature of being alive. But not seeing the humor in it: that can be
sort of bad.)
Writing should be a search, a quest through words, whose only direction is the beyond of words – life in its pure sacred immanence...
I agree, but on the other hand, everything is in the direction beyond words, whether it seems to be or not. Still, it's
worth it to keep the "beyond words" in mind, if you can; I find it easy to live there, but harder to write about it.
The words seem so frail, so incapable of even touching the vastness I feel in a single fractured instant. Even "instant"
doesn't cover it, because there are infinities in the partial folds of every cracked moment --- experience comes as layers upon
layers of fleeting stuttering flashes, not a continuous flow, which is a composite illusion, persistence of vision.
Saw Howl's Moving Castle last night: good movie to see in the summer heat.
July 19, 2005
Many questions can be answered, but one cannot: why is there something rather than nothing? If there was absolutely
nothing, it wouldn't even be nothing, since there would be no "something" to contrast it with. Absolutely no
reference points whatsoever. There wouldn't even be a void, a receptacle for something. There would just be ...
nothing. Brianna, I know you're reading this. What do you think?
July 13, 2005
Asha sends me this endlessly distracting link: tetka.
July 6, 2005
Back from Canada and lovely Portland. I can't express everything that has happened right now,
but I will post this quote:
Everything is not real.
-waiter at the Pukk vegetarian Thai restaurant