Charles Harries

| Posts

Week 15

In which the author rambles a little bit.

I didn't do anything interesting this week. I didn't do anything significant, didn't uncover like personal truths, didn't come across something so perspective-shiftingly different that I had to race home immediately to tell the Internet about it, tell my parents about it, tell Nicole next door about it. In fact, on Sunday I only left the house once, and this was to run to the bank on an errand I couldn't accomplish, because the ATMs here have led me to believe that they can do anything and only now have I realized that they cannot fulfill that promise. I am tremendously disappointed with ATMs.

But & so anyway, here I am, sitting at home on a Sunday night, a quietly cooling-off bento of like hamburger meat and pasta-potato bonanza and a big block of rice all stuck together and humid from the microwave or obun or re-nji or whatever they call it here, God knows.

I feel as though there's this unspoken notion that each of us here has a set number of minutes that we can stay here -- and this number can multiply itself by two or three, growing from 525,600 minutes to 1,051,200 minutes or even 1,576,800 minutes and beyond depending on the choices that we make or the choices that our respective Boards of Education make. And these numbers are so vastly large that we don't really comprehend the significance of each day unless we repeat it to ourselves in a kind of mantric chant, which, I don't doubt, would put us into some sort of defeatist trance and we'd never actually go outside or accomplish anything productive at all. But what starts as 525,600 minutes, which is so mind-boggling large that we can't possibly grasp the importance thereof -- well scaling down, we come to realize that we've actually only got 365 days, which means only 52 weekends with which to do stuff (and at this point we've already expended more than a quarter of them!), which boils down to only four seasons, and with the fall of this weekend's snow I think we can pretty safely say that a full one of them is already out the window; and what was three remaining seasons melts down into one long amorphous year, which if you think about it we don't even have a full year anymore, out of all of the years of our lives, variegatedly long, and here's this one or two or three or generally speaking <6 years that we have here, out of, depending on lifespans, somewhere around 70+, and I am sitting at home listening to the rain and the wind and the growing cold and doing something that at the very least I have done twelve times before, to say nothing of the thousands upon millions of words that I have written before in my life.

I wonder now what I am doing with my life in Japan.

I understand that this isn't all I'm doing here. I understand that if I had taken Plan B, if I hadn't come to Japan, I probably wouldn't have seen in a full year one-third of all of the cool things I have seen so far. But being here, wanting to maximize my profit, make the most out of the temporal capital that I have here, why am I sitting here being lazy?

I guess it has to do, in a self-comfort kind of way, with the notion that everyone needs a little bit of rest time, that everyone needs to sit down at some point at a Mister Donut, knowing that so long as they remain within the double-paned picture window glass of the café, coffee will keep coming to them, the world will continue to orbit around them and they can sink blissfully (so to speak) into the caffeine and into the fluorescent lights overhead while the so many other people of the world go about their business and the day, November 17th 2012, darkens around them to vanish and never return outside of the possibility of some sort of time flux esoteria that physicists insist is entirely impossible. (Tangent: say 'physicists insist' out loud. Please. For me.)

Which, when you think about it, is actually a pretty terrifying prospect: the idea that the sun is setting right now on a day that will never in the entire span of spacetime return; although I guess when it comes down to it and you're treating things in this sort of relativistic 'spacetime' kind of prospect, the idea that something comes and goes rather than just is in n dimensions doesn't make any difference at all.

Not that any of this is anything that I haven't said before, back in Week 5, which I don't recommend you go read because it was a little bit intimate; whereas I try to keep my audience at a decent emotional distance, just sort of talking about what's going on in Hokkaido or in whatever city I happen to find myself on any given weekend.

So what's happening in Yubetsu?

We saw the sun on Friday, but that was the first time in about a week and the last time since. It has rained pretty constantly; we are all developing the early symptoms of seasonal affect disorder, or SAD, but at least we're all in it together. I hadn't noticed this before, but there are a couple of abandoned businesses here that have been forgotten in a pretty big way, that I just hadn't been looking too hard at before. But there's a good deal of leaking and dripping and cold, hollow moistness going on in Yubetsu right now. It's depressing in the sense that it's not at all cursorily depressing, but on a second pass, at a deeper look, so to speak, it's the sort of thing that makes you not leave your house for days at a time, that makes you shanghai your neighbor into purchasing for you a daily bento of something processed and preserved and just thoroughly shitty, that, combined with that SAD is leading you into really progress-stymying despair, which is another one of those words that, cursorily speaking, doesn't mean much, despair, but again, at a deeper look really kicks you hard in places where nerve endings are at their densest.

I don't know where I'm going with this, is the point. The whole weekend has been spent in various positions and geographical coordinates within the four or five or however many walls of my apartment, reading and writing and generally falling into the apollonian creative funk into which the cabin-fevered man generally falls, spending hours at a time worshipping at the keyboard and letting out all manner of grisly meanderings onto the screen qua page, indulging in the worst kind of stream of consciousness lexis, coming even now to make up words like 'improvatory' and 'variegatedly' and 'esoteria' based off general orthographical rules the cabin-fevered man is extrapolating onto words with the wrong etymologies, jamming Latinate suffixes onto Anglo-Saxon, or jamming the Anglo-Saxon onto the Latin, making a superb mess and setting back the Field of Linguistics like at least fifty years or to some arbitrary point before Noam "N-Chome" Chomsky came in and got his nose in literally everything. For real, though, have you seen that guy's Wikipedia page?

Here's a brief run-down:

Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, historian, political critic, activist, institute professor at MIT, U.S. foreign policy-, state capitalism-, war-, politics-, and mass-media-commentator, author, most-cited-source-from-1980-to-1992, Top Public Intellectual, Prominent Cultural Figure, "father of modern linguistics," influencer of computer science, mathematics, and psychology, creator of the Chomsky hierarchy, universal grammar theory, and the Chomsky-Schützenberger theorem (among others), "traditional anarchist," and anarcho-syndicalist/libertarian socialist. And that's just the intro.

Anyway so yes the point here is that without a proper like Plan For the Weekend I've lost almost all direction whatsoever, leading into blog posts more like this one and less like the ones that have come before and the ones that I assure you will come after, if only you'll stick through the pretentious/academic/post-avant lit-core complaining that I decide to post on the internet in the meantime.

Everything You Have Heard Japan JET Programme