Times away from focused work are dry enough that they can soak up the mood you put yourself in. This is easily accomplished with music, or reading. I think there needs to be a balance in what we consume mentally. Maybe consumption isn’t the right word. I’ve been reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance again and it’s coloring my thought. All evaluations of actions and matter is divided into the subjective and objective, the romantic and classic, as Pirsig would say.
I’ve had an opportunity to look at my artistic expression, and that of others, in that dual-pronged way which leads to the evaluation of its quality. Lots of thinking, not much sorted resolution yet. I don’t know how exacting I should be in coming to those kinds of analytic conclusions. “Elliot (Irwin) succeeds in a presentation of society from a whimsical and satirical point of view, but fails to deliver a message of any significant worth.” There’s the word, “worth”, which is indicative of quality. A subjective evaluation of the work is of course going to provide varying results, the opposite would lead to a very cold and rational metric for art, and eliminate all individuality in the field.
So picking apart my feelings and actions is the idle pastime I enjoy while travelling. Whether it produces any long term growth of character I’m not sure, for as I mentioned it all ends rather fuzzy and vague, unrecorded with no notes or deliverables, or checklist for evaluating actionable items after the fact. Yes, we agree to endeavour to do better, to be more sensitive and aware of our actions. But perhaps these distilled spiritual doctrines are exactly what add to the mounting neuroses which impedes my happiness.
Inside the balance of the lines between fealty and friendship, a warm region of trust and dedication lies. Aside from the sabre rattling of corporate states and the unbridled impulsiveness of youth I seek to stake my claim. The spirit of building something bold and pure beckons to the heart of every dreamer given his own freedom to reign, and I seek to plant ambition at the heart of it.
At what point will these dreams fall empty on the ears of man I grow? If I balance idealism with prudence can the ideal take wing like the eagle on high? The young man of his thirties still wants to believe so.
Sweet brown tender, wrapped up in a cloak of my senses like a gently fading blanket, the smell of sweat and liquor crushed into cotton sheets. Perched on a collapsable stool, I comb my fingers through matted hair, savoring the reverberation in every pore on my scalp. This kind of mystique is the mortar in my foundation, running through every fibre of my identity like Italian marble. I can still taste each delicate pluck of your tongue, a slowly evaporating lozenge that oozes amphetamines to my throbbing blood vessels.
The terminal nature of our torrid affair threw gasoline on the flames of our passion, and the heat left burns in my memory I pray never heal.
What is the sea but a myriad of deep significance that brings life to the creatures of the earth. The sea is a place blissful in its simplicity, one that remains an escape for tortured souls yearning for the emptiness that is fullness, so different from the fullness of society which is increasingly empty. In my youth the sea was a place for recreation, celebrating, and gathering. Alcohol, music, sand castles and football. I would take several days each year to escape the churning torment of my work life, running to Enoshima on weekdays with a six-pack of beer, my iPod and a chip on my shoulder of unresolved dreams.
As I grew older the sense of delusion became readily apparent; in time with increased responsibility and I made fewer such trips. My love of the ocean became distanced and nostalgic, so much that I built my first solo exhibition on the faded terminus of the Odakyu line.
Travelling through Shikoku on my pilgrimage my affair with the sea was rekindled and exceedingly more private, this time an empty expanse of peace in a sparsely populated backwater. A place for meditation, exercise of the heart, and answers, the sea gave me ample opportunity to purge all of the mental tethers I lashed upon myself in the city. Here is the kind of refuge I can forge a stronger core from. If only I can heed the wisdom I know to be true.
There are many reasons to hitch, deriving in some manner from a sense of economy, adventure, or loneliness. There are other options for reaching inaccessible places, and at many times opportunities present themselves at times that require ad hoc decision making. Because I didn’t care for crepes, because all of the anticipation and excitement I felt returning to Nara for the first time in seven years was erased, and instead I felt I needed to get out of there, that moment, and as it happens the train I took lead to a series of transfers which ultimately could get me within a kilometer of my final destination that very night on an unlisted bus route. So I clamoured up the six stories of stairs to the highway bus stop and bought a ticket, sacrificing dinner for an easy day of travel tomorrow. Where I’ll stay I have no idea, but if the rain worsens it’ll likely be under an overpass of some sort.
Why did I come to Shikoku, to far reaches of a prefecture so sparsely populated that several years ago the vast expanse of two mostly uninhabited towns had to be combined for sake of zoning? Because chafing from the seemingly endless hospitality of my in-laws I needed to get away. Away from people and pets, laundry machines, and rooms stuffed with belongings. I needed something of my own, wild, open and serene to soothe my mind, but with barely enough humanity to stave off loneliness. Henro is tolerable even alone because there is a goal and the scenery changes constantly. Only the last three days of my pilgrimage, when I stopped moving forward and set a makeshift camp in an abandoned seaside park did I begin to yearn for the city.
But now I will have all nutrients essential for concentrated production: nature, solitude, and glorious open space. Rise early, do my contracting by day, and at night entertain a good friend who shares my spirit for joie de vivre. Somewhat appropriately from my ever dwindling stack of physical books I’ve brought Big Sur to commune with, though cautiously I look to avoid the same fate as my reluctant guru of rough living.
I’ve been intentionally avoiding writing lately due to the sensitive nature of what I’ve been working on, which has more or less been the foundation of everything I’ve been working on for the last five months. I started a journey to reinvent myself with a clean break, leaving behind the environment and figures that raised me through adolescence to adulthood. It was scary at first; disconnecting myself from the path I was on with really no idea whatsoever I was going to do was unprecedented for me. But I walked, and I walked, and I thought, and somewhere along the way I found the things that defined me as a professional were the roots I thought I could no longer take strength from.
Art, inspiration, and happiness… I put everything I have into the ideals I’ve carried all the way from youth. I was always afraid that growing up would be the end of what made me who I was, that I’d lose the hopes and dreams that carried me thousands of miles from home. But I now at the threshold of the next fantastic adventure, I find myself just as thrilled and starry-eyed as when I first left America, only now I’m stronger and more focused.
I’ve been writing to a development blog since going independent. I don’t know yet where this is going to fall in my list of priorities in the next chapter of my life, or if Autumn Tactics is going with me to the next continent. Maybe it’s a different blog, maybe part two of the same. Or maybe something just with pictures and captions to bring the taste to your lips.
Anyway it ends up, my period of sequestration is at its end. It’s time to open all the windows and let my song unto the wind.
Brian Eno has been a musician that has guided me through evolution as an engineer and artist ever since I first came across Music for Airports during my golden summer of 2000 in college.
The sweet, melancholy tongue of sound that fits so neatly in the groove of engineering is something I will pursue for the rest of my days. Sometimes I wonder if the frustration fuels my advances as much as it hinders them.
There are things that are bluntly Japanese that upon seeing them send a pang of something I cannot describe other than setsunai: a plastic-sandled boy crossing the street (presumedly near his house and making a run to the convenience store for his mother), a grisly middle-aged man standing in sagging, gray, sweats outside a run down apartment complex, slouched and smoking, or the tightly postured beret on a bus tour guide’s head, and the austere’ methodical bow after every one in a row of pleasantries.
These reflections on society, from the personal to the honorific, are taken for granted by everyone else on the bus as we ride down Mejiro street to the highway interchange, but I receive each one with quiet appreciation. Knowing there will be a day soon where I can no longer enjoy the mise en scene firsthand with such frequency can only be coined as something beyond wistful, setsunai.