falling pianos

October 26, 2009

I’ve always been of the opinion that most people are far too hasty to distinguish between intellectual life and physical life. Why do we do this? People place an incongruent value on scholarship and other intellectual pursuits, while frowning upon drug use, promiscuous sex, etc. Even those that work out all the time seem to be sniggered at by academic types who invariably value mind over body. It is no coincidence, therefore, that these people are usually out of shape and without any tangible sense of style. Conversely, gym junkies like to scoff at intellectuals who spend more time with their faces in books than getting tans. This is most obviously manifest in the common ‘nerd’ stereotype.

I’m advocating a healthy balance between the two. I don’t see why we need to neglect our physical desires, or give inordinate amounts of attention to intellectual appetite. They are both equal parts of the same whole, and what’s more, they both exert the same monolithic influence over it, whether it’s for better or worse. Truly balanced and sensible people should look for pleasure not simply of the body but of the mind, and seek wisdom not only through quiet reflection but through actions.

I’ve been forced into this perspective recently through my own single-mindedness, and the realisation that to absorb oneself either in books or exercise alone is no remedy for restlessness, frustration or inadequacy. Well, the scales have levelled out pretty nicely, or at least they had, until I went ahead and put my foot right into one of the most uncomfortable and regrettable situations of my life in Japan so far on Saturday night. But heaven knows, and I’ve said this a hundred times before, that a public blog full of self-indulgent rants is hardly the place to go into juicy details.

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I don’t know why Japanese culture and language attracts such hardcore, militant foreigners. Similarly, I don’t understand the bullshit false modesty that accompanies so many of this country’s permanent foreign residents. Shyness is an inherent part of Japanese culture, sure. But it very unbecoming on foreigners, especially since it makes their endless lust to fit in over here all the more blatant. The irony is that is has the opposite effect: it just makes you look like a wanker, when I ask you if you can speak Japanese, and you say no, and then I find out that you are 1-kyuu level. Have you ever even known what it’s like to not be able to speak Japanese? When my friends and family back home ask me if I can speak the language, I give them the honest answer: I know enough to get around, day to day, enough to order food and ask for directions. Nothing more. But Japan seems to be the only country that gets this kind of cult following from the West, and while modesty might be endearing on the natives, it is pretty sickening on foreigners.

You can’t fire me, I quit.

Way too tired to write anything more in here at the moment. I’ve gone way too hard lately and I’m exhausted. Today was rainy, and my bike was stolen. Not the best conditions under which to decide to write a blog entry, but that’s life. I’m hoping I can straighten myself out over the next week or so and leave this trail of destruction behind.

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