Response to prof. nemerov's book on pearl harbor:
Sometimes, my heart races when reading a “truth” I identify with written by a dead author
Sometimes, I’m wowed by a distant living person who wrote a nonfiction book on Math, or how geography influenced the power dynamic of our current world
But none has incurred so much personal recalls , and even more heart racings, thank god it wasn’t as bad as my altitude sickness
The attribution may be to the fact that the author is living and that I had conversed with him in a relaxed setting, not in a “here, author, sign this book please” kind of way.
I think of my grandfather
And fluent in Japanese
I climbed small mountains with him all the time, maybe why now my indulgence in the trees and forests
He’s a product of the Japanese invasion
Of soviet “better suck my dick” attitude towards China
Then of Nixon’s opening dialogue with China
Resulting in the transformed English professor that tried hard to forget his “native” Japanese and “Native” Russian, as those languages were later banned
And in his paralyzed state, sometimes he murmurs Japanese
To my uncle that is fed up with taking care of him
I think of the 70 year old sushi chef in New York at Kura
Who genuinely thought my 13 year-old sister is the cutest person, because she hides away every piece of raw sushi under the bar table, sometimes on my knees bringing me into the crime , and then turns around and tells the old man that she thought it was “Great” and would laugh
She hates raw fish
He started torching every piece of fish for her
She still turns around to me and go,” is this food?”
The step beyond the required superficial appreciation for sushi for both of them took all of us into a conversation that rarely occurs in a serious sushi environment
He said he got yelled at on the street in Michigan (he lived there for 15 years) because he wore Ohio State Tees, Ohio, where my immediate family lives. He marveled at our hometown in China being so close to Japan. He likes that place.
He was a chef in Tokyo
But he likes the US better.
Chef Jiro would shake his head at him, I bet. For he innovates too much in his nigri deliveries.
And in the back of our minds, me, my father, mother, there’s definitely images of Japanese invasion and tortures of the Chinese people , drilled into our minds through propaganda films that monopolize all prime entertainment channels
Yet in my sister’s mind, young and born in Ohio, none of those images turned up
It’s just raw fish
I think of another documentary I watched, Of Ishigu NOkiro and how he tried to belong there but couldn’t about Japanese in US concentration camps. And silently I was brought to tears. The sense of not belonging, much shared hiding my tears, I quickly told my friend to keep going at his pace in the gallery
At the noguschi museum
Now I think again, what was I sad for? Sad for humanity ? sad for the Japanese? Sad for all misunderstandings?
The back of your book triggered my own talk once about the 19 year old boys in All Quiet on the Western Front. They barely had time to pursue lust, desire, failure, to THINK. And now they rush into jaded..
I look at the publisher notes, of course I have “Ramblings of a Wannabe Painter by Paul Gaugin” in blue
And then I’m here on a porch in Menlo Park, a random suburban place, reading prose about a crashed plane
And for those moments where I often thought my life meant nothing, my existence meant nada in the whole scope of the universe
At least at this moment, I feel my existence cemented. Solidly verified. This ability to connect
So what if the next moment I fall apart again.
And with all these, I took up my brush
The connection is carried forth now into a physical mark
The ambience that now the hand partakes into inevitably got influenced