Sunday, June 17, 2012

Do Not Seek Help

Do Not Seek Help.

(from Idleness, Tokyo section)

“What a strange, demented feeling it gives me when I realize I have spent whole days before this inkstone, with nothing better to do, jotting down at random whatever nonsensical thoughts entered my head.”

-- Kenko, Essays in Idleness

1. Now?

Yes, accepting that there will be many more years of thankless labor and obscurity – before I fail decisively, that I will die tragically, or endure a long and pathetic old age, that my true friends will not be found, and everyone else will gradually abandon me -- keeping all this in mind – what would I like to do now?


Robin Gibb, is now any time to be dying? 

That which is so often disdained -- and seems to me uncommonly human, so very much like living: the falsetto.

3. Tokyo

To say that Tokyo is inhuman – is accurate but not particularly useful.  You may as well complain that clouds are inhuman, just because we can’t sit on them.  You may as well complain to what’s left of the reefs.

I cannot say what’s going on.  (Of course not.  It was not intended that I should understand.) 

Nonetheless, I have my theories.  These seven-story televisions, for example, which cover entire sides of buildings outside Shibuya station –

Could it be that someone is trying to flag down God?


Do not seek help.  I recognize this is at variance to what is most commonly said.  That fact is: the humiliation and bother of asking for help far outweigh what small help is gained.

People are busy.  People are horrendously important.  It is best for one’s spirit and dignity to not confront these facts too directly.

In the end, only those people who understand will be of help.  And it is not possible to prod people into understanding.  You would think it would be possible.  It is not. 


Another way of saying this might be: seek professional help.  Seek ONLY professional help.

Of course, it may not be any good either.  But at least you pay dearly for it and it appears at the time noted on the card.

5. Highball in a Can.

Shin and Tetsuya, drunk in the smoking room at the baths, drink highball in a can from the vending machine, and slide in and out of their powder blue robes.

Shin has clearly undergone a few calamities – but who hasn’t by the age of 35?  Anyway, he’s still that most precious of bathhouse commodities: cute.

Tetsuya is 45, sells wig for a living, and is afraid his life is over because he’s getting old, and wig business is down, and also because he has a very, very small penis.  He opens his robe and shows it to me.  “He has a clitoris,” says Shin, very helpfully.

Tetsuya nods sadly down on it. 


Insanity is no obstacle to close personal relationships.

Actually, it helps.


It is not possible to prod people into understanding.  At best you might trip them in exactly the right way so that they fall upon the curb and break their nose so that, while recuperating in the hospital, they might meet a nurse who might (or might not) say something revealing.

You can trip folks if you like, but the nurse is not in your employ.


Attempts at immediate pain relief almost always make everything drastically worse. 

Such attempts are nearly unavoidable.

Consider yourself warned.


It is no wonder that Tokyo cherishes promiscuity.  The cherry trees, the chrysanthemum exhibition, and fucking around are pretty much all the nature we have left. 

10. Misery T-shirt

This state: when the suffering of strangers on the train is so evident that it might as well be emblazoned on the front of their shirts.

Forever Disappointed. . . or     My Death is Well Underway. . . or     Alcoholic Grapefruit Soda is My Last Remaining Pleasure. . .

The solid cloud of misery around people on the train, like sickly sweet perfume in an elevator.

It is instructive and gruesome to contemplate: how many people experience almost no happiness whatsoever.    


What can be cobbled together by trusting in complete nonsense?  (What else have I been doing, my entire life?)

12. Function

If I manage, in this process, to note down a few words that serve as consolation and good company to those well-advanced in despair, so that we may indefinitely postpone offing ourselves, then it could be said that this became, in spite of itself, a useful text.


After a mile of shotengai, a dozen blocks of the crowded covered shopping street, he happened to turn his head and see the temple, like a great brown bird with wings outstretched, and was so shocked he actually spoke out loud to it, What are you doing here?

The temple said, I’ve been sitting here for seven hundred years.  The rest just came along.


Doing the next right thing, the next thing on the list, regardless of how one feels about it, is often correct.

15. Follow Through

I’ve never been much good at completing projects.  This has very likely impeded whatever small chance I had for success. 

It is probably also the reason why I still haven’t ever quite gotten around to killing myself.

Therefore it may be said that there are real advantages to being “weak at execution”.

16. Anyway

Many years ago I used to hang around a gay long-distance trucker from Castle Rock who, though not by nature much given to reassurance, would say,

Man, you’re here anyway – you might as well see how it turns out.

17. Bucket

It is extremely unlikely that anything worthwhile can be accomplished without checking in regularly with Fernando Pessoa, who had this to say, on the fifth of April, 1920, to his on-again, off-again love Ophelia Queiroz.

So long: I’m going to lay my head down in a bucket, to relax my mind.  That’s what all great men do, at least all great men who have: 1) a mind, 2) a head, 3) a bucket in which to stick their head.

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