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we're like creatures of the wind
and wild is the wind
Ned Washington and Dimitri Tiomkin, Wild is the Wind
I have forgot much, Cynara!
Gone with the wind
Ernest Dowson, Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae
the wind of change blows straight
into the face of time
Scorpions, Wind of Change
A stormy wind signals the arrival of spring in Japan. It's called haru ichiban 春一番 - spring number one - the first wind of spring. It's strong and it blows bicycles and plants and signboards over. And then the warm weather arrives.
It's easy to get stuck in old ways of doing and thinking. Sometimes it's good to have a strong wind. Unnecessary things are blown away. Everything becomes fresh and new.
In Japan Fujin is the Shinto god of the wind. He glares ferociously and carries a bag of winds. He is rather like Boreas, the god of the wind in Greek mythology.
I talked about the wind before in wind forest fire mountain 風林火山 furinkazan, the motto of Takeda Shingen. In martial arts we have to be like the wind. To move like the wind. And to be free like the wind.
The title to the movie Gone with the Wind was taken from a poem by Ernest Dowson. I used to think gone with the wind meant that something was lost in the wind - youth, or the old order, or the past, say. But it really meant that he let himself be blown and tossed by the wind - and circumstances, and fate - trying to forget his lost love.
holding back the spring
but on a branch
The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country.
Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata (the great first line of the novel)
Keep the heart hot and the head cool in the Plaza de Toros - that is the whole secret.
Ballerina (Theme for Ballet) by Vicki Baum (the Plaza de Toros is the place of the bullfight)
In Japanese there is a saying, san kan shi on 三寒四温. Three cold, four warm. It can mean that three days of cold weather will be followed by four days of warm weather. But there's another meaning. Just when the weather is starting to get warm and you think the spring might finally be coming, the cold weather comes back again. Last week was warm in Japan and we thought spring was coming. Then there was a sudden snowfall. So the spring is not here yet.
In Japanese there are two basic characters for cold. The first is cold as in temperature: kan or samui 寒 (Japanese characters often have several pronunciations or readings). We use this word in the martial arts in kangeiko 寒稽古 - training at the coldest time of year. The second is cold to the touch: rei or tsumetai or hieru or sameru 冷.
There are two main characters for hot too. The first is h
Tell me why
I don't like Mondays
I wanna shoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oot the whole day down
The Boomtown Rats
…so if you are ready, we shall call a cab and drive to Waterloo. I should be very much obliged if you would slip your revolver into your pocket. An Eley's No. 2 is an excellent argument with gentlemen who can twist steel pokers into knots. That and a tooth-brush are, I think all that we need.
Sherlock Holmes speaking to Dr Watson in The Adventure of the Speckled Band by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Mr. Bond, bullets do not kill, it is the finger that pulls the trigger.
The Man with the Golden Gun
…a 19-year-old in America can very easily get a pistol. That's very hard to do in Australia. So when there's a bar fight in Australia, somebody gets punched out or hit with a beer bottle. Here, they get shot.
While I write this letter, I have a pistol in one hand and a sword in the other.
Sir Boyle Roche (1736-1807), Irish politician
A few days ago the Akihabara district of Tokyo reopened for pedestrians on Sundays. Akihabara - 'electric town' - is a centre for all kinds of otaku - obsessed fans. There are stores for electronics, computer parts, stereo parts, manga - comics, anime - cartoons, plastic figures… Maid cafés too. On Sundays it had been a quiet traffic-free zone for many years but in 2008 a man went on a killing rampage. He rented a truck and drove it into people walking in the traffic-free zone - killing three. Then he jumped out and b
Once too meeting by the Seine
The waters a moving floor of stars,
He had vanished when I reached the door,
But there on the pavement burning
Lay one of his familiar black cigars.
from Je es un autre, by Lawrence Durrell
I keep coming back to the idea of mask and truth. Someone makes a thoughtful comment and the train goes on to yet another station.
I started the first mask article by talking about the Tiger Mask manga. That was a comic about a sports hero. There is another kind of manga called shojo manga ostensibly aimed at younger women. The story is usually much more sophisticated than a simple sports story. There is one famous manga called The Glass Mask (Garasu no Kamen). It's about a young woman who wants to become an actress. With the help of a mentor she develops her own method acting and gradually becomes an accomplished actress. The glass mask is the fragile mask of an actor. If it breaks it reveals the actor's real face and real feelings.
As well as your face another part of your identity is your name. I used to get my hair cut by a Japanese guy who had lived in London. He liked speaking English. When I first called up I gave my full name but somehow it got mixed up and when I arrived the stylist called me Matthew. I corrected him but it happened the next time too. So after a couple of times I gave up correcting him and just accepted it. And so once every few weeks I became Matthew. It felt very freeing! In Japan in the past it was not uncommo