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432 pages, Hardcover
First published March 11, 2013
"Each gyre orbits at its own speed,” he continued. “And the length of an orbit is called a tone. Isn’t that beautiful? Like the music of the spheres. The longest orbital period is thirteen years, which establishes the fundamental tone. The Turtle Gyre has a half tone of six and a half years. The Aleut Gyre, a quarter tone of three. The flotsam that rides the gyres is called drift. Drift that stays in the orbit of the gyre is considered to be part of the gyre memory. The rate of escape from the gyre determines the half-life of drift . . .”The author of the new story inside Marcel Prost's In Search of Lost Time's cover, was Naoko Yusatan, or just Nao, a fifteen-year-old Japanese girl who used to live in the USA but had to return with her parents to Japan after the Dot-Com bust. It left her dad somewhat suicidal, but don't worry, this honorable ambition is fully explained in the book.
He picked up the Hello Kitty lunchbox and turned it over in his hands. “All that stuff from people’s homes in Japan that the tsunami swept out to sea? They’ve been tracking it and predicting it will wash up on our coastline. I think it’s just happening sooner than anyone expected.”
Weird, right? I mean, there I was, sitting in a French maid café in Akiba, thinking about lost time, and old Marcel Proust was sitting in France a hundred years ago, writing a whole book about the exact same subject. So maybe his ghost was lingering between the covers and hacking into my mind, or maybe it was just a crazy coincidence, but either way, how cool is that? I think coincidences are cool, even if they don’t mean anything, and who knows? Maybe they do! I’m not saying everything happens for a reason. It was more just that it felt as if me and old Marcel were on the same wavelength.Eventually she figured out that she had to write something important for her words to come. Like, the life story of her great-grandmother: Yasutani Jiko, the famous anarchist-feminist-novelist-turned-Buddhist-nun of the Taisho era, who lives in remote mountains and don't have time to die, because she had to pray for all the stuff Yao is telling her about in her letters. The Taishö Democracy was in interesting era for women. One hundred and four years old at the last count, Old Jika was a busy nun. She understood time.
The idea of the time being comes from a book called Shōbōgenzō that an ancient Zen master named Dōgen Zenji wrote about eight hundred years ago, which makes him even older than old Jiko or even Marcel Proust. Dōgen Zenji is one of Jiko’s favorite authors, and he’s lucky because his books are important and still kicking around. Unfortunately, everything Jiko wrote is out of print so I’ve actually never read her words, but she’s told me lots of stories, and I started to think about how words and stories are time beings, too, and that’s when the idea popped into my mind of using Marcel Proust’s important book to write down my old Jiko’s life.Nao became the link between two time beings to meet after Old Jiko's story landed up as flotsam on the planetary gyres which would connect the history of Jiko, with the time span of Ruth in the small village of Whaletown on Desolation Island.
If a train that travels 3 kilometers per minute goes y kilometers in x minutes, then…etc., my mind would go numb and all I could think about was how a body would look at the moment of impact, and the distance a head might be thrown on the tracks, and how far the blood would spatter.Listen up. The world doesn't live on humanity.
Japan isn’t a great thing to be a free anything, because free just means all alone and out of it.Listen up. The world doesn't give a fuck about you.
"To a writer, this is so funny. To send a word, instead of a body!Listen up. The world runs on ciphers. The world runs on manipulating the data of inheritance and habitus into the machine of freedom, the end-all exchange of your life for your money, your morals for your bread, your peace for your survival. Heritage lives on in you in fear of the future, and the future is vast and pitiful, for everyone knows which heritages are worth most in the long run. Everyone learns early on that an income is only guaranteed by how quickly one may transcribe the weight of a human life into a point, the point into statistics, the statistics into a graph, ending with an overheard conversation of mine where one white male engineer told another white male engineer that he had it all wrong, the car wasn't screwed up just because three people died in accidents caused by the same flaw, you didn't need to pull back production and pay out the gains and suffer a loss for a paltry number of fatalities that didn't even amount to a standard deviation on the scale of sales over time. I should know, he said. I've been working for thirty years.
But later on, maybe days or months or even years later, the reality of what they’d done would start to rise up to the surface, and they would be twisted up with pain and anger and take it out on themselves and their families. That also would be my fault.I quit bioengineering because I could do it. Understand? I quit bioengineering because my options were making a shitton of money at one company with military contracts or making a shitton of money at another company with a history of poisoning the environment or making a shitton of money at yet another powered by people preferring to amputate their selves through drugs in order to fit, to stay in, to save lives in order of those who could afford it rather than in an effort to give to those who need it. I quit bioengineering because it got to me, and I could go back if I medicated myself into a walking coma of math and pseudoethics and a rhetoric that never ever ever incorporated empathy in its millenias of history, but I won't. I won't, I won't, I won't.
"Now, who did you say we are at war with?”Good question. At this very, very moment, this instant of time, this time of being, do you know whose time is ending? Here in the US, I certainly don't, not with the school to prison pipeline instate and the colonialism out, and with capitalism doing fine and dandy among the corporations and the drones and the taxes, I'd have a hell of a time finding out. If you look between the lines and past the whitewashing in schools from coast to coast, they'll teach you awareness of the fuel this democracy runs on, this country that grew physically through the genocide of one wealth of nations and financially through the enslavement of another, but they won't tell you what to do with it. They won't give you any sign that you are expected, as an adult, as a full fledged human being, as an upstanding member of society, to actively question this betrayal of freedom, of dignity, of the pursuit of happiness, which every fiber and action of your relative being. No. They see that you pay, they see that you receive your little paper, and they see that you leave with minimum fuss, for universities have a reputation and sales record to maintain, didn't you know, and anyone who falls between the cracks of attempted suicide, rape culture, and hate crimes just isn't good for press release.
Jiko looked out across the ocean to where the water met the sky. "A wave is born from deep conditions of the ocean," she said. "A person is born from deep conditions of the world. A person pokes up from the world and rolls along like a wave, until it is time to sink down again. Up, down. Person, wave."I found my function through literature. I did, I did, I did. I reconciled my need for economic support with my need for propagating social justice, my equation for living with my reason to be, my privileges that I have with the privileges that I don't, and I hold that it should be this way for everyone. However, I don't hold with the notion that everyone should do it my way. I don't hold with the term "slacktivism", for explicate to me, please, the exact parameters of your definition, the constitutional efficacy of your concept, the fucking point of poking those who operate through means other than marches on the capital in the eye, as if only certain breeds of solidarity were deemed valid in the eyes of the holier-than-thou. As if everyone were capable as you, social justice warrior, to take off work, to take off thinking, to take off living in the way they've found works best in order to fulfill your narrow notions of just what it means to be "effective" in the social arena. The ripples of the new generation operate on electromagnetic waves far less concrete and observable than your sit-in protests, and if even science can't observe and measure at the same time, how do you expect to?
Nothing made him happier than planting baby trees.It is a matter of not hurting people.
Slowly she turned herself around, pivoting on her knees, until finally she was facing me. “I asked for you,” she said.It is a matter of listening to people.
“So you could hear the answer.”
"No," he said. "I'm not dead yet.”It is a matter of living. It is a matter of learning without expecting instantaneous results. It is a matter of time being and respecting that time being for any and all systems both human and ecological, animal and psychological. It is a matter of knowing the difference between being dead and being alive, for dead is dead is dead unless, of course, you've passed something along. You've programmed a tool for activists, you've written a book for thinkers and believers in peace, you've expressed an idea of war never being acceptable under any circumstance so long as the life of a single being has value to someone via speech, via post, via like. Do not tell me that certain efforts to advocate something that values well being over profit do not "count"; if a successful career in bioengineering can't tempt me into treating deaths as justifiable statistical error, neither can you.