Friday, June 22, 2007

If you can make it (to) there!

That's what the song should be. If you can make it TO New York City, you can make it to anywhere -- you wouldn't need a head-hunter or real estate agent (or infinite on-line want ads) to get to the top of Mt. Everest.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mishima's Sword

I have the audacity to review a book: Mishima's Sword by Christopher Ross. It might be the fever talking, but I just didn't like it.

I thought the idea was very worthy. A national icon committed ritualistic suicide and Christopher Ross recovers the sword (and story) decades later. It's a first-person investigative adventure of the heart (he's a martial artist, he's a writer).

The book bursts with Japan-icana: the traditional measure for sword-sharpness (the number of cadavers it could cut, at which joints of the body); the oils for rust; the legend of a "good" sword, how leaves on a stream evade the blade (while striking another) because the moral sword avoids unnecessary hurt.

The drawing of a human body, scored by 10 horizontal lines, the diagram for cadaver-cutting.

His writing is clear, hard, efficient -- sentences cutting clean and sharp, clean and sharp, with Japanese names, detailed rituals, history, etc. But I can't shake the idea that all these sharp sentences are just facts drawn quickly across a dead body.

"Mishima claimed that the feminine side of Japan, displayed in the arts of ikebana and the tea ceremony, in kimono design and the institution of geisha, in haiku and ceramics, had been deliberately stressed since the American occupation. But this side was not the whole of Japanese culture. There was also an immense historical and cultural investment in the arts and attitudes of the warrior: the sword needed to balance the chrysanthemum."

Christopher Ross is the book's only warm, living character, and I couldn't feel a pulse. Too much "steady hand and mind" as he faced the potentially bloody ritual of writing? Was he ashamed to share his true emotion? (And is that's why David Sederis is so powerful; because he tells everything? Shameless.)

The author admits he felt kind of victorious in befriending a true-life Japanese bartender. AND felt constricted on a plane ride! The factual evidence was all there -- Mishima is worthy of our consideration. But our passion? The author's passion? More chrystanthemum, less blade.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

In Sickness and in Basements

Well, not-blogging didn't improve my not-writing situation, so I may as well fling more thoughts into the void from the Greenville Public Library.
The only thing going on right now is that I'm sick again.
I've been marking on my calendar when I jog, to make sure I'm actually going out more than once (which feels like three times, to me), and there are at least three gaps in the past two months, when I've suffered a thin, hot grizzly-drizzle. (And exhaustion.)
Now, more fodder for my morbid, fever-fueled fantasies: what if the apartment's making me sick? Like, with mold? It is a basement, with about three windows total. And sixty crickets (the spidery, cave-crickety sprickets), and slugs. SLUGS. I'm not kidding -- on the living room floor. So, it's pretty damp, too. (Why do you live there? It's $500 a month, and a mile from Main Street.)
One of my friends, a nurse, said, "I don't think you should live there at all, Sara. Not even for another week. Not even another day. So, what are your plans?" Ha, ha. But really, I don't know. Like, why didn't it strike all last year, while I lived there? Well, I lived in the room with the clothes dryer. Understandably a little less damp. ($500 a month, a mile from Main Street.)
However, the bottom line is that it sucks, being sick. The first day of my being sick, this time, I noticed a big, fleshy wood spider near my front door. Over-weary, I suffered it to live. The second day, like the discomfort in my gullet creeping from my sinuses to my throat, I realized it had stealthily moved from the front wall, to the side wall, above my dresser.
On the third day, as some thick substance resonated in my chest with each cough, I reached to answer my phone when The Sudden Spider! (an emotion in and of itself) It was on the curtain above my bed.
Unable to deal, I slept on the sofa.