Monday, August 03, 2015


Shroud of Inattention

Donald Richie (1924-2013), Journals (May 12, 1992):
In Japan I interpret, assess an action, infer a meaning. Every day, every hour, every minute. Life here means never taking life for granted, never not noticing. For me alone I wonder? I do not see how a foreigner can live here and construct that shroud of inattention, which in the land from whence he came is his natural right and his natural tomb.

E.M. Forster used to say, "...only connect..." and it is with this live connection that the alert foreigner here lives. The electric current is turned on during all the waking hours: he or she is always occupied in noticing, evaluating, discovering and concluding.

Maybe in another country the resemblances to where one came from would be strong enough that such continual regard would not be necessary and would not be rewarding. But Japan, which now so seems to resemble the worst of the land I came from, is actually so different that none of my habits protect, none of my prior assumptions are valid.

Denied, fortunate foreigner, the tepid if comfortable bath which is daily life back "home," he cannot sink back and let the music flow over, mindless, transparent; he must listen, score in hand.

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