Siddartha is the chronicle of one person’s life spent in search of enlightenment. It is a philosophical journey and the writing is reflective of this. The landscape in which the story takes place (India) is exceedingly simple, in contrast the theological contemplation which the protagonist undertakes is esoteric and complex (multi-layered). The landscape is also beautiful, something to be noticed and appreciated and acclaimed, and it is this which leads Siddhartha through his life weaving his many stories into a single path.
Reading Brooks’ comparison between gaming habits in South Korea and United States I am led to think about the prevalence of gaming culture in day to day life as witnessed on my recent trip to Japan. Japan has a very famous anime culture explained to my by one friend in this way, ‘Anime is from Nagoya, the weather is bad there, people stay inside and draw characters.’ Simple that is sure, but it also says something about the attitude, anime progressed through to cartoons progressed through to video games, that builds a socially respected gaming culture. The Nagoya locals were fine to stay indoors, their production was one which matched their environment and their socialising, showing those pictures to friends and acquaintances built from this as well. In this environment gaming too becomes an acceptable way to bond with people, if the games are commonly played and immersed into popular culture then they are a better way than most to relate with other people.
In Japan one question we would frequently ask when getting to know somebody (particularly those younger than us) was, what is your favourite Pokemon? Next to the arbitrary how old are yous and what are your names of an introductory conversation this question really let us get to know about somebody, more importantly, it let our interlocutor know that we had something in common with them. Pokemon have different names in their original Japanese incarnation, Ditto is Metang, Dugtrio Mugra, Pikachu is Pikachu, well, mostly different. And this translation would lead us further into an activity of pantomime, gesturing or drawing as we explained the characteristics of our favourites respectively. We weren’t even playing the game, but this information, based on the realities of some arcane virtual world we’d both inhabited at one time or another, served to bond us with our new friends. It created a link, a common thread, and strangely enough, just a cursory knowledge of some cute pixelated shapes made us so much more interesting to one another. As Hyatt relates in an examination of the ‘new’ tag of ‘social gaming’, “not every multiplayer game is a social game.” (para.2) Pokemon, I suppose, can be a social game, yet we were not playing together. The friendship could carry on if we were to play together some time, over the Net (on what I don’t know but I think we could). And yet we didn’t have to, this wasn’t a long term friendship, just a casual aquaintance we met on the train or in the street and it showed how gaming, embedded in daily life, is a tool of socialising. Like cards or Monoply, but actually, in its interaction, colours, story, game play, sound, movement and immersion, more vivid, more strong. Enough to inspire memory and connect players long after the machine had been turned off.
The sea was soupy brown. A soccer ball had been washed up and sat there, inviting a big kick, in a nest of bamboo shards. In the distance the mountains stirred the air, it caught around their peaks and built up on that side of the sky. It grew quickly darker, a haze built above the ocean which was no colour now that the sun had been lost, we bobbed about and anticipated going in soon. Then, a thousand people were taking photographs and a rainbow the size of Jupiter hung over our heads. Looking along the beach across the lineup and over to town and the hills behind that, everything was pretty good. Old hotel buildings became golden and charming, the rolling hills of pines more permanent and immune to development, the crests of the waves more delicate, their riders shared a greater comity and were more blissed out for it. The rainbow fell away as if it were sand and it grew dark again. Headlights duelled and figures scurried in. We used the taps and stood in boardshorts and talked at our leisure with friends for it was not cold even if the night would be wet, salty and black.
Right hand point. It was fun. Twenty guys out and only five or something when we first arrived. The weather changed, from driving rain to pleasant sun to rain again, like somebody was playing with a switch. We went in, sat on a sea wall which curved down like 5 metres to the rocky foreshore. The tide rose and lapped at it. There sure is a lot of concrete in Japan, it’s funny to see in a natural setting, almost integrated as it is here. We had walked out on a little undersea foot path till it became deep enough to paddle, the man made environment extending right into the waves. Not something you’d expect, and yet the dull, stern, stoic colour of concrete seems to suit the Japanese landscape. Whether weary under midday sun or big, damp, slick in the wet, mimicking the clouds.
It is there to subdue nature, hold steady the ground, deflect the waves and tide. It does make you feel safe, its silent blockiness suitably comforting. And yet in the maw of a storm, the wind and sea and earth will always be indominable, those battles fought with secret elemental force. It might just be engineering practice, and anyway, it seems to create something of a habitat, flat surfaces, good places for sitting and parking on. Spots to congregate, out of the sand and the water, and these are where we have ended up spending a lot of our time in Japan. They are not industrial but in fact personable :)
We even did this today when the swell was up! And now, come those water lumps, there’s rain and wind as well. This was 90% of our thoughts those idle, breeze-less, swell-less days - going sideways, going round - you felt it at night like you’d been all day on a rocking ship.
They have the sickest thing here. It’s a chime that sounds on the hour.
The other day I was in the surf and it played Yesterday by the Beatles I swear it. How sick is that! Yesterday, wild…time measurement. Not like a watch stuck on your wrist, oppressive, but just time somewhere out there, floating around, not even really making sense. But, you know its passing and that is how I knew we had become BEACH BUMS (title).
The waves have been flat and we have been having the biggest ball down there. Up on the concrete sidewalk behind the searing brown stuff and bamboo wreckage swept out by the river. Behind us there’s a grove of spruce green pine trees where we put our stuff and shoulder to shoulder along the promenade lie vans of surf and surf ramble. And friendly! Nice spot to hang out! We haven’t put our fins in all week I swear it. Just pure, mellifluous sunny days, shorts no shirt, straw hat, hour chimes and marine tang sea breeze always fades into twilight.
Now university has started, the waves rose, sky dulled, calender days passed and I sit up late tonight and pull everything into perspective. Those lessons learned to the beat of the hour chime and suntanning.
Some exciting, or at least motivated, stuff coming up soon amigos.
It all started at the temple. Walking back along the bridge I thought, ‘that temple could have been so nice.’ Alone on its own little island, warm timbers resting upon a ground of crushed white shells, its little shrines and holy knick knacks bathed in the green light of the overhanging branches. Instead it is a tourist spot, not bad by any means but not itself either. I wonder how long ago it was that such a place was ‘normal’, untouristed, running its daily business. Is it even a temple any more? Not really. The same thing one sees in innumerable spots, when they are beautiful they are beaten. One wonders how long ago it was when these places could be themselves, before they had to perform. Where are the beautiful spots of tomorrow, they are streets, buildings, convenience marts, market places, food stalls, bus stops, factories, curbs, walkways, any essential spot where people are doing their own thing unconcerned with the performance as is its unconscious rendering as part of the task at hand. Natural, intuitive, improvised, aleatory, artistic, this is the most rhythmic, most colourful, coloquial, funniest, most alien stuff to see, and as such the best. It can not be sought out, it can only be wandered upon. We made up a kind of joking phrase about this, ‘search the city and you will find the rewards’. The rewards are always trivial, cheap supermarket, nice bench, funny characters, samples. That’s why we like them.