Fall Mix

Nov. 27th, 2011 03:38 pm
sechan19: (morisot)
"If a man lacks the human virtues, what has he to do with music?"

~ Confucius


Eddie Vedder, "Dream a Little Dream"
Tori Amos, "Carry"
Pulp, "Do You Remember the First Time?"
Florence and the Machine, "Between Two Lungs"
Ghostland Observatory, "Band Marches On"
Amanda Palmer, "Astronaut: A Short History of Nearly Nothing"
George Harrison, "Hear Me Lord"
Rasputina, "Why Don't You Do Right?"
Radiohead, "Nude"
KaTe Bush, "Snowed In At Wheeler Street"
Odessa Chen, "Made Up My Mind"
Architecture in Helsinki, "Tiny Paintings"
Ithaca Audio, "Don't Hold Back, Just Push Things Forward (Extended Mix)"


Generally I don't care for Confucius' philosophy, but I think he got it exactly right when it comes to music.

A new kitten, spice cookies, gummi cherries, and music. The comprehensive exam gauntlet starts in a week, and I am going to kill it.

That is all.
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
Michael Kimmel on how the actions of ultra right wing terrorists like Anders Breivik and Timothy McVeigh must be understood not just in terms of the globalization of society, but also in terms of gender. The importance of these men's perceptions of masculinity and of emasculation cannot be overstated here.

Paul Krugman on how centrism is destroying America.

And some follow-up from d r i f t g l a s s:
For 30 years, the staunchest ally of the unhinged Right has been the craven Center: that army of Beltway automatons who profit handsomely from propping up the Right’s every act of depravity with one outrageously false equivalence after another. This is the "But the Democrats" brigade, on well-coiffed display every Sunday at what I I have been calling "The Mouse Circus" for the past six years.

Unchecked this state of affairs will continue for another 30 years or until we as a nation are finally burned to the ground and sold off for scrap by the Right, right under the noses of the Center who will be busy sternly lecturing Left on the need for more Compromise and greater Reasonableness, and compulsively masturbating into the pages of the New York Times about how an awesome new Third Party full of Radically Reasonable Compromisers would solve everything.

Strangely pertinent words from George Orwell's 1984.


And finally, Severus Snape wants you to know that it gets better:

I totally love this clip, not just because the gentleman in question does a magnificent impersonation but also because he actually calls the Harry Potter series of books out for being sort of tedious - which they really kind of were.
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
The Infinity Burial Project "proposes alternatives for the postmortem body that promote and facilitate an individual engagement with the process of decomposition." Be sure to check out their mushroom death suit.

The architecture of stunt work is as-yet unrealized, but well-worth pursuing. The idea of constructing architecture around so-called "narratives" of daily (or not-so daily) life can often result in impractical or overly-whimsical patterns, but then again it can result in some seriously awesome stuff. And the world needs stunt schools.

The University of the Michigan's Center for Japanese Studies Electronic Publications has a bunch of old book available online. Subject matter is varied, but you never know when something's going to come in handy, and hey, free!

A Tae Bo class in Korea, working out in perfect resonant frequencies, caused a 39-story skyscraper to shake. No joke.

This just in: Al Franken is still a badass. This time he's stumping for the repeal of DOMA. I love that guy.

Orchestra culture appears to be as jaded and dumbed down as anything else in America. Ho hum.


Jun. 12th, 2011 01:10 pm
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
Jessica DelBalzo presents her abortion experiences: why she needed it, how she did it, what it was like, and why--even now--she considers it one of the best decision of her life and something that made her sincerely happy.

Krugman presents some graphs on the cost differences of private healthcare and medicare, pointing out that people who suggest we make a major shift from public to private should be ashamed of themselves.

Sherman Alexie writes beautifully of the transformative power of honest and even brutal young adult fiction, aptly defending YA fiction from those would say that young adults are too young for intense fiction. (And, in fairness, here's the article he was responding to, which offers the other side of the argument and is worth a look--if for no other reason than to get a list of books to read. ;> )

I want this hoodie.

A Riddle.

May. 15th, 2011 11:39 pm
sechan19: (butterfly)
All dwelling in one house are strange brothers three,
as unlike as any three brothers could be,
yet try as you may to tell brother from brother
you'll find that the trio resemble each other.
The first isn't there, though he'll come beyond doubt.
The second's departed, so he's not about.
The third and the smallest is right on the spot,
and manage without him the others could not.
Yet the third is a factor with which to be reckoned
because the first brother turns into the second.
You cannot stand back and observe number three,
for one of the others is all you will see.
So tell me, my child, are the three of them one?
Or are there but two? Or could there be none?
Just name them, and you will at once realize
that each rules a kingdom of infinite size.
They rule it together and are it as well.
In that, they're alike, so where do they dwell?

~ Michael Ende
sechan19: Photo of me in a Spider-man crop trop. (Default)
In preparation for my comprehensive exams, which I'll sit in late December or early January, I'm planning to do some intensive reading in the subject of Japanese political history. I've got books and articles covering the Kofun through Muromachi periods--roughly one-thousand years of cultural development--and with any luck I'll have read the majority of them thoroughly in the next two weeks. (I know, right?)

Here's my list, in bibliographic form, ordered alphabetically, for anyone who's interested in it:

* Adolphson, Mikael and Edward Kamens and Stacie Matsumoto, ed. Heian Japan, Centers and Peripheries. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2007.
* Berry, Mary Elizabeth. The Culture of Civil War in Kyoto. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997.
* Borgen, Robert. Sugawara no Michizane and the Early Heian Court. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1994.
* Conlon, Thomas. The Culture of Force and Farce: Fourteenth-Century Japanese Warfare. No. 2000-01 of Occasional Papers in Japanese Studies Cambridge: Harvard University, Edwin O. Reischaeur Institute of Japanese Studies, January 2000.
* ---. State of War: The Violent Order of Fourteenth-Century Japan. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan, Center for Japanese Studies, 2003.
* Hall, John W. and Toyoda Takeshi, ed. Japan in the Muromachi Age. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977.
* Hurst, G. Cameron III. Insei: Abdicated Sovereigns in the Politics of Late Heian Japan, 1086-1185. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976.
* Mass, Jeffrey P. The Kamakura Bakufu: A Study in Documents. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1976.
* ---. "The Origins of Kamakura Justice." Journal of Japanese Studies 3 no. 2 (Summer 1977): 299-322.
* ---. The Development of Kamakura Rule, 1180-1250: A History with Documents. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1979.
* ---. "Translation and Pre- 1600 History." Journal of Japanese Studies 6 no. 1 (Winter 1980): 61-88.
* ---. "Patterns of Provincial Inheritance in Late Heian Japan." Journal of Japanese Studies 9 no. 1 (Winter 1983): 67-95.
* ---. Lordship and Inheritance in Early Medieval Japan: A Study of the Kamakura Soryo System. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1989.
* ---. Antiquity and Anachronism in Japanese History. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992.
* ---. "The Missing Minamoto in the Twelfth-Century Kanto." Journal of Japanese Studies 19 no. 1 (Winter 1993): 121-145.
* ---. Yoritomo and the Founding of the First Bakufu: The Origins of Dual Government in Japan. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999.
* ---. Family, Law, and Property in Japan, 1200-1300. No. 2000-03 of Occasional Papers in Japanese Studies Cambridge: Harvard University, Edwin O. Reischaeur Institute of Japanese Studies, December 2000.
* McCullough, William. "The Azuma Kagami Account of the Shôkyû War." Monumenta Nipponica 23 no. 1/2 (1968): 102-155.
* Piggott, Joan R. The Emergence of Japanese Kingship. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997.
* Varley, H. Paul. The Ônin War: History of Its Origins and Background with a Selective Translation of The Chronicle of Ônin. New York: Columbia University Press, 1967.
* ---. Imperial Restoration in Medieval Japan. New York: Columbia University Press, 1971.
* Williams, Yoko. Tsumi: Offense and Retribution in Early Japan. London: Routeledge Curzon, 2003.

I appear to be reading every Jeffrey Mass book/article known to man, but he is the go-to guy for Kamakura period history, so...

Wish me luck.
sechan19: (butterfly)
In 1277 Bishop Tempier of Paris, acting on the instructions of Pope John XXI, published a list of 219 errors or heresies that were to be condemned. Among the heresies was the idea that nature follows laws, because this conflicts with God's omnipotence. Interestingly, Pope John was killed by the effects of the law of gravity a few months later when the roof of his palace fell in on him.

~ Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, The Grand Design
sechan19: (morisot)
...such is human nature that it finds a little tameness in mere morality. Mere virtue belongs to a charity school-girl, and has a taint of the catechism. All of us feel this, though most of us are too timid, too scrupulous, too anxious about the virtue of others, to speak out. We are ashamed of our nature in this respect, but it is not the less our nature. And if we look deeper into the matter, there are many reasons why we should not be ashamed of it. The soul of man, and as we necessarily believe, of beings greater than man, has many parts beside its moral part. It has an intellectual part, an artistic part, even a religious part, in which mere morals have no share. In Shakespeare or Goethe, even in Newton or Archimedes, there is much which will not be cut down to the shape of the commandments. They have thoughts, feelings, hopes--immortal thoughts and hopes--which have influenced the life of men, and the souls of men, ever since their age, but which the 'whole duty of man,' the ethical compendium, does not recognize. Nothing is more unpleasant than a virtuous person with a mean mind. A highly developed moral nature joined to an undeveloped intellectual, an undeveloped artistic nature, and a very limited religious nature, is of necessity repulsive. It represents a bit of human nature--a good bit, of course, but a bit only--in disproportionate, unnatural, and revolting prominence...

from "Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Browning: or Pure, Ornate, and Grotesque Art in English Poetry" by Walter Bagehot. In Collected Works of Walter Bagehot: The Literary Essays, Cambridge, 1965, Vol II, p.351 (emphasis added).
sechan19: (tormenta)
I was feeling in a James Bond mood tonight, but I knew that I didn't have the time to devote to a full-length adventure so I turned to the short story collection For Your Eyes Only for a quick fix. Since it'd been years, and since I was curious about the relationship of the story to the recent film, I settled on the vignette "Quantum of Solace."

It's an odd James Bond story, taking place as it does well after the adventure has concluded and Bond has found himself doing his duty at an insufferably boring dinner party. After the rest of the guests have left, the host offers to tell Bond a story that relates his [the host's] theory of the Law of the Quantum of Solace.

The quantum of solace is that small bit of human decency that always exists at the very least between two people who can tolerate one another. Once it is gone (once one of the two people has violated the law) they can no longer even be polite to one another, having passed even beyond hate into a state of emotional warfare. Violation of the law involves treating the person in question as if you didn't care whether they lived or died, and the storyteller reflects that more than an assault upon the ego it constitutes an irrevocable attack upon the sense of self-preservation that is integral to human well-being. As long as the quantum of solace remains, two people can recover from anything (fights, snubs, infidelity) to remain at least cordial, but if the quantum does not remain have mercy.

At the end of the tale Bond thanks his host, having been truly moved by the story. He reflects, for perhaps the only time in his life, on the fact that - compared with the crueler vagaries of human interaction - what he does for a living really isn't that dangerous.

Ian Fleming, much as I love him, was a pulp writer. But even a pulp writer can proffer a kernel of truth to the discerning reader. The Law of the Quantum of Solace may very well have been Fleming's singular kernel. Reading this tale, I felt as though I had made a great rediscovery. I highly recommend it.
sechan19: (kusama)
When it comes to odd mythological creatures, no one can top the Japanese for sheer inventiveness and practicality.

I've become utterly convinced of this since I began reading about the handscroll sets known as "The Night Parade of the Hundred Demons" (Hyakki yagyô emaki) for a seminar paper. The latest edition to the pantheon of magical creatures that I know about is the kaichi 獬豸 (also read kaitai). It is defined as follows:

An imaginary beast resembling a cow. When the kaichi sees a fight it will gore with its horns the person who is evil; when it hears an argument it will bite the person who is wrong.

Can you imagine political debate in this country if we had one of these? A great many folks wouldn't sit down for a week.
sechan19: (lin fengmian)
I've been reading Japanese articles pretty steadily since I came back from my year in Yokohama. Not only because I want to keep in practice, but because I've recently moved onto studying subjects that simply don't have much published about them in English.

Last night as I was slogging through the latest article on my most recent topic of interest, tsukumogami (tool specters), I came across a sentence with five negatives in it. After I cursed the author for having the audacity to have been born only to grow up and write a sentence with five negatives in it, I worked out the translation - which wasn't nearly as hard as it would have been before Yokohama.

Here's the sentence:

In romanji:
Watashi wa, kou iu fetish ni tsukareru you na kishitsu wo motta gaka de nakereba, totemo youkaiga nado to iu no wa egakenai no de wa nai ka to omowazaru wo enai.

I must not not think is it not that a painter who does not have the kind of mentality that gets possessed by these types of fetishes truly cannot paint things like monster pictures?

My translation:
I must conclude that a painter who does not have the kind of mentality for being possessed by these types of fetishes would truly be unable to paint things like monster pictures.


Fun fun fun until Daddy takes the T-Bird away, y'all.
sechan19: (kusama)
One of the best things about living in Japan for a year is the opportunity to expand my art book library. (I can see my dad cringing as he reads this; my dad always gets stuck having to help me move my damn books around the country.) But there really are all kinds of wonderful books here that are just not accessible in the States, and since I one day hope to be an educator in the Japanese art history field these books are going to be invaluable to me in the future.

At least, that's what I keep telling myself when I start to wonder about how on earth I'm going to get all these volumes home.

Today, between a trip out to the Tokyo National Museum and an hour spent browsing the spring Used Book Festival in Yokohama Station, I acquired six more books. I've been purchasing with a greater sense of strategy of late, however. I bought a book about Japanese symbols, and two books on the Edo period - one book on art terminology associated specifically with ukiyo-e and one book a catalog for a exhibit of the fusuma paintings of Kano Eitoku in the Daitokuji. I'm not an Edo specialist, but I recognize that I'll eventually have to teach the Edo period. (Although I'd really love at some point to put together a course that specifically focused on the Warring States period and the relationship of art and war in a "pre-modern" context. Blah blah blah.) Anyway, it's worth having major Edo-related touchstones at my fingertips.

I also bought two catalogs from Tokyo National Museum exhibitions - one that focused on depictions of children in Japanese art and one that was all about Sugawara no Michizane and Tenjin! The catalog on children in Japanese art will hopefully come in handy in helping me to think through some questions that I've developed in connection with my most recent project, and I've been trying to get my hands on a Tenjin-based catalog for a long time now. (There are similarly-themed catalogs from the Kyoto and Kyushu National Museums as well, and one day they will be mine). So all in all, not a bad haul.

But I think I need to go back to the book sale again. They had catalogs on Tendai art there as well, but I was out of money. Cash-only sales are a bitch. ;>

Yes, I'm terrible.

But I could be blowing all my money or drugs or whatever. So I suppose I can be kinda-sorta forgiven? Maybe? Please?
sechan19: (lin fengmian)
For those of you who might be curious as to what some of my course work entails this term, I thought I might share some of my kanbun practice.  Kanbun as a literary style comprises a number of different types of writing.  The lingua franca of the early Japanese bureaucracy was Chinese, and an annotation method for reading those texts as Classical Japanese was developed and indifferently implemented over the course of time.  Ultimately, texts came to be written in a kanbun-esque format that was actually just a fancy way of writing Japanese.

I won't get into all of the annotation marks and what they mean, but here's a sample sentence that we worked on this past week that really struck a chord with me.  It gives you an idea of the process.


As Chinese grammar is very similar to English grammar.  A straight translation of the words serves to give a basic impression of the sentence's overall meaning.  The characters are, respectively:

not enter tiger hole not get tiger child

Works pretty good for a translation, ne?  But for Japanese that's not enough.  They structure their sentences in a completely different fashion.  Hence the annotation style, which looks something like this:

 レ   ニ     一                          

ンバ 入 虎 穴 不 得 虎 子

Now the reading becomes:

tiger hole enter not tiger child get not

Read in Japanese:

Koketsu ni irazun ba, koji wo ezu.

And in English:

If you do not enter the tiger's den, you will not get the tiger's cub.


Nothing ventured; nothing gained.

One of Teva Jones's personal favorites.
sechan19: (morisot)
My Saturday was spent in cleaning up around the house, organizing materials, and chatting with some friends and family that I had been out of touch with recently. Consequently, I needed my Sunday to be kick-ass in terms of productivity.

I was up at nine to prep for hitting the coffee shop. (Working at home can be highly problematic, particularly if I really need to bust it out.) I reached the shop a little after 12:30 and proceeded to work for close to seven hours straight. Yeah, baby.

When I couldn't take it anymore, I packed up and treated myself to some kaki furai (battered, deep-fried oysters) at the local tonkatsu joint. The meal came with all-you-can eat miso, rice, and cabbage salad, so I dined well, taking time to make notes over a cup of after-dinner green tea.

It's little pleasures like these that keep us crazy folks going.

Recently, I've tentatively gotten back into reading X-Men. They finally brought Psylocke back from the dead - for real - and the recent Psylocke mini has favorably impressed me thus far. The writers have taken the characters in much darker directions (believable given everything they've seen and done over the years), but without the misogyny that generally makes Frank Miller books such a waste of time. So, I've got even more things with which to reward myself - provided that I'm a good girl. ;>

Starting tomorrow I'll have to run the weekly gauntlet of extra-curriculars, so how much time I actually devote to my newly re-found comic book habit remains to be seen.
sechan19: (morisot)
From Questions Naturales, ed. M. Muller (1934):

...one thing which clearly takes place in the air is an object of wonder to all nations: the death dealing disturbance called thunder. By it not only are all nations terrified, but fear weighs heavily also upon irrational creatures... is then your science bold enough to give the cause and origin of thunder, or is it unable to solve this most difficult problem? For in the face of thunder, the philosophers are no braver than the rest.
Displayed at The Museum of Jurassic Technology
(aka: one of the most badass places in the known universe)


Also, I just intruded on someone's conversation about Oak Park. They mentioned that they worked there, but wouldn't want to live there because it's too rough. Their companion noted: who would want to live there? and in I jumped.

Oak Park is easily the raddest place in town.
So there.

sechan19: (butterfly)
"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains." So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Can she vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read.

Although, to make a full disclosure, I did actually want to read Pride and Prejudice. (So much so that I occasionally re-read Pride and Prejudice.) But seriously! The only thing that could make it a more awesome book than it already is, is zombies.

Rock. On.


Thanks [livejournal.com profile] foxxydancr for the heads-up!
sechan19: (butterfly)
"Even if [souls] are reborn in the heavenly realm or the realm of human beings, they undergo the pain of poverty and want, the pain of parting from loved ones, the pain of encountering those they detest--all these many different kinds of pain.  Yet living beings, drowned in the midst of all this, delight and amuse themselves, unaware, unknowing, without alarm or fear.  They feel no sense of loathing and make no attempt to escape.  In this burning house which is the threefold world, they race about to east and west, and though they encounter great pain, they are not distressed by it."
~ Chapter 3, The Lotus Sutra, trans. Burton Watson.

I guess this is the one thing about Buddhism that I just cannot get behind (leaving aside the fact that it is, like all religions, deeply misogynistic): that whole life-is-suffering thing.  The idea that life is suffering and that our goal ought to be an escape from said suffering just makes no sense to me.  No one likes to suffer, but I don't think it can be denied that suffering engenders character.  And besides that, suffering can be a mark of something very great in one's life.

Case in point:
Last night, I was watching a movie that got me thinking about my uncle.  Thinking about him caused me to suffer, and I cried.  I miss him so desperately because I loved him so much--and he's gone.  And yes, I wouldn't suffer now if I hadn't loved him so.

But where's the fun in that?

Those who're interested can undertake the (selfish?) path of evading all suffering.  For me, I'll gladly take the chaff with the wheat.

Say What?

Mar. 1st, 2009 01:55 pm
sechan19: (tormenta)
By contemplating the dharmas of mundane existence as dependently originated, devoid of self-existence, and hence utterly inapprehensible, one 'enters emptiness from provisionality.' The delusions of view and cultivation that bind one to samsāra are severed, and one achieves the liberation of nirvāna. By applying the same critique to the truth of emptiness itself, one severs biased attachment to emptiness (i.e., the delusion that eclipses the infinite sandlike features of existence) and reaffirms its fundamental identity with provisional existence. In effect, one fearlessly 'reenters' or 'comes forth into' provisional existence from emptiness but this time as the self-sovereign master of samsāric existence rather than its naïve victim.

~ Quoted in Richard Bowring, Religious Traditions of Japan: 500-1600, p.122 (emphasis mine).

For some reason, I can't help but imagine a crazed (and masked, naturally) Samsāra hiding out in a sorority house with a knife, lying in wait for a naïve victim in a short skirt and tank-top.  That is, of course, because there is something seriously wrong with me.
sechan19: (morisot)
There's an entire 30 pages of text in my copy of Richard Bowring's Religious Traditions of Japan: 500-1600 that was inserted into the book upside down.


It's one of the funniest things I've ever seen.

sechan19: (lin fengmian)
"It is a natural tendency for people to try to make decisions based solely on their own reasoning. The problem with this is that people are motivated by self interest, and their decisions can appear as scheming, narrow-minded, and weak. This is not the way of Heaven. Unless one is divinely inspired, it is wise to consult an objective party when making a big decision. This person will be fair because he has nothing to gain. In this way you will appear strong and evenhanded, like a mighty tree supported with a strong root, instead of like a twig stuck in the mud."

~ from The Hagakure by Yamamoto Tsunetomo.

May 2014

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