Entry #20 – Dinner Party #2

Hi everyone, Kohaku here, I hope you all had a good week. How’s December turning out for you?

It’s been ten weeks, and ten journal entries, since I first talked about my Dinner Party project. If you weren’t here then or don’t remember, you can read details about the background of the project and my first list here: Entry #10 – Dinner Party. But for those who don’t want to, I’ll just quickly summarize what the project actually is. The basic premise is to keep a list of 10 famous people whom you admire or respect, people who inspire you in your daily life and work. Then, track how this list changes over time.

Anyhow, I thought ten weeks later is a pretty good time to publish a new list. There are some new people on it, because, as always, I’ve been actively seeking out new inspirations and learning about new things. These new inspirations replaced some of the old ones, to keep the list at 10, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t like or draw inspiration from those old people anymore. The Dinner Party project is just a snapshot of the 10 people who are most inspiring to you at this particular moment.

So, here we go with my second list. New entries are bolded, and like before, I’ve linked their Wiki pages or websites so you can read a quick basic bio on them if you’re interested.

In no particular order:

  1. Yuzuru HANYU (羽生結弦)
  2. Yoshiki (林佳樹)
  3. Hans LINDAHL
  4. GACKT (大城 ガクト)
  5. YOHIO (Kevin Johio Lucas Rehn EIRES)
  6. Hayao MIYAZAKI (宮崎駿)
  7. Yojiro NODA (野田洋次郎)
  8. Haruki MURAKAMI (村上春樹 )
  9. HYDE (寶井秀人)
  10. Chachamaru (藤村幸宏)

How is it? Have you heard about them before – the new entries, or the older ones too if this is your first time?

You can learn a lot about a person by studying the people they admire. That’s one reason I decided to start publishing this project on my blog. If you want to know the values that I care about, the people who inspire me and my work, this is a big part of it.

And now, again, what about you? What does your list look like, right now? If you made a list last time, has it changed since then? Who is inspiring you and your work right this moment? This week, think about that again. It’s important to reflect on these things.

I’ve got three compilations and another project that’ll be released in the last three weeks of December, so stay tuned. Take care of yourselves!

KT

Nocturne of a Dreamer

sitting at the edge of dawn,
waiting for who knows how long
the first bird shares her siren song
     and we –
in this intangible moment we
     go off into infinity
stepping into the unknown that is our life.

as though we could have stopped them,
     and made this place our own
as though we could have met them,
     and bent our fates anew
we chase each dawn from night to day,
each following our own loving way –
     then searching for the words to say,
words that might still change the world someday.

reaching into open arms, we gaze
     at these reflections of our own blind eyes
     at our opposite horizon lines
and we say, “we will not go.”
we say “this is not the end.”

because here, the sun is rising –
     hear, the sun is rising –
and today
with nothing else to do
     and no other path to take
we follow it into eternity.

For my dear friend K… happy birthday.

Entry #19 – Thanksgiving, and Acoustic vs. Electronic Music

Hey everyone, it’s Kohaku. Hope you all had a safe and happy week.

Well, American Thanksgiving happened, and Black Friday and all of that. For those who celebrate Thanksgiving, did you have a good, authentic time with your families? Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see some of my family this year, but I enjoyed the time I had with those I could. That’s important, don’t you think?

Well, anyway, what are you all thankful for? What does this holiday mean to you? Holidays are pretty subjective – I said that when discussing Halloween. I guess for some people, Thanksgiving is about food. For some, it’s about the upcoming Black Friday sales. For some, it’s about seeing family and friends. For some, it’s about mourning America’s history of genocide. Thanksgiving is different things for different people – just like Halloween, New Year’s Day, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and so on. Holidays are interesting like that.

Anyhow, beyond Thanksgiving, I thought I’d like to talk about something music-related this week, since I think I mentioned my new guitar last time.

Here’s a question for you all: do you prefer acoustic or electronic music?

An interesting question, I think, especially in this day and age. The use of electronics in music is getting more and more prevalent – and there’s different levels to electronic music, different types and so on. So the question itself can be surprisingly broad.

I’ve been thinking about this recently, and I think that for me personally, I definitely prefer acoustic. But sometimes I’m okay with electronic amplification. Electric guitars, for instance, I generally do like. So for me it’s not about a strict electric versus acoustic “sound.”

In debating this question, the thing that bothers me is how the music is made – how the sound is produced, and who is producing it. I value virtuosic, technically-skilled musicians who have gone through years of practice and training and effort and can produce unique, incredible sounds on their chosen instrument/s. I value hearing the actual instrument – hearing the strum of the guitar, the sliding of the fingers up and down the strings, the vibrations beneath the piano, the tiny characteristics unique to each singer’s raw voice. I value being able to actually watch a musician play their instrument in this way.

In contrast, I don’t like music that is very electronic or synth-heavy, music that is programmed, music that is produced, pre-recorded, and altered digitally and then played by pressing a button. Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with this kind of music, and I’m not saying that it doesn’t take skill and artistic creativity to produce it. Many people do like it, and it’s certainly the right of musicians around the world to be able to utilize the latest technology to pursue the limits of what is auditorily and musically possible. I’ve also nothing against electronic distribution of music, which is definitely better for the environment at any rate. I just personally do not like music that is not really produced on an actual “instrument.” It feels to me almost inauthentic.

Some musicians are able to balance these two types of music very well. And some musicians can produce very good electronic music. It’s really quite up to personal preference, so having stated mine, I’d like to ask: what about you? What does “acoustic versus electronic” mean to you, and which do you prefer? Do you care? Does it matter?

Give your musical preferences some thought this week, won’t you? Music is important. I think a lot of people underestimate how important it can be.

Take care of yourselves.

KT

Ritual

“Just follow me,” she’d said, and I’d followed her without looking back.

Today is our one-year anniversary. Technically, we’ve known each other for much longer, but exactly one year ago, we’d made it official. Sometimes it matters to make things official – something about the formality, the gravity of it, the sudden sense of responsibility. I don’t know. I’m not the type to wonder about stuff like that. I’m just saying that today is our one-year anniversary.

In the morning she surprised me with flowers and my favorite breakfast foods; in the afternoon I surprised her with flowers and a lunch reservation at her favorite restaurant down the way. Our apartment is filled with flowers now, and we’re stuffed with great food that took a lot out of our wallets, but no matter. Rituals are important, and flowers and food are ritual.

Tomorrow I’m going to surprise her even more. I have all kinds of things lined up – presents I’ve made, experiences I’ve ordered and reserved. I can bet she has more surprises for me, too. And that doesn’t come from any narcissistic, self-important heart I might have; we both just have a penchant for surprising each other with gifts, especially on important days like our one-year anniversary.

Anyway, right now, we’re cuddling on the couch. She has her head buried deep into my layers of polos and button-up shirts – it’s been incredibly cold lately, so don’t you judge me – and I have my arms around her. That’s what’s happening, nothing more, nothing less. People don’t touch each other as often anymore, that’s what I think. Hugging, holding hands, touching, cuddling. Never see it. Especially among people who aren’t in a relationship. Isn’t it sad? We could all use some more of this stuff, don’t you think?

So there we were, all cuddled up on the couch, and after a while of this my girlfriend suddenly lifted her head up and looked me in the eyes.

“Haku,” she said.

“Mmm?” I replied.

“I’m glad I met you.”

I smile a little. “I’m glad I met you, too.”

She reaches up to touch the side of my face; I close my eyes, savoring the touch. Then, as usual, she starts to play with my hair. Long and brown and curly, some typical nondescript girl’s hair. She twirls it around her slim fingers, studies it for a while in great concentration. I watch her and wonder what it is about my hair that she could possibly find interesting.

Well, when you think about it, there’s a ritual contained in that, too. She knew it, and I knew it, and that’s all that ever mattered. Right?

That’s all that ever mattered.

Borderlines

“You will not remember me.”

You will not remember me.

It wasn’t the words themselves that gave me pause; it was something in the way he said it, the way he spoke, the way his mouth moved to give form to the sounds. The boy looked at me and said, with absolute certainty, “You will not remember me.” It wasn’t arrogance, or stupidity, not a false assumption nor some dumb superficial pride. He wasn’t trying to impress or intimidate, either. He was just stating a fact. He spoke his line in exactly the same way he would have recited Newton’s universal law of gravitation from last year’s physics class. You will not remember me.

It gave me chills.

It’s not that foreign of a phrase. Maybe I’ve read it in a book before, I don’t know. Maybe I’ve heard it in a movie. But those were always fake, always on the other side of reality, and this boy was certainly here, on my side, and he was very real to me.

“Wh-what’s that?” I managed to reply.

“Don’t worry,” the boy said. He patted me on the arm in an oddly mature, adult way. “I’ll be gone soon, so you don’t have to worry about anything. Your work, your girlfriend, nothing like that.”

I shook my head. “Okay… But I don’t understand.”

“I just wanted to see you,” he said. “I’ve missed you.”

I choked a little in surprise and confusion. “Sorry, but I don’t know you. You have the wrong person.”

“No, no,” he said. “See, Haku, here’s the thing – we haven’t really met. Yet. Right now you don’t know me, but one day you will. Except you won’t remember.”

“What?”

“I just came to see you,” he said. “And I wanted to tell you this: it’ll be alright.”

What will be alright?”

“Everything. School – you’ll graduate, promise. Work – you’ll get a good job. And then you’ll get fired, but you’ll get another one. Family – they’ll come around eventually. Your mom will love you again. She still loves you now, and it’s very hard, but one day it won’t be hard anymore. When your girlfriend dies she’ll realize how much you loved her. Your girlfriend’s death will be alright, too, by the way. And eventually yours. You’ll get through it all. Everything will be just fine.”

I shook my head again, speechless. The boy gazed into my eyes and smiled gently.

“I have to go now,” he said. “You won’t remember me, but that’s okay. We’ll meet again. I just wanted to tell you that it’ll all be alright.”

It’ll be alright…

He nodded and walked away, and that was that.