- Sep 9, 2006
Secrets of the Inconsequential War
A Chance Selection in Shinjuku
A Chance Selection in Shinjuku
The reader may agree that on occasion this particular thought may strike him or her as if it were an inspired revelation. It is something, he or she may note, that cannot be reached for and grasped like a cherry blossom-at least not very easily, but rather it is, without mutual acquiescence, planted like the aforementioned pink floral into his or her mind whilst they lazily or almost unthinkingly stare into the sea of faces that so often greets their eyes during the course of day to day activities. A beautiful young woman passing by may leave an impression upon the young man. Likewise, the image of the young handsome fellow who traverses the crowded streets might find its way into the mind of the passing young lady. Do not mistake my words; I write not referring to any sort of lustful fantasies that may be seized upon by the unscrupulous who sees the attractive face of a stranger. Rather, I am addressing the not uncommon reflection that may, on occasion, cause one to start with fresh sight when they realize-truly fathom-that the passersby on the rain-soaked street is more than an empty image to be treated with standard courtesy but a man, possessing his or her own life, whom we will never know except by that most unimportant of their characteristics: their appearance. Do not mistake me again, for I do suppose that more than what is external of a person can be gauged with the naked eye. I simply mean to say that it is the soul, not the body, which possesses the most unencrypted truth regarding a person. Granted, those truths may be entirely visible to one who passes by in the darkness of the night, but they are obscured among the bodily features and, I imagine, invisible in great part to all except for the most wise of men.
Let us then, if I may continue with my little introductory narrative, see if we can’t pierce the traditional mysteriousness that accompanies such strangers. For instance, might we endeavor to delve deeper into the life of that single interesting man standing just distant at the fish market, who would otherwise pass us by and vanish into the eternal kingdom, that realm under divine auspices where we may, only then, finally encounter him again? What of that young girl who seems aged beyond her years, with the strangely light hair of bistre coloration? Shall we examine her life more closely? Or perhaps the old war veteran who stares wearily at the new shipment of Wiis in the blindly opaque electronics store window? There’s undoubtedly a story or two there.
And I imagine such stories are everywhere within this crowded little vicinity of Tokyo. Even the tall colorful signs that adorn the buildings on either side of the street announce a bit. They hint at the state of this neighborhood’s soul, as do the people streaming past; different as they are, there is still a general “feeling” they give this place; if one takes the short time to notice. Of course, I stray from my initial reflection of it being quite difficult to tell a good deal about a stranger simply by viewing their respective outward appearances. There is more to be said, as I have already mentioned, for the external manifestation of the body and its relation to the soul. It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and I confess to believing that to be the truth. In fact, I routinely gaze into my own eyes in the mirror’s plane, in order to make certain their crystalline nature has not degraded and warped through my sins. However, come to think of it, it may be true that the deeper one’s soul falls into corruption, the less keen their perception of its state becomes, which would perhaps render fruitless this little practice. But, I dare say, the principles behind it are sound in so far as one should always be on guard against the assails of those vices which bloom from the trees of pride. My hope, upon sweeping my gaze across this minute enclave of Shinjuku which encompasses just a single vibrant intersection and a quartet of short paved extensions jutting outward, is that these many magnificently dark-haired people know as much as that.
I would be greatly interested, besides learning much about one given stranger here, to see the lavish histories behind that man or woman or family whom I choose to investigate; and further to uncover perhaps a minor sprinkling of the ripples so generated by they or their ancestors, which touch, or have touched, or will touch the very distant corners of the world. I imagine that these ripples extend to fields no less far flung than one may reasonably imagine while holding position within the very final boundaries of realistic conjecture. Who, besides God, can truly surmise the influence of their movements and the curiously unique and differing individuals across the world who they’ve affected in their gentle advance for either good or ill-undoing? I should like to hope that the affect will be, more often than not, attributive of the former nature, though that may be asking too much, but it depends on the ultimate subject of my study. For now, let us both peer in contemplation at the intersection below us; there is much time in the day left for us as the sun is still very high among the clouds.
At length, I note a multitude of interesting faces. In time, I begin to realize that all are quite interesting from the beautiful to the ugly to the passive to the grotesque, the bashful, the unusual, the sinister, the disconcerting, the pale, the sorrowful, the carefree, the somber, the striking, the dark, the phlegmatic, the cheery, the bored, the fiendish, the despairing, the enraged, the pleasant, the painted, the choleric, the false, the wondrous, the eye-catching faces and persons to match. But, I know that to a man as unwise as I and as flawed in character, I cannot hope to see much more than these singular attributes. Granted, very many passers exude two or more qualities, but not nearly as much information disseminates through their facades and figures as I seek. But that is fully expected, and that is the reason a specific choice for study must soon be made. However, I find my-or should I say our-decision is growing difficult because of this continually growing plethora of options. I fear night may fall before I-I mean we, are able to select a subject for inquiry.
Let us peruse the barely dimming streets a bit more closely. Let us reinvigorate the efforts of our search. Ah! Look there! I spy a weary business man, that stocky disheveled bloke with the wild catastrophic hair leaning fatigued against the laundromat door. He looks as if he has taken the brunt of some recent personnel-related alterations at his firm. I feel sorry for the poor fellow…but wait! That limbless man! Fantastically original! See how he maneuvers his wheel chair with only that crude robotic arm! There, you see him crossing the street now. He’d be a most interesting subject, with my sympathies to his four lost appendages of course. Wait! See that most grievously mournful grandmother. She walks tenderly in front of the little Panasonic outlet, clutching what looks to be a lace-bordered picture frame. I wonder what loss has so afflicted her that she strolls along, completely unembarrassed of her streaking tears. Hmm, what else? Who else? Oh, there’s a youthful couple; looks to be a square native man with an American, a pretty purple-haired lass at his side. There’s nothing particularly arresting about them, yet there is something…I can’t quite say what it is, or even articulate it within the depths of my mind. Oh well, we shall go on with our search.
The evening falls tediously then sharply, all at once; and we two are still looking. If you the reader would be so kind as to make a selection or a suggestion at any rate, I would consider myself very greatly obliged.
Now the passers-by below are like a disorderly parade of dark goblins or shadowy specters that are wildly illuminated when moving under the rows of brilliant noble gaseous lights that proclaim loudly their emblazoned Japanese characters in shades of fiery aka, ao, shiro, kiiro and midori, which echo to the tawdry urban echoes of rap and pulsating beats from passing cars. We can nary see the people in any true sense now, as their forms are at once in shadow and then suddenly bathed in surrealistic light. I stare downward in minor meditation, listening to the wind gushes produced by every Mitsubishi, Toyota, and Lincoln as each flows swiftly across the asphalt, leaving the rumbling signatures of jarring rock music in their wake. Some indiscernible time later, my eye, having been looking past the nearby skyscrapers which were illuminated like cylindrical Christmas trees and at a full sallow moon which hung beyond, falls sleepily from its target and lands on the street below, on a black Lancer, polished and pristine, which races delicately toward the intersection. As it comes forward, the car bares the speckled markings of the colorful conventional, neon, and strobe lights; so much so that it half-resembles a giant delicately brushed Easter egg.
I must say the night is quite dark, the day exceedingly late. I am willing to venture into the unknown. To be clearer, I suggest we each throw our die into the dank city air. Let us choose this charging vehicle; or rather its occupant or occupants for our intellectual or perhaps simply our inquisitive purpose. Let us enter into the Lancer as it sweeps by. It would, under normal circumstances, leave us behind forever, so that we could, later on, only put forth terribly rudimentary guesses as to who was inside, as if the question would even matter to us. But now, we shall acquaint ourselves with whoever is inside. It is most intriguing, for we have made our choice without even having seen the external features of the selected.