Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Cynicism

I realize that recently this blog has taken a cynical turn when it comes to all things Japanese. I’ve been pretty stressed recently, and it’s only natural that these feelings would surface in the fiction I’ve been posting. Since I started this blog I’ve been wary of letting negative feelings worm their way into what I post; for, if left unchecked, negativity can easily turn into an all-out internet rant-fest the likes of which we’ve all seen on a thousand message boards and Facebook status updates.

However, that’s not to say that writers can’t harness cynicism to horrify, shock, inspire, inform, rouse to action, or simply to make people laugh at the stupidity of the system. Swift couldn’t have written Gulliver’s Travels if he hadn’t been just plain pissed off at the way humans were behaving, nor could Joseph Heller have written any of his novels without the skeptical eyes he constantly turned toward the world. Not that I am so arrogant as to compare myself to either of these writers; I mention them merely as examples of how cynicism can be used to create something meaningful, not annoying.

The project I’m planning for May was certainly born out of frustration, but I hope the end result will be something thought-provoking. I don’t mean to be mysterious, but look for an update sometime before the end of this month when I head off to Nagoya (a city known for its miso dishes, auto-production, and the birthplace of the Tokugawa regime) during my Golden Week vacation.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to point out two excellent blogs belonging to fellow gaijin. Life's Too Short for Cheap Whiskey is run by my friend Tom, who recently finished his contract with a certain eikaiwa corporation I shan't mention here. In only a few months he's written some excellent in-depth essays at Japanese cultural issues that are a must-read for anyone interested in modern Japan (and make my own blog seem cheerfully optimistic). For something more lighthearted but no less informative, check out fellow Bennington alum Heke's blog, Shiso Style. Hers provides an insider's perspective on the Japanese public school system and some fine anecdotes, all with a layout that's artistically-pleasing .

Finally, some of my readers (and by some, I really mean both) may have noticed a small change in some of my past entries. Nothing serious, just a little precaution I decided to take rather than risk attracting unwanted attention. After all, you never know who might be reading.

2 comments:

Randall said...

I like cynicism. I consider it the #1 export of my generation, and I don't really think that's such a bad thing.

Lady Lara Jones said...

good blog recommendations! Also, I agree that cynicism can be used for good purposes, as long as it doesn't get to rant-ish...but I am very guilty of ranting on my own blog so I suppose I can't say how to draw the line between creative use and ultra-rant!