mjj (flemmings) wrote,

Have finished Rainy Willow Store 11, which I like better than 10 if only because it's all strange happenings and not master forgers. Also it has a story involving Japanese gardenias, which are called kuchinashi, no mouths.

Explanatory note is that a gardenia's seed pod doesn't open, thus the gardenia keeps its own counsel, thus by some logical extension the base of the legs on which a go board rests get carved in the shape of gardenia buds. And here is a useful webpage with pictures of Japanese flowers and their names and their err 'western approximations' (and calligraphy for those who care for it.)

I say western approximations because far's I'm concerned that's what they are. Maybe that should be eastern Canadian approximation: for all I know Britain has the same varieties as Japan, but we certainly don't. Ours are all commoner flowers: bigger, coarser, with smells rather than perfume. Japanese daffodils (and maples too) have the same shape as ours but are infinitely smaller and more delicate and aesthetically pleasing. Japanese jinchouge are intoxicating; our daphne are pleasant, yes, but certainly nothing to waft you off to fairyland. Japanese irises have a smell, which the weed-like things that pop up here don't. And Japanese kuchinashi...

One evening I was wandering about the corner of Kanana-doori (7th ring road to you) and whatever urban-blight freeway it is that crosses it (it almost immediately goes underground, which is a blessing), waiting for it to be 8 pm and my private students' class time. There was a smell from somewhere- immensely sweet and utterly unlikely- that I couldn't locate. Now, what Tokyo cityscapes have going for them that Toronto concrete does not is low-level greenery. Buildings stand cheek-by-jowl, no space between, but in front of them are steps of wooden shelves crowded with bonsai, or a low shrub planted at curb's edge, or small bushes growing between the guard-rails. No, there are no swathes of greensward (oddly: grass doesn't grow in Japan) but down at human height there's always something green. IME Osaka doesn't do this, nor Kyoto much either, which is why I always think of Tokyo as being a green city and the other two as being the true concrete jungles.

So even though I was at the intersection of two eight-lane thoroughfares, there was a wall of glossy bushes hedging the corners, and finally I found the white flowers growing at the base of one of them. Thick fleshy petals, amazing smell: a stunningly erotic flower all round.

I'm back to being of two minds about getting a Nemuki subscription, because the Rainy Willow stories work better for me in tankoubon than as one offs in a magazine. Read one after another, their dreamy other-worldly atmosphere (which for me is otherworldly by virtue of being Meiji, not for being about ghosts and the spirit of objects) gently surrounds the senses like a soft misty rainy day. Soft misty is also not a Torontonian topos; and while I sometimes missed the hard light and the hard water of Ontario when I was in Japan (as I do when I'm in Vancouver or Halifax, for that matter) I equally and occasionally miss the washy ink-and-water feel of Japan when I'm here.

You know what computers have done? Eliminated first drafts. And second and third and everything but the final product. A fertile source of Ph.d theses has thus ceased to exist (no loss), but the other effect is that one no longer has to live with the accusing clumsiness of one's first efforts to write something. What's on the hard drive is the complete smooth product and one is allowed- indeed encouraged- to believe that that's all that ever really existed. 'A few false turnings, but by and large the story I envisaged is the story I wrote.'

This is a problem when you stop being able to compose at the computer, for whatever reason, and want to go back to longhand. Longhand uses a differnet part of the brain, I'll argue, even if it uses a less different one for me, who can't touch type, than for people who can. The last two stories but one were written longhand in a notebook and are terribly embarrassing for the things I wrote and crossed out and wrote other things instead and crossed them out: words, sentences, whole paragraphs that are still there, sneering "Ha ha ha, think you can write huh? Amateur." I have a story I want to write and I can't write it at the computer, because computer stories are all redolent of fail these days and anyway the screen's too large blah-blah-blah but I don't want to waste one of my good notebooks on clumsy takes (my View of Misty Hills notebook, normally blamelessly devoted to primitive Chinese radicals, is now polluted by the drafts of those last two stories but one) but I don't want to use a cheap spiral notebook because that implies the story is cheap too. Argh. Weep. I want to be Mozart. Why is that too much to ask?

And a final note: those advocating that people leave lj because Six Apart *just doesn't understand fans*, and instead move to journalfen which is all by fans for fans oh happy days the promised land, ignore one basic fact. jounalfen runs fandom_wank. Truly, there are some pools I know to stay out of.
Tags: hatsu_akiko, japan, japanese, wank, writing

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