Lessons From A Japanese Girlfriend

Last night I dreamt that I was on what appeared to be a vacation with my Japanese girlfriend to her parents’ home in Japan. To be clear, I do not have nor have I ever had a Japanese girlfriend, nor have I ever been to Japan. All I recall was tidying up some of my stuff that had found its way around the house, and then being called into the dining room.

My girlfriend and her father were made to leave the room, and so there I sat at the dining room table directly across from my girlfriend’s mother. Our vacation was coming to a close and it seems there was a ritual to perform: my girlfriend’s mother was going to read selected entries from my girlfriend’s diary that were about me, and then pronounce whether or not I was worthy of her daughter.

Mandy Brown:

Of course, that precision is at best asymptotic to reality. We can never be certain of what will happen as a result of our actions. The future remains, as always, undiscovered. But paradoxically by seeking that precision, we invite a level of skepticism that can be really instructive. Asking not only “what can go wrong?” but “who will be harmed if this doesn’t go according to plan?” and “who will benefit if it does?” is a way of screwing ourselves to the sticking place. It shifts a naked risk-benefit analysis away from systems and balance sheets and stock prices and towards the people (or other living things) who are the real recipients of that change.

Nathan Gardels:

Translating this notion into philosophical terms, she writes that the traditions of “Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism all contributed to the modern notion of gongsheng, which speaks to the conviction and the worldview of mutually embedded, co-existent and co-becoming entities. The notion of gongsheng, shaped by these traditions, behooves us to question the validity of the notion of an individual being as a self-contained and autonomous entity and reminds us of mutually embedding, co-existent and entangling planetary relations. It also inspires within us reverence and care toward creatures, plants and other co-inhabitants and even inorganic things in the natural surroundings.”

I’m not sure how old I was, but it was not the age I am now. I might have been in my twenties or thirties. At any rate, I don’t remember any of the diary but I do remember that when she finished reading, my girlfriend’s mother declared me unworthy, and the reasons were reasons of today: being an unproductive member of capitalist society, I had no real value as a human being.

At this point having nothing left to lose, I launched into an angry speech about how the only things that degrade the value of my life were people like her making these kinds of immoral judgements. I don’t know what my Japanese girlfriend thought of it all, because it was here that I woke up.