The Week that Was – 07.01.2018

And thus, as the week ends, we enter the second half of 2018. No worries, this is still the Week that was I shall keep the review at that. Mostly. And this time I got a whole lot of pictures, so I might even get away with less text. But that we shall see… The regular reader, or those now heading off to do read up on the previous 4 posts, will have had opportunity to realise that these write-ups pretty much follow a stream of consciousness path. Therefore I myself usually don’t know what the week will have brought, once we’ve reached the grand finale. It is, of course, always based on a true story…
Talking of true story: True story – last week, I’m no longer sure if it was Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, all of a sudden the song The Timewarp from the Rocky Horror Show pops into my head. I have no idea why. And then, on Friday I’m on the phone with my mum back in Austria who tells me that she and my aunt went to see the musical last Wednesday. I immediately had to think of C. G. Jung’s concept of synchronicity.

Personally I am, still, quite torn between a the scepticism towards such ideas, as stems from a deeply ingrained scientism and a fascination with ideas about and – third hand – experiences of the paranormal and, from that, an interest to approach such matters with an open mind. Either way, I think the human tendency to create meaning by inferring causalities is fundamental to how we function, both psychologically and sociologically and it is very interesting to read Jung on these topics. He may, in his studies of and writing about the paranormal, have left the field of what’s considered sound scientific method behind here and there, but – at least that’s my understanding, and I’m no expert on his work – he always retained the faculty of sober reasoning, studying the human psyche from a humanist perspective, expressing experience build on the age old fundament of human culture, narrative and with that can provide a valuable counterpoint – and a such an extension – to the data- and scientific method based fields of psychology, including Neuroscience based findings. And we can look at it from a lot of different ways, many of which may yield insights, before heading out towards the fringes of the kookier stuff, that which X-Files are made of. After all, I’m still very much amused by the James Randi quip: “Could everybody in the audience who has telekinetic powers please raise my hand!”

 

Last week also saw me reaching a 100 day streak on language learning app Duolingo. Which means it’s been 100 (or 103, today) days since I started learning Japanese. And 日本語がわかりません。(Nihongo ga wakarimasen, or: I don’t speak Japanese.) ‘Tis a tricky one and there are all kinds of initial hurdles before you get to the next set of hurdles. First of all you have to learn 1 fairly simple, on less simple and one impossible writing systems (Alphabet would be a misnomer). Fairly simple is Hiragana, which is already completely different from all the alphabets I had learned so far (Latin, Greek, Nordic Runes – already mostly forgotten again – and Cyrillic) in that it is a syllabary (signs stand for syllables rather than vowels and consonants). Katakana, which is probably the best looking writing system in the world, famous from Japanese compay signs etc., is basically a different set of signs for the same syllables. BUT it is used a lot to transcribe loanwords and so the signs are used in substitution for, among other things, latin (or “Romaji”) letters. And this is where things get a tad (a mega-tad) confusing here and there. But it is doable. Then, of course, you have the Kanji. These are Chinese signs that have been adapted and there are so many of those, that you may as well give up hope now and resign to the fact that, if you are going to go through with this, you will never be able to live without a dictionary or Kanji register ever again. So you see, I have learned something ABOUT the language already.
I’ve also realized that there are more people in my social bubble that are learning or know Japanese than I was aware of, quite a few who also have lived in Japan and so I’ve had a great deal of conversations on matters of shared interest. Unlike quite a few western Japanophiles, I personally am not that all that much into Manga or Anime, but more interested in other aspects of the culture, historic on the one hand, and the very hyper-simulacra that flourish in contemporary popular culture. And Zen, which has been an ongoing interest and practice of mine for close to 3 years now. Although I must admit that I haven’t had much of a chance to sit (i.e. mediate) recently, as apparently a certain irregularity seems to have been taking over my life, also negatively affecting my gym attendance. At least I managed to start reading on my commutes again. Currently enjoying a slim volume of collected Japanese Ghost-stories, or as Author Lafcadio Hearn called it: Kwaidan, Stories and Studies of Strange Things. I’m also keep discovering interesting Japanese music. Two highlights this week warrant mentioning. Number one is the track Non Tie-Up by Idol group BISH, the other being a band called Vampillia, who mix all kinds of “post-” genres together into something my good friend vger titled “かわいい doom”. Which is perfect, but more on that at some future time. (Hint, hint, nudge, nudge).

 

As you can see below (not too far from here, as I’m approaching the end of today’s verbiage), I did manage to go out taking photos a bit more than last week. Mostly in and around Borough Market – which is right next to where I work and which keeps providing interesting motives – and the wider London Bridge area. And today I went for a nice little walk up the River Lee Canal to enjoy a bit of nature, escape the house during this current heatwave we’re in, and thus to air out my head a little. Results from all that are below.

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