Sunday, September 08, 2019

Harsh Criticism of Japanese by "Her" in Darkness in Summer

In Darkness of Summer (夏の闇), “she,” who is Japanese and hates Japanese, harshly and mercilessly criticizes them (ヤマト) for their:

Gait, which is graceless;
Look in the eyes, especially of intellectuals, which is both fearful and arrogant;
Anxiety for being alone and inability of being independent (sitting against the wall at restaurants, sitting together with other Japanese, and eating with Japanese correspondents and academics every day at the same restaurant);
Incapability of being original (similarity of overseas reports from Japanese newspapers because correspondents exchange information among themselves and rehashes of articles of overseas newspapers);
Mutual soothing of correspondents, academics and businessmen by cussing which can be understood only among themselves;
Mutual cussing among correspondents, academics and businessmen as soon as they parted;
Sly behavior of academics who quickly translate academic articles published overseas (“horizontal to vertical”) to become popular if they are consistent with the wave of Japanese media;
Inability of academics of reaching conclusions as a result of serious discussion with overseas peers;
Hopeless attitude of academics who launch overbearing debates with decisive conclusions once back home; and
Wrong, funny and bad translations by academics;

After these, “she” describes a “God-like” Japanese scholar in Kyoto, whose speech in Chinese was not understood at all by Chinese and a very prestigious Japanese scholar of English in Tokyo, whose speech in English at a Shakespeare Association in “London or somewhere” was not comprehended at all. Then, “she” wonders if a Shakespeare scholar should write his diary in the language of Shakespeare.

Her criticism continues.

Members of agricultural associations who walk in hotel corridors wearing only “steteko,” underpants for men that go below the knees, saying that if they have enough money to travel overseas, they should set things in order inside their families and surroundings;
Attitude of trading houses, who with overseas allowances that make them feel bigger than they are, for indulging in shallow luxuries;
Hitchhiking girls who get pregnant by falling to foreign men only with their making a little pass;
Attitude of gentlemen, who begin sex talks with drinks, whose cocks shrinks as soon as they see the naked bodies of White prostitutes and, nonetheless, boast about their experience;
Tourists who give “ukiyoe” postal stamps and “kokeshi” dolls to anybody from hotel porters to tobacco-peddling girls at cabarets;
Cameo sellers in Italy who hawk to Japanese with wide grins, singing an old Japanese song for kids;
Embassy officials who cuss the smell of Limberger cheese while spreading that of pickled white radish and “kusaya” dried fish;
Tokyo with more than 100,000 people and enthusiastic about building highways and skyscrapers for dumping shit of 60-70% of its population into sea by ship;
Reporters, academics and critics who cuss Japan and the Japanese; and
Translators who are also literati, publishing companies, newspapers, right-wingers, left-wingers and everything “she” can think about Japan and the Japanese

I don’t hate Japanese. Nor do I hate being Japanese. And I’m not arrogant being Japanese. Nor am I ashamed of being one. However, I absolutely understand what “she” says here. I think these comments reflect the author’s own experiences and his own inability to be otherwise.

Monday, September 02, 2019

Tough Japanese Sentences to Read and This Sinking Feeling

In Shining Darkness too, there is a scene in Gia Định, where a Buddhist monk wearing a yellow robe recites an open letter addressed to André Malraux. I have no idea if Kaiko really heard such a recitation by such a monk or if this is purely his own creation. Oh, so tough to read.

My feeling keeps sinking. Where is this coming from? I feel people leaving me, moving away from me. A familiar feeling, but I’ve never felt it as strongly as now. I know I have nothing to blame me for. I know I’m not looking for someone. This may be only a backlash of Saigon because I was so excited there. Just like how I often feel after an interpretation job. This week, I have a 3-day interpretation job (Wednesday to Friday) and four days next week (Monday to Thursday). During the days of interpretation, I feel tense and nervous, sometimes extremely, but never down. I hope the people I’ll see this week are nice. (I’ve met and worked before with those who I’ll see next week.)

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Always Fishy: Conversations in Non-Japanese Languages Depircted by Japanese Authors

Yesterday, I received another book by Kaiko, 輝ける闇 (Into a Black Sun).

These days, Vpost is more reliable though using its service costs more. Courier services Amazon uses to send stuff directly to my address is so unreliable and frustrating that I am now fed up with them completely.

The story of the book, set in Việt Nam, is about the experience of a novelist assigned as a temporary newspaper reporter, stationed in the war-torn country. About himself, in short.

In Crucifix of Saigon, he admits that his poor knowledge of foreign languages. But in his works, he still uses French and English words. His translation of interviews of Lieutenant Colonel “Tran Van Duc (チャン・ヴァン・ダック),” who was a political officer of the regular force of the North and defected to the South, is tough to read. It is as if done by a Japanese university kid who knows something about English.

Reading books by Japanese authors about those days during the war, I often encounter scenes where they converse with non-Japanese in a language which is not Japanese. They seem to flow flawlessly. I must wonder how they could have been possible. Even today, this may not be possible, thinking about people I’ve met here for the past almost 20 years.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Having Lost Business?

This has been a quiet business month, mostly because, I guess, Singapore had a long weekend and, of course, Japan had its summer holiday, except last weekend when I rushed to finish a large volume of translation.

For September, work has already been confirmed on 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 25th. All for interpretation. Not too bad. But the job on 25th is from the company I’ve been working for the past two and half years, and in Singapore only for three hours. Back in July, I wasn’t asked to go to Senai, Johor, as it had been the case. This month, no request at all. This is something ominous. It is quite inconceivable nothing is happening there. It seems I’ve lost work there.

Nobody at the company has explained to me why this is happening. My guess is that they are now paying more attention to the expenses required for my interpretation. And not surprisingly at all, they can save much money if they engage an interpreter in Johor. This is what people, who know little about interpretation, do. For me as an interpreter, intangible things like if I know the place and if I know the people there have a significant meaning because I believe, from my own experience, interpretation is not word-replacement work. And in practical terms, working with those people in Singapore is not very easy for me.

I feel the friendship I’ve built with so many people in Senai and a little knowledge I’ve acquired is being wasted. Work with them has always been my priority. This is certainly not only about money, though if this continues (it appears it will), it’ll affect my business considerably. 

Today, it was 4:00 PM when I got out of bed, hoping that the day would never break. I didn’t want to open my eyes, while, with my eyes closed shut, seeing scenes continuously changing, incoherent and disjoined.  This has happened so many times before. But it is rather amazing to see what a short period of two weeks can make. I was so active in Sài Gòn, ain’t I?

I’m sure this financial year, ending next month, makes profit. But the next one may be my final year.

The criminal, probably under a fake identity in Hong Kong, may still be accessing this blog. Pay me back! You’ve managed to escape only because of the incompetence of your country’s enforcement authorities.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Japan Pensions Service -- Very Much Miserable