1 year ago 1 year ago
By: A Bright Wall in a Dark Room
I saw Lost in Translation once, years ago, and really loved it. Loved it in the quiet, deep sort of way you love books you only read once. at a very particular time in your life. and don’t really think or speak of much ever again.
Re-watching it now, though, I find myself less forgiving of it, at least initially. Irritated that Charlotte and Bob need this dalliance, which is far less innocent than I remembered it being. What I had once cataloged in my memory as nuanced, wanting looks that went forever unacted upon were. in actuality. elevator kisses and sultry karaoke songs sung to each other, with pointed meaning and drunken swaying hips.
But then again, it isn’t much more than that—not much more than a teenage caper formed to pass a few echoey days in an electric city one million miles from home. And so I forgive them, Bob and Charlotte. I forgive them again this time and then already again for the next time I watch it, in another decade or so. Because we have been there too.
What I mostly loved about Lost in Translation the first time around, I think, was the gaps. It is a movie defined by what is missing. The quiet spaces and the unspoken words and even the now-classic final scene. The whispered farewell between Bob and Charlotte that we’re not asked or allowed to hear.
Do you remember this? There are entire websites devoted to analyzing and breaking down what Bob says to Charlotte in the film’s final moments, his aging cheek pressed to hers – soft and taut and flawless as a whole lifetime left before you.
I really love that Sofia Coppola never told us. I want something in all this to remain pure. If it must be a secret, then so be it.
And that’s the beauty of the entire movie, really – its sort of Japanese elegance. What it invites and never forces. The line that it toes.
I am a person who could never not say what is in my guts, my overactive mind, my thumping chest. And here is this whole entire poised world. This Asian fairy tale told in elaborate gift-giving greetings and techno club dances, the subtleties of marital jousting and the choreography of old black-and-white movies amidst an insomniac’s midnight panic. The drunk-making mystery of friendship with just slightly too much more.
Give in to where you are. This might be my best travel advice and my greatest travel challenge. There is so much for a human being to fear. Not in hiking through Malian outback alone, not in forging the medinas and the subways and the canals. It’s the connection. Understanding how to insert yourself into the stream of human connection when there is so much potential for misstep. The rapids you misunderstand and the pace to which you are unaccustomed. The depth for which you are unprepared. And ultimately, the possibility that you will be rejected – heaved back out upon the shore.
Approaching a stranger on a train or online is not just that thing; It is everything. It is risking it all – gambling against rejection, wagering love that may spend itself down to the loneliest fibers. Risking that despite it all, knowing we may end up alone.
And that’s why you can forgive Bob and Charlotte.
Because in a wild city that doesn’t belong to you, a million literal or figurative miles from your partner, you might change. It might take something different than you think to keep on keeping on. And even if you, like Charlotte and Bob, hold on to your promises and moral fiber, you still might need to surrender to the moment. Find someone’s hand to hold and run the streets with them until you forget everything. Until you can make yourself go home again.
Just like travel, we often enter into love for far different reasons than we choose to remain in that country. We change, they change. What we want changes. We learn them too well, the illusion burns off, they stop needing us, we let them down.
Somehow, we drift apart and there is an incredible loneliness in the indecision over whether we’ll choose to paddle after each other or not.
Sometimes it takes work to love a country. Most times, it’s never what you thought it would be and you have to decide if you can just let it be what it is, and love it fiercely anyway.

By: A Bright Wall in a Dark Room

I saw Lost in Translation once, years ago, and really loved it. Loved it in the quiet, deep sort of way you love books you only read once. at a very particular time in your life. and don’t really think or speak of much ever again.

Re-watching it now, though, I find myself less forgiving of it, at least initially. Irritated that Charlotte and Bob need this dalliance, which is far less innocent than I remembered it being. What I had once cataloged in my memory as nuanced, wanting looks that went forever unacted upon were. in actuality. elevator kisses and sultry karaoke songs sung to each other, with pointed meaning and drunken swaying hips.

But then again, it isn’t much more than that—not much more than a teenage caper formed to pass a few echoey days in an electric city one million miles from home. And so I forgive them, Bob and Charlotte. I forgive them again this time and then already again for the next time I watch it, in another decade or so. Because we have been there too.

What I mostly loved about Lost in Translation the first time around, I think, was the gaps. It is a movie defined by what is missing. The quiet spaces and the unspoken words and even the now-classic final scene. The whispered farewell between Bob and Charlotte that we’re not asked or allowed to hear.

Do you remember this? There are entire websites devoted to analyzing and breaking down what Bob says to Charlotte in the film’s final moments, his aging cheek pressed to hers – soft and taut and flawless as a whole lifetime left before you.

I really love that Sofia Coppola never told us. I want something in all this to remain pure. If it must be a secret, then so be it.

And that’s the beauty of the entire movie, really – its sort of Japanese elegance. What it invites and never forces. The line that it toes.

I am a person who could never not say what is in my guts, my overactive mind, my thumping chest. And here is this whole entire poised world. This Asian fairy tale told in elaborate gift-giving greetings and techno club dances, the subtleties of marital jousting and the choreography of old black-and-white movies amidst an insomniac’s midnight panic. The drunk-making mystery of friendship with just slightly too much more.

Give in to where you are. This might be my best travel advice and my greatest travel challenge. There is so much for a human being to fear. Not in hiking through Malian outback alone, not in forging the medinas and the subways and the canals. It’s the connection. Understanding how to insert yourself into the stream of human connection when there is so much potential for misstep. The rapids you misunderstand and the pace to which you are unaccustomed. The depth for which you are unprepared. And ultimately, the possibility that you will be rejected – heaved back out upon the shore.

Approaching a stranger on a train or online is not just that thing; It is everything. It is risking it all – gambling against rejection, wagering love that may spend itself down to the loneliest fibers. Risking that despite it all, knowing we may end up alone.

And that’s why you can forgive Bob and Charlotte.

Because in a wild city that doesn’t belong to you, a million literal or figurative miles from your partner, you might change. It might take something different than you think to keep on keeping on. And even if you, like Charlotte and Bob, hold on to your promises and moral fiber, you still might need to surrender to the moment. Find someone’s hand to hold and run the streets with them until you forget everything. Until you can make yourself go home again.

Just like travel, we often enter into love for far different reasons than we choose to remain in that country. We change, they change. What we want changes. We learn them too well, the illusion burns off, they stop needing us, we let them down.

Somehow, we drift apart and there is an incredible loneliness in the indecision over whether we’ll choose to paddle after each other or not.

Sometimes it takes work to love a country. Most times, it’s never what you thought it would be and you have to decide if you can just let it be what it is, and love it fiercely anyway.

1 year ago

In the film’s final scene of Mr. Chow at the temple: a man, on his own, whispering into a notch in the rock wall, speaking secrets that we cannot hear but have no problem guessing. In that latter scene, Mr. Chow is spontaneously following up on a practice from an old legend in which people would climb mountains, whisper their secrets into a hole in a tree and then cover up the hole with mud to lock their secrets inside. The spontaneity of his action—he sees the hole and comes up with the idea—is a sign of how much he still thinks of Mrs. Chan, even though they have gone their separate ways.

Wong captures that scene from a variety of angles, each of them powerful in their own ways. Most memorable for me are two specific shots: one from far above Mr. Chow, as seen from the vantage point of a confused onlooker, which shows just how fully and unselfconsciously he commits himself to the exercise, and one from close up, near Mr. Chow’s hands, as if seen from the vantage point of the wall, which allows us to watch Mr. Chow’s jaw rising and falling as he whispers his secrets. I love those shots because they lay bare Mr. Chow’s deep feelings for Mrs. Chan, by showing the solemnity with which he takes part in this ritual, while also protecting the privacy of those feelings. We know all along that these characters love one another, but that scene and the scene of Mrs. Chan in the Singapore apartment suggest that we still might not understand the intensity or character of their bond. (via Slant Magazine)

1 year ago
1 year ago
One evening many years ago at a graduate school party, an elderly and reclusive poet asked me in all seriousness (he had no other mode) if I had ever been in love. I was twenty-three at the time and how was I supposed to answer that? I had been in the kind of love that I had been in. I told him that, yes, I had been in love. He told me that I wouldn’t write anything worth reading until I had my heart broken in the kind of way that would cause a man to go live alone on a Greek island with a dog for a year and speak to no one but the dog. Has something like that ever happened to me? That kind of heartbreak? I chuckled because what are you going to do? At twenty-three I could not write a straight line or consider an honest thought. And so it seems futile to write this testament for you, my daughter. Like me, you will not understand the story until you are well seasoned in trauma and joy. You will not have the eyes for it.
The story is lodged in my mind like a heavy gem. Like a cartoon diamond from the opening credits of a Pink Panther movie. Each facet contains a mirror with another story that reels off another half-truth about what happened. And when I inspect one part, the gem twirls and brings up another reflection of another ghost. Restless spirits chase each other across the hard surface of this dazzling chunk of truth like the clumsy inspector running after his elusive prey. I turn my gaze to a curved slice of the diamond mirror as I fall asleep. I awaken with another real story, another facet turned to the light. I contain, as Whitman said, multitudes. But the multitudes are all me and all of them are half-true.
As I write this now, in a farm house in Connecticut, a large black dog is sleeping at my feet. He is twitching. His sleeping feet are chasing a mysterious shadow into a shadow hole. He grinds his teeth on his dream but never quite catches it. He shakes the darkness from his head with a jingling of tag and collar. He tells me it is time to begin.
A sample from Nowhere Slow: Eleven Years on a Micronesian Island, Jonathan Gourlay’s memoir of cultural confusion, hilarity and tragedy, and a decade of soul-searching.

One evening many years ago at a graduate school party, an elderly and reclusive poet asked me in all seriousness (he had no other mode) if I had ever been in love. I was twenty-three at the time and how was I supposed to answer that? I had been in the kind of love that I had been in. I told him that, yes, I had been in love. He told me that I wouldn’t write anything worth reading until I had my heart broken in the kind of way that would cause a man to go live alone on a Greek island with a dog for a year and speak to no one but the dog. Has something like that ever happened to me? That kind of heartbreak? I chuckled because what are you going to do? At twenty-three I could not write a straight line or consider an honest thought. And so it seems futile to write this testament for you, my daughter. Like me, you will not understand the story until you are well seasoned in trauma and joy. You will not have the eyes for it.

The story is lodged in my mind like a heavy gem. Like a cartoon diamond from the opening credits of a Pink Panther movie. Each facet contains a mirror with another story that reels off another half-truth about what happened. And when I inspect one part, the gem twirls and brings up another reflection of another ghost. Restless spirits chase each other across the hard surface of this dazzling chunk of truth like the clumsy inspector running after his elusive prey. I turn my gaze to a curved slice of the diamond mirror as I fall asleep. I awaken with another real story, another facet turned to the light. I contain, as Whitman said, multitudes. But the multitudes are all me and all of them are half-true.

As I write this now, in a farm house in Connecticut, a large black dog is sleeping at my feet. He is twitching. His sleeping feet are chasing a mysterious shadow into a shadow hole. He grinds his teeth on his dream but never quite catches it. He shakes the darkness from his head with a jingling of tag and collar. He tells me it is time to begin.

A sample from Nowhere Slow: Eleven Years on a Micronesian Island, Jonathan Gourlay’s memoir of cultural confusion, hilarity and tragedy, and a decade of soul-searching.

1 year ago
Anti-loneliness ramen bowl
1 year ago
Manga and the Sony Walkman were very much alike, he maintained. Each offered not visual or aural stimulation but a convenient way to shut oneself off from the ugliness of a money-grubbing society: solitary withdrawal amounted to a critique of contemporary life. With mock pathos he told of a salaryman so preoccupied with talking on his cellphone that a passing subway train snagged him and carried him off, the handset dropped squawking to the platform. Cite Arrow Donald Richie
1 year ago
Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.
Cite Arrow Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
1 year ago
Oddly enough, the most honest moment in a relationship usually arrives once it’s over. It’s the “speak now or forever hold your peace” part of the wedding, only inverted. You tell the couple why they’re terrible for each other, and the couple is you. Suddenly, the preceding months or years have an air of unreality—like they never happened at all or turned out to be one long Christmas Ghost hallucination. When my last relationship ended, it didn’t seem possible that, mere days before, I’d have probably dove into traffic to save a person I’d now dive headlong into a mound of summertime garbage just to avoid seeing at a crosswalk. Of course, being newly single sort of feels like diving into a pail of garbage all the time. Cite Arrow My Superpower Is Being Alone Forever: Newly Single
1 year ago