Reading {J}ournal—on Japanese Short Stories—1: Rewind

On the memories of the Japanese fiction books I have had my nose stuck in so far and my upcoming autoethnographic journey into Japanese short stories

Here’s to all the memories of the very few Japanese fiction books I have had my nose stuck in so far and my upcoming autoethnographic journey into Japanese short stories.

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From my love of reading

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Kitchen book cover (n.d.)

I first picked up a copy of Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto eight years ago, when I was bored out of my wits at a sleepover at my cousins’. I barely remember the details of that story now—other than that it is a short window into the life of a make-shift family of a young orphan, her friend and his transgender mother—but the afterward melancholic feeling and indescribable thoughts, so alien to a thirteen-year-old back then, still surface so vividly at any sight of the book cover.

Continue reading “Reading {J}ournal—on Japanese Short Stories—1: Rewind”

Uncertainty, Ambiguity, and the ‘Human’ in ‘Humanities’

In my version of the future of work, STEM will not dominate over the humanities. For the “human” in “humanities” is what allows us to work with ambiguity and make sense of our complex narratives.

“Humanists ‘have known there is no right answer for hundreds of years,’ and they are comfortable with that.”

(David Blei, cited in Mackenzie 2013)

A few days ago, in my Future of Work seminar, all of us made a human bar chart which I titled in my notes ’30 Average Uni Students’ Level of Tolerance of Ambiguity’.

Later, I added a line about where I was among those 30—the highest end of the tolerance spectrum, along with another friend. I scored 30 (the median was about 55-60) on the Tolerance of Ambiguity Scale, a psychometric testing instrument of which the design alone seems to be another embedded test for a person’s patience towards confusing instructions. One is supposed to reverse the score they get for even-numbered questions, and the higher the final result, the less tolerant they are of uncertainty and change. Continue reading “Uncertainty, Ambiguity, and the ‘Human’ in ‘Humanities’”

Puff Pastries

It’s 10 p.m. on a Friday, and I am stress-baking.

It’s 10 p.m. on a Friday, I have a metre-long to-do list for the weekend, and I am typing away while waiting for my batch of puff pastries to rise nicely in the oven. Stress-baking, that’s what it might be.

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When I was around 11-12, my Mum, my very Vietnamese Mum, took up bakingat the time, to most households, a convection oven was treated as a luxury. French gâteaux. French pastries. She printed out stacks of recipes on A5 sheetswith ingredients put in bold, measurements underlined, important notes in italicall neatly laminated, hole-punched, and bound with a gold ribbon. Her proudest moment, one that I can recall vividly, was when she took a tray full of puffy croissants out of our tiny oven, joy dancing in her eyes; she had spent that entire Sunday folding and rolling out, from scratch, a batch of puff pastry.

For years, up until her career took a turn, Mum had kneaded and mixed and baked. These days, whenever they are flooding back, my teenage memories always fill me with the smell of dough and fresh cream and butter. Continue reading “Puff Pastries”

Delicately Blunt—on Laura Bates & the Everyday Sexism Project

On a project, a movement, a collection of blunt stories delicately handled.

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A recent entry on the website

Of the 60,000 stories contributed by visitors worldwide on the Everyday Sexism website (Kellaway 2014), such raw, uneasy stories occupy a significant portion. Blunt as they sound, they are handled delicately by the team behind the project. Founded in 2012 by Laura Bates—a British feminist writer frustrated with blatant harassment—it aims to counter societal denial towards existing sexism (Everyday Sexism Project n.d.) through an ever-growing collection of stories, small and large. Visitors are greeted by a textbox asking them to recount any sexist incidents in their daily lives, and they can do so anonymously. Currently, the website comes in 25 country-versions and roughly 20 languages, including Russian, Chinese, Portuguese, and many more. Continue reading “Delicately Blunt—on Laura Bates & the Everyday Sexism Project”

On ‘Akira’ (1988)—The Beginning of the End

My take on the 1988 anime Akira.

The 1988 anime Akira has officially topped my list of hardest-to-watch films, packing millions of details in both the graphics and the content of each sequence, in the span of more than two hours. Admittedly, I yawned rather widely during the middle part, since it started to drag on and became too slippery (plus excessively violent) for my attention to grab on. Continue reading “On ‘Akira’ (1988)—The Beginning of the End”

Being comfortable with being uncomfortable*

*Titled borrowed from TED Talk Get comfortable with being uncomfortable by Nigerian author/speaker Luvvie Ajayi, although the talk is not completely related to this reflection.

Were I an inanimate object, I bet I’d make a great label maker. The fact that a personal hand-held label maker is on my all-time wish list certainly doesn’t alleviate the comicality.

Continue reading “Being comfortable with being uncomfortable*”

On ‘Gojira’ (Godzilla) 1954—A Natural Embodiment of a Man-Made Disaster

My takeaways from the 1954 iconic Japanese sci-fi Kaiju film Gojira (Godzilla)

“To say that this Oriental monster is fantastic is to state but half the case. Godzilla, produced in a Japanese studio, is an incredibly awful film … the whole thing is in the cheap cinematic-horror stuff … ” (Crowther 1956).

Continue reading “On ‘Gojira’ (Godzilla) 1954—A Natural Embodiment of a Man-Made Disaster”