07 July 2011

僕の詩神


My muse

When the muse who has been visiting me mercilessly for the last month speaks, she sounds like this. The scribble here, a Cy Twombly painting of sorts, is what she said to me as I rode my bike furiously to work today, trying to get to my desk so that I could write it all down before losing it. She kept me up until 23:30 last night. After everyone had gone to bed very early, I locked myself in my office at 18:30  and waited, but she didn't come. I waited and she didn't come and I was about to give up when at 20:00, she began speaking, quietly at first and then in what seems like erratic, nonsensical staccato phrases and beats that I don't understand at first, but if I am diligent and simply write what she says, they develop into a clear narrative. She doesn't tend to speak in a linear fashion, she sometimes tells me the last paragraph first, or the third paragraph when I think I am writing the seventh, but if I just follow and listen she will bring it together in the end. I finished a full draft of Section 6.3.1, Non-metaphorical Categories, which should mean nothing to you, but to me, it was/is/will be, quite simply, the linchpin of the whole thesis, a description of what is actually happening in the dataset. Around 22:30, I thought I might stop, I was having trouble keeping my eyes open, I went downstairs, Yoko was up and we talked for a bit, I went back up, and she was still there, still waiting for me.

I tried to explain these visits from my muse to Yoko's parents, but my Japanese failed, I said, An angel is visiting me, telling me what to write, do you have this story in Japan? This wasn't adequate, I don't think: Yoko married a madman. Not a real angel. It's a story, an old story about people who write poems. What do you call them? Poemists? Poeters? Poets? My father-in-law looked at me warmly, told me to do my best. I will, I said. I will do my best. Unfortunately, it isn't my choice. When and how she comes is up to her. I just wait. So far she has told me between 58 and 72.5% of the story. I hope she tells me between 3 and 5% more today. I hope she does. 

Muse in Japanese is 詩神, by the way. One part poem, one part god. Perfect. The kanji are read quite oddly as 'shi-shin'. It should be 'shi-jin' I would think, but 詩人 or shi-jin is poet. I suspect if you just said to a Japanese person in Japanese, Do you know what a shishin is, without any context or without showing them the kanji, they probably wouldn't understand what you were saying anyway as it's such a rare word and a strange reading...

Are you there now? Are you ready for me?
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