07 February 2006

What it is to want

I watched this great documentary called "The Corporation" and it basically made me want to be a Socialist. As you might guess, it's all about how irresponsible corporations are and how silly it is to think that the market regulates itself because, given the chance, people will take money over morality. And as long as American comfort is built on the back of the third world, there is little that can stop the power of a consumer choosing $1 socks made by child labor Malaysia. We take care of our own.

At the same time, I am launching my own business and handing out flyers and talking about marketing and customers and profit share and all that nonsense. Yesterday, I stuffed flyers in mailboxes and was frustrated with how big Matsuhama had suddenly become and how I couldn't be sure I was stuffing boxes of people who were interested in what I am doing. I've been thinking about responsibility, even in my little endeavor.

This was particularly acute today. I was told that a good idea for hitting my "market" would be to hand out flyers to kids after school. Certainly, I thought, this wouldn't acceptable in the States, but I talked to the vice-principal of the school and he was all about it. So at 3pm today, as the kids streamed out, I handed my little flyer to them. Of course, a lot of the kids recognize me as I taught there last year, but I felt suddenly predatory. I was trying to get kids to take something from a stranger. Sure, I had permission, but I was teaching them something unacceptable. I felt like shit afterwards.

Of course, my distaste for marketing harkens back to my distaste for Evangelicalism. I hate telling people about something without an indication that they're genuinely interested in whatever I want to talk about. Because I'll talk up and down about Jesus in a conversation that involves Jesus, but I don't want to go accost someone on the street or at the their front door or in the mall. That's what Mormons do. It's arrogant. It's marketing. It's sales. Check out blogs and websites of mega-church pastors and you'll see what I mean. Media Pastor? It's just ridiculous. It's all about landing people in the church. They talk just like marketers. They are marketers.

Well, not me. I'm out.

I prayed last night, out loud and in front of people, that I would have courage as a husband. The word was so foreign when I said it. Husband. Me?

Yes, I almost did forget: the sociolinguistics module on my Masters course has been fascinating. According the reading this week, my children will have a very small likelihood of speaking English proficiently should we raise them in Japan. I thought about how bizarre this will be and whether or not I will try to fight to have them speak English, even if it means less social acceptance for them. I promised my friends Neal and Jim that I would teach them English, but I think it's going to be hard especially when Mom and Dad only speak in Japanese.

I have a short story forthcoming in Amos Hunt's little literary magazine "The Grub Street Grackle" . The story is entitled "What it is to Want" that touches on all of this in some way, since its about language and desire and racism. Brief excerpt follows:
"I’m waving him off again, 'No quiero, dude, I don’t want it,' but he’s just ignoring me this time, no eye contact or nothing. Just sets to it, fucking up my windshield with that shit-brown water and smearing it all up and I’m getting pissed, 'Fuck dude, you see what you’re doing, no quiero, man, no quiero.'"