There was a time when I didn’t think I would live to get to middle school. Then it was high school. Then there was even a time when I didn’t think I would make it through high school…
It’s not that my body is in poor condition, or that I’ve lived a dangerous life. It’s more the opposite- I’m very talented and very devoted to denying myself anything which could bring danger into my life. Whether it was driving without a license, underage drinking, going to suspicious parties, or even having friends, I knew that I was perfectly capable of surviving without those temptations. It’s not that I am terribly minded towards the long term either- it’s just that I have a tendency to care very little about myself. At least the me in the present.
I’m used to hating myself and I’m used to denying myself. While some recount their high school life as a comedy or a tragedy, full of vivid highs and soul-crushing lows, mine was much more of an emotional flat-line. While on a good day I might manage to fool myself into believing that I’ve recovered from my stint with depression, it doesn’t take much more than me embarrassing myself to remind me that it’s impossible to have a clean break with one’s past. There are some times when I can laze around writing a blog post, and there are other times when I fault myself for needing to sleep. I am very much aware of my own failings, especially the fact that my time could be used in ways that could be more effective in the long run!
It’s an issue of comfort.
If comfort or enjoyment is non-productive, axe it and do something else.
Of course, the way I define productive has changed over time. For instance, a friend I made playing Smash Ultimate is a fellow Computer Science major who I might be able to glean professional information from. The 20 minute naps I have taken habit to help reduce my headaches, therefore increasing my ability to retain information while studying or doing classwork. The anime I watch mentally stimulates me and reminds me that getting a job will allow me to be happier one day…
But I feel like since I entered college, I’ve been doing a little better with indulging myself as I am right now. I’ve taken up eating lunch with the other Comp Sci majors, and they are pretty entertaining. One guy uninstalled Windows on his computers because he’s afraid of corporations and only eats with chopsticks because plastic is bad! It’s been fun, even if I’ve been burying myself in classwork.
My basic model for happiness has also taken on a bit more dimensionality, because while I still sort of prioritize my future over my current desire to have fun and be lazy- I’ve realized that I’ll have less fun memories to look back on when I’m older. To be really be happy and to really have pride, I want to be able to look back on myself without too much pity. I want my future self to be able to say to me-
No matter my regrets and missed opportunities, my past actions led me to where I am now. I’m proud of the life that I’ve lived!
In the end, I think that’s not a terribly twisted wish to have.
… Well, I don’t have a cake with me right now, but consider that my birthday wish!
I’m 19 years old today. This means that I’m nearing the time where I can’t call myself “Edgy Anime Teen” anymore. A name’s a name, but I’m not entirely sure what I’d change it to- I mean, I really like thinking about it as “EAT”, because food is a fine reason to keep on living!
Instead of living for anyone else, instead of living for some ideology, living for a simple love of life is something that I can’t deny my admiration for. It’s something I aspire to, and while I may hopelessly oscillate from self-loathing to self-gratitude in my day to day life, I feel like I’m making headway. Winning the war, so to say, against the worst parts of myself for the sake of best parts of myself. Working to find the things of value buried behind my edgy adolescent intuitions, and working to discard the damaging remnants that hold me back from living the best life I can.
In a way, that’s the utility of fiction, once again.
So while my bit is over, I’d like to share some of my favorite lines from my favorite book, Nisioisin’s Zaregoto Book 2: The Kubishime Romanticist–
“Now imagine an innocent young girl. Imagine the first time she ever looked into a mirror. Surely, in her perfect innocence, she didn’t know that the image before her was a mere reflection of the light. Instead, she imagined. She created something more: On the other side of the mirror, she saw an endless world….”
“But as soon as that dreamer of a girl reached out her graceful hand and placed a finger on that mirror, all she could feel was a void. Nothing but nothingness. The thing she had allowed to exist, someone else had not. Moreover, the thing she had allowed to exist didn’t mean anything to anyone else.”
“For that girl, in that moment, without any exaggeration, a world had been destroyed.”
– Prologue (pgs XIII, XIV)
Atemiya Muimi: “Akiharu! What did I tell you about pushing your bullshit opinions on others!? I’ll fucking kill you!”
(Also) Atemiya Muimui: “Mikoko and I have been friends since we were just little brats,” “If you hurt her, I’ll never forgive you.”
– (pgs 62, 70)
“I wanted you to save me.”
“I had just one response to that. A single phrase that I wanted to send.”
“Don’t be so spoiled.”
– (pg 343)
I really love the themes of self-projection and “altruism” that really come to a head in this book. Also its take on apathy is the perfect contrast to the Monogatari Series‘ theme of “people can only save themselves.”
In the end, it seems like a lot more people were interested in the murder mystery wrapping of Zaregoto than I was. Maybe the difference in our perspective comes from me being primed with the expectation of heavy themes and endearing dialogue typical of Nisioisin. Maybe it was that I couldn’t help but compare the way that Nisioisin crafted both the protagonist of Monogatari and Zaregoto to use the first person perspective to shape audience expectations and deliver the hard hitting thematic payoffs that make me love media. And maybe more than that, it might be because (unnamed) protagonist of Zaregoto embodies my greatest fears.
The sense of fatalism, the feeling that no one can understand other people, the apathy, the self-loathing that has taken the form of self-restraint… it’s what I see when I look into that mirror sometimes. That person that I could have become, given some awful turn of events. It’s existential horror for me, in the greatest sense of the word!
And to think that projection onto others is the core theme of the book…
You know I just had read it again for my birthday! Best book I ever read! And the corners aren’t even as frayed as my slightly newer copy of Kizumonogatari! That’s a plus!
So uh, yeah.
I like being alive, big whoop.
I had a birthday, double whoop.
But I dunno, my perspective is changing a lot recently. I’ve been thinking about the utility of language and the weakness of applying concepts to reality. At what point does the idea stop being useful, and become pointless sophistry? For instance, a thought experiment I had was “biological pronouns” versus a transgender person who was fully transitioned. I’ve seen people say that pronouns refer to chromosomes, and I’m just like- what’s the point in that? If they are socially and biologically ___, then why treat them as [ ]? What’s the use? Why even defend a term that has no utility in daily life and use that as a weapon to control individuals?
I mean, ideas and words have always been weapons and tools, so maybe it is a moral or social question. Do you believe that the value of individuals is greater than that of tradition? Do you believe that the objective meaning of some made up word (because all words are made up) is worth more than more precise or useful alternate definitions? The idea of good has been changed greatly over time, but people somehow think that more tangible traditional beliefs are somehow less fallible? People are weird in the way they hold themselves back, but I’m much the same.
But that’s enough of that for one day. It just passed 11 PM where I’m at, so chances are you wouldn’t even be reading this on my birthday! Oh well!