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Not a Travelogue, Only a Mission Statement

The bamboo grove in Arashiyama, near Kyoto
The bamboo grove in Arashiyama, near Kyoto

I woke up a little past midnight this morning. Since arriving from Japan a few days ago, the time difference hasn’t been kind on my working habits. I’ve woken up at 3 or 4 AM, read blogs and written, and showered before dawn has even started.

I’ve thought about how to write a post-trip update. I don’t care for travelogues; my friends write them often after their own vacations, but it’s too dry a format for me. I prefer impressions, but too much happened in two weeks to summarize nicely.

I’ve had some frustrations since my return. Besides my flip-flopped sleeping habits, the weather here is much warmer and more humid, the land flatter, the buildings shorter, the people inhospitable impolite. Getting around is comparatively more difficult. On the other hand, understanding what everyone says, and being able to read every street sign or piece of literature, is some compensation.

No, I won’t be writing a 4,000-word travelogue, or a week-long series of essays about things I learned on the trip (although I considered that!). Instead, here’s one thing I decided, with what I encountered or learned that led me to this.

Categories
General

Some Thoughts on Miyazaki’s Retirement

This past weekend, Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement, following the end of production on his latest work, The Wind Rises.

I’ve spoken — at great, unrelenting length — about my admiration for Miyazaki’s work. I’m especially fond of his thematic content: the futility of war, a need for respect and worship of nature, and a need for female as well as male heroes.

However, if there’s one lesson I took closest to heart, it’s this, in his own words:

“In order to grow your audience, you must betray their expectations.”

Take chances. Show what you believe. Be courageous. That’s what Miyazaki did throughout his entire career.

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General

Escapism and the End of the World as We Know It

Post-apocalyptic literature troubles me.

I should qualify that.  I enjoy a fair share of post-apocalyptic storytelling.  The Road is minimalist and bleak to the point of horrifying beauty.  Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is an exceptionally realized far-future fantasy.  Battlestar Galactica takes the most profound kind of end of the world scenario and puts real humans in the midst of it.  Even Star Trek is a post-apocalyptic society, given the events of First Contact.