Sunday, June 18, 2006

Socialization and Tenuous Communication

Something rather shocking occurred to me today: I'm quite busy this weekend. I had dinner with a co-worker and some of his friends on Friday, attended a Japanese-themed birthday party on Saturday evening, and am having dinner at the NIV section chief's tonight. I'm not sure how this fits in with my sense of self as hermit, sitting in the dark in my apartment while rocking back and forth, eating lead paint off the walls, and thinking 'deep thoughts'. I recall that this sudden social awakening happened to me midway through A-100 as well, just as I was preparing to crochet myself a huge woolly cave to live in. So now that I've identified a tentative pattern (agitate for a bit, give up and withdraw, get comfortable with solitude, then - voila! - social opportunities magically present themselves), I feel I can organize my life a little better. Friday was my 3 month anniversary of arrival at post. Next tour of duty I'll expect a similar timeline, with adjustments made for number of personnel, time of the year, moonphases, etc... Someone please remind me of this 2 and 1/2 months into my next posting, when the lead paint is making me froth at the mouth.

On a probably unrelated front, I had a fight with a friend recently. It was not a fight I wanted to have; it was not a friendship I wanted to lose. But it was a situation in which not knowing how to do the right thing was causing me a great deal of stress -- I didn't realize how much until it started to make me physically ill. I think this is the danger of being isolated and turning inside yourself: a lot of things become amplified, like staring into one of those fun house mirrors where the image multiplies itself over and over. It's easy for things in your head to reach a level of intensity perhaps not warranted by the circumstances. In my mind, this problem was reverberating over and over at some high pitched tone, till I felt I had strike out just to rid myself of it. It frustrates me that if I could have just communicated things more efficiently, more perfectly, I could have resolved the issue in a better way. If you're ever staring at an email at 2 in the morning thinking, "Should I send this?" the answer is probably 'No'.

This lack of ability to communicate dogs me. Short of some sort of vulcan mind-meld, I don't think there really is any way to truly let someone in on your thoughts and feelings. Words always seem very inadequate; they are far too easily misunderstood. It is my own belief that the impossibility of communication is a theme running through a great deal of Japanese films and manga -- the notion that in light of the insufficiency of words and the strictures of social rules, the only 'true' communication one is left with is physical transgression. Certainly bludgeoning and rape leave little doubt as to one's intended message (though, I don't think "I was just trying to communicate" would hold up as a trial defense...). Japanese pop culture is full of violent imagery and lonely, isolated characters, who struggle with feelings of detached estrangement that cause them to lash out in misguided attempts at cutting through the barriers to understanding. It's a constant presence in the songs of my favorite Japanese singer, and especially prevalent in anime.

Voices of a Distant Star is a great example of this, where the main characters are separated across space due to obligation and circumstance, left to try and communicate through cell phone text messages. It sounds cheesy. Maybe it is cheesy. But I can identify with the sort of loneliness and frustration the anime references.

Mikako: Say, Noboru... we are far, far, very, very, far apart ...
Noboru: ... but it might be that thoughts can overcome time and distance.
Mikako: Noboru, have you ever thought about something like that?
Noboru: If... if for even one instant something like that could happen what would I think? What would Mikako think?
Mikako: ... say, there is probably one thing we would think. Say Noboru ...
[Both]: ... I am here.


Mrs. Wrye said...

Voices of a distant star is heart wrenching.

I love you <3

Katie said...

Yeah, but my friend in Peru pointed out the extreme lameness of quoting anime in one's blog. I think he's right -- it's definitely a new low (high?) in my 'otaku'-hood.

I love you, too.