Pic of the day: Today's screenshot is fittingly taken from an anime, Suzuka, although the text is certainly not specific for Japan.
It is true that I watch a lot of anime. Anime is made in Japan, but it does not really portray Japan as it is. Oh, you can learn a lot about Japan from it, but you have to understand first that it is not about the real Japan. It is usually set in an imaginary Japan that is strongly inspired by Europe and/or the USA. The people have weird hair colors and -shapes, which not only makes the characters easy to tell apart but also is a kind of caricature of foreigners. Japanese have straight black hair. Foreigners have weird colors. So perhaps not pink and green and light blue, but not far from it. And so on with many other things. Boys say what they think, girls chase boys instead of the other way around, boys and girls live together without being married, and people have strange lifestyles instead of being workers and salarymen. All of this is strange and fascinating and very un-Japanese. But you won't know that if all you know of Japan is from watching anime.
At the same time, a lot of everyday Japanese life leaks into the anime. People say "itadakimasu" before eating (kinda like saying grace), greet the house when they come in, talk to pictures of deceased relatives, and eat soup for breakfast. So it is a kind of cultural exchange from the very start.
And so it came to pass that, after having watched anime for years, I had a dream. A dream in which I lived in Norway, but not the real Norway. A Norway that was deeply influenced by Japanese culture and values, in much the same way as we are now influenced by British/American culture. Not the Japan of anime, or at least not mainly. A place where salarymen looked and acted without much individualism, where girls were demure and subtle, where things were not quite real as long as everyone kept their mouth shut about them, and where people did not say things right out but only hinted at them, slowly, bit by bit. A kind of inverted anime, if you will, was my dream.
I was not Magnus Itland. I do not remember my name, because I did not use it. I was much younger than now, in the last part of my teen years probably. I had a young friend who was a girl. We were not officially going out, nor did we have sex, but we were close and she let me touch her (not everywhere, but in general) and I would sometimes carry her around on my back or my shoulders. The dream-I found this less exciting than my waking I would, by the way, but certainly did not avoid it. I would think she was perhaps two years younger than I.
I was together with my girl friend in the first and last part of the dream, but there was a long intermesso about someone's disappearance (and presumably death) some time ago. Clues that I accidentally came upon, one by one: Seemingly innocent statements, scraps of paper with hastily scribbled notes, a "forgotten" briefcase. Nobody would say anything when there were others present, and only double-meaning statements even when not. But it all added up, and I realized that in a particular place not just this one person but three others had died an untimely death, though I never found out if it was by murder or suicide. This part of the dream came to an end because I dared not cross the paths in the air, rope bridges made of pure rope and without railings. A person with fear of heights, such as I, could not cross those. My brother or friend (I cannot remember which) was quite angry that I dared not go there, but I knew I would fall because the very same fear would cause vertigo. It was not worth dying for. After all, the people were already long ago gone.
Another recurring "Japanese" theme in the dream was the useless gadgets/toys. They were marvels of engineering, but they were not really useful. Mostly they were boxes that would expand into something, for instance a machine or a small piece of furniture; you would marvel that they could fit that in there, but it couldn't really be used except symbolically or it would fall apart. People were obsessed with these things and thought highly of them. Even in the dream I thought of their uselessness in a wry way.
The last part of the dream was again with my female friend. Actually she kept one or two of her own (girl) friends around, probably for the sake of honor or "decency" as they would think of it. But her friends were really unobtrusive. She let me rather than them help her with a tight dress, which was a pretty forward way of showing that she liked me, even though none of us had confessed to more than friendship yet.
I woke from the dream with a sense of happiness and belonging, despite the drama parts, because of my friendship with the girl. I guess I do miss some girl in my life. You may say that to me girls are not like water but more like basil or garlic. When they are not there, I will from time to time stop up and feel that there is something lacking, that things could have been better. But I won't die or go crazy or commit acts of desperation.
Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.