Of Essence & Appreciation

Of Essence & Appreciation

Or why a vast amount is lost in translation

(This article will primarily focus on creative works translated from English to Japanese)

A video version of this review can be found HERE.

I have recently begun exploring the world of critiquing creative works on YouTube (a dangerous pastime, I know… ) and I came across a video analyzing Hayao Miyazaki’s marvelous film,「 千と千尋の神隠し」, or, as it is known in English, “Spirited Away”.

The YouTubers who analyzed the work, Daniel Greene and Merphy Napier, are both excellent and have a wealth of interesting content in their channels, but a few points arose from their analysis that I felt were inherent issues when a non-native speaker attempts to analyze a translated work. The video can be found here, and I feel it is well worth a watch.

I will state at the outset that I have no idea how knowledgeable either of these reviewers are of Japanese language or culture. Further, please understand that what I present here is in no way an issue unique to these two reviewers. I feel their analysis was very well thought out and presented. The issues lie in understanding the fundamental difficulties in transferring a creative work from one language to another, and it is my contention that distance, method of expression, and cultural factors all play a part in why quite a bit is lost in the translation.

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Of the Divided States of America & Redux

Another week in the United States and another tragedy at the hands of a firearm. 

Not to kick a dead horse, but I feel like I’ve been here before…

Then I was told that guns aren’t the issue with Alton Sterling or Philando Castile, or the Dallas Police officers for that matter. 

It’s about Obama and the death of America.  It’s about division.  

Then we were told Alton Sterling was shot because he was reaching for his gun. 

So he was shot with a gun because he was reaching for a gun, but it’s not about guns.

I’m confused. Continue reading

Of Guns & Control

America sure does love its guns. 

Well, some of them don’t, but those are just the bleeding heart liberals that don’t understand the necessity of deadly force when an intruder comes for your loved ones.  Could happen any minute now, so we gotta be prepared. 

The simple, ‘violence begets more violence,’ never crossed anyones mind I guess. 

The issue is complex and I don’t mean to make light.  Many people have lost their lives due to America’s stubborn refusal to take a good hard look at not only why guns are such a problem in the US, but how they became one. Continue reading

Of Politics & Division

The United States is in the preliminary process of electing a new president.  The great debacle otherwise known as…

The Lesser of Two Evils: 

A Game Where We Pick A Winner and Everyone Loses!


That sounds like pessimism, and I am sure there are a whole slew of people pipping up to give me all their reasons why their candidate isn’t all that bad, but the reality is – in my humble opinion – that the two party system in America is a system built to breed division. Continue reading

Of Racism & Pride

Race and racism is a complex issue.  I can readily admit that I lack the proper skill to tackle the entire beast in one post.  However, there is something that has occurred to me over the past few years that I would like to put out in the world.

Until we learn to completely disregard race as a factor, racism will never die. 

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Of Hollywood & Diversity

I read on a friend’s Facebook post the other day that they are making a biopic of Michael Jackson’s life and that he will be played by Joseph Fiennes. 

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This lead to a debate of needing to give more people of colour the opportunity to star in major films. 

To be clear upfront:  casting a caucasian man to play Michael Jackson, who was African American, is absolutely ridiculous.  Regardless of what Michael might have looked like toward the end of his life. 

That being said, there is a reason behind why this happened and I am going to attempt to address it.

1. The Problem of Miscasting Goes Deeper Than Race.

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Of Celebrity & Judgmentalism

My daughter is 4 years old and she loves Taylor Swift.  I am okay with this.  My wife, not so much.  She doesn’t actively dislike her, but we got into an interesting debate the other night and it inspired me to write about it.

My daughter is currently aspiring to be a singer when she grows up.  She’s a bit torn though, as 4 year olds tend to be, between being Taylor Swift and Merida from Brave.  I am 100% responsible for that last one.

As we were watching Shake It Off on Youtube the other night my daughter said, “I want to be Taylor!”

I said, “That sounds like a good plan.  She’s a very popular singer and she started really young!”

My wife replied with, “Don’t be like her, she’s slutty and she can’t keep a boyfriend.”

That really got me thinking.  The debate got a bit heated because, while my wife was making an offhanded and only half serious remark, I came back at her in full, “this is why that is a ridiculous thing to say,” mode… and any man who has come at their wife in this mode knows that the fight ends with me on the couch thinking, “I was just trying to make a point…”

Here is what that point was (proving that men never learn their lesson about shutting up and letting things lie 🙂 ):

1. Money Changes People 

Money, sadly, makes the world go ’round.  For those familiar with Pink Floyd’s famous song, Money, it is the root of all evil… but if you ask for a rise it’s no surprise that they’re giving none away. 04a7cc0c6176ac4bb1a6232c83122802acbb00cf5e77f9b031042e649c7d2a61

Being relatively poor most of my life, I’ve dreamt of being rich and how wonderful it would be.  Who hasn’t at one point or another?  I imagine that if I were to become a superstar right now I’d have a good head on my shoulders about it and be able to handle the pressure.  I’d be smart, or so I tell myself.

If I became rich like Taylor Swift did I am not so sure things would have turned out well…

Taylor Swift made her first record at 16.  According to wikipedia, “she is the youngest singer to single-handedly write and perform a number-one song on the Hot Country Songs chart.”  She then went on have the best selling album of the year in 2009… at 19.  At 26 she is now making 80 million a year and has a net worth of nearly 200 million dollars.  

She is a year younger than my wife.

I asked my wife if, at that age, she had been given that kind of money, how she thought her life might have changed.  She claimed she would not have been different.  I think that is almost impossible.

41embdo202l-_ux342_I can tell you that, as a 36 year old man, I have yet to finish maturing in many ways.  At 19 years old I was quite possibly one of the dumbest people on earth.  If I had been given millions of dollars at 19, I can guarantee my life and my per
sonality would have taken a whole different road.

I would have gotten myself into a whole heap of trouble because the stakes are so much higher when you have the cash to open doors that are closed to most people.  Money turns wild ideas into reality.  At 19 I thought some pretty insane s**t.  Put into that kind of place I think I would have made a lot of decisions I would grow to regret.  Not because I was a bad person at heart, but because given that kind of freedom, power, and pressure at an age and maturity where I wasn’t equipped to handle it would have tempted me past my better judgement.

Many people try to argue that they would be the same person, but I think this is a lie we tell ourselves.  Human beings are defined by their struggles.  All the failures you’ve had to overcome have moulded you into the human being you are.  True, some base form of your nature may remain, but having that kind of money would drastically alter the type of struggles you would encounter.  Which leads me to point number 2…

2. Trust Is A Complicated Thing

My wife argued that she would not have gotten into so many strange relationships with men no matter how much money she had.  I tried to argue that trust is a perilous thing even in the best of circumstances.

Show of hands here from the people who have been burned by someone they trusted.  Keep them up if you have been burned by someone you were in a relationship with.  Now think about how much more complicated that situation becomes when you are world famous and have a heap of cash at your disposal.  Think of the number of flies you would have to swat at daily.  Think of all the work you would have to do to shield yourself from the people who were after everything but the you you so desperately wanted them to know and see and love.

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This.. is… Taylor?

How isolating and frustrating must that be?  The only people you would be able to truly bear everything to would be the ones who were around before it all blew up.  Very few people have lifelong friends that they grow to trust implicitly at age 16… let alone loves of their life.

Putting myself into a situation where I was 19, rich, famous, and surrounded by people who had to be strangers, I can see how I might end up going through a rollercoaster ride in my relationships.  Hell, between 16 and 26 I did go through a rollercoaster.  The difference is, no one cares about my rollercoaster.

3. Monogamy Is A Choice. 

Before I get too many people ready to shoot fireballs at me, let me explain.  I am a happily married man and I have no desire to be with anyone other than my wife.  I love her with all my heart and I am happy to be with only her till I die.

That being said, that lifestyle is what works for me.  If a celebrity, or any other person for that matter, is living a lifestyle that you do not approve of or prescribe to than you are free to voice your opinion, but keep in mind the words of Charles A. Dana, “Fight for your opinions, but do not believe that they contain the whole truth, or the only truth.”

Since the rise of western religious doctrine the norm has become, “one man, one woman.”  That does not mean this is correct for everyone, even if the majority feels it is.  Human beings have to learn to let other people live how they feel comfortable, even if it makes us uncomfortable.  It isn’t our life.

4. You Cannot Really Know.

One of the oddest things about celebrity is it brings about an open invitation to have your life evaluated and picked apart by any and all human beings.  Why?  Well, you asked for it, putting yourself up there on that pedestal.

Is that really sensical?

I listened to someone ripping another person apart at work the other day and I had to interject and ask how much they really knew about her personally.  The answer was, “you mean outside of work?  I don’t know anything about her.”  But he felt totally justified in lighting her up like Times Square on New Years because she did some things he thought were silly.

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This is my picture of him.  He is 100% this person.

The truth is, we all have a story.  It’s complicated and convoluted.  It has many twists and turns and there are millions of little bits you hide from the majority of the world.  A select few know the real truth about you, and those people are the diamonds in the rough.

Now, hands up again if you’ve ever been laid into by someone who knew f**k all about you, but still took it upon themselves to assume.  How pissed off did that make you?

Thinking about celebrities, none of us know them even the slightest bit, but people love to talk as if they do.  We think that because we read something about them online or in a magazine that we understand the width and breadth of their life and are free to pass judgement on it.

That was the part that got me fired up, to be honest.  How in the world can we as rational, intelligent human beings assume to know the first thing about someone like Taylor Swift?  Let alone enough to be able to say, “she’s a slut.”  Really?  Do you hang out with her?  Does she confide all the deep dark secrets of her soul to you?  No?  Then knock it off.  You don’t know her any better than you know Santa Claus or Mickey Mouse, so what gives you the right to throw off judgement?

I have my own life to live and my own baggage to carry.  You have yours.  Taylor Swift has hers.  My feeling is, why am I going to judge a life I am not living?

Which brings me to my last point…

5. Society Loves To See People Fail.

The reason why so many people are willing to cast judgement on celebrities they don’t know is because human beings take some twisted satisfaction in seeing people fall from grace.  We like to drag people down.

One of my favourite bloggers, empress2inspire, wrote a wonderful piece on empathy that bolsters this point I feel.  People simply lack the desire to empathise with other human beings, especially if that person is perceived to be higher on the totem pole.  Why?  Well, they got all the way up there, so why am I going to feel any compassion for them?

Because they are human, and so are you… I hope.

Bringing others down or judging them, especially when one knows next to nothing about them, will never help one move into their place.  I wish we could learn to stop doing this because it’s just sad.

Newspapers and the internet are trying to get readers.  How do you do that?  Sensationalism.  That’s a fancy word for making something bigger than it is, or even making something of nothing.  If you need a visual, it looks like this: disney-graphics-pinocchio-329861

And people eat it up because we, as a society, lack compassion.

We have no shortage of judgement though.


 

My advice to you is this:  Think back to a time when someone said something hurtful about you and hold that feeling in your heart for a while.  Then, the next time you start bashing another human being, celebrity or not, remember that hurt.  Remember that, innocent or not, you are attacking another human being that you might not know well enough to really be making those judgements about.

Next time, try and think well of them, even if they’ve given you no reason to.  Why?  Because focusing on the good only makes your life more positive.  I would rather think the best of people, as naive as that may sound, because thinking negatively only makes my own life that much darker.

As far as celebrities go, feel free to dislike their work.  But don’t be so brazen as to think you have a right to judge their life as if you know anything about it.  You don’t.  You can’t.  What you know was fed to you by a writer with an agenda.  Be smarter than that.

More importantly, be more compassionate than that.

Of Selfies & Narcissism

**I do not own any of the pictures used in this post.**

Advances in technology have changed the face of the world drastically over the past 20 years.  I am 36 years old and when I was in high school the most advanced piece of equipment I had was a pager and our computer at home had AOL dial up.  Remember that annoying telephone dial sound?  And heaven forbid someone pick up the house phone while you were trying to connect to the internet.

Now there are multiple computers in every home and we all live on high speed internet.  There is a smart phone in every hand, a tablet in every bag, and a kindle to replace your gaudy bookshelves.  Pretty soon The Sims will replace your actual family members and conversation with fleshy humans will be obsolete!  Yay!

selfie

OMG.  Hot.

This post will not delve into all the finer points of the rise in technology, but one minor aspect that has come along with it — the selfie.

One definition I found that I feel sums it all up came from Urban Dictionary.com:

A picture taken of yourself that is planned to be uploaded to Facebook, Myspace or any other sort of social networking website. You can usually see the person’s arm holding out the camera in which case you can clearly tell that this person does not have any friends to take pictures of them so they resort to Myspace to find internet friends and post pictures of themselves, taken by themselves. A selfie is usually accompanied by a kissy face or the individual looking in a direction that is not towards the camera.

The rise in the number of “selfies” spreading like wildfire across the internet makes me a bit nauseous and it got me thinking recently.  Here is what I came to:

1. The ratio of women to men is pretty skewed.

I used the almighty Google to back my claim in this regard.  I typed in the word ‘selfie’ and then counted out the first 100 pictures.  There were 112 faces in those pictures and 73% of them were female.  22% were male.  A staggering 2% were Woody from Toy Story.  Figure THAT out.

What does this mean?  I think the reality that physical image weighs more heavily on females than it does on males is not a question in this day and age.  Some smart, attractive women have also used this craze to get themselves paid quite well because there is a whole gaggle of stupid males out there who will constantly stare at pretty women on the internet like slobbering neanderthals.

2. Selfies have given rise to the god awful facial expression known as “Duck Lips.”

Have you seen this face?  Urban Dictionary provided me with another invaluable definition once again:  image

Where one’s lips look like a duck’s bill(beak). Most ** make kissing faces while they take endless pictures of themselves and post them at various places on the internet. They think it looks really cool, but they actually look like an ugly a** duck. It looks really AWFUL, and makes me want to destroy the internet because so many people are doing it.
Guy1: Yo did you see her myspace? 
Guy2: Yeah! She looks like a real ** with those duck lips!

I know there are plenty of people out there mocking the face now, as it rightly should be, and good on you, but there are honest to goodness people who believe this face is hot.  Like,”you know you wanna f*%$ me,” hot.  I am here to tell you that, no… no, you are not.  Stop pursing your lips like a pouting baby before someone comes along and pulls them off your face because you are no longer mature enough to use them properly.  Ugh.  The sad thing is that Duck Lips are now being replaced by another horrid thing called Fish Gape.  Will the insanity never end?

3.  The world is antisocial enough as it is.  Do we need one more excuse not to talk to actual people?

One of my largest gripes with selfies is that they are taken in one of two settings: in one’s own home, quite obviously in one’s room or… even stranger… one’s bathroom (seriously, what the hell with that?)  or in a massively public place near a landmark or monument type structure.

In regards to the first instance, I will tackle that in point 4.

The second instance however is just sad.  Many times you can actually see other human beings in the background of people’s selfies.  Is it really so trendy to take the picture yourself now that you can’t just stop and say, “excuse me, but do you mind taking a picture for me?”  How many times have you asked someone that question?  How many times have you been asked?  Why are we actively seeking every reason in the world to not interact with other human beings?  It’s not a hard question to ask and it’s a request that the majority of people would be happy to do, but we are passing it up to take subpar pictures in order to be trendy.

girl-rome-selfie-shutterstock_152914343

Look at all those people at the Colosseum… JK! Look at ME, damn it!

I don’t get it.  I really don’t.  It’s like the people who go to Starbucks together to study and spend the entire time instant messaging each other through their computers.  TALK, damn you!  Are other people really that scary?

4. When did narcissism become sexy?

Selfies are a form of ego masturbation in my opinion.  Looking at the picture above do you think the girl wants you to focus on the colosseum… or her, “I’m so cute!” face?  Go with B.  It’s sure fire.

For that matter, take a look at the majority of selfies that are taken.  What seems to be their main purpose?  For you to look at that person’s marvellous face, and only that.  To bask in the glory.  I was always taught growing up not to spend too much time looking in the mirror because no one likes vanity.  Now vanity has become a typical mode of self promotion.  When did the world become okay with such blatant self love?

I will temper this by saying that this comes from a man with a headshot on his about page.  This is a picture of me all prettied up and one could argue that such a photograph is also vain in its own right.  I would counter this by saying I only paid for and produced that picture at the request of my writing mentor who claimed that all real writing professionals need one.  I had a reason for my picture and made sure I found someone else to hold the camera.  If you are obsessed with taking selfies, do you ever stop and wonder why you love to take pictures of yourself so much?  I think you might not like the answer if you can be honest about it.

5.  The only thing more ridiculous than the selfie is the selfie stick.

This… just this:

pretty brunette making selfie with a stick

Now you can get a wide angle of my kissy wissy face.  Vomit.

It wasn’t bad enough that people were obsessed with looking at pictures of themselves and their total lack of actual friends (as opposed to their 2,000,000 Facebook friends), but now we had to give them a stick to produce a wider angle?  Seeing people using these things always makes me sad for society.

 

I actually saw someone once trying to set up this perfect shot of themselves and the struggle was quite fierce.  I walked over and offered to take the picture for them and they looked at me like I was speaking alien.  Do you not realise how much money I spent on this stick? their face seemed to say.  They had bought the stick and now they were going to use it.  Never mind that the help of a real live human would have ended their struggle with the perfect shot much quicker, the point was that they didn’t want me interfering and the purchasing of said stick had guaranteed them of harassment free picture taking at any time and from any spot.

It made me sad that such simple interactions are now becoming obsolete because so much of our young society is antisocial and vain.  They don’t want to talk to you, they want to text you.  They don’t want to visit with you, they want to Skype you.  They don’t want a picture with you, they want you to like their selfie on Facebook.

Who knows, maybe in another 10 years we won’t even have to leave the house and we’ll have cameras going 24/7 in our homes to catch us from any sexy angle we choose.  I pray to the gods I don’t live to see it.

What do you think about selfies?  Do you take them?  What is your reason for doing so if you do?  Where do you take them?  I hope I am not alone in my hatred of them.  Happy blogging all!