When I say the word Dixie, tolerance might not be the first thing that comes to your mind. After all, everyone knows that the South is full of hateful rednecks. Everyone knows that if you go to the South people will try to chase you around and hit you over the head with a bible. Everyone knows that Southern culture and bigotry go hand in hand. Read »

Most people perceive me as someone who simply does not understand emotions of others. This partly stems from the fact that I tend to create emotional situations. I do not like pretending, and I like to be direct, so I often say things many people would not dream of saying to someone’s face. For instance, I had brunch one day with my girlfriend and a friend I had just met recently who was a struggling artist. We finished eating and the check came. I grabbed the check to see what I owed, and my new friend said to me: “Oh, no, it’s OK, you don’t have to treat me.” Then I immediately replied: “Don’t worry; I have no intention of treating you.” Years later, my girlfriend remembered it, and told me that she could never say something like that. Such bluntness is often seen as a sign of emotional blindness, but I must defend myself here. Read »

A while ago, one of my friends suggested to write an essay about how I approach learning something new. It came up while we were talking about music. At the time, I had never thought about writing such a thing, but since then I realized that there is a consistent method by which I learn something new. I believe a large part of it came from my father. My approach is actually not so unique in Japan. I believe it has a basis in Zen Buddhism. If you study any form of traditional art in Japan, you’ll see it. Read »

At my job, we are producing a pilot for a reality TV program that teaches the art and the science of dating to those who are utterly clueless. Meanwhile, I have also been reading a series of articles about how to effectively market a creative business. Interestingly enough, I could not help noticing startling parallels between business and dating. Read »

By their intellectualism, the academic Left has alienated the very people they purport to help. They called them “the masses”, an entity consciously distinct from and inferior to themselves, the people who do not know how to think for themselves and are helplessly manipulated by the enemies of the Left. It is the duty of the academic elites of the Left, so they flatter themselves, that they protect and educate the ignorant masses. I believe this intellectual condescension and arrogance is partly responsible for the present popularity of the Republican Party. The masses do not want to be patronized by the intellectual elites. At last, they are speaking up against their own paternal figures. Read »

The people who claim they love you, are often the same people who take it out on you when they are in a bad mood. And, you might ask, “Out of the billions of people in the world, why do they have to choose someone they love?” I suppose in some ways it makes sense, because it can be argued that they love you because they can abuse you. If someone gave me $1,000 dollars every month for no reason, I suppose I would “love” him. If someone picked up every piece of trash I threw up in the air, I would “love” that person too. Why not? The problem is the use of the word “love” in these cases. Our idealized image of “love” is selfless, i.e., disinterested love, which is different from the use of the same word “love” in the examples above. I would use the word, “dependency” for those. It just so happens that in English the same word is used for both. The confusion stems from the fact that outward appearances in both cases are hardly distinguishable. Read »

Particularly in the West, there is a belief that one’s identity should always be consistent. Having multiple personalities is considered dishonest or even mentally disturbed. The ideal of our society asserts that I should always be myself no matter who I speak with. I argue that this is a misconception born out of the Western habit of seeking unchanging essence in every matter, and that such a belief could cause unnecessary pains in our lives. Read »

“Quality of life” is an elusive idea. Many equate it with having money, but it does not address everything we want in our lives such as our physical and mental health. By providing us with ways to control the uncertainties of Mother Nature, technology has certainly allowed us to increase the quality of our lives in terms of survival in the practical sense of the term (subsistence). But, beyond that, what has technology done for us? I would argue that it has not done much. One of the few exceptions, I would further argue, is online dating. Read »

Just as each culture has its own distinct taste, each economic class develops its own taste as well. This is easy to see especially in food culture—many in the lower class and some in the middle class live their entire lives not knowing what foie gras is. Not all mediums of art are popular across all classes. Some are tied to a specific class, like Fine Arts is to the upper class, and film is to the middle class. This means that success in each medium of art is measured by the taste of a class it is associated with. This has certain implications for artists who hope to succeed. Read »

I used to think that it would be so cool to be able to say that to people when they asked what I did for a living. Now I realize just how loaded these four little words really are. There’s no telling how people will respond. Read »

Political artworks have always been problematic for me, especially those with a hierarchical structure of morals or ethics. Aside from the fact that they are visual, they demonstrate no difference from the verbal discourses of various social and political organizations. Since the art world is a small, exclusive community, one cannot help but to question the effectiveness of such political evangelism. I also would like to discuss below the validity of artist as a political position. Read »

In his article entitled, “Critical Thinking in Japanese L2 Writing: Rethinking Tired Constructs,” Paul Stapleton discusses what he perceives as a new movement in Japan towards a more Western way of critical thinking. Although the speculative conclusions he draws from his research may hold some truths, what drew my attention was his process of investigation that a priori implies the conclusions, allowing himself in effect to pat himself on the back for the results he achieved. Read »

Mitsunori Koike is an internationally recognized stone sculptor from Matsumoto, Japan. He first began working in stone in the early 1970’s, and his work is featured in numerous collections, both public and private. This is his reflection on why he continues to make art. Read »

In response to the previous paper, “The Myth of Meritocracy in Fine Arts”, Mike Durcak offers an alternative approach to the issue of art meritocracy. Read »

The art world has a gentleman’s agreement about preserving the façade of meritocracy. They feel that it is necessary to be respectable. It is understandable since they are often criticized for not being more meritocratic. The general public and many artists themselves see meritocracy as an ideal system of rewarding artists. I argue that meritocracy is impossible in fine arts, and there is no reason, therefore, to pretend to honor meritocracy. If the artist is famous, and if his artwork commands a hefty price, there is no reason to question him further; he is a good artist. Read »

The other day, Robert Roth was lamenting about the increasing difficulty of selling his print magazine, “And Then”. I asked him what he thought the reason was. He then gave me this article to read which he had written back in 1998. After reading it, I was quite convinced that it is the Internet that diminished the interest in independent print publishing. In the early 90s, I remember seeing at local bookstores a lot of so-called “zines” which were printed using Xerox machines. No one publishes them anymore. Read »

Noam Chomsky is doubly important: He is the world’s most famous and respected linguistic scientist in addition to being a well-known radical political writer. The Chicago Tribune describes Chomsky as “the most cited living author.” At the same time, he has been characterized as a writer whose work has been suppressed “because the gentlemen who own the major media don’t want you to know about Noam Chomsky.” It is paradoxical that such a well-known figure has trouble finding a publisher. The reason is that Chomsky’s name has been associated with the denial of one genocide and the minimization of another. Read »

Where Have all the Babies Gone? Boris Kortiak explores this modern phenomenon, and gives advice to those who are waiting and waiting to have kids. Read »

I am not Jewish or Christian. I do not subscribe to any organized forms of religions. I am not an atheist either since I could not say, or would not say, for sure that God does not exist. In fact, I tend more towards the idea that God does exist. I do not favor or incline towards Judaism or Christianity. I find them both intriguing, but when it comes to the holiday season, I prefer Christmas over Hanukkah. And, as offensive as it may sound to Jewish people, I hold Hanukkah responsible for tainting Christmas. I hope my readers would understand that criticizing an aspect of Jewish culture does not constitute anti-Semitism. Read »

We typically imagine a conformist to be conservative, someone who abides by the rules of the society, but in a society or community where rule-breaking is part of the norm, breaking rules would be a process of conformity. In this sense, conformity does not necessarily equal conservatism. That is, appearance is deceptive in discussing what conformity is. Read »

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