creative writing, culture, politics, writing

Priorities, Version 3

In beginning to write this post, I took it upon myself to dig up past versions of my priorities. There are at least three other versions in this series. I seem to have circled back around to the first one. In the second, I began to consider doing what was easy (refreshing Spanish language) instead of what I was motivated to do (learning Japanese language). That…hasn’t lasted. All it took was trying to read a few kids’ books and seeing references to, specifically, “black slavery,” that pushed me over. Before I go on too long, I’ll leave a link to the third post in the series (ironically titled, “Version 2”).

I have had so many political and social and religious issues with Spanish language, and U.S. missionary and imperial politics in relation to Latin America, and exploitation of immigrant workers here — I’m not even kidding. It triggers me. I know that Japanese isn’t the same way with me, though it could easily be different if I were, say, Okinawan or Manchurian or Korean. I’m not blind to that. But Japanese language is marginally psychologically safer for me at this point, even though I’m aware that it’s still not a great thing to be of African descent, in the area.

The latter, combined with the lack of legal protection specifically against male sexual violence, has caused me to consider not ever visiting; though there are some people who aren’t racist who are (or have been) here — issei (first-generation immigrants) — who have encouraged me to go. Of course, though, they haven’t been marginalized for doing nothing except looking different. After a while one gets used to the listless, hollow stares that plagued me as a youth. That, though, is different than being actively characterized and fetishized as subjugated and inferior (or a possession) and made into a spectacle.

Of course, I do know how often people of Asian descent have to deal with that, here. I am still a part of my family, after all. I’ve also had to deal with it in my life, because no one thought to introduce me to the idea of racism (other than the knowledge that I would have to work twice as hard to be seen as equal), as a child. (Of course, neither did they introduce me to the idea that I could, and likely would, intimidate others by being underemployed.)

This is a reason why I left off of my last major writing project, when I did. I’m repairing it, though. All I have to do is address it, and complicate it, and humanize it; and possibly, I can get around just perpetuating my erroneous youthful thought.

That last paragraph may be for insiders. I’m not sure I should get into it openly, right now. It has to do with racial dynamics combined with age dynamics and gender dynamics (sometimes also with economic dynamics). If you still don’t get it…I might get into it, later. Or you might see it in a book. One or the other. Actually, probably a lot has been written about this, though I’m not sure if it’s been written from my angle.

Though I do seem to have hit a useful vein of content, here…I never intended to be a feminist writer, or, “that nonbinary author;” there’s more to me than just how my gender and sex and race and ethnicity and mental state have combined to produce conflict in this life. But hey, a lot of it is connected. And writing is a great medium to work out conflict, which…due to the complexity of the situation, I may need help with.

Also, if I take all that stuff away, what’s left visible is not even the tip of the iceberg.

I had wanted to try for Spanish to, I don’t know, not be trapped in my own cultural bubble, or not be another person who wants to become a manga superstar. (So far as I know, the sentiment is — or was — common among youth in Japan.) But. It’s pretty apparent that I grew up being influenced by Japanese anime and manga. As far as I can remember, it’s what first exposed me to the language, both in spoken and written form. Of course…there are some weird politics around learning Japanese. Maybe it wouldn’t have affected me so much after the people who just wanted to understand their J-Pop had left, which should have happened after I’d passed my introductory classes.

I didn’t keep on, to that point. Nor did I foresee a desirable future in tolerating the same environment — or dealing with what had been my world of, “Japanese culture,” (i.e. hostile nikkeijin “family” and “friends”) for the rest of my life. (I believe I’ve been told more than once by others, that they, “wanted to be Japanese,” which makes me wonder what they meant by that — and how it was that they felt their culture was inferior.) But those dynamics could have been the reason I would have been required to wake at 5:30 AM if I wanted to major in this stuff. Anime and J-Pop were trendy at the time I was trying to learn, and the Internet had just opened attention to international music that otherwise wasn’t available. However, there’s a lot more to Japan and Japanese culture, than pop culture.

I don’t want to get into race politics right now, but having to deal with unaddressed discomfort based on the makeup of the language class, the students’ seriousness, and their reasons for being there, were largely the reason I stopped taking foreign language classes. Cultural isolation was also part of the reason I left my first University. (Little did I know that cultural isolation would also be the reason I would have trouble in English classes, and also later in my Master’s program.) Then there’s the complex nature of manga-styled art online, which I don’t even feel I can address, here.

I’m thinking that it’s apparent I have a lot to draw off of — and a lot of conflicts that I’ve avoided at the cost of creative growth. The issue I’ve had is, basically, not wanting to deal with this, as I have suspected others don’t have to. Of course, you avoid conflict too far, and soon you don’t have a life worth living. And the people who will drive you out, don’t know; probably wouldn’t understand if they did know; and likely, it wouldn’t make a dent in their lives.

But like I said, writing is an excellent medium with which to work out conflict. Moreso for me, than my other arts. The key is to avoid getting bogged down in the work and so myopic and single-minded about the only possible consequences, that the issues you’re working on drown you.

Another reason I stopped. However, I’m in a much better place, this time around. I’m also thinking that my priorities have again shifted to this:

  • Work
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Japanese language acquisition

…with the subtle switch that puts my writing over my reading, in importance. I still haven’t decided whether to work out the story I’ve started in literary or comic format. I’m leaning towards literary, just because I’m a surer author than illustrator.

Some tougher stuff has happened at work, but it hasn’t developed into anything major, yet. I don’t know that it will, and I don’t know that it’s worth thinking about at this moment. However — it would be good not to push aside my writing. The writing requires the reading. The reading is helped by my work. And…Japanese is just something I want to do, which will enrich my life.

I think I’ve just realized, that is, how central writing is to my life, the calming effect that reading entails with me (when it isn’t offensive), and I’m re-centering Japanese where it comes to acquiring a second language.

Outside of this…I have my watercolors (including ink work), and my quilting, now (including origami-based design). Neither of them is really important, but both of them work with color and can get my mind off of the heavy thought that comes from reading and writing. I also have my beads, but I am not feeling this is the time to schedule overt time for them…