I skyped with my Space and place lecturer and had him argue for the grade he gave me. I still don’t agree with him, but at least I pushed it as far as I could. What really irritated me was that he said I should have written longer and developed certain themes. The word limit for this essay was 1,500. I had gone over that and written 2,000 words plus references. So I pressed him to explain what I should delete in order to make room for what he wanted more of. He said maybe they should up the word limit for future generations, but I don’t agree with that at all. You can do something brilliant no matter if it’s 100 words or a doctoral thesis: Constraints is what makes the work, what decides what you focus on and what you exclude. I only demand that the work be graded within those constraints. I have the feeling that my work wasn’t, and, what’s worse, that the lecturer didn’t even get this.
I’m a bit surprised by how determined I was to follow up on this grade. I didn’t do anything of the kind when I got my grade for Theory and history, which I was also disappointed by and which was without comments. I guess I’ve grown more confident in the sense knowing what to rightly expect. I also don’t like when lecturers say they are too busy at work to give feedback. We are your work.
I started learning kanji from scratch with the much hyped Heisig method, as described in Remembering the Kanji. I’m hooked! Why didn’t I do it this way all from the start? I’ve self-studied Japanese for almost ten years (since August 2010) and I still can’t read Japanese text without severe problems! That should tell me something. I’m now through the first 250 kanji in Heisig’s book – and I remember all of them. I realise that even simple kanji like “overnight” (泊), which I know perfectly well how to pronounce (as in とまる/tomaru) and which I’ve seen on a daily basis outside the cheap “overnight” stays in Minamisenju, I still wouldn’t know how to write! Now with Heisig, I just think about the two things you get when staying “overnight” somewhere: Water to wash yourself with and white sheets to sleep in. Voi-fucking-là!
I also really liked Heisig’s introduction, where he argues for his method:
Finally, it seems worthwhile to give some brief thought to any ambitions one might have about “mastering” the Japanese writing system. The idea arises from, or at least is supported by, a certain bias about learning that comes from overexposure to schooling: the notion that language is a cluster of skills that can be rationally divided, systematically learned, and certified by testing. The kanji, together with the wider structure of Japanese—and indeed of any language for that matter—resolutely refuse to be mastered in this fashion. The rational order brought to the kanji in this book is only intended as an aid to get you close enough to the characters to befriend them, let them surprise you, inspire you, enlighten you, resist you, and seduce you. But they cannot be mastered without a full understanding of their long and complex history and an insight into the secret of their unpredictable vitality—all of which is far too much for a single mind to bring to the tip of a single pen.
The interview with James Heisig shows the passion with which he went about this task back in 1977 – it’s very inspiring.
I also went back to one of Danny Choo’s desk diaries, which I used to read often because I found them too very inspiring. It’s the kind of stuff youtubers will tell you nowadays, but even so, good reminders:
Remember that the speed of time is relative to how long you have been alive – if you are 2 years old then 1 year will feel like half a life time where as if you are 45 years old (like me) then 1 year is just 1/45th of a lifetime which passes without you even noticing it.
Given that time is running out, I need to make sure that the rest of the time I have is spent on the important stuff – not on the stuff that won’t make a difference in the remainder of my life.
I like the idea of a “desk diary” in general, it’s like a snapshot of the current state of your desk, as in your life in general. And I’ve always loved desks, they were always my favourite piece of furniture.
Oh, and we finished the fourth season of Mr Robot. Loved it all the way through – the whole series, that is – despite some predictable elements in the story, but this is after all American TV.
- Try N2: Chapter 5.1 and 5.2 (pp. 72–85), review: 14/17.
- 新にほんご500問 N2: Week 2 (pp. 77–144), test: 30/35.
- Remembering the Kanji: First 244 kanji.
- Flashcards Deluxe: 130 of 277 cards active.
- Robin DiAngelo (2018): White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism
- Author’s note
- Introduction: We can’t get from there to here
- The Intercept
- Das weiße Band – Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (Michael Haneke, 2009, 144 min)
- Die Schläferin (Alex Gerbelaut, 2018, 17 min)
- NHK: 10 Years with Hayao Miyazaki, Ep. 1 Ponyo is Here
- Matt vs. Japan: Why “Remembering the Kanji” is The Best Way to Learn Kanji (2018)
- David Hoffman: 1979 Wall Street Interviews – Are They Any Different From Now?
- Mr Robot. S4 E10. Exhale episode. Plus the rest of the season.