Learning By Example

I spent the evening on the 41st floor of the Park Hyatt Tokyo Hotel (where much of “Lost in Translation” was filmed) sharing cocktails and Montecristo No. 4’s with my good friend The Author.  We sat at the bar and watched the sun set over Tokyo.  He let me read scenes from his soon-to-be-published book about his five-year stay in in Koizumi‘s Japan.  His professional background provides a fantastic perspective – a French author and journalist, fluent in Japanese, who was working as a researcher in the office of one of Koizumi’s top aides.  What is striking about the prose, however, is its episodic quality and its almost poetic tone.  It is not a dry political retrospective but a dissected cross-section of a well-prepared, politically-inclined foreigner’s experience in Tokyo.

Brilliant.  The fucking asshole.

We had the sort of conversation that I needed to have right now.  We talked about Americanism versus Frenchness versus globality.  We talked about women and about philosophy.  We talked about travel and adventure as a crutch for those who might not posess the genius of Immanuel Kant and about the changing role of indentity in the modern world.

International borders and travel have changed throughout the years and so has the role, perception, and motivation of the traveller.

But all of this distilled to a single point: the questionable necessity of recording our ephemeral lives in print.

It has been inspirational to see my friend decide that 2006 was to be the year that he would write and publish his first book.  He took two months off from work to write full-time and then flew to France to submit his manuscript in person.  Within two weeks, he signed a contract.

He offered me a lot of advice for writing, and everything we discussed would seem trite if I were to repeat them here.  The buzz of a 20$ cocktail amidst wisps of Cuban cigar smoke and the company of a good friend – especially the view of a full orange moon rising over Tokyo – these are the things that I hope will someday find their way into my writing.

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