Put some feelings into it!

Also chutzpah. And coriander.

感情移入
kan.jou.i.nyuu

Literally: emotion – feelings – shift – enter

Alternately: Empathy. The ability to sense and share in the feelings of others. Alternatively, the tendency to project one’s own perception of emotions onto a work of art or aspect of nature.

Notes: This compound seems to be taken, and translated, directly from Theodor Lipps’ formulation of Einfühlung.

kanjoueigyou

Not just art, but business too, per this Yokota Masatoshi guy.

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Men, said the Devil

…They don’t want to mend their own ways, but each other’s*

六国を滅ぼす者は六国なり
(Rikkoku wo horobosu mono wa rikkoku nari;
“The one who destroys the six countries, is the six countries”)

Definition:

When a nation falls, it usually isn’t ultimately due to external pressure; rather, internal strife, corruption, and other ills are usually to blame. By extension, in case of a failure, the first place one should look is within oneself instead of jumping to blame outside forces beyond one’s control.

Breakdown:

Let’s start in the grammatical center and work outward, this time. About two-thirds of the way through this phrase we find the particle は (wa), telling us that what comes before it is the topic of conversation and what comes after is the comment on that topic. The noun immediately marked by the particle in this case is 者 (mono), “person,” although as we’ll see this “person” is more of a metaphorical active agent of change than a human individual.

What kind of mono is it? It’s one who does the preceding verb, 滅ぼす (horobosu), “to destroy,” “to overthrow.” The object-marker particle を (wo) in turn tells us that the thing(s) being destroyed is (are) a group of number-noun 六国 (rikkoku), “six countries.”

Meanwhile, the comment comprises the same number-noun 六国, followed by the copula なり (nari) in sentence-final form.

Notes:

First, be careful: the 六国 in this rare saying is properly pronounced rikkoku, and NOT rokkoku, even though typing the former into your computer will likely produce 立国 and the latter is the reading you’d probably expect.

History! The “six countries” in question are 斉 (Sei in Japanese but Qi in transliterated Chinese), 楚 (So, Chu – which we’ve seen before), 燕 (En, Yan), 韓 (Kan, Han), 魏 (Gi, Wei), and 趙 (Chou, Zhao). These plus Qin (秦, Shin in Japanese) are the “Seven Warring States” of Chinese antiquity. Each country fell in turn to Qin, and it seems from this saying that historians blamed each nation’s internal problems rather than shrugging and leaving it at the thought that Qin must have had some overwhelming advantage.

*The title and intro line of this post are taken from the Piet Hein grook “Mankind.”

Example sentence:

「慎君はね、モンハンでよく失敗するんだ。でも、いつも、バグのせいにして文句言うからちょっとうんざりなんだよね」 「六国を滅ぼす者は六国だって気づいてないようだね」 「え… シヴィライゼーションじゃないよ、モンスターハンターだよ」

(“Shin-kun wa ne, MonHan de yoku shippai suru nda. Demo, itsumo, bagu no sei ni shite monku iu kara chotto unzari nan da yo ne.” “Rikkoku wo horobosu mono wa rikkoku datte kidzuitenai you da ne.” “E… Shiviraizeeshon ja nai yo, Monsutaa Hantaa da yo.”)

[“Shin-kun fails a lot in MH, but he always blames it on bugs, I’m kind of fed up with it.” “He must not have realized that a country contains the seeds of its own ruin.” “Eh? … It’s Monster Hunter, not Civilization!”]

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No relation to Indian spices

Or to gum!

我武者羅
ga.mu.sha.ra

Literally: oneself – warrior – person – gauze

Alternately: Fixated on a goal to the point of blinding oneself to everything else. Charging ahead without looking to see what else is coming or what lies in one’s wake. Madcap; reckless; frantic.

Notes: This one’s got an interesting etymology. It was originally 我 plus 貪 (musabori, from a verb meaning “to lust after,” “to devour greedily”). Phonetic drift turned gamusabori into gamusha, which kept the 我 and received the ateji 武者. Later on, the suffix ら was added – apparently in its function of expressing a condition or situation – and given its own ateji with 羅. It is therefore not inappropriate that the whole phrase may be found expressed in kana.

This four-character compound may be shortened to three, dropping the final 羅. Amusingly, a reckless person may be called a 我武者者 (gamusha mono).

GaMuShaMonoRa.jpg

A positive connotation can be found in the name of this pep-squad-themed performance troupe.

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When you hand-ear a neck

(Yes, 取 supposedly means “take” because it refers to taking a defeated enemy’s ear as a trophy in battle. So… appropriate?)

鬼の首を取ったよう
(Oni no kubi wo totta you; “As if having taken an oni’s head”)

Definition:

Triumphant or boastful, especially about something that’s not really that big a deal. As proud as if you’d slain a demon or defeated a monster – without having actually accomplished much.

Breakdown:

This adjectival noun phrase begins with the noun 鬼 (oni), a mythical monster somewhere between “really strong person” or “ogre,” all the way up to “demon from one of the Buddhist hells.” A common enemy in old folk-tales. The associative particle の () in its possessive function connects the oni to its 首 (kubi), “neck,” or by extension, “head.” This entire noun phrase is marked by the particle を (wo) as the object of the verb 取る (toru), “to take,” in past tense. It precedes and attaches to the noun よう (you, pronounced to rhyme with “toe”), “appearance,” “form.” Like all adjectival nouns, it will tend to be followed by な (na) and then a noun phrase, に (ni) and then a verb phrase, or by a copula.

Notes:

This phrase apparently comes to us from an early 1711 CE ukiyozoushi called 傾城禁短気 (Keiseikin tanki).

Example sentence:

男の子は鬼の首を取ったような満面の笑みを浮かばせ、慌てて逃げ出そうと全力を尽くすバッタを握っていた。

(Otoko no ko wa oni no kubi wo totta you na manmen no emi wo ukabase, awatete nigedasou to zenryoku wo tsukusu batta wo nigitteita.)

[Clutching a grasshopper that was trying with all its might to escape, the boy was smiling as proudly as if he’d slain an ogre.]

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Empty Ron, Full Harry

空理空論
kuu.ri.kuu.ron

Literally: empty – logic – empty – discourse

Alternately: A theory with little relation to reality and thus of no use. Flights of fancy far from facts.

kuurikuuko

I have no idea why this “Happy New Year!” card was the top search result. Google, why do you hurt me like this?

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Seedling

(Shortly after leaving college, I think, I had an idea for a cyberpunk retelling of the Lord of the Rings, crossed with a hefty dose of Lovecraftian Dreamlands mythos and a bit of The Matrix. This fragment is all that ever got written of it, but reading it through again now, I still mostly like the voice and implied setting. Sharing now for posterity, and possible future inspiration. Incidentally, the two spelling errors are intentional and should be read as written.)

Seedling

“The human mind is never more than seventy-two hours from madness,” RC says pedantically. “That is the entire basis of DreamNet.”

Kram shifts in his seat. RC sips from a cup of lukewarm English Breakfast tea, one sugar no cream, and idly watches the wall.

“Explain the hell the relevance of that,” Kram finally asks.

Here are facts: Kram is dressed in baggy red mock-camouflage sweats, sitting as if relaxed at one end of the booth’s couch. He is wearing prescription shades but they have slipped down his nose. His hands are nervous in his pockets. His jack is covered by a stylish chunk of hand-carved wood fitted with plastic. His real name is Jeremy Lee but only government employees call him that. He wishes he could change his nickname. RC claims that his real name is Carter but that his buddies call him Cola and most folks use his initials. He is wearing a suit and tie with a strong thematic tendency toward black. His jack is small, discreet, and metallic. He is looking at the wall because they are in a booth at the theater and the wall is where Raymond versus The World, which he has downloaded, is playing.

Kram’s parents are upset because he has not yet ended his schooling to pursue a career, and both men present know this.

“Modern psychology holds that dreams are what we experience when our brains shuffle data taken in during the day. Without this sorting process, we would lose our grip on reality. A human who remains awake for seventy-two hours, by which I mean three days straight, is tungsten-certifiable insane. But that’s not all. If a human is dream-deprived—by which I mean allowed to sleep but woken each time REM begins—then the same insanity will develop. It begins with irritability, confusion, disorientatatation. Later, paranoia. A range of schizoid tendencies. Eventually, death. This is you. Me.”

Kram pops a kink in his spine but does not speak.

“They knew this in the good old days. They had the interfacing tech and NeuralNet. Now, most folk logged on awake, right? Not Kenji, programmer savant. He trained himself to log in while asleep, and bypassed the automatic logouts by spicing his jack with code he wrote himself. He figured, why just sort through data you already have? Why not give the brain controlled amounts of new data and let it sort that too? He studied number theory and French, the major works of Voltaire, in his sleep before going patent.

“So ‘what happens next?’ you don’t ask.”

It is true that Kram does not ask this. He orders a mocha, which is vaguely like asking, almost. RC interprets it as such.

“It took off, right? You study all hands-on daytimes; you study all dreaming at night for up to three REM sessions; you take a test next week. College wasn’t always only twenty months. And everything’s safe as long as you load clean data from your home set instead of going on the Net. But there are always viruses, right? And shoddy programming. And advertisements. Nearly seven hundred people died in three years and tens of thousands needed psychiatric care.

“Of course it’s the Israeli military that comes up with the solution, right? People could control their dreams in the good old days too, just not all the time. Kenji could, but he only used it to flip the on switch. Other people could, but they were told that it just got in the way of the data flow so they suppressed it.

“But if you want to control the flow, you control the dream first. This one guy had a free-time dream where he was sitting on a rock hitting goats with a stick as they went by.  Pow, inspiration. Next thing, they had people all training themselves to control their dreams. Eighteen months; three hundred more people die and firewalls just aren’t stopping the bleed. The Israelis decided the experiment was a success after one guy actually manipulated a data chunk, rewrote it on a hard drive, in his sleep. He created a dream-room that he could revisit the next night and that other people could visit as well. Revolutionary. Literally, new worlds. These folk could sit and be hit by full-on subliminals all night and not even wake up hungry, much less wanting a new car. So a generation later, kids by the age of sixteen are trained to be active instead of passive dreamers, and at eighteen they’re allowed out of the YouthNet into full-on public dreaming. The age limit’s been creeping down ever since as kids learn all younger how to do it.”

Kram speaks up. “And that first room became the all fabled White Box at the core of the dNet, yeah.” His mocha has arrived, and he is patting his hair, with the spoon as a mirror.

“Except not. That room is the entranceway of the old NightNet, which some servers still carry. I’ve been there some. It’s mostly just entity-interface.” He leans forward. “The DreamNet most folk know isn’t everything, Jay Lee. You know that.”

Kram is eager to be incredulous. “You trying to sell me porn?”

“God no. I’m talking about the World. I’m talking about the part that can never be cleaned from the servers because it’s in our heads. This isn’t rooms, Jay. I’m talking about the space chiseled straight out of the collective unconscious. Jung would crash if he were alive to see it.”

The sound of money pings somewhere in Kram’s mind. He sips and nods for RC to go on.

“Now, the World has its own rules a little, but anybody used to traveling in dreams can scan it with great rapididity. Now I’m asking you if you’d like to write. Look around all first, of course; this is interactive like a room isn’t, except more so. But I’ve seen some of the rooms you designed, and we like to have people like you on board.”

Here is a fact: Kram makes a masterful attempt at sounding like a bored man with room to haggle. It is also true that he fails.

“So this is all for real instead of for class credit?”

“Of course.” RC takes out an actual print copy of a contract and waits. Then he hands over a pen and waits. Then he takes back the contract. “Keep the pen. I’ll sign my line after you get to my home in the World. Call it a test. If you don’t catch me, leave a message in the stacks right by the entrance.”

Here is a fact: RC leaves after closing his balance but Kram, who has nothing better to do, stays and watches as Raymond chooses the green pill and all of a sudden things are becoming stranger faster than usual, which is not a new storyline but makes for a good kick-back-relax movie.

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Still buff from all that weeping

The Romantic ideal?

泣く子は育つ
(Naku ko wa sodatsu; “The child who cries, grows”)

Definition:

A baby that cries loud and often is a healthy one that will grow well. A strong cry is evidence of good health. Presumably this is a favored saying for new grandparents to quote to new parents.

Breakdown:

We begin with the verb 泣く (naku), “to cry,” in prenominal form. This allows it to precede and modify the noun 子 (ko), “child,” in this case representing a baby. The particle は (wa) marks the crying baby as the topic of discussion, and the comment on this topic takes the form of the verb 育つ (sodatsu), “to be reared,” “to grow up,” in sentence-final form.

Notes:

The theory goes that a baby who’s growing steadily will require a lot of food, and often. Add to this the fact that volume is an indicator of lung capacity and diaphragm power, or even itself a form of exercise, and it’s easy to see the folksy wisdom in this phrase.

…That said, if somebody blithely disregards your frustrations over a noisy baby by quoting this saying at you, feel free to respond with another one that goes 寝る子は育つ – replacing 泣く with neru, “to sleep.”

Example sentence:

泣く子は育つ、って?だったら俺の子は巨人になるだろう」

(Naku ko wa sodatsu, tte? Dattara ore no ko wa kyojin ni naru darou.”)

[“‘Babies who cry grow well,’ eh? In that case my kid’ll be a giant!”]

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