JOK Notebook

Think Happy Thoughts

What a week it's been. Actually, more like a half week, but it has dragged on and on. In the aftermath of Trump's election, most people in my Facebook circle are contending with frayed nerves, anger, despair, confusion, shock, intense anxiety, and grief. Some feel physically ill. Many can't sleep, or else they do sleep peacefully, only to awaken and have to face the awful feelings all over again. A few feel punched in the stomach. 

I received a condolence email from a friend in Germany who assumed that his would be one of many sent to me! I somehow found that funny, amid all the misery. And it occurred to me then, as it does now, that laughter is often the way out of a dark place.

Given that idea and the collective state of mind, I'll avoid writing here about anything that could be construed this way:

逆撫で (さかなで: rubbing (e.g., a cat) the wrong way; irritating)   reverse + to stroke

I can just imagine how irritated a cat would feel if you stroked it in the wrong direction. (By the way, the second kanji is non-Joyo.)

I instead want us all to achieve this:

機嫌が良い (きげんがよい: to be in a good mood)     mood (1st 2 kanji) + good

How strange to see 嫌 (きら•い: dislike, hate) in the middle of that expression!

But there's no hate allowed here today. I want to think nothing but happy thoughts. To spread the love, I'll ask you to consider two compounds containing 愛 (love). What do you think these words could mean:

1. 汎愛 (はんあい)     pan- + love
2. 求愛 (きゅうあい)     seeking + love

a. philanthropic

b. pansexual

c. romantic

d. courtship

I'll block the answers with a preview of the newest essay:

1.a. 汎愛 (はんあい: pan- + love) means "philanthropic" and is a very cool compound! Philanthropy is love spread all around! One round of love for everyone in the house!

2.d. 求愛 (きゅうあい: seeking + love) means "courtship." Also pretty cool.

Speaking of love, one of the great loves of my life is tea, so I'm particularly drawn to these two terms:

文福茶釜 (ぶんぶくちゃがま: mythical raccoon dog transformed into a teapot)
           literature + fortune + teapot (last 2 kanji)

茶断ち (ちゃだち: giving up or abstaining from tea)     tea + refusing

Oh, what a hardship that would be! But no! Think happy thoughts! 

Okay, these two words are nothing but positive:

会心 (かいしん: satisfaction)     to meet + heart

心行く (こころゆく: to be completely satisfied)     heart + to go

Speaking of satisfaction, I finally got around to reading Jay Rubin's novel The Sun Gods, nearly a year and a half after buying it. (At the time, I blogged about the thrill of hearing Rubin speak at a San Francisco bookstore, chatting with him afterward, and then having him contribute a guest blog.) 

One reason it took me forever to read his novel is that I was bogged down in Haruki Murakami's million-page 1Q84, and because I can only manage to read 10 pages of anything before becoming squirmy, it took me about a hundred thousand sessions before I could close out 1Q84, feeling no 会心 whatsoever.

By then I had completely forgotten about Rubin's book, so I read a few more of the dozens that had piled up on my bookshelf, and I didn't much enjoy any of those either. One I actively hated, but I have this stupid thing about finishing what I start, so I did, and I felt even more cheated than with 1Q84 (though admittedly the cheating was much quicker).

I then spotted Rubin's book in the pile, and I started in with few expectations. Well, he blew me away! Maybe not at first. It took me a few sessions to get into it as fully as I eventually did, but once he had me hooked—wow, what a wild ride! The taut plot surprised me at every turn and left me almost desperate to find out what would happen next. 

I also loved the immersion in Japanese concerns. Rubin sprinkled in a few Japanese sentences here and there, and that was certainly enjoyable. But way beyond that, he depicted Japanese people who were as believable as the Caucasian ones, if not much more so. He provided a terrific travelogue of Japan, from one end to the other. And he impressed me with his incredibly thorough research and poignant descriptions of everything from Japanese internment camps in the United States to air raids of Tokyo to the atomic bombing of Nagasaki. 

I didn't know the word 心行く (こころゆく: to be completely satisfied) when I read the book, but now that I do, I can truly say that he made my heart go places it hadn't gone for quite some time.

I hope you can have a great weekend, all things considered. Happy thoughts!

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