“Reading is more important than writing.”
— Roberto Bolaño
Without exposure to a language one will never master it. That exposure can come in many forms but the best form is culture. Culture and language are essentially the same thing. There will be no language if there is no culture the opposite is also true. So to understand a language, its nuances, meaning and usage one needs to be in contact with the very space of it. Otherwise it will ring false, be inauthentic.
I spend a lot of time thinking about language, even when buying presents for my kids.
This year I got the Lego Tie Fighter for my son (deep down the toy is for me but I believe we have kids so that we can continue our childhood into adulthood).
For most of my life I have thought why George Lucas and his cohorts should decide to call it the Tie Fighter instead of the H-wing Fighter. Afterall, the rebel fighter is called the X-wing Fighter because of its shape.
My conclusion is this: the H-wing Fighter just doesn’t sound good. There is nothing unconventional about the letter ‘H’ (X is such a rarely used letter it makes it sound mysterious). But the question is why ‘Tie’? My theory is that is looks like a bow tie and a Bow Tie Fighter will not cut it either. So the shortened form Tie Fighter sounds cool even though it has nothing to do with its function.
If this be the case then the name betrays its twentieth century roots. I mean I don’t see Darth Vader, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke Skywalker or Yoda sporting one in any scene.
In short, in the very distant future in galaxies far far away bow ties are out.
Why are we — as a species — so hopelessly addicted to narratives about the fake struggles of pretend people?
We are a strange species. Our access to the thoughts of others has given us morality. It gives us society as we know it. Without this ability we would not be much more than just another animal. Stories are a way to access other people’s thoughts. In this sense we should be careful about what and how we read.
I have fond memories of my undergraduate days as a Japanese major.
To me they were exciting times. The world was seemingly spinning at a furious pace. The people I met were doing things, going places. My future was ahead of me.
My future now, of course, is still ahead of me (metaphorically, can it be nothing other than ‘ahead’). But it is different, still exciting, perhaps a little more focused and a little less uncertain. Twenty years down the road and I have made more progress (alas! a little slower than I would have liked) towards my goal as an academic. Continue reading