“I have almost completely given up on my own language, on the words and phrases and semantics of my mother and my father and of their mother and father before them, and of their father and mother before, et cetera. The thing is, I love this language too much, there is no distance between me and its system of denomination, of reference, no moment of epoche, as Husserl surely would’ve called it. He surely would’ve said that, I think. I can’t bear to see all those precious sounds and words be instrumentalized by politicians, by scientists, by popular tv-people, by comedians, by prostitutes and courtisanes and by waiters and by the likes of me. I think that’s why I had to leave my country for a while, why I felt compelled to leave that place, those meadows and streets and fields and people and forests and rocks, which I got to hate with an intensity that can only point to intense affection. When my first love used the phrase she used when I first entered her cunt, banal and trivial though it was, it was a big thing to me, a grand combination of sounds and feelings in those syllables, almost like a magical formula. I can’t bear to use this phrase, these words, or others that have acquired similar meanings to me in a text for strangers and outside people to read and interpret as they suit them. These crowds and crowds of people can’t have this kind of power over the history of my life. Do you get what I’m saying? Or is it all to muddled? I guess what I’m saying is: repetition is what kills us, to get pulled from the middle into the common center, where we all live our lives almost all of the time. This trivial citizenship, this becoming political, this acting to gain something?” Louis Beer was sitting in one of the many inconspicuous Japanese Starbucks clones near the intersection of Kawaramachi and Shijou street in downtown Kyoto. Sachiko was smiling and nodding and Beer wasn’t sure whether she understood anything he was saying. She seemed to be encouraging him, the bulging shape of her pursed lips told him so. Then again it could just be her standard facial expression, a fleshy sign for indifference. They were both sipping cheap cappuccinos, drinking them and licking the foam of their lips, they were devouring their coffees, whilst the waitresses around them kept yelling ‘Irasshaimase’ and the other Japanese people kept on puffing from their cigarettes and drinking their coffees and eating sugary bagels and melon bread and licking the cream of their lips and teeth. “All these wannabe Americans that hate America and no samurai around for miles”, Beer couldn’t help but think and he immediately hated himself for thinking it, because it were the indiscriminate thoughts of a prick. “I don’t like it when you use words like that”, she said. After a while she said “cunt”, with a soft Japanese stress on the final t, a typical trait of her English pronunciation which he never failed to find endearing, but it had been obvious what word she was referring to all along. Now the word “cunt” was hanging between them like some incredibly vile gust of wind. Some guys near their table were grinning, their faces smiling underneath their sunglasses and bleached hair. They looked way too old to be dressed like they were, all flashy colors and sunglasses and hipster trash hair. Could they hear what they were saying? Could they understand it? It didn’t matter. He wiped his hand across his face, stroking it from the bridge of his nose down to his chin. “In English it’s simple”, he said, “It’s a totally functional language, meant to convey messages in the most economically clear way possible. Everybody’s saying “I love you” and “I want to fuck you” all of the time and it really doesn’t mean anything. It’s like dropping a hundred yen coin into one of those dusty old soda machines and waiting for something to happen, waiting for some ancient mechanism inside the plastic box to stir and to give you a sugar bomb of soda wrapped in tin. Action. Result. In my own language it’s different, there’s so much meandering, there are so many hidden implications and personal stories attached. I just can’t stand it.”Sachiko was looking at him still, but her face was like a sphinx, it was like a stone carving. Like a sphinx it was, he couldn’t make it out. Was she saying something by assuming this face, or was she deliberately not saying anything by it? “Aishiteru.” He said, not because he meant it, but because it was certain to embarrass her, almost certain to illicit some kind of reaction, practically one hundred percent was the chance that it would embarrass her. The guys with the sunglasses were grinning like crazy. “Please don’t”, she told him in Japanese, after which he told her he loved her again. “See, it doesn’t even mean anything in Japanese”, he said, “it’s a language I don’t speak very well and I understand practically nothing about, and I don’t intend to. Might as well could’ve said it in Latin. Or in classical Chinese. But in my own idiom, in my own system of words and references and meanings it would mean devastation or bliss, or both of them. Or definitely both of them. Every sincerely uttered phrase is an act of dependency on someone or something and since all is likely to perish, since everything is transient and dumb and shortly lived, is an opening to death or separation. I wouldn’t know which one is worse. Death. Or separation.” Sachiko seemed to like this and, of course, she asked him to tell her he loved her in his own language, which he did. She smiled with her eyes only, the horizontal grooves adjoining her temples verticalizing for an instant. It was Sachiko’s secret smile, which she only wore at esteemed and private moments and it was the most beautiful thing about her. She took a sip of her coffee and licked the cream of her teeth, and the people around kept on sucking on their cigarettes and eating their melon flavored bread and they all had something in common, and it was death, and it was love, and it was stupid and trivial and profound all at the same time.
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