Kenkou de Bunkateki na Saitei Gendo no Seikatsu – Crystalline World

Released: 2018/10/31

※This essay was specially written for the book release of Kenkou de Bunkateki na Saitei Gendo no Seikatsu.

Crystalline World (Kesshou Sekai)

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

A classic thought experiment in philosophy.

My stance used to be that if I couldn’t perceive something, then it didn’t matter if it existed or not. So my answer to the above question was “No.” For example, in terms of communication, it didn’t matter what the intent behind my words was—the only thing that mattered was how people perceived them.

I happened to stop by a secondhand bookstore in Jinbocho, where I found a certain photobook. It was by Ana Barrado, an American photographer. The book, which had commentary by Asada Akira-san, retraced the work of sci-fi writer J. G. Ballard, evoking in me that dreamlike feeling of being awake yet asleep at the same time, on “that day, someday.”

The monochrome photographs captured rocket ships, tropics, vegetation, and the vestiges of humanity’s passionate craving for the unknown. It reminded me of Chirico or My Bloody Valentine in how it felt like I was tripping while sober. I couldn’t settle down, yet there was no need to rant and rave. Outer space and the tropics; a faraway place and where I am now. One and all. Elements that resonate and conflict. A state of calm.

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of books from genres I haven’t perused before. For example, I didn’t use to be interested in photography or architecture. I think it was because I didn’t think they were things I could create with my own hands. On that note, writing and music felt like they were within my reach. Perhaps who I am today began when I pretended that that shallow mindset was “interest.” That grand misunderstanding and assumption is forming who I am now, like a crystal lattice.

Of course, I still love them—in fact, my love for them is growing at an accelerating rate. But I now have a wide range of interests in addition to those, such as art, photography, architecture, fashion, engineering, machinery, political science and economics, mathematics, and traditional performance art. Ignorance is wonderful in some respects, but now that I have this superficial level of knowledge, I have to keep learning more forever. I don’t mean that in a pessimistic way, but rather that I truly want to do that. In the past, I read in a textbook that the word “philosophy” comes from the Greek “philosophia,” meaning “love of wisdom.” I do believe that I love “knowing.”

It’s said that in the year 2045, the technological singularity will occur and AI will surpass human intelligence. Wise people discuss its merits and their concerns, manipulating the masses. As I waver, I find myself right in the middle, wanting to see what will become of this world. Like Ana Barrado, I just want to be there, cherishing the game of drifting between fiction and reality. Like Erik Satie’s furniture music. Like a flower in Noh.

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

My answer now is “Yes, probably.” And I, too, wish to live quietly and peacefully, like a tree standing still in an empty forest. That, or to keep listening in my heart for sounds that should not be heard.

I gently drift, waiting for the final moment when everything becomes a crystal, sparkling as it melts together. Not running or fighting. Not denying or affirming. Simply drifting.

(Thoughts on Ballard/Barrado)