Friday, April 15, 2011

Passage from Memoirs of Geisha

During a week filled with homework and work assignment, I made the foolish mistake of beginning to read the "Memoirs of Geisha" by Arthur Golden. I say foolish because I underestimated how good the book was -- last time I was so absorbed by a book was arguably Harry Potter (though I have a feeling I read something as addicting since...). I liked the cultural dimension that the book introduced, in addition to its very captivating plot. In many ways, it brought to mind reading the "Sound of Waves" back in high school. But this book was much more mature in content.

In particular, I want to discuss a passage I read that I thought quite descriptive. Or perhaps it is a passage I can identify with. It begins in chapter 9, as the narrator Chiyo (as a child) recounts the change of her attitude and outlook about her future. The character referenced, Mr. Tanaka, is responsible for selling her, along with her sister, to become geisha and prostitute respectively.

"I'm sure you'll recall my saying that the afternoon wen I first met Mr. Tanaka was the very best afternoon in my life, and also the very worst. Probably I don't need to explain why it was the worst; but you may be wondering how I could possibly imagine that anything good ever came of it. It's true that up until this time in my life Mr. Tanaka had brought me nothing but suffering; but he also changed my horizons forever. We lead our lives like water flowing down a hill, going more or less in one direction until we splash into something that forces us to find a course. If I'd never met Mr. Tanaka, my life would have been a simple stream flowing from our tipsy house to the ocean. Mr. Tanaka changed all that when he sent me out into the world. But being sent out into the world isn't necessarily the same as leaving your home behind you. I'd been in Gion more than six months by the time I received Mr. Tanaka's letter, and yet during that time, I'd never for a moment given up the belief that I would one day find a better life elsewhere, with at least part of my family I'd always known. I was living only half in Gion; the other half of me lived in my dreams of going home. This is why dreams can be such dangerous things: they smolder on like a fire does, and sometimes consume us completely."

The last line (which I bold-ed above) is the focus of my discussion: I think it is very true. Sometimes dreams are dangerous dreams as we become increasingly enamored by them, until eventually choosing to living/believing a dream rather than the reality. I know I am certainly guilty of commitment such a mistake -- Mandy remains incredibly amazing to me. What's interesting is the same line underpins the plot behind the movie "Inception". In one particular scene, the audience is shown an underground den full of people sleeping and dreaming. The host frankly states that these individuals have blurred reality and dream to such an extent that their dream have become their reality.

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