I began university in Fall 2006, and lived on-campus the first semester. Very quickly, I joined two clubs – the Newman Club, where I’d spend most of my time, and of course the anime club. At the time, I don’t think I realised just how little anime I had actually seen, and though one of my roommates was also a fan, he was just a casual fan like me. So, now able to watch several different shows a week, my experience with anime would expand rapidly.…
<– Previous: Anime Autobiography – serial experiments lain
Moving into 2005, though lain had inspired me to seek out more anime, I faced a couple roadblocks that prevented me from fully immersing myself right away. First, I lacked time. Though I had loads of free time in high school, I’ve long had a hobby of collecting hobbies, so anime had to compete with comics, video games, literature, guitar, film, and whatever else grabbed my interest.
Second, and more critically, I lacked funds. This was 2004-6, and most anime series came out on multiple discs, each costing at least $20, and I just could not afford spending that much, especially sight unseen. Many would’ve just pirated what they wanted to watch, but I’ve always felt uncomfortable with piracy. Besides, it would’ve been difficult to justify using up that much bandwidth on the family computer.…
Though I had already seen Pokemon and Spirited Away, I would consider serial experiments lain my ‘first’ anime, because it was the first show I sought out because it was anime. In October 2004, I worked my first job as a one-week temporary employee, for which I received the seemingly massive sum of around $350. I don’t remember what else I purchased with that bounty, but one of my first priorities was lain, which I think I ordered from Half.com (and which, I learned a couple years later, was bootleg!).…
I’ve been in a bit of a nostalgic mood lately, looking back at my experience with anime and reminiscing on my development as a fan. So, I thought it may be interesting to start a series of posts outlining that evolution.
Like many fans my age, Pokemon gets credit as the first anime I ever watched. Actually, video games probably sparked my interest in Japanese media in general. As a huge Nintendo fan, most of my favourite games have always been Japanese, and even as a child I enjoyed reading about the people who made the games I enjoy, which made me amenable to other pieces of popular culture to cross the Pacific.…
Personal post, ahoy!
Around the new year, everyone seems to want to do a retrospective. Personally, I can’t quite do it, because I don’t remember all that happened this year and all my “best of 2011” choices would be things that came out in the last week. However, I have been reflecting on some of the highlights of 2011, and undoutdedly the highlight of the year was my trip to London in September. I only wrote one post about it, here, and that was on a different blog, but I can’t help but feel that it marked a milestone in my life.
For one thing, there were several setbacks. I’d originally planned on going to Europe in Spring with a friend of mine, but he backed out. So, I decided to go to Japan, and looked for a tour group. I was almost ready to sign up for one when the big earthquake and tsunami hit and cancelled that. So, after some thought, I decided to go to London, and go alone.
I haven’t travelled much before, and never alone. I’d been wanting to make a trip like this all through my time at university but lacked the resources to pull it off. Now, though, it felt somehow necessary, perhaps because of a string of disappointments. I graduated last August, but didn’t feel that I’d really accomplished anything. I signed up to take the GRE to go on to graduate school, but literally, in retrospect almost comically, couldn’t find the testing location. After that, I decided to apply to a programme to teach English in Japan, but couldn’t make the deadline. So, when I finally pulled this trip together, it gave me the biggest sense of satisfaction I’ve ever had.
As for the trip itself, I suppose I didn’t do anything spectacular. Mostly, I went museum-hopping, saw a play at Shakespeare’s Globe (Dr. Faustus), and did a little shopping, mostly at places like Orbital Comics. That, and watched some British televsion (better than American TV, but not by much).
However, I greatly enjoyed all that, and I also had a slight feeling of homecoming, even though I’m only 1/4 English, and those ancestors were from Birmingham (I am all Northern European, for what that’s worth). Seeing all that beautiful artwork, and simply being in a city so old – far older than anyplace in Texas – strengthened my feeling that Western Civilisation, and English culture specifically, is something worth preserving. It’s safe to say the trip strengthened my political feelings, but I’ll leave that Serious Business for another blog.
I would love to travel more in the future, and look forward to someday revisiting England. I’ll probably try to see more of the rest of the country if I go back, and probably won’t travel alone again. These things are more enjoyable when shared with someone.
Having finally accomplished something worthwhile, I feel like I can move on with the rest of my life. I’ve taken a step towards a career, for one thing, and I hope and pray things will continue to look up for me.
Now, though, it’s time to greet the new year, and I’ll do it the best way I know how – with catgirls.
This is post number 100 for ‘Everything is Oll Korrect!’, and it’s also been about a year since I registered this domain. I have mixed feelings about the relevance of the landmark – though ‘OK!’ has been around a lot longer than most blogs (since Autumn 2007), it’s been mostly an on-again off-again affair since its beginning as a school project. Only this year have I taken this at all seriously, and only the the past half-year have I begun to find a voice, so to speak.
The biggest change is that for most of this blog’s history I tried to take an academic tone. Gradually, though, I shifted to something a little more personal – and, though I mostly write impressions and reviews of what I read and watch, I think of this blog as very much a personal project. I’ve found that writing about my impressions helps immensely in clarifying my thoughts, and I can better appreciate the media I consume.
I do hope, though, that my enthusiasm for writing and my subjects comes through, and I’m thankful for those who have stopped by and read my blog. I have some plans for this site that I should be able to execute over the next several weeks, including making some progress on the Zetsubou-Sensei fansite, continuing to post regularly on the “America First” blog, and a redesign and possibly renaming this blog. Please look forward to it.
Now, it’s getting late, and I’ve a lot of writing and reading to do!
If any doubted it, let me clarify: learning a foreign language is a pain. Yet, I consider having a working knowledge of a second language essential for an educated person. So, for the last few years I’ve been attempting to learn Japanese.
Luckily, I was able to take two years of it at my university (one of the few educational benefits my school provided), so I do have a good feel for basic grammar and vocabulary. After graduation, though, I came upon the problem of expanding on and maintaining what I’ve learned. As anyone who’s taken a foreign language class knows, language is very much a ‘Use it or lose it’ proposition. Even over the course of summer break after year one, I lost enough that my reaction to seeing the next semester’s review was something like ‘It’s bloody Chinese!’
Anyway, half the endeavour depends on continuing to review daily. I’ve done pretty well with that. However, my learning has been haphazard at best. Mainly, I’ve just tried to read whatever I can get my hands on, often from YesAsia.com or whatever random volumes happen to turn up at Half Price Books (like volume eight of Death Note, and volumes eleven and seventeen of Oh, My Goddess!). Yotsubato! is written at about my level, which makes me very happy. I can read Japanese better now than a year ago, but obviously that approach is generally slow and, again, haphazard.
So, for the sake of adding some kind of structure to my study, I bought a copy of James Heisig’s oft-recommended Remembering the Kanji. Mr. Heisig’s unique approach to learning kanji, the bane of every Japanese language student’s existence, involves focusing just on how to write the characters and remembering a single keyword meaning for the first two thousand or so kanji, then remembering complex kanji by creating mnemonic stories based on the simpler components many caracters are composed of. It sounds a bit gimmicky, but so far has worked very well for me (I’ve done the first 550 or so characters), especially coupled with the flash card programme Anki and the new official RtK iPhone app.
So, onward I go. Someday, someday, I’ll be able to read serious business Japanese literature. It’s a goal, at least.…
Back in my freshman year at university, a professor asked us to write a short paper on our greatest academic influence. I chose St. Thomas Aquinas, but like most eighteen year olds I didn’t have much to say at the time, since lower education focuses primarily on teaching fundamentals, and not so much evaluating and forming a worldview. I’ve thought about the question occasionally since then, as I’ve encountered several works that have given a much more definite shape to my ideas, making them more like a finished vessel than the pre-college mound of clay (not that there isn’t still plenty of room for refinement, of course). Recently, I’ve given the question some more thought, and decided it may be useful to consider what works have given the most shape to how I view the world around me.
Such an endeavour may, perhaps, turn into a series of posts largely praising famous men, but to that I’ve no objection. Modernity may praise the new and the individual above the old and the traditional, but I believe that most of what a man learns in his life he learns from other men. To hit a ‘reset’ button on human knowledge every generation seems hugely wasteful, when generations who’ve gone before have written down so much for our benefit. Indeed, a respect, even a love for tradition forms the great common thread among all of the men I can think of who’ve inspired me so far, men like Confucius, St. Thomas Aquinas, or Ezra Pound.
So, this is my project for the next couple weeks – to outline where I am now, and how I got to this point.
“Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.” – Deut. 32:7…
I graduated from university this past August, but I’m still uncertain what to make of the experience. As I’ve indicated elsewhere, I certainly did not receive an education, even if one limits my courses to my own major (Literature). Despite receiving a good grasp of English-language literature from about 1850 on, my school didn’t even offer many classes beyond that. No classes at all on Greek or Roman literature (in fact, there’s no classicist on the faculty), no classes on Medieval or Renaissance literature (except Dante and Shakespeare), and few on non-English language literature.
Fundamentally, I struggle to see any guiding philosophy behind the school I attended, and the same problem seems to extend to most American colleges. What is the university’s goal? What should its graduates look like? What are they expected to know by the time they graduate, and why? Though a core curriculum existed, the arrangement of courses seemed arbitrary, and despite attending a university that claimed to emphasise interdisciplinary studies, I saw no attempt to link one field with another.
Though American education suffers from many problems, I suspect that most schools could address them first by simply deciding on their first principles; essentially, deciding what a newly graduated student should look like. Should technical expertise take priority? Or should they favour a more traditional approach and emphasise a liberal education?
The latter may be impossible in the climate of most schools, with their emphasis on diversity. Though it should be obvious that DI-versity is opposite to UNI-versity, most schools I’ve looked at proudly advertise their diverse studentry and multicultural approach to education. Though non-western cultures certainly have much to teach, nonetheless the United States arose out of Western European culture, so an American university that claims to value a liberal education, which cultivates the student’s character by learning from what’s best from the past, must emphasise the West.
Most colleges, though, are essentially technical or vocational schools. Thus, fields that have little to no relation to cultural matters, like business, accounting, or engineering, receive just as much of the university’s attention as traditionally liberal subjects like philosophy or natural science. There’s nothing wrong with teaching these fields, of course, but they have no place in a university devoted to liberal education. Students studying, say, finance, feel that an arbitrary assortment of history or art courses have no bearing on their major. They’re right, of course, because to profit from the study of history or art requires some depth of study, not just a couple introductory-level courses, which on their own become little more than an exercise in futility.
So, where does that leave students? Those looking to learn technical skills do learn them, though I often hear that graduates learn much more from actual working experience. As for those, like me, who look for a liberal education, are left largely on our own. Again, my classes weren’t completely useless, but large gaps remain, and I think I’m beginning to understand what Ezra Pound meant when he referred to ‘young men threatened by university.’ The real draw for university, I think, is the presence of professors who can direct students to the best of Western civilisation, and the students must then take it on themselves to learn from that. So, I’ve started with Ezra Pound, recommended by one of my better professors, and working from his suggestions (mostly in his ABC of Reading). Beyond that, for now I’ll just have to stumble about the library, I suppose.…
I wonder a bit at the utility of making a Summer Reading List. Last year, though I read a lot, what I read only about half resembled the list. Perhaps such an activity is less about a plan than a general goal: “I want to read roughly this amount, and what I read will likely include several of the following.”
Alternatively, making lists is just fun. So, here goes.
Paradiso – Dante (trans. Allen Mandelbaum). I’ve already started this one, actually. Having finished and greatly enjoyed Inferno and Purgatorio, Paradiso is obligatory. Reading a parallel-text edition only makes it more fun.
Spring Snow – Yukio Mishima (trans. Michael Gallagher).
The Cantos – Ezra Pound.
The Pillow Book – Sei Shounagon (trans. Ivan Morris).
Caritas in Veritate – Pope Benedict XVI. Actually, I intend to read several papal encyclicals, but this is the largest of them, and my highest priority.
A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy – ed. Wing-Tsit Chan. I’m mostly interested in the Confucians, but it should be an enjoyable book.
I also plan on reading several comics, but I tend to choose those even more arbitrarily than prose. Series I’ve already started and will finish, though, include Masami Tsuda’s Kare Kano, and Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack and Ode to Kirihito.…