“There are symbolic dreams– dreams that symbolize some reality. Then there are symbolic realities — realities that symbolize a dream. Symbols are what you might call the honorary town councillors of the worm universe. In the worm universe, there is nothing unusual about a dairy cow seeking a pair of pliers. A cow is bound to get her pliers sometime. It has nothing to do with me.”
― Haruki Murakami, A Wild Sheep Chase. (Essentially Espresso Love and how I write in a nutshell)
Updates and thoughts. Updates first!
TORONTO MEET UP
I have been organizing a Toronto Meet Up with Wattpad members, readers, or writers. We are proposing August 24th, 4PM or 6PM, at the Wattpad HQ office. So if you’re in the area, be sure to come out so we can meet one another, chat, network, and collaborate over coffee and food. More details are being discussed on this thread: Writer’s Meet Up: TORONTO/GTA
Recently Espresso Love has been chosen to be featured on DIG on USA ‘s reading list with a special sticker! DIG is an intriguing new conspiracy/thriller/mystery TV series from the producers of “Heroes” and “Homeland” that takes place in Israel. It’s real promising and it’s an honour to be part of their page alongside other great authors.
The free giveaway has ended, thank you for participating! Congratulations to @TrixiDay and Cheyenne, who are the lucky draw winners to receive a special edition super cute Anomaly Coffee Bean charm/keychain handmade by my friend, inspired by the novel. A Takatsu business card and handwritten note from me will be mailed as well. Please stay tuned for future giveaways and events, and find out how to win another one of the charms soon.
The novel has also reached its final part! Things are wrapping up soon, and I’m eager to share with you the last chapter, as it brought tears to my eyes while writing it! Hop on board for the rest of the journey on Wattpad at http://tiny.cc/esplovew I have to thank everyone for all the support so far. It has been absolutely an amazing journey from social commentary to abstract philosophies, from physical settings into metaphysical eternal ideals, from Textnovel to Wattpad at over 200,000 reads, appearing in many places and reaching the hearts of many more, especially with the amount of encouraging comments and deep, intellectual conversations over thoughts and ideas presented in the novel. There are real fantastic intelligent observant readers I’ve been meeting through this project, and fellow writers who share the same passions or wavelengths.
Now there are for sure more things coming when it ends! There are spin-off bonus content being written, prequel and sequel projects, and more immediately, Naoki Maeda will be joining a battle-to-the-death fight club Wattpad collaborative writing project hosted by @NickUskoski for some epic hilarious fun! I will greatly need your voting support on the fight scene I will write for this which takes off soon! Tune in on my Wattpad
As the novel finally comes to an end online, I will be busy with its edits as well as researching for agents to submit to. Hopefully soon we can hear good news about Espresso Love being on its way down the publishing route!
Other than writing and its busy social or administrative aspects, I’ve just finished my summer course and the last week of teaching summer camp is wrapping up. But that doesn’t mean things get any quieter! I am working as a mentor for new university students, there are many interviews lined up, a literary community project to be launched, and I’m also planning a series of blog posts and content to begin teaching an online creative writing course along the lines of this:
“Join Takatsu, multimedia artist, popular author of literary fiction and the award-winning pioneer of the “cell phone novel” movement, in an ongoing soul-searching journey to explore, study, discuss and develop the building blocks of the “core self” including the essential philosophies, techniques of literary criticism and analysis, ways of thinking, lifestyle and vision-seeking, that will contribute to maturing your creative writing.
Basic concepts of literary skills such as plot, structure, character, dialogue, setting, description, background context, poetic devices, narrative voice, rhythm, flow and more will be covered alongside brief but helpful supplementary studies of literature throughout history from the foundations of Western literature such as the ancient Greek plays and philosophy, the Bible, Shakespeare, Dante, Milton and onwards, to some favourite landmarks of visionary modern thought and writing like Marx, Freud, Jung, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Beckett, Baudrillard, Orwell, Murakami…
Classes will include notes, excerpts, exercises and assignments, videos, group live chat or voice call sessions, critiques, discussion forums and more. The goal is to be inspired and inspire one another as we seek to new insight, perspectives, hone skills and nurture our creative spirit.”
A significant theme in my novel is along the lines of reality vs subjective perception. In one chapter I mention Berkeley’s idea of subjective idealism and also the basic analogy that if no one is around to hear a tree fall in the forest, would there be any sound? A reader posed these questions as a way to summarize: “Does the universe have an objective reality independent of our perceptions? Or it is real only when and if we perceive it? Is there a raw Universe waiting to manifest a concrete and definite version of reality for every individual subjective perspective or is there a “correct” version common for everybody? Is reality consensual or independent from our viewpoint?”
Though the novel remains ambiguous at times, and may or may not be presenting my personal disposition, ultimately, my personal answer would be that there is no independent reality or common answer for people. Once it’s perceived it’s immediately going through filters of an individual’s background, upbringing, education, emotions, an abundant amount of things, and even at its base-most state, we assign a word to something we see or perceive and comprehend, i.e. We will say this is a tree. The word “tree” is already not an objective reality because it is a construct created by someone in the past to add it into the English vocabulary, after influences from a variety of other cultures and historic dialects. For a French person it wouldn’t be tree but it would be arbre. Or someone may perceive it to be green but a color blind person surely wouldn’t. Furthermore, for someone who had maybe lived in an Amazon rainforest all their lives and know no other reality, trees would be a range of species, and when they come across an evergreen tree, it can be argued that they may not consider that to be a tree at all, deeming it as a different species. However, trees are a rather concrete universal occurrence, what if it were something more controversial? Maybe true reality wouldn’t be a tree but simply molecular compounds and atoms. A bicycle wouldn’t be a bicycle in a more objective reality, it would be a piece of metal and rubber tires. Even then it’s already a singular interpretation with an educated background, that I knew it was metal and rubber or that it’s called that. Someone or an entire society who had never encountered a bicycle in the past may never understand what the concept of a bicycle is or maybe won’t agree that it is metal or rubber, and when they try to understand, they would be bringing in their own background and context in their attempt.
There would be no real words, context, concept or function in an objective reality. If we try to express or understand anything it immediately is subjective because spoken and thought language is already a custom construct. The entire world at all levels is made up of a myriad of subjective interpretations and perceptions, all that we absorb day to day are parts of the influences that shapes our ability to perceive and understand the world around us; there is no true reality that we as humans know of. The objective real concrete physical reality may exist but it is simply beyond us.
This is one of the themes in Espresso Love, that forms its universe.
“By a thousand cunning attachments and controls, visible and subliminal, the workers in an expanding economy are tied to a consumption mechanism: they are assured of a livelihood provided they devour without undue selectivity all that is offered by the machine – and demand nothing that is not produced by the machine. The whole organization of the metropolitan community is designed to kill spontaneity and self-direction. You stop on the red light and go on the green. You see what you are supposed to see, think what you are supposed to think … to have standards other than those of the market, and to set limits other than those of immediate consumption – these are impious heresies that would challenge the whole megapolitan myth and deflate its economy…
The metropolis, in its final stage of development, becomes a collective contrivance for making this irrational system work, and for giving those who are in reality its victims the illusion of power, wealth, and felicity, of standing at the very pinnacle of human achievement. But in actual fact their lives are constantly in peril, their wealth is tasteless and ephemeral, their leisure is sensationally monotonous … Increasingly they find themselves “strangers and afraid,” in a world they never made: a world ever less responsive to direct human command (or involvement), ever more empty of human meaning.”
“The final part of this process would be a unified, homogeneous, completely standardized population, cut to the metropolitan pattern and conditioned to consume only those goods that are offered by the controllers and the conditioners, in the interests of a continuously expanding economy.”
“That which is local, small, personal, autonomous, must be suppressed. Increasingly, he who controls the processing mechanism controls the lives and destinies of those who must consume its products, and who on metropolitan terms cannot seek any others. For processing and packaging do not end on the production line: they finally make over the human personality.”
– From “The City in History” by Lewis Mumford, on the 20th, 21st century of the metropolitan capitalist society.
Disconnect as much as you can from the physical materialistic temporality that constructs our world and our mindsets, transcend into the eternal ideals of true meaning, direction, dream and ambition, intellectual growth, spiritual nurture, wisdom, creativity and the imagination.
Quick Reflection on our Next Generation
Along those lines, as I’ve been teaching children a lot lately at camp, I can’t help but look at each one of them and wonder what their lives will be like in the future. When I look back, time seems to have passed by so quickly, and I can see how each moment, each experience, each event, each place I’ve traveled to, every book I’ve read, everything good or bad, had come together like building blocks. I had been blessed enough to receive very inspiring and nurturing figures in my life, sometimes struggling against authorities and influences of my parents for example as a rebellious kid, but they and many other sources have moulded me into the person I am today, with my strong values, personal convictions, deep philosophies and insight about society, the world and life, passions for the arts and self-direction. I admit though there are seeds of talent within each of us, our experiences nurtures or destroys it.
All that said, when I teach now, I don’t see my students in the moment, I see their future laid before me, a blank canvas ready to be painted. Some older students have already developed a certain character, certain habits and behaviours that reflects their upbringing, their parents and the decay of our present-day education system. When I see them, I can’t help but feel my heart ache and wonder years from now, where they would be. Would they be out clubbing, partying, getting drunk? Would they be working 9-5 jobs slaving for corporations to pay the rent, and spend the rest on dates, on expensive clothes, on the latest gadget, without a thought about the nurturing of their own inner world and individual thought? I hope each will find a noble path. But I know such hopes may be wishful thinking.
Each day we pray together with the children before we start our camp activities. Each day, we try our hardest to make a positive impact on each child. We try to convey the best possible philosophies through every moment. Though we only had a window of four weeks, I hope something will remain in their hearts, that one day, at least one or two will become a righteous, virtuous character in their society, and we will know that we had been a part of their making.
“This storm is you. Something inside of you. So all you can do is give in to it, step right inside the storm, closing your eyes and plugging up your ears so the sand doesn’t get in, and walk through it, step by step.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore