Train to Ecstasy

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But the fading continued, and with my judgment gone, I swallowed yet another half. Writing became harder as my eyeballs darted around.

Barry White - It's Ecstasy When You Lay Down Next To Me

I shivered and sweat at the same time. My legs shook uncontrollably. Every time I stood up to use the bathroom, my vision went black momentarily. The drug began having psychedelic effects, putting strange words into my head and warping the text on my computer. Instead, I stayed in bed with the fan on, somehow getting a second chapter done. The night before, I got tickets to see Above and Beyond.

I came up with a plan. But then, I felt tired and took another half. Then, in the shower, I processed a painful memory, seeing clearly what lessons I could learn from it and how I could apply them to my life. I got out and wrote a poetic essay about it. While writing, my jaw got so tense I began biting my pillow. I bit so hard, tiny drops of blood appeared on the white pillowcase.

I was too high to care. As the insights started fading, I decided to re-up and go to the concert. On the cab ride there, anxiety overtook euphoria. By the time I got there, I was exhausted and cranky. Someone banged on the door as I struggled not to drop the remainder of the second pill.

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My rapidly dropping serotonin levels let me see how depressing this situation was. The whole venue appeared to be painted in greyscale. By another miracle, I woke up with a headache but nothing more. My flood of inspiration continued, and I wrote for the next two days on my phone from the festival. I think that artists need to be adventurous. I love that part of my job.

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One thing that I didn't anticipate was the amount of validation and legitimacy I would be starved for because of the role I chose in life. I'm a starving artist in this sense. Starved for validation. Starved for legitimacy. Is your 'superlegitimacy' a real thing in japan or is it a projection of a western hunger artist's need for validation.

Midnight Train to Ecstasy

It may not be a good thing to be superlegitimate. The superlegitimate are merciless and inhuman. Superlegitimacy is facist. We know that.


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I see something very problematic and very western about this whole notion of superlegitimacy. Why must we make a fetish of absolute legitimacy My answer is that we have a surplus of indeterminacy in the west so we become hypnotized by what seems to be the exact opposite. Raised in the secular west, adrift in our the painful triumph of individuality, superlegitimacy will have its charms. Could the social environment brought about by Japanese culture produce a Leonardo or Voltaire--or merely fragments of them found dispersed among numerous individuals? The answer is a very resounding yes. Japan's culture -- with its attention to detail, its eccentric imaginings, its otakus, its wealth, superlegitimacy, curiosity -- leads straight to genius, to scientific and artistic achievement.

If you want a modern Leonardo, look no further than the brilliant Toshio Iwai. I'm going to play skeptic here, but it's because I enjoy the ideas and debate, and Momus is just about the best blog leader ever, no? You are certainly "Locutus of Blog". Somebody has to push this in another direction besides "I'm enlightened, you are wonderful", though that might be true.

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I'm not a sociologist or a philosopher, and all of this dramatic orientalist exoticsm is fun, but I bet you jyu-en that if you interviewed the guy he'd shrug and say, "eh, it's a job. And I've asked coworkers about it, and they've shrugged and said, "eh, it's just what we have to do. Is the train driver feeling "enchantment"? Maybe he is contributing to a 'superlegitimate' society I like that term , but does it please him to do so? Or is he merely droning on, the same way I did at my computer on the 33rd floor in Manhattan?

I have to suggest that it's the latter. I've read so many books about how the Japanese are "different", and it's well known that the biggest problem Japanese have, in relating to the world, is that they believe that that's true. As fun as it is to treat Japan like some kind of 'weirdo wonderland', my experiences here have been mainly ho-hum, fine and pretty much understandable.

I'm glad you put a different point of view, but I disagree. Did you watch the video of the train driver? What about the fact that the following day, there were people standing behind him imitating his gestures? Do people do that when you're at your computer on the 33rd floor?

Ecstasy student died under train

Yes Iwai is a genius. He gave a brilliant lecture and performance at this year's NIME event. He's one of the few people I know who can get a standing ovation after a lecture at a conference meeting. And they are certianly not lunatics. So before you say something, why don't you think twice about it before, it might not only be offensive but completly innaccurate.

Worse than not understanding something is misinforming others about it. Ah, the "disgruntled single-issue googler"! I know you have little interest in what my narrative was setting out to achieve the thoughts and misperceptions that rush through a commuter's mind on hearing someone in a subway train suddenly uttering strange cries , but I'd have thought it obvious that this is not meant to be a definitive statement about how people suffering from Tourette's are "lunatics".

I don't need to make any disclaimer here: my text already sets up the idea that "I may have thought x, y or z, but I was wrong. While I understand -- at least superficially -- the notion of superlegitimacy in Japanese living culture, in sharp contrast to western individualism mistaken as legitimacy, I have to wonder whether the train driver's actions really betray superlegitimacy.

I am a train driver myself, in the US train engineer is the term we use here and I see the difference daily: train drivers is what we do for a living, not who we are, and we would rather be scientists, movie stars or politicians to earn legitimacy.


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  4. I personally disagree with this notion and tend to see my profession as a deeper calling, which, in a sense, guarantees its legitimacy for me. I have no doubt that the Japanese train driver in the video wears his uniform on off days and may even be addressed as Mr. Train Driver by his wife -- this is who he is and without his role, Japan could not survive. Still, his actions betray something quite different: ritual habits.

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    In our profession, many actions must be ritualistic, even in western societies. The complexity of the job requires that the driver practice good habits -- really, rituals -- or run the danger of forgetting something critical. The job requires persistent focus, continual analysis of conditions ahead and constant multitasking. In an environment such as this, practicing rituals helps simplify what is already too complicated. This may indeed be little more than "mirror, signal, manoeuvre.

    Do you have a longer video of that fellow you could post? Wow, great to hear from a real train driver on this thread! And I take your point about ritual existing even in the West, and being a necessary part of the job. The film I posted is all the video I have, alas, but there may be other video of Japanese train drivers on YouTube. Hi there, the reason he is shouting and pointing, is to keep himself alert and as such avoid passing signals at danger, or failing to carry out certain safety duties which could result in a collision.

    This is actually used in the west in certain situations, although not all day every day, as there are other certain 'reminder' systems in place in the cab. Calling and pointing is just one of many ways to achieve this. Not sure what the japanese pay but i imagine it would be even more :. It's far to go compared to European systems but you're exxagerating Anomie is pretty bad in japan as other people pointed out, the hikkimori phenomon is strong and the society is cracking under its' own hypocrisy and self-serving lies.

    Log in No account? Create an account. Remember me. Facebook Twitter Google. Recent Friends Calendar Memories iMomus click opera. Superlegitimacy: passion and ecstasy of a Tokyo train driver. Click the picture of the train driver for a 14MB avi video file representing his ecstasy and passion.


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