Pet Sounds: A series in which teaching staff and students from the English Department reflect on a piece of music or song. [Read all entries.] [Revisit the “Headspace” series.] [Revisit the “Ongoing” series.] [Revisit the “Interrogative” series.]
Rainy and thunderous. A sleepless night.
Turn on my phone. Start the mp3 player. “悲しくてやりきれない” (I Can’t Bear How Sad It Is—lyrics translation). A song from In This Corner of the World, a story about Hojo Suzu and her family during the Second World War.
War. World war. All fragmented but still remains. Life? Death. Fallen apart. Life is death, or more; death is never life. While putting lipstick on Suzu’s petite lips, Shiraki Rin (Suzu’s friend): death in air raid, the prettier the corpse looks, the sooner it will be cleaned up. Pretty but lifeless? Valueless. “The sky’s sparkle pierces my heart… Shall I tell someone about this miserable sadness?”
War. An internal war. Camus: Thoughts of suicide have got me through many a bad night. Do “I” even exist? “Today, once again, I sigh deeply with the song of the wind.” Soul, tormented. Torn apart. Lamented. A requiem composed solely of dissonance. Suzu: my right arm is torn violently from me by the time bomb; the world, a painting of horror, of nightmares, of despair, of inferno, painted by my remaining left hand. An everlasting struggle. An eternal war. Loss? Lost. Nothing lasts. “Will this boiling anguish continue into tomorrow?”
Pride? Prideless. Faith? Faithless. Hope? Hopeless. Defeated. Suzu: Justice has gone with the wind and died. Undignified. Late surrender. Too late. Absurd: Life? Rin: Death: perhaps, a luxury: memory goes along with death, so do secrets. Louis CK: It even solves world’s problems… for you! Indeed, a luxury. “Is there no relief from this endless void?”
Louis CK: You know how much I like life? I have never killed myself. Silence. Piercing, haunting silence. The fingers are still dancing on the piano, playing melodies of wind that do not match the sadness of the words. “Shall I tell someone about it?”
Dawn breaks. “The white clouds flow on, flow on.” Morning birds begin to chirp.
Louis CK: Life is tremendously sad just by, you know, being in it. Embrace it! The sadness and the emptiness. Louis CK: It was beautiful… When you let yourself feel sad, your body has antibody, it has happiness to come rushing in to meet the sadness, so I was grateful to feel sad and then I met it with true, profound happiness.
Rin: Even without anything, we can all still settle down in a peaceful corner of this world. A letter of fortune read by the narrator in the end of the graphic novel adaptation of the film: “love of omnipresence, see? It becomes a part of you and colours your world… This is all I can do now. Even with all my might, I cannot console everyone, but still I hope you will think of me this way. Thanks in advance.” Thank you. For this heartfelt letter of warmth and love.
Wind rises, gently caresses the earth, sweeps away yesterday’s sadness, which, though still, lingers. Camus: Should I kill myself or have a coffee? I prefer a coffee to start a new day: Paul Valéry: Le vent se lève!… il faut tenter de vivre!
Vino Shum is a graduate of the Department of English and Department of Education (Class of 2017).