It Is Immaculate

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He fell to pondering for a while and stated, “I think there is a conflict between an academician and an artist. Academicians and artists have eternal differences and stand on diametrically opposite sides from each other; they are not meant to come together, not any more than sun and moon were meant to together, or ocean and mountain. They are sun and moon, Shogo; they are ocean and mountain. They are not supposed to understand each other. By the way, Shogo, who are your favorite writers? Could you allow me to know some of them, so that I can understand you better?”

“I admire Knut Hamsun, Henry Miller, Herman Hesse, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Strindberg, etc.”

“Hm… it looks like you’re naturally attracted to literary giants. That’s very interesting though. I remember that I read Crime and Punishment a long time ago. I vividly remember the part, which Raskolnikov bent all the way down, leaned towards the floor, kissed Sonya’s foot and said: ‘I was not bowing to you, I was bowing to all human suffering.’ In addition to this scene, I love the passage, which he asked her to read the part about Lazarus in Bible. It left me a tremendous impact on me – I was speechless, so to speak,” he wiped the glasses with a kerchief and went on, “Anyway, sorry for the digression. The main thing is that I read your essay with much curiosity. I have to admit that it’s very well written, although I think your opinions are a bit idiosyncrasy. Shogo, did you write it yourself? Or did somebody help you?”

His skeptical question offended me in the highest degree; however I used to being asked this sort of mocking question. Every professor asked me the same sassy question once in a semester. Ergo, I replied nonchalantly, “I wrote it myself. Nobody touched it. It is immaculate. Thank you very much for the derisive question.”

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Are You an Artist?

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The following week I went to see the Dean of English. Tim knew me, since I was his student a year ago. He welcomed me with a cordial smile and proffered me a chair to sit down.

I said with anticipation, “The principal suggested me to have a conference with you.”

“Yes, I’ve been expecting you. As a matter of fact, the principal asked me to talk with your professor as well. Shogo, I remember when you were my student, you’re a very quiet and peaceful person. I was quite surprised to hear about your outburst. Shogo, tell me why do you think her teaching is wrong and also tell me what you exactly said to her?”

I told him everything down to the last details, including how she suddenly stood up and shrieked in unrecognizable voice.

He listened to me attentively, and his eyes sometimes glinted discordant behind his thick glasses. He lapsed into silence for a several minutes, appearing a problematic expression on his forehead. And he uttered with a solemn look, “Shogo, may I venture to ask you if you are an artist?”

I was astonished by the forthright question but tried to compose myself with all my might and replied gravely, “Yes, I am.”

Education System Is Wrong

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He looked at me sympathetically and responded curiously, “Shogo, I admit that it was wrong for her to end the conference abruptly; nonetheless, I think you offended her a bit too much. I know you simply wanted to discuss about your opinion earnestly though. By the way, Shogo, you just said education system is wrong. So, tell me what you think of education?”

“I think education is not merely taking a note and memorizing what professors teach us. Education is not just remembering and memorizing. Education means understanding a subject. One should understand a subject and should have his own opinions as well. Education system should cultivate students’ uniqueness, encourage their own unique ability, and support them to recognize their unique potency at maximum.”

“It’s a very interesting theory, Shogo. However, I don’t think remembering is a bad thing. I am a scientist. I believe that memorizing is necessary for education. Of course, as you mentioned, understanding a subject is the most essential one.”

Pause.

“Shogo, I’ll talk to Tim, who is the Dean of English department. I’ll give your essay to him. Please give him a couple of days to read it. You should see him in the following week. He has a lot of experiences; he’ll give you some good advice. Moreover, after you talk to him, and the problem is ironed out, please give your essay to me, for I’m really interested in reading it. I hope everything will be okay.”

“Thanks for the arrangement. I’ll be glad to talk with him,” I stood up and stepped out the office backwardly, bowing.

I Am Merely a Student of Life

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I went to the outside, lit a cigarette, and tried to bring myself under control. I was dissatisfied with the altercation, for she abruptly ended the discussion by shrieking. As a matter of fact, her hysterical shriek almost took my breath away. “Katerina Ivanovna must have shrieked like that when she saw Pyotor Petrovich Luzhin appearing on the threshold of the room after the memorial meal,” I thought to myself.

After collecting myself, I decided to see the principal.

As soon as I entered the office, he offered me a chair to sit down and inquired eagerly, “How was going on the conference? Are you okay with everything now?”

I looked at his eyes determinedly and told him everything without omitting any single detail.

He pondered over the issue for a while, with a troubled expression on his face, and then spoke, “I was extremely surprised by seeing you so angry. I know you, Shogo, you’re always friendly and easy going. I’ve never dreamt of seeing you bursting into my office agitatedly. I now understand why you’re upset though. To be frank with you, I didn’t expect the conference would end badly. It was not good for her part to end the meeting abruptly; however, it was not good for you to talk with your professor in this defiant fashion.”

Pause.

“I admit that I talked to her disrespectfully; nevertheless, I didn’t regret it. Please try to understand me, sir. Today I went to talk to her with a firm resolution. I needed to fight for what I faithfully believe in. Look at me, sir, I am Japanese, and English is my second language. On the other hand, English is her mother tongue, and she has been teaching English literature for fifteen years. Today I went to the battle field, like a soldier without any weapons. I stood on the same filed as naked as I was born, even though she has a great deal of experiences; I am merely a student of life. And then what happened? She didn’t give me a courtesy to stand on the same filed. I tried to stand on the same field face to face, with an infinite disadvantage, but she dismissed me with the hysterical shriek. It’s not fair, you know…. Over and above, her reaction just confirmed me that something must be wrong with education system,” I expressed my feeling in agitated voice.

You’re Insulting Me Too Much!

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“What? Do you want to drop out the course due to my sloppy remark?”

“Yes, I very much do. I’d love to drop out the course immediately, for I am unfamiliar with what you’re teaching. If I can’t write what I truly think, it’ll be tantamount to fooling away my time. I refuse to participate in a farce. Furthermore, I’ve already fed up writing what you love to hear. I would rather write what I truly think in order to improve myself. You always teach us that we have to find some credible statements to support our opinions first, but it’s a sheer absurdity. In the first place, one must understand what his opinions are and try to figure out them from his own stand point of view. And then he should find some statements that support them. Above all, he must write what he truly thinks. Your teaching is authentic trash, I suppose.”

Her face was now becoming ugly by tantrum – her eyes glinted vengeance. She stared at me spitefully and blew up, “Okay, you don’t care about audiences. You obviously write to only yourself; your whole audience is only yourself. You only care what you think of; you don’t give any shit to what other people think of. I strongly recommend that you shouldn’t write essay or any kinds of writing, since you only care about your own opinions. Why don’t you start writing a diary? I suggest you should start writing a diary to amuse yourself, so that you’ll be a solo reader.”

“Yeah, it might be a good idea,” I said sarcastically, showing a defiant smile on my lips. And then I brought up the subject that I must confront her, “By the way, you always gave me good marks on my past essays, since I wrote what you wanted to hear; nevertheless, you gave me ‘F’ on the last essay, that I depicted my candid thoughts. I don’t comprehend anything, since you gave good marks to rubbish essays and gave me ‘F’ to my best writing. And to cap it all, you’re afraid of my opinions. Why Socrates in heaven have you had cold feet? It’s transparent that my opinions have the power to influence people. Let me tell you something. My classmates always ask me to lend my essay to them, so that they can get some ideas for theirs; they think I’m a good writer. And also this time, too, some of them asked me to borrow my essay. Every one of them said that my essay was well-written and asked me how I could write like this. Do you know why? Because I’ve written what I truly feel from the bottom of my heart. Writing from the innermost heart has the power to move people’s minds. If my essay is twaddle, as you gave me the lowest mark, how has my essay given such a great impression on them? If my essay has the power to impress people, but you’re unable to recognize it and think it is gobbledygook, I guess that education system must be wrong.”

Here she abruptly stood up, approached the threshold, and opened the door widely. She looked at the floor for a few seconds, with her long black hire overlapping her face. And all of a sudden she shrieked in inhuman voice, “Please leave for right this instance. Shogo, you’re insulting me too much!”

I was dumbfounded by her outburst and decamped, without perceiving what just happened.