Monthly Archives: October 2005

Japan part three

I headed over to Roppongi last night, the last major district of Tokyo I had down on my list. Roppongi is favoured by ex-pats as a drinking after dark location and white faces were immediately noticeable. As the faces you see everywhere are endlessly Japanese, it’s interesting how attuned the eye becomes to noticing ‘foreigners’. A little bit of eye contact always seems to take place as within a fraction of a second you try to ascertain whether they are a tourist, expat or indentured worker. I wonder if ethnic minorities do this with each other in London, or is it just too cosmopolitan?

As a result of the inebriated Westerners, and locals, Roppongi has a somewhat seedy feel to it, exacerbated by the main junction having a flyover lurking above it. However, recently the tallest building in Tokyo was erected there, adding a somewhat more respectable landmark to the area. The view from the top, for which I had travelled there for, was breathtaking. To once more use the analogy, it was the opening scene from Blade Runner: an endless circuit board of roads and dark buildings with the skyscrapers of Tokyo Central lurking in the distance. After a 2 minute game of charades with the lift attendant, it transpired that I wasn’t allowed to take my camera tripod up with me due to the Curse of Osama, so the photos were a bit disappointing in the end. What damage I could do with a tripod beyond beat lift attendants to death with it, harpoon small children or sell it as modern art, are beyond me, but as with the ban on steel forks and nail clippers on planes, the Curse of Osama turns nearly all mild mannered officials into the guardians of the free world. I have to fight the urge to discuss the concept of Berlinian negative and positive libertarian philosophy with these type of people.

And so to Kyoto.

The shinkansen, or bullet train, is very impressive. Brad waxed lyrical about this apotheosis of public transport, which for an American is the equivalent of burning the consitution, but one can see why. It’s very fast, runs so to schedule that even the Swiss would be impressed, is comfortable and, as with everything Japanese, just looks damn cool. The elongated snout on the front and rear of the train makes it look like some alligator god which, even accepting aerodynamic considerations, was probably designed to look more than a little menacing. When the ticket inspector entered the carriage, he bowed low, held and spoke his greeting to the carriage. It was all I could do to not bow back and shout “hai!”. Each carriage offered both a western and eastern style toilet. Now, it has been commented before, and more than once by me, that the history of travelogues by Englishmen abroad consists chiefly of tales about their lavatorial experiences. I am not about to relate any particular tales here, but I couldn’t help but wonder at the the potential dangers of using an ‘eastern’ toilet on a fast moving train. Should the train brake or accelerate, I think it would take a level of balance worthy of a ballerina to not cause some sort of embarassing incident. Sometimes us Westerners sacrifice efficiency for practicality and it is a worthwhile trade.

That Kyoto was not Tokyo was immediately obvious. The streets are less crowded, there is significantly less neon and the endless rows of shops that dominate every Tokyo street were gone. Wider boulevards which are laid out in a grid give the town an almost American flavour but dominant Japanese architecture gives it a resolutely old world feel.
Once out of the downtown area, heading East, Kyoto begins to look like the Hollywood image of pre-war Japan of narrow, cobbled, alleyways lined with wooden houses. I had always considered kimonos to be the bowler hat and pin stripe suit of Japanese attire, an anachronism that is merely put on for the tourists, and although I saw one or two in Tokyo, dismissed them as curiosities. But in the alleyways of Shinanzen, they were a noticeable number of them which made the area seem even more picture postcard like.

East Kyoto is liberally sprinkled with temples and temple gardens. Usually, I am not one for staring at endless pagodas which end up looking like each other after a while, however, the variety of buildings and more impressively, the multi-leveled gardens that surround them are profoundly beautiful. Steep inclined pathways lead you from one building to another, often taking you through small ponds, over hump backed bridges, shinto drenched graveyards
and intricately etched gravel gardens. It was around 5.30 that I reached the peak of Kiyomizu, one of the largest and most impressive complexes at the top of a long shop lined alleyway, and there were hundreds of school kids, in their martial, naval uniforms, straight from out of school, wandering around the temple grounds, buying confectionaries from the various shops and taking endless photos with their phones. I wonder what they would think of their British contemporaries who once out of school would most likely be trying to buy cigarettes from the local off license or hanging around a concrete playground in the middle of an estate.

I am aware that I have been eulogising about Japan and, in comparing it to England or the west, painting a somewhat
idyllic picture here. I think given the stark contrast everything is here to things back home, it’s hard not to compare things so relentlessly. I am also aware that as a tourist, I am perhaps seeing things through rose-tinted spectables. To be sure, there are homeless people here, like there are in every city in the world, but at the same time, I have not been hassled once in the street and couldn’t help but notice a fellow sleeping in a cardboard box had a bottle of water next to him rather than tin of Carling Black Label, as he would have in the UK. The homeless people here also build almost a proper bed out of card board boxes, a virtual sleeping bag. It all seems so much more diligent. Yet, I wonder what other contemporary social problems lurk here beyond the surface? I regret not having more indigenous contacts to quiz.

Japan part two

Wednesday

Having noticed an advert for the Tokyo Motorshow, I decided the prospect of gazing at hardcore, Japanese cars and the prospect of seeing the new Skyline were too good an opportunity to miss. Grabbing a crowded commuter train to Chiba, I was puzzled to see that the rush hour crowds treat each other with less respect than crowds on the underground, something at odd with the excessive politeness everything else is conducted with here. I won’t bore the non-petrol heads with tails of seeing the new STI WRC 2006 etc, so for those of you who are interested, you can take a look at the photos here. I apologise for the number of photos of cute Japanese girls draped over cars, in scantily clad outfits, but when they look you direct in the eye expecting to take a photo, it seemed the polite thing to do. Geekido: the way of the letch.

By the time I got back to Tokyo Central Station, the heavens had opened and the familiar sight, to an Englishman, of grey skies turned Tokyo into more of the rain soaked Blade Runner city I had originally expected. Tokyo Station sits in a complex of buildings very similar to London’s Docklands, most of which act as offices cum shopping malls, so I ducked into one to wait out the storm. Was pleased to be able to tick one more of my Japanese cliches off the list, when the toilets in the building had a complex set of buttons attached which could perform a number of different functions. The buttons didn’t have any English on them and the various icons of water meant I was either going to give myself involuntary colonic irigation or rinse the seat. Ultimately I found the right one and was pleased to use a surround hand dryer (you put your hands down into it) which made a sound like the Millenium Falcon taking off. The sense of cultural Russian roulette continued when I bought a snack from a local stall which I think was a dried fruit block of some kind. The packaging had no distinguishing marks and the gooey product was fairly tasteless. Unfortunately, it was not until I finished it that I realised the stall may have been a beauty care stand and I just ate a bar of soap. Oh well.

After a brief rest at the ryokan, I headed down to the Ginza to meet up with Rika, a friend of my parents’ next door neighbour. The Ginza at night is fantastic… a long row of neon lit shops all in a straight line, like 5th Avenue 25 years in the future. After doing my obligatory light track shots, Rika picked me out of the crowed and we headed to a Yakitori restaurant along with a friend of hers. The volume of noise in Japanese restaurants is quite incredible. Along with the yoshi-mase greeting and the arigato-gazaimas farewell shouted in unison by all the staff, every order that any person places is relayed by the waiter to the open kitchen which is greeted with a loud “Hai!” or some other cry. The whole thing is very tribal and almost semi-religious in the way that it seems to unite all the staff. The whole ethic seems to permeate every public place in Tokyo, making Tokyo very much an audio experience as much as it is a visual one. I wish I could take audio photographs.

Rika ordered a selection of food which we partook of over quite a long period of time. I am not sure if it is customary to take such a long time over what to my Jewish heritage always looks like a lack of quantity of food, but it meant we had time to do the inevitable cultural Q&A that hooking up with random strangers in foreign countries produces. However, even after 2 hours, I could not work out why oriental girls sometimes cover their mouth when they laugh and sometimes don’t. It seemed very random to me but I am sure there is a subtle distinction in the type of humour that generates the smile which must create the reaction instinctively. On the other hand, I sometimes cover my mouth when yawning and sometimes don’t. The latter mainly when my mother is not around to castigate me.

Discussing various aspects of the Japanese language, the rather obvious platitude dawns on me that the language and the culture are more uniquely tied together in Japan than in most places. The level of complexity around greetings, titles, questions and just about everything else, is both a reflection of the aforementioned protocols that govern all interaction here and a symptom of it. Perhaps I am in danger of getting too orientalist in my views, as one could look at English and say that by understanding the flexibility of the grammer and the variety of acquired vocabulary, you will understand Britain’s imperial past which has seen it hoover up different words, but it won’t necessarily help you understand how British people think. Likewise, there must be a different type of mental lego that is created by reading both idomatic and phonetic symbols together, which they do with the kanji and katakana alphabets here.

After dinner, we retired to a nice little coffee and cake place where photos were taken. I was honoured to have them shout “kawaii” at the result of the photo Rika took of me on her camera phone. A compliment indeed! Alas, the poor choice of my accomodation decision came to the fore however as I had to leave early in order to be back at my ryokan before the 11pm curfew. Given what a pleasant evening I was having, I really began to regret picking the place I did, it seems to have all the disadvantes and none of the perks of staying in a small place.

On the way to the subway, I realised the correct departing protocol would be to bow and shake hands with Rika and not to kiss her on the cheek as I would do in the UK. It was interesting to see what an instinctive action kissing someone the cheek goodbye now is as I managed to execute the bow and shake her hands correctly but went to give her a kiss nonetheless. This elicited another bow which made the whole contact very awkward indeed! I can understand why, the previous evening, Brad had alluded to the complexity of dating Japanese girls here. What a minefield of RFCs it must be.

Thursday

My plan to visit the Imperial Gardens had to take a literal rain check as I walked out of the ryokan this morning. So, defaulting to my instincts, I gave myself two options: something cultural or something educational. I choose both and ended up in the toy store of a Shinjuku department store where I have primed my memory buffers with stuff to buy when I return to Tokyo before departing. The entrance to the store featured Yet Another Cool Device: an umbrella wrapper. Everyone seems to favour the long, traditional umbrellas here, rather than the compact telescopic ones used in the UK, so each store has a machine which you pass your umbrella through which coats it in a plastic wrapper to avoid it dripping on the floor. Very neat! The toy store itself showed that the Japanese like cute, cute, cute, robots, cute, darts, cute, cute and puzzles. The place was mercilessly free of the crappy, American plastic figures and cars you get in Toys R Us and seemed to have much more home grown merchandise.

The store also featured an extensive mobile phone customisation section. Unlike Europe where phones are getting smaller and more compact, the Japanese prefer the clam shell design, and the phones are generally pretty chunky. This is to give them a larger screen which allows them to use all the of the 3G services which are pretty much standard here, though most people still use email as the main application. The fashion is to hang all sorts of trinkets and charms from your phone, in as overt a way as possible. The range of trinkets is vast and exemplifies the kawaii nature that everything exhibits here.

Noting the weather improvement, I grabbed some ramen for lunch (-why- did it take so long for ramen style noodle bars to appear in London I wonder?) and found myself once more marvelling at the levels of automation in the kitchen. Automatic, timed per customer udon heaters. Quite incredible. It finally occured to me why I always feel slightly put off by a cute Japanese girls eating ramen. The c
ustom, and the only practical way, to eat them is by bringing the face to the food, whereas the table manners I expect, as drilled into my by my mother, is to bring the food to the mouth. My instinctive reaction to bad “manners” is very deep seated but I guess it shows you how random they are, and how badly they travel.

Heading over to the Imperial Palace, the nicer parts were unfortunately closed off, so I made do with the Imperial Gardens which while being tranquil were nothing exceptional. After a 20 minute stroll, I wandered up to the Budokan to pay homage to the legendary live venue, before heading to the infamous Yasakuni war memorial shrine. I was glad to see that dispute the zen like calm of the park and beauty of the intricately dressed priests, I still felt an instinctive revulsion to the automatic bowing that everyone did when standing directly in front of the shrine. My secular spiritualism manifests itself as a logical cynicism and this does travel well.

I think it was today that I finally ‘got’ Tokyo. I’ve mastered the subways, I’ve worked out how the restaurants work, and I’ve even picked up a few phrases. I’ve heard it said that once you try acid, you never see the world the same way again. To a lesser extent, the same thing applies here. This is a massive city which has no crime, with a society that is economically efficient and yet doesn’t have any social friction, with a complex culture that manifests itself in very simple, yet engaging, ways. When you travel on a metro at rush hour and see 6 and 7 year old kids travelling home from school by themselves, you really begin to realise how broken Western European cities are.

I can also understand why westerners get smitten with the place. Beyond the aesthetic and material benefits of living here, Japan is a sophisticated puzzle block of language, culture and history that is totally hermetic and discrete. In computer terms, for a geek, this is one mass of binary to be reverse engineered into its constituent code. Once you get at the code, you can understand it all.

Finally, I realised that my currency conversion figures have been wrong. This is place is actually a lot cheaper than London… so much for the myth of Japan being expensive.

Japan

Sunday

After the 11 hour flight on the rather pleasant Airbus A360-600, Tokyo airport welcomed me with the customary efficiency everything operates under here.

Passport control no longer uses an antiquated ink stamp but instead places a unique computer generated sticker in your passport after the electronic swipe, and the baggage carousel automatically placed bags in the available gaps avoiding any unnecessary clustering. All every elegant.

I took the 1 hour Skyliner train from Narita to the city proper, which winds its way through the homogenously, neat suburbs outside Tokyo. Train rides into a major metropolis are usually a grim reminder of the income divide which forces the less well off to live out in the sticks, but the houses amongst the England-esque green countryside, all looked rather pleasant and cheerful, and the narrow streets meant that every house had a car tucked up nearly inside a drive way.

Upon arriving at Uneo subway station, the hard culture clash of Japan hits you immediately. Even in London, the ticketing systems are now multilingual, yet the Tokyo subway is less friendly than even Beijing. The electronic ticket dispenser may have well as been a fruit machine for all the sense it made. I managed to find an option with some Arabic numerals next to it and picked the cheapest one figuring I could do my dumb foreigner bit at the other end if it didn’t work out.

Comparing subway users between countries always turns me into an amateur anthropologist and the Tokyo subway offers a wealth of differences to note and a great way to study the locals. Japanese people seem to be much more mixed in appearance than in China. The skin colours are more varied and the facial types range from some which look almost Caucasian to dark, skinned, refined looking faces with thin noses. Whilst there is a definite Japanese type face, there are many which I would be hard pressed to tell from Chinese. The boyfriend/girlfriend couples on the subway seem to eschew all public displays of affection other than sitting close to each other. This extends beyond the subway to any public space at all. No kissing anywhere. The cliche of the suited business man, the sararimen, is totally true though I note they all seem to be wearing pretty good quality suits, indeed everyone appears well dressed; where as one can usually discern class from how a person dresses in England, there again appears to be no delineation visible from a person’s aesthetic. For an inveterate nail biter as myself, I notice that all the men, and indeed the women too, have immaculate hands. No short clipped, stubby or bitten nails anywhere. Given the milk free diets they all have, I wonder where they get their calcium? The fish I suppose.

Above all, the most striking thing about the commuters, are the total lack of ethnic mixture at all. Everyone is Japanese. Typically, you will be the only white face in the carriage. Despite this, I don’t seem to draw the stares of anyone which I find curious. The singular un-cosmopolitan nature of Japan is clear for all to see on the metro. More of this later.

So, after successfully navigating the subway system, I arrived at Asukusa where my Japanese guest house, or Ryokan, was located. Asakusa is built around a large temple called Senso-ji and had a bustling market around it, the narrow shop filled alleyways making it feel like a cross between Camden Market and Chinatown in London. The alleyways evoke pictures of post-war Tokyo I’ve seen before… red lamp lit narrow streets with wooden fronted restaurants, their doors obscured by pieces of cloth.

The question of how to handle the jetlag was answered when I was told I could not check in before 3pm – a sign of the infamous strict rules of the ryokans, which even put the anti-customer qualities of the English B&B look like carefree, flexible places to stay. I took a brief stroll around the area, marvelling at my first experience of a pachinko parlour, featuring the ubiquitous zombie like stares of the players, lined up like rows of androids, all motionless except for the repititive movement of their arms, feeding the steel balls one by one. The immediate thing I notice about the neighbourhood though is that it really does look like Tokyo as depicted in anime. Not the futuristic, neo-Blade Runner setting, but the gentle, quiet, residential streets you see in less advanced anime. There is no other word for; things really feel zen.

Remembering it was a Sunday, I headed down to Harajuku, the area famous for young, counter-culture Japanese kids parading around in goth, punk and cutesy clothing. Unlike the sneering, miserable punks of Camden, the mainly female extroverts seemed all to ready to have their photos taken, and rather than looking unfriendly and moody, the beaming smiles and moon faces made them all look like manga characters.

Harajuku itself is the Camden of Tokyo, with crowds of young kids buying fashions which look like factory leftovers to me. My Gap uniform of khaki trousers and a plain blue shirt mark me out even more so than my Western appearance. I quickly flee to the nearby garden grounds of a nearby Temple before I am forcible ejected for lowering the cool level. Whilst cool is a devalued term by its overuse in the West, there really is no other word for how the Japanese kids look. They all look stylish and different without resorting to the middle class white boy dressed as a black rapper that is the norm in Europe.

Harajuku sits on the overland (ie not metro) Yamanote line which does a loop of the major areas in Tokyo as is the cities main commuter vein. Where as the metro stops were written in English, for such a major artery, the Yamanote line appears to be fighting a determined effort to avoid any Roman characters at all. After staring at the pretty characters, I give up and execute my outward journey in advance via the slightly longer metro route.

Closely fading to black sleep wise, I managed to interact with a small sushi restaurant near my ryokan, which thankfully featured a sushi chef who spoke some English, although I was still herded into the corner of the restaurant, presumably out of the way of the families also frequenting the place. The arrival of every diner in a Japanese eating establishment is greeted with loud calls of welcome (as are your exits – I later learn as much to alert the waitress in case you haven’t paid your bill as for any politeness) which for us attention avoiding British types can be a bit unwelcome. Nice to see my concerted effort to eat Japanese in London as often as possible has given me the basic vocab to order things with, but was even more impressed with the electronic device the waitress used to measure the height and colour of my stack of sushi plates in order to calculate the bill.

Checking into my Western style room, it is a study in compactness and efficiency. The single tap knob controls the shower, bath and basin water in the tiny cubicle, featuring a tub rather than a bath, in that it is deeper than it is wide. It would seem even the toilet paper is single ply to save space, a feature I notice in all Japanese toilets.

Sleep

Monday

A banging on the door at 10.45 shows that my attempt to force route myself onto GMT+8 has failed and a 10 minute toilet seems me out of the door. In tribute to Nick Fine, I head over to Akihabara, the electronic district of Tokyo.
It is not as crowded or impressive as Hong Kong though the low level of electronic items on display perhaps a testament to the more hardcoreness of the Japanese. More impressive are the numerous manga/anime toy and comic stores lining the street, a sign of the more mainstream acceptance of comics and science fiction that endears the Japanese to so many geeks. Similarly, the more noticeable and more atmospheric is the nasal Japanese being shouted through megaphones at the passing pedestrians. For a rigid, private people the volume and insistence seems very
alien but the now familiar postfixes on all the words hint at the relentless politeness of the communication.

I discover a 6 floor arcade which shows that public gaming is not dead as Nick and I had assumed in the UK. Most popular appears to be a multiplayer game with players seated in front of a console with a flat surface in front of them which they are pushing trading card like objects around which appear to control ships on the screen. It would appear you can buy these cards which act as ships in your fleet, presumably off different levels. It’s very loud and noisy and even has a dedicated commentator at the front. I have no idea what is going on but similar games are available on other floors.

Finally managing to work out how to get myself on the Yamanote line, despite the help of some random fellow trying to assist me for the sake of 100 yen, I sit and goggle at the knee high booted, short skirt ladies who populate the train carriages. I am very much glad to be here in the middle of this particularly fashion, I must say. Despite the clement temperature, almost no one is wearing, as I am, a short sleeved shirt or tshirt. though the skirts leave nothing to the imagination.

I disembark in Shinjuku which is the west end of Tokyo, featuring the commercial heart of the capital, in the both the business and shopping flavours. Inevitably I can’t help but compare the skyscrapers of West Shinjuku with HK, with HK winning out by far. The buildings are less varied and less clustered than in HK but I resolve to return at night to do some photography.

Heading over to East Shinjuku, the supposed inspiration of Blade Runner, I realise this refers to the neon corridors of the shopped line streets, which feature large screens advertising indecipherable products rather than the tight warrents of streets I was expecting. East Shinjuku is an odd mixture of up market department stores, both above and below ground, and a neighbouring red light district which for some reason featured clubs with pictures of men outside rather than women, in various cheesy poses, Vegas cabaret style.

I pop into a 8 floor book store which features a tiny English language section on half a floor and the voluminous, indigenous cultural output of Japan is really brought home to me. In films, TV, books and music, Japan appears to be totally self sufficient and immune to any cultural import, with the odd Americana exception. Whilst the economic prosperity of Western European and American countries has allowed them to attain a cultural security which sees them welcome new inputs from ex-colonies which in turns changes and evolves the local culture, Japanese culture appears to live in a hermetically sealed vacuum. Its economic success seems to have had the reverse effect and allowed them to generate an indiginous output, the likes of which France which it could emulate, away from the overpowering presence of Hollywood. Whilst there may be the odd Gap store, Starbucks or MacDonalds, these appear to the exception rather than the rule to a shopping street, and I realise how totally England has succumbed.

Exiting the book store, there is a tiny little girl operating the lift. Every floor she has to repeat a long winded, formal greeting and thank you. The relentless protocol of Japanese communication is quite claustrophobic. I suspect that 19th Century England operating under similar overbearing, rigid communication. I later learn that there are 3 or 4 different types of saying thank you, based on whether the action is about to happen, in the middle of happening or has happened. How ornate!

I am not happy with the night shots I take in Shinjuku. Is it me, the camera or the scenery?

Tuesday

After a night swatting mosquitos, I manage to get up on time despite not being able to get to sleep until 5am. Taking the metro to Shibuya at the opposite end of the Ginza line, I am beginning to realise that although the area my ryokan is in has character it is rather stuck out on the far east of town. Shibuya is another dense pack of shopping malls and bright neon. I am beginning to believe that all of Tokyo consists of endless neon lit 7 floor shopping malls, further enhanced by visiting Ikebukero in the afternoon. Avoiding the pressure to consume, I undertake a 30 minute walk to the Tokyo Metropolitan Photography museum. The outrageously priced ticket provides me with access to a top floor of about 30 interesting photos, a middle floor of some modern art-wank which these days are called an ‘installation’ but as ever looks like a fight between two teenagers over a garage sale of their belongings waged with prit-stick and too many card board boxes, and finally a basement of 50 photos of a dance troupe. So much for trying the cultural option.

Lunch at the train station once again introduces me to the impressive processes of the Japanese when it comes to food. The girl behind the counter takes a clump of udon noodles, weights them, washes them, washes the bowl, quick heats the noodles in hot air and adds the various green and pink condiments to the soup in about 12 seconds flat. Why does it take Wagamama 15 minutes to prepare the same dish I wonder?

My American friend, Boyd, gave me a friend of his to contact, Brad, who works in Tokyo for an investment bank. Brad is one of those Americans who have got Japanese culture. Being fluent in the language and having spent a number of years here, he explains all of the cultural practises I have picked up on so far such as the ryokan curfew (allows them to handle the numbers?) and ones I haven’t (how to date Japanese girls for example). It is easy to understand the cultural fascination of Japan to outsiders, it being so discrete, impenetrable and so ordered, yet Brad
reminds me of other ex-pats I know. Without going native, they study their host culture to such an extent that they divorce themself from their own culture and begin to reject it. As such they are left in a limbo of comfort, enjoying the allure of their host country, whilst never fitting in and at the same time being unable to return home. It must be hard not to feel the attraction of such a well ordered and well run society as Japan. For a pseudo-obsessive compulsive like me, the rigid protocol that governs everything here should appeal, yet it comes across as claustrophobic (perhaps I am just annoyed I can’t sleep in) though the attraction of a crime free society is quite overwhelming.

Brad is also one of a number of Americans who, to use a semitic paraphrase, are becoming self loathing Americans as a result of Bush. It’s a dangerous trend that seems to affect both democrats and even some traditional Republicans. However, they all seem in danger of throwing the baby out with the bath water. In attempting to distance themselves and reject their current government and it’s policies, they seem to denigrate America at every opportunity.

A stimulating evening of more amateur anthropology.

Ali and Nino

“Dadiani looked at me thoughtfully: ‘You have the soul of a desert man,’ he said. ‘Maybe that is the one real division between men: wood men and desert men. The Orient’s dry intoxication comes from the desert, where hot wind and hot sand make men drunk, where the world is simple and without problems. The woods are full of questions. Only the desert does not ask, does not give, and does not promise anything. But the fire of the soul comes from the wood. The desert man – I can see him – has but one face, and knows but one truth, and that truth fulfills him. The woodman has many faces. The fanatic comes from the desert, the creator from the woods. Maybe that is the mani difference between East and West’.”