August 17, 2008
Weeks 32 & 33 of 2008
I missed last week’s update, but I have an excellent excuse. My wife came back! Nikki came back from her vacation on Saturday evening. We spent Sunday together in Illinois with her relatives. For that evening, we went to Medieval Times in Schaumburg, Illinois. I’d been to Medieval Times once before in Dallas. I enjoyed it about as much this time; Medieval Times is a lot of fun, though it is rather pricy. But it’s a fun thing to do, especially for an anniversary. This was my and Nikki’s fourth anniversary.
It was marvellous to see her again. I don’t remember longing for anything as much as her return in a very long time ... it was like waiting for Christmas as a kid, when it takes forever but is so much more special when it does arrive. The married life agrees with me, I think.
Other than her coming back, there’s not too much to update you on. I’ve started martial arts training in Genbukan ninpo; it’s been a long time since I’ve felt as much a rank beginner in something. In college, I was taking classes in things I generally had some background and experience in, but this is quite different. It can be frustrating to do so many things wrong ... but I’m sure it’s quite healthy. Right now much of my training is in bowing and scraping properly. :)
Samurai Charging Gatling
A few years ago now, I saw Tom Cruise’s The Last Samurai. It was an interesting film, but it deeply angered me. It seemed to me to portray the culture of the West as degraded and worthless, in contrast to the worthy and glorious culture of the Asian East. (Though, to be fair, there is one scene I recall which showed a single positive point of comparison between the West and East: Tom Cruise carries firewood for a woman.) At the end of the film, there’s an epic battle between the Western-style Imperial Japanese Army and the traditional samurai. During the first part of the battle, the samurai are able to trick the Imperials into fighting at close range without the support of artillery, and the Imperials are slaughtered. Then, at the final scene of the battle, the samurai perform a glorious mounted charge against the rest of the Imperial army ... defended by a single gatling gun. They are destroyed to a man, mowed down by the pitiless gun.
The scene is meant as a great tragic moment when all your sympathies are with the samurai nobly giving their lives and living out their traditions. I, on the other hand, am rooting for the gatling gun. I crow in triumph as the proud samurai meet their doom, as their ancentral armor made with such care and skill is made worthless by the murderous fire of the gatling gun. I rejoice, because those samurai despised the West. They despised our weapons, our culture, our achievements. They thought it all worthless. Degraded. Lower. And yet it killed them, in all their haughty pride and great skill. They may have martial training up the wazoo; they may fight with enormous determination and nobility, but in an open field charging a gatling gun, it’s all worthless. They’re blown away.
Arrogant horsemen either learn to respect a machine gun, or they die. Our culture and our weapons have great power. To ignore that is foolish and suicidal.
You may hate the West, but you shall fear our weapons (in their proper element), or you will die.
I don’t mean to commit the same error of despising the old weapons. They too have great power. At close range, a well-trained sword can wreak havok among people wielding guns. And the enormous care and skill and glory of what the old world was able to make deserves our respect. But some of our modern stuff deserves theirs as well. And if they despise it, they shall be destroyed by it if they fight us (just as we will be destroyed by the old tech if we despise it and face it on its own ground).