Read this today:
torsdag 2 september 2010
It's been a few days since Satoshi Kon pased away but I haven't gotten around to read his last words/blog entry. (For those in need of an update, Satoshi Kon was a very famous and loved Japanese animator and filmmaker: 'Perfect Blue', 'Tokyo Godfathers' and 'Millenium Actress' among other works).
It's well worth reading. Sad of course, but reading it he seems to go from your preconceived
image of him to just a rather modest man that has accepted death as gracefully as he can.
As I read on a lot of traits that I remember seeing in Japanese men comes to mind, and that too makes him seem very human to me. Such would be dedication to work (he does apologize to his wife for not seeing her... much), a rather old fashioned sense of honor and responsibility (kind of perceived a trademark of Japanese I guess), but also I kind off all pervasive nostalgia about past times, youth, memories and, least but not last, a joy in the small things; of eating mikans in winter or go watch the autumn leaves. Especially the nostalgia; "Natsukashii" in Japanese, is one of the first words I learned for a reason; you hear it a lot in Japan and it has maybe not a different meaning than in the west but a much more profound and important one.
Admittedly I think we've lost Satoshi Kon in all this; but in any case, it got me thinking and I'll ramble on:
Although he died of cancer, I can't help but think overwork definitely hurried the spread of it, or maybe even prevented the detection of his condition at an earlier stage that might have bought him a few more years. In a lot of places -such as here in London for example- unpaid overwork is just expected of you and very much so in Japan. To suffer some physical and mental pain for work as well as not seeing you family or have holidays is normal. There is even a word for when people die from overwork; Karoshi (wikipedia link). It's been a phenomena in Japan since the 60's and though things are improving slowly with restricting laws of how much you are allowed to work, companies seldom pays attention (on paper Japan has a rather modest working week I think, maybe 40 h or so, but in reality, most people are required to work much much more). Lately Karoshi has gotten a new wave of media attention with some foreigner employees dying.
That working culture as a background, combined with a consuming passion for your work, artists might be especially in the danger zone for overwork related sickness. (Does anyone know what's happening to Ai Yazawa, by the way? She's been on one year leave some time ago and now again for even longer. That does sound alarmingly much like chemo not working! I love her and really do have nightmares mentioned scenario sometimes. Don't die, Yazawa-sensei!).
Well that was pretty much what I had on the subject. Go se a Satoshi Kon movie, preferably 'Perfect Blue', his debut and in my opinion darkest and best one.
I'm back to overwork!