The Kyosaku- A Time Machine Going Back to the Present

  • Pellicule2

    Most of the time, we miss our appointment with the present, losing our time or mind in the past through nostalgia or regret, or otherwise in the future, in ambitions or projects. Imagination and fantasy drive reality out of our minds. It is asking to someone driving a car on a highway while wearing a virtual reality helmet. Actual reality will come back to us painfully. The kyosaku, a tool which comes to us from zen tradition, is an effective alarm clock to help us escape such a tragedy.

    Pain as Partial Reality



    In a context of zen meditation, whenever the meditator can’t concentrate on what’s happening in the present, a monk uses a baton called a ‘Kyosaku’ to remind him to stay in this reality. A relaxing feeling will overcome the meditator after the meditation session. The reality is a source of joy, and, therefore, the painful reality is just a partial reality. The further we go from reality, the more painful it is to come back. However, even the pain is positive so long as you understand that the issue itself is desirable. This idea of the present is close to the Latin phrase “Carpe diem” (enjoy the present) or the Japanese phrase “Ichi go ichi e” (one time, one meeting.) In one sense this idea may be connected to the slogan “No future” (if there is no future for you then enjoy the present, cf. Sex Pistols) from punk culture, which is a mark of hedonistic youth (cf. The Blue Hearts, a Japanese punk group).


    The Kyosaku is Political

    I use the term ‘political’ here in the sense of ‘critical’. A synonym of ‘present’ is the word ‘immediately’. ‘Im-mediate’ means ‘no media’, and, in another sense, it may mean direct, as having no media or screen between a source and its viewer. From this point of view, the Kyosaku as the keeper of the present can also be seen as a symbol of the critic of the media and mass-media. This refers to the apology for the live experience by denouncing TV or computer. We find this kind of criticism in the song “Linda Linda” by the aforementioned Japanese punk group:
    “Dobu nezumi mitai ni/ Utsukushiku naritai/
    Shashin ni wa utsuranai/ Utsukushisa ga aru kara…”
    This may be translated:
    “I want to be beautiful/ like a brown rat/
    because they have a beauty/ that doesn’t show in photos”
    On the contrary, the world phenomenon of otaku is a symptom of sick (self-sufficient) societies which need the medicine of directness- the Kyosaku. Into their closed world (‘otaku’ means, variously, ‘house’ and ‘circle’) the Kyosaku can bring the refreshing air of the direct. Never before has pain been so pleasant.