January 29th, 2008


The moment only lives twice

You don't know what you've got till it's gone, special moments are most poignant when least retrievable, absence makes the heart grow fonder. If these clichés contain any substance -- and most clichés have a smidgen -- then my absence from tonight's Hitotoki Hitoban reading party at The Pink Cow in Shibuya (7pm - 10pm, entry free) will be fond indeed. I will, however, be present in spirit -- and via this video, which will be projected at some point during the course of the evening.

Hitotoki means "one moment" and hitoban "one night". Tonight's reading party celebrates the website Hitotoki, set up by those fine people from Tokyo Art Beat almost a year ago to build a narrative map of Tokyo (connected, naturally, to Google Maps). These "short narratives describing pivotal moments of elation, confusion, absurdity, love or grief — or anything in between — inseparably tied to a specific place in Tokyo" now cover peak moments in New York, Washington DC and London too.

Mine, of course, is set in Tokyo. It's quite an old memory of a series of trips out along the Chūō-Sōbu Line to visit a lover who lived in a "white room" in Nishi-Ogikubo. (She now lives somewhere else entirely, with whippets, a husband and a Porsche.)

It's odd that this essentially rather private memory (the relationship was secret at the time) has now become so mediatised, appearing first as the hitotoki itself, then as a phoned-in video message accompanied by sentimental music. At tonight's party it'll take its place alongside readings by Jean Snow, ULESHKA, Joseph Badtke-Berkow, David Cady, Ashley Rawlings and others. Special moments, it seems, only live twice (or thrice) and secrets are best shared.

Well, if we're going that far, why not the whole hog? Let's end with a PS3 reconstruction of the route I might have taken home from one of those electrifying clandestine encounters. This sequence shows a Chuo Main Line train heading east between Shinjuku and Tokyo stations. It's from the PS3 game Railfan, which has attained, as you can see, shockingly evocative levels of realism. Maybe the PS4 version will allow me to park the train, jump out rattling the keys and whistling, and make a visit to a virtual lover "even better than the real thing". These days our special moments don't get lost, just better and better mediatised.