imomus (imomus) wrote,

Hedonic relativist relishes Meguro

• It's morning, Tokyo, Meguro. I'm sitting in the apartment Hisae and I will occupy until the end of the month. Hisae travels up from Osaka later today.

• Drinking tea and looking out over a sunny urban slope leading down to the Meguro River -- the very place I lived in 2001 and 2002, in fact -- I feel richly contented. Any moment now the doorbell will ring (I'm told) and my lost suitcase -- which finally arrived at Kansai International Airport yesterday after a week's delay caused by glorious free collective bargaining a baggage-handlers' strike in Helsinki -- will be delivered.

• In happiness terms, having the flat, Hisae, Tokyo, friends to see, wifi, a laptop and a few fresh clothes (my absurd flappy Bless kabuki romper suit) is absolutely optimal. I don't need more. And when I have more (all the accumulated junk of the years that clutters my Berlin apartment) I feel worse. I feel old surrounded by those constant reminders of a long, long past. Suitcase living suits me.

• The apartment we're subletting belongs to photographer Ariko Inaoka, who went to Parsons School of Art and lived in New York for ten years. Her Super 8 films (which I like very much; somehow they're very Scottish!) punctuate this page. On Tuesday we had lunch with Ariko in Kyoto, where she treated us to the excellent cold soba served in her family's 500 year-old restaurant, Owariya. Ariko will shortly take over the running of the restaurant, taking on -- in the manner of kabuki actors -- an inherited name (a male name, in fact; a kind of persona, almost a family ghost).

• Ariko's Tokyo apartment is somewhat more luxurious than anything I'd be able to afford myself, were I to move back to Tokyo, and that contributes to my sense of pleasure.

• The habituation treadmill (in other words, the patent relativity of happiness) is something I now take so much for granted that I build it into my calculations. Living in Tokyo full-time wouldn't -- thanks to the habituation treadmill -- feel as wonderful, after a year or so, as just visiting the city annually or bi-annually does, so I visit. And paying rent 12 months a year for an apartment like this would simply make it a new base-level for acceptable dwellings, so it's much better to rent it for just one month and experience it as "luxury" at one twelfth the price of mere "acceptability"!

• I'm not sure where that logic goes if you take it further, though. Perhaps periodic spells in prison because "nothing beats the sense of release you get from being released"? Stiff beatings with birch twigs because "it feels so great when it stops stinging"? We hedonic relativists are surely strange beasts.

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