Friday, June 08, 2007

"I fart in your general direction ..."

"Repelling a kappa with a fart"
Ukiyo-e by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, 1881
(With gratitude to my friend Jerry Vegder)

Here's another of my favorite ukiyo-e.
Click on it to enlarge it, and take a good look.
I love it for the unbridled laughter it elicits.
I love it also because it nicely sums up my philosophy these days.

It shows a pair of kappa creeping up on a fisherman and his pal.
In Japanese folklore, kappa (literally "river child") are smallish creatures with webbed hands and feet that inhabit rivers and lakes. They like to overpower unsuspecting people and tear out their liver through the anus.
They also love to eat children.
But they love cucumbers even more. Ever eat a cucumber-filled sushi roll? It's called a kappa-maki (kappa roll) in honor of our aquatic friends.
They're pretty mischievous when they're not stalking victims.
They like to peek up women's kimono.
They like to sumo-wrestle.
And they like to fart, noisily and most malodorously.

Ostensibly, these fishermen are in great danger.
But one of them turns the tables on the kappas and dispatches them with a mighty blast.
One kappa, holding his nose, is blown right back into the river. The other, also holding his nose, is swimming away for dear life.
The fisherman's friend looks none too happy, either.

My first karate teacher once told me that there comes a time in a person's life when he has to learn to say "F--- it, and f--- you." In other words, we need to put bedeviling circumstances (and people) in our life in perspective, refusing when possible and practical to let them continue to cause us so much grief. After all, it is we who have invited them to make such inroads into our psyche.

Right now and for the past several years, my parathyroid cancer has been the most bedeviling circumstance in my life. Like a kappa, it has the potential to do me in, and thus I have deep respect for it.
I can choose to live in fear and to stay away from rivers, metaphorically speaking.
Or I can say, "Blow it out your ass."

Kappas, you've been warned.

(If you enjoy ukiyo-e, please visit my friend Jerry Vegder's online gallery. He has many woodblock prints for show and for sale and also has illustrated archives of some of the masters of the art.)


Brotha Buck said...

That's a good mantra to live by.

Michael said...

As long as it keeps working, I'll keep reciting it. Thanks, Buck!

east village idiot said...

Michael - for some reason when I send you a post - it doesn't always get sent properly.

I LOVE every aspect in the post. The art, the message, the attitude. What positive power - exploding out of to speak.

I just shared this post with my husband and son and they LOVE it too. Especially since my son Ben eats kappa maki rolls for lunch once a week! That's some way to get you're liver removed.

Your message is so valuable - I want to reflect on it for a long while.

That tumor doesn't stand a chance!

p.s. what a great title - it's my son's mantra after watching the Holy Grail a million times....I'm so tired of being called an English Pig Dog!

Michael said...

Thanks, EVI! The post was fun to write, and I'm glad and humbled that you and yours like it.

ester said...

[chortle] You tell 'em Michael!

Michael said...

Thanks, Mall!

Zen said...

Hahaha great!!
ganbatte ne!!

Michael said...

Thank you, Zen! Gambarimasu.