At 3 o’clock on the morning of September 3, 1786, the 37-year-old Goethe filed a bag and went alone into a mail truck and fled to Italy.
At that time, Goethe had lived in Weimar for more than ten years and was in a senior position. He fled not because he had nowhere to go, but he found that his life was unconsciously put on a gear: he was busy with government affairs during the day, and he created some love poems in his amateur life, and his life squeezed the enthusiasm for his work.
He has a simple intuition: this will not work, so he abandoned everything and fled to his Utopia – Italy. He lived there for a year and nine months, and traveled throughout Italy, from the city to the countryside, to witness and describe the hardness of the rock and the elasticity of the air.
Goethe completed “Iggenia in Tauris” in Italy and wrote the part of “Tasso” “Faust”. Italy saved him and saved him from the fate of becoming an arty civil servant.
In 2016, I lived alone in Tokyo for a year, and Tokyo saved me.
For the first time in my life, I have lived a completely vacuum life. There is no goal or meaning. Every day, a blink of an eye is a blank that needs to be filled. Anything needs to take time for a long time, and dilute the concentration to fill the day, so I must gaze at each picture in the art gallery, chew every bite carefully, and seriously change every thought. It takes a long time.
Seriousness is also the result of loneliness. I can hardly speak Japanese. Most of the time, I can only smile and nod. I can’t establish any emotional connection, and I can’t devote any enthusiasm to interpersonal relationships. To be honest, even Japanese can help me ease my loneliness. Tokyo is a city that is indifferent to humanity. It is described in “Sparks” by writers, funny artists and Ji Zhishu who have won the Akutagawa Prize:
“Tokyo is a place where people come from all over the place. When I was in the country, I saw Tokyo in comics and TV dramas. Although the lights are bustling, people are always indifferent. I realized it after I went to Tokyo. It’s not indifference, but because everyone who is an outsider is nervous. Outsiders enter the city of Tokyo, and each one shows a state of tension that is not to be eaten, and finally becomes a collective.”
My life in Tokyo seems to be in an invisible barrier, whether it is walking in the crowded Omotesando or Shibuya, or being wrapped in a crowd to see the fireworks. I always feel the crowd is an illusion, I am talking to myself alone. .
Forced serious and forced isolation, saved me from the life on the treadmill that had been passively accelerated, and regained the ability to observe and think.
One of the things that I am very disgusted with in recent years is that life is not only in front of you, but also in poetry and distance.
“Being in front of you” and “Poetry and Yuan” are a pair of false oppositions. My life in Tokyo for a year is “poetry and distance”. I live in a fascinating exotic place, and the flesh and white skin disappears. But Tokyo’s life also has helpless humanity, trivial communication, embarrassing calculations and hypocritical chills. In addition, the development of the network has made the concept of “far” disappear. I am in a foreign country, but I always pay attention to the people and things in the country, and feel sad for the suffering that I can’t reach. It is these unsatisfactory details that make up the whole of life.
This may be why I love to read the writer’s diaries and letters – not just for some kind of voyeurism, but also because it seems to be a reverse photography. The work is the crystallization and photos of the artist’s life. Through the diaries and letters, I expand the frozen scenery in time and space and see their complete artistic life.
So I also kept the swear words and cramped socialism in my diary, all spread out, and there was a kind of “full exposure” pleasure.
On November 4, 1786, Goethe wrote a letter to his mother in Rome, saying: “I will be a newcomer back.”
The re-enactment of Goethe did not actually become a new person. Just as the year spent in Tokyo did not turn me into a new person, we just more like what we should have been.