Send it, sign it or be anonymous, but it has to be about 400 words for us to print it. In addition to emailing The Pearl at email@example.com or mailing PMB B-492, the entire campus is invited to attend our feedback sessions. Check sokanet WebEvents calendar for details.
Letter from the Editor Nathan Gauer
I want to first say thank you to WuLa Dawson for asking me to take responsibility as editorin-chief of The Pearl. As she negotiates the immensity of China and its Borgesesque library of Kanji, I promise to carry on her hard work and commitment. I would also like to shed light and appreciation on the endless hours of unnoticed effort WuLa has dedicated to The Pearl. We all thank you! Our student newspaper begins the New Year with a new editor who happens to be new to the world of journalism. Inexperienced pioneers trying their hands at all: what else is new at Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo?
asked to support The Pearl. Obviously, we exist to convey campus news that affects students. As a side note, I think you will notice that we are lacking in the hard news department this issue. Several members of our Senior Staff remarked that this month reads more like a literary magazine. Rather than making excuses, I will only assure you that a greater balance between hard news and creative expression will be found in next month’s issue.
Over winter break, I thought a lot about the purpose of The Pearl. Obviously, we must seek the reality of SUA, AV, as it currently exists. Accurately representing reality is no effortless enterprise. As complex as some issues may be, Back from South America, I come to you with I believe a commitment to bettering our reala tangible, experience-based appreciation for ity at SUA, AV will inform each article. speech. The imprecise usage of a single Spanish word occasioned several uncomfortable, However, we will not limit ourselves to factual embarrassing moments while abroad; each reportage. It is my resolution that The Pearl word counted. Now, it is time to apply my will articulate an intercultural, human centered rigorous, four-month foray into language min- philosophy for the 21st century. Ye of little faith, scoff not! A group of French youth in ing to The Pearl. their early twenties improvised the philosophy Why do we have a newspaper at our school? of existentialism over coffee and croissants In all honesty, this was my first question when while still in college. Never doubt the impor-
This worked for a time and was a necessary survival mechanism. That is, until my closSiobhan Boland est friend, the one person I trusted most, sat me down and told me that he thought I was There are a lot of people at Soka University selfish and needy. He said he wanted me to of America, Aliso Viejo who I just don’t like. change these aspects of myself for my own It shouldn’t come as a surprise, mostly begood. cause I don’t hide it. I have publicly screamed at more people for being lame Deeply hurt, I became even more bitter and than anyone else in SUA, AV history. What resentful. I wrote that jackass off for a long has been the outcome of such conflict? time and walked even faster along my angry When I have had to work with these people, path of choice (the path I choose has always though we continued to disagree, because of led me to understand who I am). However, our fights I feel a stronger bond with and with out his honesty I would not be as respect for them that wasn’t there before. I strong as I am now. I’m not saying he was share this because I believe in the creative right, but through that experience I came to potential of conflict. believe that true friendship entails emotional intimacy. With intimacy comes the risk of Events during and leading up to my freshtremendous hurt. Trust, honesty and accepman year at SUA, AV gradually eroded my tance are not easy, but in my opinion, they natural propensity to trust people. I returned are prerequisites for true friendship. for my sophomore year bitter and resentful, attempting to ignore incoming freshmen. Until now I have never missed SUA, AV. I
Letter to the Editor
tance of your daily tabletop conversations, French fries included. A university should be a midwife to original thinking. The fact that the buildings and grounds we inhabit here are the result of fearless creative thought bolsters my faith in our task. Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Josei Toda, and Daisaku Ikeda all dared to confront the bottomless dark of the modern world. Venturing into the uncertainty of night with nothing more than their pens and prayers, they return to us seventy years later with the establishment of SUA, AV. Their lives attest to the unacknowledged fact that peace is infinitely more courageous than war. The battle we must wage in the 21st century must be one of words and ideas. We must learn how to invigorate gray apathetic minds and uncover malevolent intent with even greater precision than the computer guided bombs our current educational system bestows upon the world. Let us view our individual contributions to The Pearl as first steps onto the battlegrounds of peace.
have spent my breaks putting out of my mind whatever SUA, AV had just put me through. Yet when I left campus this December I was at a loss to find just how many people I was hugging goodbye with genuine fondness and care. The majority of these people were not my closest friends and I don’t know if they ever will be. While I do hope to make true friends out of everyone I admire from a safe distance, I know this: friendship does sometimes include a level of natural chemistry between people, something that does not exist in all relationships. I believe friendship is ultimately about accepting people for who they are, no matter what, and staying committed to the fight it takes to be an accepting person. We may not all be best friends, but we can at least start to be good friends by accepting each other no matter what. Siobhan Boland is currently studying abroad in Guanajuato, Mexico.
Dr. David Krieger: An Interview with the President and Founder of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation WuLa Dawson
The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation has goals: eliminating the dangers of nuclear weapons, strengthening international law, and inspiring and empowering a new generation of youth leaders. Find out more about them at their website www.wagingpeace.org.
Photo courtesy of GPB
Reflecting on the “Evening for Peace” Masataka Ito On the eve of November 15, 2003, several students attended “Evening for Peace.” Harry Belafonte and Jonathan Schell received awards from the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation for their contributions to peace. Inspired by the words of these two great leaders, I was overwhelmed with emotions. For the first time in my life, I had the opportunity to speak with individuals who had fought for their ideals throughout the course of their lives. The “Evening for Peace” was both a night to celebrate those who fought for peace and a night I will never forget.
ber me. However, when I approached to thank him for the invitation, I was touched to find that he had even remembered my name.
To the visiting SUA, AV students, in his speech, Dr. Krieger addressed the need for young people to make efforts towards realizing world peace. Youth must take responsibility and become leaders, capable of fostering peace throughout the world. His call was not only to youth who were attending the event, but also to all youth around the world who dream of peace. Hence, Dr. Krieger’s At this event, World Citizenship Award re- message was a message to all those studying cipient Dr. Harry Belafonte, who worked at SUA, AV, striving to become world citiwith Dr. Martin Luther King, stated: “No zens in solidarity for peace. matter what goes on, there will always be time for another song to be sung somewhere As members of the Global Peace Builder in this precious world.” His inspiring words Club, we are proud that Dr. Krieger invited speak of the enduring, valuable and virtuous students from SUA, AV to be a part of the actions taken for the happiness of all human- event. This shows that Dr. Krieger, the ity. Through his musical creativity, Dr. Bela- leader of a movement that attempts to fonte advocates human rights. He also seeks achieve goals of global importance, feels that to inspire others to make efforts towards students from SUA, AV play a crucial role. The question to ask is, “What are we going actualizing their ideals. to do from now on?” Inspiration gained However, the most inspiring part of the night from the words of others is important, but it was an encounter with the event’s host, Dr. is nothing but a waste if we do not take acDavid Krieger, president of the Nuclear Age tion. SUA, AV students have a responsibility Peace Foundation. I had not seen Dr. to carry on the great spirit of leaders who Krieger since I first met him in October fight for the people’s dream of peace. when he spoke at our first annual Global Citizenship Conference at Soka University of For more information about the Global Peace BuildAmerica, Aliso Viejo. Now, more than a ers club, please contact Socheth Sok at month later, I did not expect him to remem- firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. David Krieger is the author of many books and articles concerning peace and nuclear weapons, including a dialogue with our university founder Daisaku Ikeda entitled Choose Hope. Krieger lectures all over the world about disarmament and was a guest at Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo last fall for the Global Citizenship Conference. He is also the recipient of many honors and awards internationally including the award of highest honor from Soka University of Japan in 1997. Delegates from the Global Peace Builders club, who sponsored the conference, attended the organization’s annual Evening of Peace dinner in November of last year. Dawson: What made you make the three-hour trip to SUA for the Global Citizenship Conference? Krieger: I decided to come because this was organized by students. I felt if students were taking the responsibility for a Day of Peace I should do my part and come. The students here seem attentive and sincere. They asked highly intelligent questions and some were difficult to answer. Some questions do not have any good answers. The fact that those questions are asked is good. Students seem concerned but do not really know what to do. Everyone is looking for an answer to that question. I also sensed creativity among the students. Dawson: How was it to dialogue with our university founder Daisaku Ikeda? Krieger: Wonderful! The hardest part was that we agreed about everything. We are very like-minded. It was a pleasure. He is a person I really respect as a human, as an educator, and as a leader. Dawson: What do you think of Soka students? Krieger: It is very positive for me to meet Continued on page 4)
Interview with Dr. David Krieger (Continued from page 3)
with young people who really care. Even though it’s a long drive [from Santa Barbara to SUA, AV] it is uplifting to see people who truly care about creating a better world. Dawson: In many of your articles you speak about the importance of hope. On the other hand you also write things that are critical of elected officials and war. You are a very versatile speaker and writer. You emphasize hope as well as being outspoken about injustice as you see it.
account the lives lost. Yes, ending the war was good and important, but there are still lots of unanswered questions. You cannot bomb innocent women and children. To kill innocent women and children is not in the best tradition and spirit of all warrior cultures. Warrior cul-
Krieger: Both are important. I have to keep going back and renewing my own hope. First of all we are humans and we have to take that into account. We often forget that we are human. Photo courtesy of GPB We often loose track of the fact that we are all ture has a concept of honor. There is no miracles. If you are able to keep that focus, it honor in dropping a bomb on civilians. is harder to support or tolerate policies that condemn people to suffering, homelessness Dawson: Why is it that nuclear weapons are such an important issue to you? and death by war. Dawson: During the entrance ceremony of the first class students, Ghandi’s grandson Arun Ghandi stressed to us the importance of not expecting the world to change overnight. Do you think this is important? Krieger: I have seen many people think they have the answer to peace: a march, a petition or a particular piece of legislation. They work hard on that particular thing and maybe they succeed and accomplish what they set out to do. Maybe they do, maybe they do not. Even if you succeed at something, you burn yourself out. Peace is a marathon rather than a sprint. Peace is a process; it is not an end. Even if you get to peace you have to constantly keep working to maintain it.
Krieger: (laughs) Improbable change occurs, but not out of nowhere. It is because of the efforts of people who work hard under the radar screen that change occurs. I do not have faith that the people we elect to lead our country will make those changes. If we wake up one day and find out that the Berlin Wall has crumbled, ordinary people made it happen. I feel my job is to help people awaken to the possibility for change inherent in what we do. Dawson: What is one thing you would like to say to the students of SUA, AV?
Krieger: I would encourage all the students at SUA, AV to become engaged. This is your world and each of you can make a difference. I Krieger: As a human species we ignore to our would encourage you all to find out more own peril the terrible risk nuclear weapons about the existing problems of the world and pose to humanity. I believe eliminating nuclear become a part of the solution. weapons is the greatest challenge of our time and our responsibility. We have never had Dawson: It would be great if everyone in something man made that could lead to the the world felt passionate about something demise of our species. I am trying to meet that like you do about eradicating nuclear challenge. weapons. Dawson: In your speech Hope in the Face of Darkness from December 2001 you say, “Three important reasons to have hope are: the power of the human spirit; the fact that improbable change does occur; and the power of one. The most important reason, though, is that hope is needed to change the world, and you cannot leave this job to others. Your hope and your help
Dawson: In the article Toward a Nuclear Free Age from Living Buddhism, August 2001, I read about your visit to Hiroshima and the devastating effects of the atomic bomb you observed there. Can you tell me a little more about that? Krieger: That was forty years ago. It was made clear to me that there were so many innocent lives lost by those bombings. We have such a simplistic view from the position of flying over, rather than from the position of being underneath the bomb. In the way the tale is told we do not even take into
are needed.” I particularly like the part about improbable change. Do you imagine that one day you are going to wake up and get a phone call saying, “all nuclear weapons have been destroyed?”
Photo Courtesy of GPB
Krieger: It would be great if everyone felt passionate about eradicating nuclear weapons! The threat of nuclear weapons hangs over everything. Dawson: Students from the Global Peace Builders Club attended your 20th Annual Evening for Peace. How did the event go? Krieger: It was a wonderful and spectacular event. We honored author Jonathan Schell with the Distinguished Peace Leadership Award and singer and humanitarian Harry Belefonte with the World Citizenship Award [also awarded to Daisaku Ikeda in 1999]. The event was inspiring and we were able to shine a light on two really outstanding peace leaders of our time. At these events we try to invite young people as well as our supporters. We hope to encourage people to become peace leaders themselves. We were really glad that the students from SUA, AV came.
Spring of Potential Kazumi Yamada
Photo by Alan Watson
secure for the first time, I started feeling depressed. Life seemed nothing but pain. I felt worse than invisible because people who cared about me had to waste energy worrying. I could not appreciate them. I hated myself and wanted to disappear, like the original Little Mermaid, into sea foam. I wished I had never been born. Since I couldnâ€™t become sea foam, I tried to disappear from peopleâ€™s eyes At SUA, AV, I gradually developed dependent by wearing dark colors and hiding my face relationships but lacked the courage to admit with scarf. this and change it because of my lack of selfrespect. When I began my second year at I still knew that I needed to face myself to be SUA, AV I was confronted by one of my best happy but it seemed impossible. I gave up and friends about my dependent lifestyle. At that determined to live unhappily. This became so point I was forced to see that facing myself painful that I gave up and decided to try to be was the only way to be truly happy. I appreci- happy again but this too felt hopeless. I was at ate this personâ€™s courage and selflessness from rock bottom; I wanted to die. This was an endless painful circle. If I tried to eat I would the bottom of my heart. just throw up or have a stomachache even Having no one but myself to help me feel though I felt hungry. Since I was a little girl, deep down inside, I believed that no one loved me and that there was no reason to like myself. I did not think about it every day, but when things got hard, I had no feeling of self worth to comfort me. Before I came to Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo, I knew this inner sadness was there but I had never been ready to face it.
I spent more than half of my days obsessing about suicide. When I did the laundry, I wondered if I could die by drinking the detergent. When I went off campus, I did not wear a seatbelt, hoping for a fatal accident. One day in my room, I took the screens from the window to jump. Staying at the edge of the window for a while, I thought it was not high enough to die and it would be embarrassing if I survived. The pain seemed endless; however, I had trustworthy friends who always supported and accepted me for who I am. I could call or visit them anytime no matter what I was feeling, and they always made time for me. So many times I called them without saying anything, just crying. One of them made sure that I was alive and well, day and night, especially at lunch, one of (Continued on page 6)
should work on it. I felt so refreshed and determined after seeing her, although sometimes it was painful because I had to remember the hard times. For me, talking with Marcia was a (Continued from page 5) t h e part of my recovery and I encourage other hardest times of my day. Every morning I students to go see her as well. sincerely prayed that that day would be the last day of my struggle – I was so determined to be My religious practice was another important positive about life. I would then go to class part of my recovery. I decided to focus on but tiny things would make me feel more and getting through my depression through my more negative. By lunchtime my hope would prayer during the Thanksgiving holiday. By the be worn down. end of this break, I finally believed that I could become happy and saw a spring of potential When I was hopeless, my close friends re- that had always existed in my life. I saw that it minded me that even if I could not believe in is enough to live, as I am, with pride in myself myself, they believed in me and that really and that I deserve to be loved just as I am. made a difference. Even when friends who I However, I had no idea what it meant to bewas not as close to would sincerely greet me it lieve in myself or what to do once I left my made me feel better, knowing they noticed me dorm room. I decided to do two things: first despite my attempts to hide. In my battle with try to help people who share their struggles loneliness I realized that what really matters is with me and second try to smile and be friendhow much I care about my friends, not the lier despite my pain inside. It was very tiring to other way around. Without the constant sup- suppress the pain and I realized that I could port of my friends I would never have been no longer deny it. At that time my friends told able to become the person I am now. me, “Why do you hold yourself back? No one else but you can change your own life. If you Later, while giving me encouragement, a close see a spring of potential in you, just believe in friend explained to me how important it is to it.” It was an eye opening moment. I saw that receive professional help in addition to sup- I should accept feeling unhappy since it is port from friends because depression is an natural, but I also shouldn’t have to let myself illness. I started seeing Marcia, the school’s keep feeling unhappy. I no longer have to be counselor. By talking with her I could more swayed by other people or my emotions - I clearly see what my problem was and how I have control over my life.
Spring of Potential (Continued)
Initially, I wanted to go home to Japan for winter break to escape my life here but after this realization I determined to go to Japan and face the founder of our school as a winner. Because of this determination I had the strength to be in control of my life and to fight against the pressure of depression. So many things could have kept me from seeing the founder. I could have died before that meeting; I could have given up. Just to be present in front of him I felt so victorious. Without his encouragement and vision, I wouldn’t be here. To be honest, however, I was so scared to come back to SUA, where I had such an intensely difficult time – I cried while packing. I knew it was the time to show gratitude to each member of my Soka family and actualize the mission of SUA, which brought us all here. I want to do the same thing for each of you that you did for me, listening, being there and believing in the “spring of potential” in each one of us, even if you can’t see it. Of course, I am not perfect, and I continue to struggle with new challenges, but I now appreciate these challenges because I know I have the potential to overcome them and become stronger. I am progressing slowly but surely, gaining full control over my life.
S t u d e n t F e s t i va l T r i n i t y Nathan Gauer (`05)
bounty, winners had to choose another person to be the recipient of their gift. The night ended with a talent show and dance. Many students agree that the first ever student festival was an important starting point in a tradition of student responsibility and initiative towards the founding of SUA, AV.
The first year at Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo was replete with challenges, questions and tremendous growth. One of the defining moments of this year was the first ever student festival. Held on May 5, 2002, the festival was, quite appropriately, carried out with the theme, “Defining SUA.” StuTetsuo Motoi (`06) dents, staff and faculty alike came together to reflect on this first year for the sake of ad- “What is the founding spirit of SUA, AV?” vancing towards the future. With this question in mind, planning for the second student festival began last year. To The first part of the day consisted of fourteen find our answers, we started a discussion with separate group discussions. True to the festi- members of the student body, which eventuval’s theme, the exploration of our role as ally led us to focus on the four principles of pioneer members of the SUA, AV community SUA, AV as stated by the university founder, was a prominent topic of discussion. After Dr. Ikeda. two separate small group sessions, students enjoyed food from the seven continents of The student festival was not only about the the globe while absorbing the student art fes- day, but also about the process. We divided tival lining the perimeter of the Athenaeum. into four committees based on the founding principles. We tried to grasp their meanings As dusk came, festival participants enjoyed a through discussion and activities. On the day raffle with gifts provided by our founder, Dr. of the festival, each committee shared what Ikeda. However, rather than keeping their they had learned through skits, movies, 6
art and presentations. We decided on the theme: “My Decision, My Actions, Our SUA.” The festival empowered students with a sense of responsibility toward the university. A proud new tradition was born.
Andy Worshill (`07) The student festival is a student-centered gathering in which freshmen, for the majority, decide what to do for the event. Let’s carry on this spirit and have the best student festival this year! In order to raise the bar from last year’s success, we want each student to participate, to find meaning in the event by achieving personal victories. Many upperclassmen have said that it was the student festival that really brought them together. This has been a great inspiration for many of the freshmen that are already involved. This is a significant opportunity to create friendship, unity and a strong foundation for SUA, AV! For further information, please check your email.
the national convention and candidate G got 50% of the votes in the primary, while candiCassandra Rorie dates F and H only got 25% each, candidate G gets ten delegates while F and H get five The general election for the President of the delegates each. The Republicans allow each United States will take place in November this year, but the candidates are already busily campaigning. The state party primaries and caucuses are what have the candidates scrambling, but what exactly are these? It all seems rather confusing, but primaries have become an integral part of our two-party system since the early 1900s.
What’s a Primary?
The two major parties, Republicans and Democrats, each have hundreds of thousands of members. Primaries and caucuses help to whittle down the number of presidential candidates as much as possible before the National Party convention where the party backs only one. Each of the forty states that participate is given a number of delegates to send to this national convention. The primaries and caucuses decide whom those delegates will be voting for at the national convention. However, the primaries are staggered from January to June, and as the weeks go by candidates with few or no delegates often drop out of the race altogether. Each state and party has a different system for their primaries and caucuses. A primary is when people vote by secret ballot to decide how many delegates will support each candidate. This then determines which delegates will go to the national convention. Caucuses are drawn out affairs that involve many speeches and more informal voting for delegates, who will then support the specific candidates they endorsed in their speeches. Primaries are more common today since caucuses are timeconsuming and discourage voter participation. Primaries can also be either open or closed. An open primary means that someone from either party can vote, though usually they can vote only in one primary. In a closed primary, voters must be registered members of the party in order to vote.
Photo courtesy of US White House
state to decide how to send delegates, either using the proportional system or a winnertake-all system. In a winner-take-all system, the candidate with a majority of votes gets all of the state’s delegates.
Photo courtesy of Kerry for President
The two major parties differ in deciding how delegates are distributed. The Democrats use a proportional system where a given candidate receives a number of delegates based upon their percentage of votes in the primary or caucus. For example, if a state has twenty delegates to send to
The staggering system has lead to two interesting phenomena in campaigning: early elections and Super Tuesdays. Because a candidate’s chances of gaining the national nomination dwindle as time goes by, the first states to hold caucuses and primaries are
usually the targets of the heaviest campaigning. By the time it comes down to the last few states, the number of candidates is small, usually down to two or four. At this point, candidates no longer campaign with the same urgency as before. Therefore, it is in the best interest of state parties to have their caucuses and primaries in the beginning of the year. Iowa and New Hampshire are always the first to be held; Iowa’s caucuses were held on January 19, and New Hampshire’s Primaries were held on January 27. To counteract this calendar racing, many states have their primaries on the same day, creating Super Tuesdays. Two of the major Super Tuesdays are the first and second Tuesdays of March. This encourages candidates to campaign in many states, not just the first few, but it can also end a candidate’s chance for nomination in a single day. This year the Democratic Party’s primaries are generating the greater interest, as current President Bush will likely receive the Republican Party nomination to run for a second term. In fact, only Franklin Pierce ever lost his party’s nomination when he ran for his second term in 1856. The list of all candidates is quite large, almost one hundred-eighty people. By the end of the primary season, that number will likely plummet. The list contains many people from other political parties, including the United Fascist Union, the Health Party, the National Barking Spider Resurgence Party, the Green Party, Independents, and write-in candidates. When the General Election takes place in November, there will still be many candidates to choose from beyond the final nominations of the Democratic and Republican parties. The California Presidential Primary will take place on a Super Tuesday, March 2. It is a modified closed primary, so you will have to register with a party in order to vote. In fact, if you still haven’t registered to vote at all, now is a good time to get in on the presidential action. Most state government sites will have information on how to register in your area. For more information on candidates, primaries, caucuses, and issues, go to http:// www.vote-smart.org/ . 7
February’s Artist: Olivea Shure Photography is a way for me to recreate the beauty I see in the world. I see something that tickles my heartstrings and my child-hood instinct wants to capture it and make it mine. … Something about the certain way light may bounce off of an object highlighting its crevices and imperfections, or the pure raw emotion something or someone exudes. I see these things and suddenly my eyebrows scrounge together and my eyes soften and turn sad; except they are not really sad. For how can sadness be felt when one sees the beauty of truth? It’s then I know it’s time to get the camera… Moments in time captured onto a piece of photo paper always carry with them a colorful story that can be articulated by the photographer. Ask any photographer about a certain photograph and they will eagerly tell you of how they found the subject, why it interested them, the intention of the shot, etc. Well, at least that is how it is with me. I have stories for my “moments” or images, stories that can’t truly and fully be relayed in a few words or sentences. So I offer no captions or explanations but simply the place in which each was taken. But please take what you will from the images, interpret them, love them, hate them, feel nothing at all, but make up a story to go with them, your own story, so that you may give them life.
“Apparition” Boston, Massachusetts
“Barbershop 5” Augusta, Georgia
“Boysmile” Tijuana, Mexico
“Looking” Tijuana, Mexico
On Being a Rebel and Daring to Change History Malena Baizan
derstand the gravity of taking on the suffering of humanity, our own suffering lost its power to control us. We realized it was there to be transformed into the most amazing and absolute beauty.
And someday the moment will come when we will say: We were rebels. We rebelled against the so-called, “destiny of humanity.” There We were so young that we didn’t care came a point when we knew that nothing about anything. We knew of no limits for could hurt us. It could only make us our soul and we knew of no roof for our stronger; it could only deepen our undercreation. We sang as loud as we could in standing of life; it could only make us places where all the people could hear; we happier. We just knew it. Maybe it was didn’t care if we were out-of-tune or out- the arrogance of youth, or maybe we of-place. We were just free. We danced knew the truth of our lives. We were like witches around the midnight beach changing the course of humanity and our fire, in our rooms, and in the deserted lives forever, and we gave our heart and parking lots. We were young and free, our soul to this mission. lives pouring out through our skin and searching for pathways and exits, search- What else can I say? We were young and ing for channels of expression, searching that youth stayed in our hearts forever. for the truth of our souls. We danced till The memories of those years spent tothe sunrise each night and we didn’t care gether became our strength, our energy, about being realistic, about money, credits our oxygen in times of need. or debits. All we cared about was living and experiencing life as much as we could We made love without questioning the with no filters, no precautions. meaning of it, without being cautious, without being ashamed of it. We made In those times, we cried like never before. love out in the green, with the stars as our We felt so much pain we thought it would witness. We made love in the library with kill us, break us in two; yet we were not the wisdom of all past philosophers afraid in the least. Deep down, we knew reaching our souls through our pores. that we were participating in something And we enjoyed ourselves because we greater than our minds could even imag- were not afraid; we were free in the deepine. We knew we were making history. est sense of the word. In essence, we We knew, in fact, that we were shaping a dared to live, to feel, to be present. whole new century. As we began to un-
“Mariachi” Tijuana, Mexico
There, I emerged from my own ashes, from my past sufferings, transforming my life into pure beauty, into pure strength and art, into pure freedom. There I learned all I know. I learned to love, I learned to laugh, I learned to believe. I learned to dance like I never danced before in my life, with absolute freedom. I learned about the dignity of my life. My self-perception forever changed. These are the memories of a time when the change was completed. When I became a complete woman. You know what the best thing is? It never stopped after that. This story I tell is no mere yarn. It only got better as we moved on into our respective lives. Even today, I still feel I have so much more to learn, so many new landscapes to see, so much life to embrace, so much love and happiness to feel. When I think about those times and see the life I have built, I am filled with immense gratitude and pride. I feel pride in having been able to contribute with my little grain of sand to such an amazing enterprise. And I am reminded that impossible dreams can become possible only if you believe with all your life in the dreams of your soul. Just as we all did when we were young, when we dared to be free, when we dared to change our lives and thus, the destiny of humanity. 11
Thoughts About Mi
Gonzalo Obelleiro The year 2004 began very auspiciously for me. On January 1 a group of students from Argentina, Mexico and Brazil got together at a restaurant in Tokyo and decided to create a group of Latin American Soka Students. As most of you know, Latin America is my foremost lover in this life, and Soka Education is my hope for the future. Many of the youth in that restaurant I have known for years: I have seen them all advance, step by step, in the direction of becoming individuals of clear vision, sharp perspicacity, powerful thinking and passion for their ideals. Those who were mere idealists are becoming the kinds of people that could actually leave a mark in the world, people who could change things. The great omen of this New Year’s Day was that these people have decided to make a commitment for the future, to Soka Education, my hope, and for the sake of my lover, Latin America. As a means of celebrating and responding to Mr. Gauer’s request, I decided to start writing this section on Latin America for The Pearl. I will try to speak to the heart of the young adventurer, the dreamer and the young phi-
Mother Africa Edinam Konu
losopher who feels social justice to be a moral imperative. For I believe that the story to be told, about this land and its people, is precisely the story of an ongoing struggle for
Photo by Olivea Shure
justice. It is the story of the most vicious villains and heroic spirits as no fiction could have possibly conceived. I will try to represent the spirit of the people of Latin America as I’ve experienced them, in each article.
Sahara that gnaws at her substance each year and has now corrupted 25% of her once lush vegetation. She stood witness to such tragedies as the Rwandan genocide where brother killed brother; she has watched the corruption of man by power and pleasure; her virgin essence has been plundered for years now. Robbed, ravaged and betrayed, mother Africa is weeping, but no matter how bleak the prospects, the sun still shines strong on her tropical shores.
As home to one-tenth of the world’s population, roughly seven hundred million people populate the fifty-three independent nations of Africa. The world’s second largest continent is also recognized as the cradle of human life from over seven million years ago. With such glowing acclamations, the “grape bunch”-shaped land mass should have much cause for celebration; yet silently she rests, Progress has been painfully slow within the demanding the respect she has been due since continent; vast majorities of its countries curtime immemorial. rently claim third world status. AIDS has reached epidemic proportions in some reOver the course of several millennia, history gions and threatens to wipe out the working has been as kind to the great continent as it class and further hinder economic progress. has been cruel. As a mother who has lost ten Corruption is rife. However, looking past million of her beloved children to the horrors these numerous scars, there is no hiding the of slavery, she has suffered; her fertility is inherent beauty of Africa: the Atlas mounconstantly being violated by the cancerous 12
I have lived in Latin America for most of my life and have perceived the beat, the pulse that runs through the veins. There is a passion for life there, and la gente from Latin America will proudly state it out loud, “nosotros sabemos cómo vivir la vida.” But there also exists the heavy weight of the impoverished soul. An eternal tension between dynamism and stagnation, between life and death; the pulse that runs through the veins is tuned to the rhythm of revolution, so often taking the form of violence and slaughter. That is the reason why I came to Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo. It is the reason for my profound delight when I see so many eyes, possessed with the fierce look of a Cossack and a commitment to humanism and peace. As you all know, the problems of poverty and unemployment are very serious in Latin America. With a population of 528 million, the number of jobless workers has risen to nineteen million, representing an unemployment rate of 10%. Recently, Juan Somavia, General Director of International Labor Organization (ILO), referred to this problem as “the main political problem of our time.” “The current model of globalization actually devalues work,” Mr. Somavia added. “We have to work for a different, more just and equitable form of globalization.” (Continued on Page 13) tains to the north-west and Mount Kilimanjaro to the east stand bold and defiant, the river Nile is the world’s longest, the Congo jungle, Lake Victoria and the Sahara desert are but few of the other wonders that Africa calls her own. She is a natural mosaic and a force to be reckoned with. Add, on top of that, thousands of ethnic groups and at least forty species of wildlife to boot. It is indisputable that Africa has aged gracefully, remaining well preserved in the wake of globalization and the environmental degradation. Consider a world of diversity, serious humanitarian problems and a staggering foreign debt, all packed within one-fifth of the earth’s landmass, and it becomes clear that Africa has her work cut out for her in the 21st century. Intimidating? Yes. Ominous? Yes, but the Sun continues shining.
Il Mondo: Thoughts About Mi Tierra (continued)
Quotes: New Juniors, Old Freshmen Vanessa Rubinfeld
Candela Montero (`07): “I screamed and fell out of my chair!”
(Continued from Page 12)
In the early 1990s Latin American countries underwent a drastic transformation in their economies, adopting the neo-liberal model of privatization, deregulation and opening of the markets. The four largest economies of the region, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Chile enjoyed continuous growth during the first half of the decade. However, as Mr. Somavia suggests, the economic trends of the early 1990s put the domestic industry and the working class in general in a very vulnerable position. At the turn of the century, deep economic crises hit Brazil and, especially, Argentina. People’s discontent brought about political transformations with the emergence of the Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva (Brazil) and Néstor Kirchner (Argentina) administrations, both standing ideologically opposed to their neo-liberal predecessors Cardoso (Brazil) and Menem (Argentina). By no means do I mean that Lula and Kirchner embody hope for the future, but at the very least they represent fresh ideas and appear to be, at least ideologically, more aligned with the people. This coming March 1, Lula, Kirchner and Hugo Chávez (controversial, incredible Venezuelan president) will meet in Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela to discuss plans for regional integration through Mercosur and Comunidad Andina de Naciones (CAN). This would represent the first step towards a “more just and equitable form of globalization" for the region. The political struggle that divides Latin American societies into the artificial definitions of progressive and conservative has made the twentieth century a drama of political instability, authoritarianism, dependency, bloodshed and underdevelopment. It has isolated the Cubans from their brothers and sisters of the continent and divided Venezuelan society into two irreconcilable ideological factions. The challenge for our leaders at the turn of the century, and I mean this especially for Lula, Kirchner and Chávez, will be to transcend such artificial divisions and govern based on justice with a clear vision for the next twenty years. Let us see what happens.
Leilani McIiraith (`07): “I was so excited to meet them, it was like Christmas!
Jennifer LeBlanc (`07): “They’re pretty serious, they want to get really deep into everything and they are willing to share their experiences.”
Lisa-Ann Utsumi (`07): “All these new faces, I was overwhelmed.”
Kimberly Mitchell (`05): “You guys are really serious and on the ball.”
Justin Sasaki (`05): “There’s so many of them. Wow these guys are amazing - they already got that togetherness. Every class is different here.”
Suh Jin Park (`05): They are very friendly, active and dedicated. I was saddened that I wouldn’t be at SUA, AV for their entrance ceremony. I wanted to get to know them from the beginning and was also kind of nervous thinking about how we can truly connect. Nathan Gauer (`05): “I have gotten to know several genuine, down to earth people. They seem like lively, sincere, and highly talented people.”
Sources: “Joblessness in Latin America shows need for fairer globalization – UN” (http:// www.un.org/apps/news/)
Angels in America Yuko Matsumoto “Souls were rising from the earth far below, souls of the dead, of people who had perished, from famine, from war, from the plague, and they floated up, like skydivers in reverse, limbs all akimbo, wheeling and spinning. And the souls of these departed joined hands, clasped ankles and formed a web, a great net of souls, and the souls were threeatom oxygen molecules, of the stuff of ozone, and the outer rim absorbed them, and was repaired.
Nothing’s lost forever. In this
world, there is a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we’ve left behind, and dreaming ahead. At least I think that’s so.” (Act V scene 10, p142)
As Harper leaves on a jet plane, she sees dead souls rise up from the earth and link arms and legs, forming ozone molecules that mend the ozone layer. Did this really happen, or did she just imagine it? It makes no difference here. Her final, extraordinary vision marks not only the beginning of her personal healing, but also a global healing. Her vision answers the great questions posed in the beginning: “Will the past release us, and can we change?” Her imagination had always created images that reflected her life-state, but she is hopeful now, no longer deep-freezing emotion in Antarctica. Perestroika has arrived, and the ice is thawing.
Finally, death is no longer a frightening theme, but a natural one. Through this passage, we feel the sense of continuity between past, present and future as the dead souls watch over the living. We can be “released” from the pain of the past, without being cut off from it entirely - we can still draw wisdom from it. Harper has been searching for “mending” all her life, and she HBO
Harper has finally reached the point where she can leave Joe and still be filled with hope. She has finally learned to lose with grace, the hardest thing of all. Those like Roy who do not learn this lesson will die a “hard death”. In this passage Harper has overcome the crisis of imagination! This vision wasn’t a hallucination induced by pills- it was an expression of hope that came from within her. People may have thought she 14
was insane, but she can see what others can- finds it in the end - in her decision to leave not because of her extraordinary imagination. Joe and start a new life. She discovers that sometimes it’s best to get lost a little and exIn Millennium Approaches, Harper is obsessed plore. The dead are watching over us and over the hole in the ozone layer because it was protecting us, helping us heal. Like the ozone a sign that the world was coming to an end. layer, our ancestors, family, and friends who On a personal level, it was also a metaphor for have passed before us are wrapping around us the gaping hole in her heart that left her de- like a protective shield. fenseless. Prior too, with his ravaged immune system and absent lover, has no line of emo- This soul-web, like the angels, is blessing us tional or physical defense. In the resolution with more life- so make the best of it! they both begin to bind their emotional Background: wounds. Like Harper says in Millennium Approaches, we “are like Angels in America planets and we need thick skins.” She no God has abandoned Heaven. longer has to “deepfreeze” her emoTackling the social, political, racial and tions in her imagireligious issues of the 1980s, Tony nary Antarctica, Kushner’s play, Angels in America is combecause, like the posed of two parts: Millennium Approaches ozone layer, she has and Perestroika. begun to heal. The great work of healOn the surface the play is about the AIDS ing has begun crisis in the United States during the 1980s, HBO on Earth. society’s treatment of homosexuality, but it also embraces much deeper themes of We are a human network. By linking our souls humanity. we create powerful bonds, similar to atomic bonds, enduring the onslaught of disease, Drawing on religion and political imagery, heartbreak, hunger, and all suffering. The the play examines the American dream, ozone may not be completely impenetrable, and its persuasive power even in the new because we are not immune to pain, but it millennium. Finally, the play asks who makes the pain tolerable in healthy doses. By shall be included in the definition of an the end of Perestroika, even the most disconAmerican - who shall we call citizens? nected of characters, Hannah and Prior, have And if we live in a world where God has thawed to each other. Ironically, she becomes abandoned heaven, who can we turn to but the caretaker for Prior and Harper, staying by each other. their side in their time of greatest need. They come to understand that labels such as MorIn this sense, the play is a powerful common, homosexual, and pill-popper are nothmentary on the meaning of community in ing more than artifithis modern world. cial identities that people so-labeled Harper, a drug-suppressed Mormon in a never seem to fit. If sexless and loveless marriage, struggles they could find their with insanity. Her husband, Joe, is a hardinterconnectedness, working, “good” Mormon lawyer who then we can too in struggles with sexuality by staying in the our daily lives. closet. During the Fall of 2003, Dr. Ken Saragosa, Professor of English Literature, led a class on Twentieth Century American Literature and Kushner’s play was one of the readings. Yuko Matsumoto’s (‘06) article was written for the class and submitted to The Pearl. Compiled by Pearl staffers with the help of Ken Saragosa.
nothing. That’s two hours a day to sit in my room and stare at a wall. Or two hours a day to read a great play like Shakespeare’s Hamlet Nicole Chu and ponder if the protagonist is really selfpossessed. Two hours to create make believe On Returning To Soka conversations with the founder in your head, to people watch in Wal-Mart, to be naked in They say that Soka students are bright, hope- nature. However, I do not think in units of ful, intuitive, perseverant and idealistic. Most time and therefore I’m oblivious as to where importantly they define and redefine the very these precious hours of my life disappear. I definition of “pioneering.” have a slight idea: it gives itself to moments such as this: I am a hot pink Smurf. I listen to one of my father’s favorite songs, I don’t like to be awkward but inevitably it Autumn Leaves, and try to internalize the gencomes out through my writing and lets itself ius of Miles Davis. My mind wanders to the go like awful diarrhea. See, there I go using days in Madrid and extracts meaningful condiction like “diarrhea” when I hardly even versations: know you. Don’t be frightened because if you stop reading, all the intelligent, thought- [In a random disco bar] out writing in this column will be flushed down the toilet. Grab some two-ply and brace Hot Spanish Guy: “¿De donde eres?” (Where yourself for some explosive inspiration. are you from?) Me: “Africa.” (Africa) I will tell you something that is true for all HSP: “¿En serio?” (Really?) Soka students: There is never enough time. There Me: No, pero si digo “soy Americana” tu me is no time to finish the five papers due Mon- ves diferente. (No, but if I say I’m American, day. There is no time to finish the two hun- you look at me differently). dred pages of Moby Dick and decipher what HSP [realizing I’m American]: “Que guapa. Melville thought about whales and religion. ¿Quieres follar?” (You’re hot. Do you want There is no time to meet with that favorite to … “be friends?”) physics professor and contemplate on Newton’s law along with who’s hot in the fresh- And the next morning I find myself in class at man class. There is no time to enjoy a Sunday the Prado museum discussing how Goya’s brunch with five friends to discuss violence in gory depiction of La Lucha con los Mamelucos Venezuela and how HBO’s Sex and the City is was one of the first paintings that did not pure genius. However, after serious math portray war as glorious and honorable. God calculations, I discover I have over fourteen bless Goya. hours of free time per week to do absolutely
This leads me to my next truth about Soka students: We live in a world full of contradictions and confusions. Wherever we go we will be faced with war or morality, good or evil, baloney or truth, ignorance or justice, dependence or love, study or screw it, miso soup or cut fruit, courage or defeat, class or I’ll pass, happiness or misery, fame or family, betrayal or friendship, deception or reality, familiarity or independence, virtue or knowledge, sickness or strength, value creation or nasty constipation. Enough? And for some, like myself, it seems as if we’re always caught in-between: being tipsy in a bar and waking up to a rich culture of art; being lured into wasting time and writing waste for The Pearl; being sucked into a black hole and trying to figure out the meaning of the universe; being the innocent turned cynical student who has to fulfill her role as a pioneer. Everything in my life may not make any sense, but I continue to fight anyway because underneath my new born negativity and stubborn arrogance, there is that pulsating, awakening feeling nestled and protected in the very depth of my heart: an unbreakable, inspirational vision that this university will be the emblem of hope, of goodness, of compassion, of friendship, of wisdom, and of all that is good in the world. Screw my fate of being stuck in between undesirable and indescribable contradictions for the rest of my life because there is too much at stake. Enough. This morning I was pleasantly taken aback by (Continued on page 16)
Jim Merod is one of the newest teachers here at Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo. After a forty year career in academia teaching at Brown, Brandice, Cornell, Stanford, UCLA, and National University, he had been enjoying the retired life for eight years when asked by Michael Hays to teach at SUA, AV. Although other schools had offered him opportunities to break out of retirement, he said yes only to SUA, AV. He likes it here because, unlike large universities, we’re on the side of art, ethics and peace with a Socratic orientation between faculty and students. He often speaks highly of faculty at SUA, AV insisting that they put student learning first.
Photo by Edward Chen
When asked about his favorite musician, he responded by saying that Cal Jader was his favorite dead musician and Kenny Baron was his favorite living musician. I had never heard of either of these artists, but judging by the sincere and thoughtful way he responded I know they would be honored to hear his praise. They would be happy to know that they give him something most likely more profound than anything I’ve ever gotten from music.
Although I asked Merod about his passions I did not have to hear the answer to know what he would say. Just going to one class would probably be enough, but for your own sake I’d try a semester. Besides the people he loves, music and writing are the passions of Uncle great, yet mostly unheard of musicians so the Jim. “Music is the meaning of life. I know that sounds a bit mystical or abstract but I think Merod has had a twenty-year career in jazz world can hear and remember them. He does the meaning of all of our lives is defined by them a justice of sorts, so they no longer labor recording – the last twelve of which he’s had (Continued on page 16) his own record label, BluePort. He publishes in obscurity. 15
An Experience: Big Bear Ski and Ride Trip Daman Chhikara
sorry…it is too late, if only you brought him behalf of The Pearl, I would like to take this twenty minutes earlier.” The news reached us opportunity to send our best wishes to Mike On January 16 a group of twenty-nine people, in the evening, and my life has never been the that he might recover soon. accompanied by Chinako Miyamoto and Mi- same since. chelle Hobby, left for a ski and ride trip in Big Bear, San Bernardino. After a two-and-a-half hour bus ride through the hills, we finally checked-in at the warm and cozy cabins of Big Bear. This trip brought to mind a previous ski trip that I took to Auli, Gharhwal(India), situated in the foothills of the Himalayas. A group of twenty people had set out on the adventure of skiing for the first time in their lives. We all had a terrific time, except for my friend Sandeep. He could not ski after developing a lung congestion disease in the freezing cold air. Auli is quite underdeveloped, so the cabins do not have a heating system. Sandeep didn’t inform anyone about how serious his condition was, and the next day he had to be taken away to a hospital. Tragically, the nearest hospital to Auli was sixty kilometers away, and the only means of transportation at our disposal was a jeep. When Sandeep left for the hospital we could never have imagined what news awaited us. When the group reached the hospital, the doctor had only one thing to say: “I am
While in Big Bear I was constantly thinking of this incident that occurred four years ago. I was continually praying in my heart for everyone’s safety. Unfortunately, Mike Keeney, a sophomore at Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo slipped and broke his leg while skiing. Assistance was soon called for and he reached the hospital in no time. As his situation was serious, he was transported by helicopter to a bigger hospital in Santa Ana. On
Potty Break (continued)
Jim Merod (continued)
(Continued from page 15)
(Continued from page 15)
the greatest compliment anyone has ever given me: “I never thought anyone like you really existed. I have never met anyone like you before in my life.” (Said by my good friend Mafe and not by some cute coffee boy). I predict for those who don’t know me, you will either seek me out in the cafeteria and introduce yourself or eye me from afar with hesitation. I hope you do neither and instead ask yourself this question: Who am I? And before you flush, please consider this: the only reason this first column is about nothing is because I have a great fear to scandalize, to lift this mask of absurdity and reveal the joy, the evil, the music, the art, the absolute nakedness I’ve kept inside for the last three years. So until I’m ready, I will dance around words and play with pink Smurfs and diarrhea. Welcome to my potty break.
the musical nature of consciousness and the universe.” As far as writing goes, his passion is clear after one good conversation. He has the greatest esteem for Shakespeare, insisting that if a person lived a hundred lifetimes they would be unable to get to the bottom of his works. He talks about writing with such intensity it makes me ache to write, or at least to feel as liberated as he makes writing sound like it could be. Dead Poet’s Society, Mona Lisa Smile, and many other great movies have been based around the same pretense: the effect of one great teacher. When asked who the greatest person was, Merod responded by giving me the name of his greatest teacher. As he listed off the teacher’s qualities I could completely relate as I pictured that one great teacher from my high school days. I wondered how many of his past students across the nation would think of him when prompted with the same question – more than for most teachers I’d safely bet. In case you were still fooled by his rugged
When we returned to SUA, AV, I felt compelled to ponder and meditate over the entire situation once again. After two hours of meditation, I felt deep appreciation in my heart to be able to study here in SUA, AV. I made a wish too: In my next lifetime I want Sandeep to study here with me at Soka. I am sure my friend Sandeep sleeps soundly in the heavens above somewhere, and from time to time, wakes up to watch over the world. I miss him!
exterior, I’ll give you a little more evidence of the gentle, kind, joyful nature of Uncle Jim. He speaks of his new granddaughter, Maya Luna, with such care and excitement. He calls her an angel. He speaks of the infant’s smart, cute ways and her great personality. He has such appreciation in his voice when he says that one can never predict or expect to have something so precious in one’s life. “She’s the first thing I think of when I wake up in the morning. Where’s my little Maya?” Upon being asked when the last time he was truly happy – I was expecting some momentous occasion hopefully not too far in the distant past – Merod exclaimed, “Today! Absolutely today, and yesterday, and hopefully tomorrow. We all have ups and downs but I cannot find a time in my life that was happier than today. I am sort of amused by it all, by my own stupidity, by the way silly things repeat themselves. I am very appreciative for the powerful great things in life, for my health and the dear people in my life.”
The Joy of Music
of daze, listening to it all around me. By the time the fourth movement began, I could Daisaku Ikeda hardly stand to go on listening. And when the music ended and I came back to my senses, I My schedule is so busy these days that I al- could feel a kind of intense exhilaration and most never have an opportunity to go to a courage running through my bloodstream. concert. As a result, my musical enjoyment is Before I knew it, it had filled up my whole pretty much confined to listening to records. heart. The day seldom passes, however, when I don’t do at least that. It has become a habit with me over the last twenty years or more. Like a man seeking to slake his thirst in a running stream, when I find a moment of leisure in the quiet of the evening, I sit down and play a record. I don’t play it for anyone else to hear, just for myself. If I find a piece I like, I play it over and over again. As you might expect, I’ve accumulated quite a pile of records with the grooves worn almost smooth.
this inner nature of mine. I say this because music is something that speaks directly to the heart of man. It needs no intermediary other than sound waves, and has absolutely no use for doctrines, theories, or other such trappings. Furthermore, there is in my opinion no such thing as high class or low class music. It makes no difference to me whether I am listening to a symphony, a concerto, a piece of light music, a folksong, or the latest hit tune, so long as I like it. The same applies to Western versus Oriental music; whichever it is, if it strikes a sympathetic chord in my nature, I like it.
It was not long before I wore out my copy of the Fifth Symphony. Another piece that got a great deal of wear in those days was Schumann’s song Zigeunerleben. When the wild midnight revels of the Gypsies had ended and the song moved on to describe the dawn breaking in the forest, I felt as though all the fatigue and worry had been washed out of my head. For several years now, I have found myself Softly, comfortingly, the song spoke to me very much attracted by the works written for the koto by Michio Miyagi. By now a great about the simple joys of living. many of these modern compositions of his
This habit, which will probably be with me for the rest of my life, goes back to the period just after the war. I was living in a dingy little oneroom lodging, and the harshness and desolation of the life around me at times seemed about to destroy me as a human being. No matter how hard I worked each day, no matter what intentions I had, it looked as though everything I did was bound to end up in failure. It wasn’t any simple state of mind easily and conveniently labeled with some technicalsounding term such as spiritual desolation. It was just a feeling that some insane mechanism was consuming all my youthful enthusiasm and energy and turning it into waste and despair. This was the period when I learned how much comfort I could derive from a single phonograph record. There was much more to listening to records than just enjoying the music. I found that somewhere deep inside my heart I had a musical instrument of my own that would come alive when I listened to a piece I liked, and even start playing along in harmony with it. Putting on a record was a way of reassuring myself that I still had the musical instrument inside me. That was very important to me, for it gave me a feeling of secret joy. Perhaps it was just the pleasure and the satisfaction of knowing I was still a human being. In any event, I learned to get a kind of indescribable enjoyment out of listening to records.
I am a very amateur sort of music lover, the kind who knows nothing about theory and has never read any of those ponderous books on musical appreciation. In picking out records, I go solely on the basis of whether I like the piece of music or not, simple and naïve as that may sound. Pieces I don’t like, I have no use for; pieces I do, I never get tired of hearing. As a result, my selections naturally show a certain amount of bias. Others may find bias of this sort reprehensible, but I’m afraid I can’t be bothered about their opinions. My tastes probably reflect the rather childish and simpleminded nature I was born with, and if so, Even now I remember how I used to play there is nothing I can do about them. In a Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, the sound filling word, when it comes to music, what I care up the whole narrow room, and how it felt to about first of all is being honest and faithful to sit right in the middle of that sound in a kind
Photo by Olivea Shure
have become favorites of mine, including his first work, Water Transformations, and others such as The Sound of Rapids, Spring Sea, London Rain, Handball Song, and so on. Late in the evening, before I go to bed, I often lie down in my study and listen to them for an hour or more. At such times I recall with fondness the sounds of the particular type of koto known as Taishigoto, which I used to hear as a little boy. In any event, there is surely nothing more honest and direct than music in revealing man’s inner feelings and emotions. Even if it wanted to lie, it would have no way to do so. It employs no words; it never asks that the (Continued on page 18)
Founder’s Corner (continued) (Continued from page 17)
listener follow a line of reasoning. Certainly it demands nothing so foolish as that the listener strike a solemn pose and try to “understand” it. All one has to do is to open one’s ears; then the music within the heart will naturally begin to resound in harmony with the music outside. This response, this echo within the heart, is to me something to be treasured, for it is proof that the human heart can transcend the barrier of time and space and nationality and converse honestly with one another. Perhaps, it could be called the most truly human kind of dialogue men are capable of. Though men may differ in the color of their skin, the language they speak, their customs and ways,
or the degree of material culture that surrounds them, it is possible, through the power of music, for them to communicate and respond to each other’s innermost feelings. If, as I believe, the greatest task of mankind as he moves from the twentieth to the twenty-first century is to wipe out once and for all the hostility and bloodshed disfiguring the earth today, then music, which allows men to communicate their inmost feelings to one another, is surely destined to play a major role. It offers the most forceful and effective means by which to set about pursuing that task.
Random Top Ten Lists You Wonder Why We Put in the Newspaper Nathan Gauer
The Top Ten CDs You Should Buy Immediately. Right Now. Are You Still Reading?: 1. John Coltrane Live At Birdland 2. Little Brother The Listening 3. Four Asians and a White Guy (shameless plug for Andy Reker’s brother’s band) 4. Stevie Wonder Songs in the Key of Life 5. Blackalicious Blazing Arrow 6. Nas Illmatic 7. Wayne Shorter Footprints Live 8. D’Angelo Voodoo 9. The Strange Fruit Project Soul Travelin’ 10. Donny Hathaway Everything is Everything The Top Ten Movies That Will Change Your Life (or at least change your opinion about my taste): 1. The Whale Rider 2. The Pianist 3. Saving Private Ryan 4. American History X
The Top Five Reasons Why You Should Contribute to the Pearl: 1. To participate in any undertaking connected with the spirit of Danny Pearl is an honor of the highest order. 2. Life is short; words live forever. 3. Your contribution will be a time capsule of your youth that can be revisited for decades to come. 4. Good ideas only become great when shared with others. 5. We offer a great health care package that covers doctor’s visits for all deadline-induced monomania.
5.Glory 6.The Fast Runner 7.Good Will Hunting 8.Dances With Wolves 9.Braveheart 10. Malcolm X
The Pearl strives to emulate slain Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl’s efforts to bring out the human side of every story. Following his courageous model, The Pearl opens channels of communication in an endeavor to articulately and respectfully express differing opinions. The contributors of The Pearl reports intentionally on issues of concern for the campus, the local community and the globe, aiming to unify the campus towards the realization of the mission of Soka University of America, Aliso Viejo.