Second entry of LAMENTATIONS BY Frank Samperi
Tomorrow will be omitted from the calendar — we'll catch it on our way back. Even on this ship there's a stressing of the gradational — we are therefore compelled to attempt a direct look toward an unblemished horizon in order to offset such an anomaly. We certainly will have to dig in when we hit Kyoto — there isn't too much in reserve for us to draw from — the adjustments, etc., will all depend upon the amount of money I can make . . . we must have saved at least $3,000 by the end of our 3 years' stay, or it will have been all for nothing (it goes without saying that to experience meetings, etc. within a new land never go for nothing) — with that much we may be able to withstand the shocks the West is capable of giving (of course, the trade I learn in Japan will be my ticket survival).
This is the first day that Dolores has felt well enough to do some ironing — no nausea to keep her in bed. I have done no reading since the 11th — Don't think I should attempt it. I look instead. The whole horizon looks peaceful, even the one's standpoint is from a deck chair open to every nuisance that this ship gives to the ear — I don't think I'll write a poem during the voyage: all that's here reflects all that I'd not have in a song: but then again, it's impossible to predict the welling up of a song.
Last night we stood on deck to watch the stars — and the ship's riggings' shadows in the foam spreading out toward total darkness. Today is without a doubt the best day we've had at sea.
The workmen are busy cleaning up the ship — I guess for the entry into Japan, etc. I was saddened to see them so high up — at the mercy of the sea's maw. How much could they be getting that it would cause them to be heedless of the risk — are they outcasts? Sole-supporters? Seekers in strange ports?
In a way I can't wait until we hit land — the smell of earth, the blossoms, the objects that break the fall of light — the sea maybe is the ultimate image of the mirror, but the land leads us more to the notion of the differential — "Thy kingdom come . . ." is in just such a recovery. I have been drawn toward Japan for a purpose — at least that's the way I should look at it — I'm bound to come out of it with a more sure sense. The West is dying; the East is dying: nevertheless, in such a dying we see a quieting of the epical desire where direction points toward an effluence of song: that's the historical in balance, one is true to his proper objects of love. We cannot fail to reflect difference.
If the good weather keeps up we should dock at Yokosuka Mon. the 20th, at 2 pm or so; Tues. at 9 am or so should find us at Yokohama — but this is all speculation. Got rid of all my old keys — they're somewhere at the bottom of the sea.
The workmen are now working aft — funny to see the officers sunbathing while the hard-looking workers slave: there are, however, no signs of discontent. One could go on endlessly treating the subject: the sea, the ship with its daily task — a juxtaposition always savage when stripped of its calm integuments.
There's a possibility we can clear customs at Yokosuka — if so, maybe an earlier train will be hurrying us toward Kyoto — good, too, the landscape will be seen under light rather than as so many undulations in moonlight.
Not many people give you proper information — some have said U.S. food is cheaper in Japan, others say it's dearer — we've at all times stressed that we'll not be staying at a Western-style hotel — almost everybody speaks of Japanese cleanliness. None of them seem to approve of the Japanese for themselves, but only in that they have assimilated Western ways — in other words, they're OK because they're like us — again, this kind of falsehood does not seem to breed unrest: the officers sunbathe, the workers stir about the passengers lounge — the ship cleaves unrelentlessly, the gulls bring up the rear, and the horizon proves to be a moveable limit.
Purity involves that concept wherein there is no shadow.
Tried to spot the porpoises — was told to keep watch at 4:30 pm — no sign of them. Earlier we did see two ships (someone said they must be passenger ships) — the excitement was to presage an aftermath of quietness (that is, we all went our separate ways).
Besides that persistent hum of the ship the only other sound is the clearing of water: 5 pm, and the fore pointing toward a section of sea ablaze with light.
It turns out the ships we saw this afternoon were not passenger ships, but tenders.
What appeared to be a number of ships was in reality only one — looking through binoculars settled that standpoint.
After yesterday's calm the winds seem brisk — this'll probably be the only noise to edge our ears: the workers are off this afternoon.
A looking out toward the sea: no reaction, but emptiness — I don't wait to write of my despair — there's no use of this complaint against the colossal lie — we are snared, and there are even some louts who preach this rot as a good; it is therefore unholy, inhumane for any man to pursue an action that might cast him into the mould of a hot-shot.
I was wrong: the workmen continue to slave away yes! Even on a Sat. afternoon — I guess, when the ship docks and the cargo's on — loaded — they can tank themselves up for a period of time when abstemiousness is a saving grace.
All of these paragraphs should prove to me later on that I've sat down many times during a day to write. It will be interesting to see when the volume is finished what my stay in Japan has reaped — will I be on my way toward a complete security in the trade society has forced me to acquire?
We were told we might see some fishing boats out for tuna, but the way it looks today (mist, possible rain, etc.), we'll have to wait until tomorrow (we'll be sure to see them then): from the information we've gathered they'll be all around us.
Sad to say, but we may enter Japan on a rainy day — it isn't supposed to be the rainy season, however, no other way to look at it: we must adjust to what's before us. Some have said we'll be in time for the cherry blossoms, others have said it's past — no matter, the mind's alive enough to wait for another time.
Today's gloom has got everybody down — even the crew seemed to move about as if sadness were a noxious mist.
Our first sighting of a fleet of fishing boats, islands, flying fish — unfortunately, the day is so misty that things are subjected to it; maybe the afternoon will be clearer.
There will probably be little time for writing tomorrow — the ship docks at Yokohama at about 9 a.m. Yokosuka looks sad — maybe because the day was misty; but I think the U.S. air is the cause. We'll be going off ship tonight to see what the town looks like — no more until I'm settled!
Never have I felt so woeful — but as always the fault's in me, not in others. The coldness, the naturalness of the East is an argument not worth its weight in gold as foundation — that is even here one's position is for the sake of putting down another's stent.
Too early for me to say anything of importance re the structural of the land — which is to say I'm more broken within to notice what's outside: the objects, however, pay no attention to forms of derangement.
We have visited some spots of interest but they mean little to me — I was not made for such an uncertain life; I will try to learn — come away with something. I hope my view is not too slanted because of despair.