I find myself awake several times a year at a time that is neither morning nor night, when white starts to cast over the sky. There is no nightmare, no anxiety, and my consciousness is surprisingly clear in contrast to my body which has not fully awoken, and I slip out of bed wanting to feel the cool air outside. My mind and body are trying to synchronize.
 The moment is deeply silent; had I awoken a few moments earlier or later, I may have heard some kind of noise. While most people are sound asleep, there I am, in a strange mood. Morning and night have clear colors, but that strange moment is obscure, as if everything is stopped, waiting for something. I then become very conscious of the present. The past, present and future are a linear continuation, but in that present moment, I am crouched as if waiting indefinitely for the future to come. The bygone past and the present have no color and all sounds have faded, but the future seems to hold some color. I am at the border of present and future as I contemplate my existence.

 What am I?

 I can ask this question only to the past. My personality is an accumulation of the past. What am I? What is self? I ponder in frustration. Nowadays, every household has a mirror (take a step outside and there are mirrors all around—in storefronts, car windows). I gaze at my reflection but find it hard to believe that “I” really exist. I see an artificial image of me. I see a humorous human searching endlessly for the truth. I see deception.
 “I” am the only person in the world who knows who I am, but “I” am also the least capable of seeing myself objectively. You cannot catch “I” by the tail so easily. ”I” may be mankind’s greatest concoction. When we say “I” we speak of none other than ourselves, but at the same time, it reminds us that we are anonymous beings amongst a greater community. Just as I use “I” to speak of myself, others also use “I” to speak of themselves. Unlike a proper noun “I” can be used by anybody.

 Historically speaking, now is when we need to be more independent than ever. The faith that unites all individuals has been lost (we destroyed it ourselves) so how are we to define “I” when we are in danger of losing our sense of community?
 It is difficult to define “I” but there is one theory that defines it as an individual personality. Let me borrow the words of the psychologist Allport. In his major work “Personality: A Psychological Interpretation” (1937) *1, he writes of personality as “a dynamic organization, inside the person, of psychophysical systems that create the person’s characteristic patterns of behavior, thoughts and feelings.” In other words, personality is a sophisticated system in which each individual is a collection of unique psychological and physical aspects that adapts to the environment and is capable of its own proactive behavior.
 This is a great definition of personality. The personality we all have within us is not solid but rather something that flows like water. Personality changes with age and based on social and environmental factors. As a child, I grew up near a river and perhaps this influences my idea that personality is like water. In Japanese ideology, water symbolizes things that flow aimlessly and changes into vapor or ice depending on its environment. This idea underlies the term “we” which is often used in Japan. It makes me think of modern personalities which are dissociative yet have the desire to belong.
 As I contemplate, I imagine personality flowing like a river and I want to contain part of it within a capsule. The mass community is a flowing river and the individual personality is the capsule that ebbs and flows within the river. I want to know what the capsule looks like. Its shape could tell me something about its content.

 In the moment, neither morning nor night, shrouded in vague color and silence, I close my eyes and try to imagine the capsule within me. Knowing what is inside my capsule could be my saving grace. It could also be a frightening reality. What if my capsule is disfigured and the contents are superficial? I may fall into despair and lose faith in living. But something keeps me searching for the answer. I want to know more than anyone else. So I ask myself.
– Can you show me what is inside the capsule?
My alter ego comes off as rude. I smirk because the answer is not so easy. I respond.
– Even I do not know. That is why I cannot show you.
My alter ego bites his lip with a look of sadness as if to say, “I trusted you and thought you would show me.”
I then feel guilty and apologize.
– Sorry. It is not that I do not want to show you. I just do not know what exactly that capsule is just yet.
I smile faintly and nod.
– When will you show me?
When? I think. I do not know the answer. All I see is a hazy figure when I try to imagine my “self.” So I respond with a vague “someday.” Someday, I will see it, and when I do, I will show you too.

 The dazzling morning light fills the room and I finally open my eyes. I start to see it. A shape I had never imagined. It only becomes visible with age, and I let my imagination soar. If I had not lived this long, I would never have seen it. The future me trembles quietly at the thought. To live means to grow old and to approach death. It is violent, nihilistic and sad, but my obscure capsule will someday become visible. I will then peek inside it again and wonder what it contains. I hope what I see is pleasant because that would mean I am no longer searching for “I.” By then, I will have found contentment as an equal member of the unified mass. It is not a certainty but I believe that is how things will pan out. The future, like a river that flows into the vast ocean, is a continuation of the past and present, and I am going along to that flow. The glimmer of light and color that burrows in the deep silence of this moment, of neither morning nor night, gives me hope.

*1 Allport, G.W. (1937) Personality: A psychological interpretation. New York: Holt, Rinehart. & Winston.

translator: hamada





 こうした問いかけを向けることができるのは過去である。過去の集積が現在の私の人格をかたちづくっているからだ。私とは何か? あるいは自我とは何か? という問いは、時に私を苦しめる。どこの家庭にも鏡が置かれるようになり(ショーウィンドウのガラスに、車の窓、一歩外に出たとしてもそこは鏡だらけである)、自身の姿を映し出すことができるが、鏡像を眺めても私はそこに「私」がいることを信じることができない。そこに映る「私」はどこかポーズをとっていて、本質的な「私」がそこにはいないように感じるからだ。私は鏡に映る自分がひどく滑稽な人間として映り、その本質を常に探して求めているように感じられる時がある。そこにはある種の偽りがあるように思うのだ。

 「私」という存在を定義付けるのは難しいことだが、ひとつの指標として個人として独立しうる資格である人格という概念がある。心理学者であるオルポートの言葉を借りよう。彼は大著 “Personality: A Psychological Interpretion”(1937) *1 でこう書いている──人格とは「個人の環境への適応を決定するような心理的身体的な諸々のシステムからなる、個人の中の力動的組織である」。つまりオルポートは人格の定義として、人格は人間を構成するさまざまな心理的・身体的な要素を統括する上位システムであり、それは個人個人別個のものであり、さらに個人は環境へ適応するが、それは受動的なものではなく、自らその意味を変革していく能動性をもつものだと主張している。

─ ねえ、器の中のものを見せてくれないか?
─ 私にもわからない。だから見せることはできない。
─ ごめんね。あなたに見せたくない訳ではないんだ。ただ私はまだその器自体がどのようなものかわからないんだ。
─ いつになったら見せてくれる?
私は考える。いつになったら? そんなことは私にもわからない。私は私自身を思い描くと、何か曖昧な靄のようなもので覆われているような気がしてしまう。だから、お茶を濁して、いつか必ずと言葉をつぐ。いつか必ずかたちが見えてくる。そうしたらあなたにも見せてあげる。


*1 Allport, G.W. (1937) Pesonality: A psychological interpretation. New York: Holt, Rinehart. & Winston.


Exhibition – Daisy Balloon “CAPSULE” | LUFTMUSEUM

Date: 9.24,2016-1.17.2017
AIR MUSEUM Eichenforstgaeßchen 12 92224 Luftkunstort Amberg/Germany