THE FIRST GREAT NOVEL OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM
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(CHAPTER 3)

Miyako arched her back slightly and pushed. After seven hours of labor, her long, brownish-black hair had become matted and soaked with perspiration, and her face displayed her total exhaustion. Despite the tremendous exertion, Miyako fought on, breathing deeply and concentrating on the extraordinary movements in her lower half. This was her second time giving birth, and, in order to endure the rigors of the experience, she recalled the fifteen hours of determination that her first child had necessitated. Although she was focused emotionally and physically in the present, in the far reaches of her seemingly disembodied mind, her thoughts drifted to images of her first son. Since that wonderful day of his birth, she cherished her little boy and had given him as much love as she possibly could.

However, Miyako had had her doubts and worries about motherhood from the time she first became pregnant. Yet, through the magical process of bringing life into the world, she had been transformed: her elation continued to inspire her each and every day in her new incarnation as a mother. There had been difficulties at first, though. Her son was born a strong, cheerful infant, but he was physically unusual. His appearance was not hideous or threatening in any way, but rather, slightly abnormal: the face, in particular, seemed to be a strange amalgam of shapes and angles, although it was anatomically complete. Regardless of his outward appearance, though, he had suckled at her breast and soon became a robust young boy.

Throughout his young life, Miyako and her husband, Bernard, had noticed that their child was unlike others, but their love and guidance had sheltered him from any negativity. Despite their initial joy, they wondered if their son's extraordinary appearance was in any way a symbolic manifestation of their racially-mixed union, known in Japan as an "international marriage". But any doubts they might have had vanished quickly as they watched their son grow.

Bernard was from France, and he had never given a second thought to marrying across cultural lines because he loved Miyako unconditionally. On the other hand, immersed in a complex tangle of collective and familial obligations, at first, Miyako had been scolded for her apparent temerity. However, after numerous lengthy consultations and discussions with the members of her group, she had achieved the harmony necessary for her marriage to Bernard. Everyone from both sides of the family had been a bit startled to see the child born with a seemingly unique appearance, yet, thanks to family gatherings and holiday celebrations, all of them learned to share the joy that came with the newest member of the family.

Miyako realized that her second child would soon be born, but she was uncertain if this one would be slightly abnormal like the first. Actually, at an emotional level, she did not care. She and Bernard loved each other so much that they believed this birth would be another miraculous expression of their shared dream. Neither of them could guess what kind of future they would have as a family, but they hoped that the multicultural background of their children would eventually be a source of strength and wisdom. They firmly believed that if their children developed spiritually and mentally in a positive way, then there would be no limits as to what kind of people they could become.

It was not a faith of any kind that they possessed; rather, it was the notion that knowledge, in its many forms and dimensions, enabled individuals to think and act in an enlightened manner, and, hopefully, with a disposition that resisted intrinsic human foibles. Both of them knew that each of their children would have to learn the culture and language of two vastly different countries and would need the intellectual and intuitive tools to function within those distinct societies. And more than that, they would have to embrace the notion of themselves as "international people" - the personification of literal and figurative influences which can bridge the expanse between separate social entities - because the alternative was the terrible void of a foundation-less existence caught in the crossfire of provincial discrimination and exclusion.

Within minutes, Miyako's second son was born. She held him joyously amidst the sudden calm of the hospital room. No one mentioned the distinctive facial features of her child as they smiled underneath their surgical masks. And in the moments that followed, Miyako's mind whirled and floated through a labyrinth of exhaustion and satisfaction, and her heart beat rapturously in time with that of her new son.


Gordon clicked on the television and sat back with a beer while he tugged on a cigarette. It was all part of his daily ritual: electronic hypnosis, and the heave and sway of chaotic nicotine and sedative alcohol. Was it the day's final punishment, or the palliative addiction that he seemed to think it was? Regardless, Gordon slumped back and succumbed to the images and clandestine political bent of the American news, courtesy of Japan's satellite broadcast. Actually, he found relief in the medium if not the content: after a long day of stressful interaction at a huge Japanese corporation, the easy verbal pabulum flowed through him, although the series of stories of human conflict were never pleasing.

This was Gordon's only real "down" time during the day. He thrived on the combative bustle and constant action of Tokyo's business life. Each day was a "win or lose" proposition and a chance to go for "the kill". He lived by the notion that each person he dealt with was either an ally or an adversary; that everyone was either an inferior, susceptible to manipulation for whatever purpose he chose, or a superior who had to be dutifully served yet monitored for potential loss of power and vulnerability to usurpation. His goal of total success was clear, and he loved the fine edge that he tread between subtle political maneuvering and ruthless ambition. Gordon felt that he was thoroughly suited for his position as an investment banker, and he took pride in the status that he had achieved at the relatively young age of thirty-two. If he had not found a civilized outlet for his domineering personality, Gordon was convinced that he would be frustrated by pent up aggression.

What he knew of Japanese culture and its manifestations in the corporate world seemed to fit well with his outlook on life. Although it had been overplayed in the Western media, the Japanese expression that "Business is war" spoke volumes about the attitude which many workers focused and relied on every day and night to endure the harsh conditions and a strict society; moreover, it was a mantra that kept the competitive fires burning at an intense level. For Gordon, that collective disposition was the only rational reason he could discern that would explain why millions tortured themselves to survive in the high-priced, cramped, and cauldron-like city called Tokyo.

It had been a challenge at first, but the more he understood the Japanese perspective on life and what was required to achieve collective productivity and strive towards that unobtainable ideal of perfection, the more he could see why every day countless men, harnessed in blue and gray suits, and women, high-heeled with primped skin and painted lips, plodded, shuffled, and literally squeezed and fought their way to gigantic offices with exteriors as plain and lifeless as the placid faces of their exhausted workers. The saying "Business is war", then, was not only a description of a predominant Japanese mode of thought and quasi-militaristic and Spartan-like desire which found its expression through corporate endeavors, but it was also a comprehensive and collective incantation that sprung from an intensely convoluted yet varied culture and was related to other historically-based and society-sanctioned axioms and precepts. It was faith without religious ritual, it was belief beyond query, and it was fuel for the masses who worked past the point of individual need. Gordon actually thought it was a form of cultural genius to be able to prod the populous to such an extent.

For him, this type of work environment was perfect as it meshed well with his "kill or be killed" business mentality. He saw the world as being full of two types of people: those with power and those enslaved. He was not really sure when he had developed this obsession with being "on top", but he admired the unrelenting nature and seeming need for total domination that was exhibited in Japan's over achieving business culture, and he instinctively felt that his work as an investment banker in Tokyo was the most efficacious path he could take to the dizzying heights of corporate power.

This evening was like every other one as his mind continued to churn, reviewing the events of the day and simultaneously planning strategy for both the short and long-term. However, quite suddenly, his eyes strayed from the papers in front of him long enough to notice a news flash which jarred him from his world of office intrigue.

"In what officials are calling an extraordinary natural occurrence, a large rock formation has suddenly emerged from underneath the ocean surface. Apparently, what were monitored as normal conditions rapidly changed when a gigantic volcanic-like explosion ripped through the placid movements of the sea. Eyewitnesses, who were abroad a cargo ship several miles away, said that they saw an enormous surge of flames shoot up into the sky. According to their statements, moments later, huge waves formed a mammoth whirlpool of violent, frothy water. Safety teams from the United States as well as several Pacific rim nations have encircled a wide area around the site, but no formal announcement has been made yet concerning the cause of the eruption. CCN has obtained these pictures showing the huge island-like formation. At present, no secondary explosions have occurred, and the sea has calmed to normal levels. CCN will have further updates on this story as additional information becomes available."

Gordon could not believe his eyes. Had he been experiencing some kind of hallucination from overwork or perhaps dozed off into an unusual dream? No, the report was real, but he still thought the news was unbelievable as had probably every other person who had been watching. It just was not logical that an island would suddenly form in the middle of the Pacific. Gordon wondered briefly if he had been duped by some elaborately produced mass-communications hoax. Yet he quickly rejected this premise because he surmised that CCN could not risk such damage to its credibility as a news network by cooking up and broadcasting such a story. But, the sketchy nature and sheer mind-boggling content of the news flash made him doubt what he had seen. Gordon concluded that the best idea was to call up his friend, Takashi, to check if he had also been watching.

Takashi and Gordon had known each other for a number of years. They had met at a symposium on international business and had talked at length at the reception afterwards. Takashi was a relatively rare Japanese entrepreneur, a quasi-individual spirit existing within the complicated morass of collective societal obligations, who had founded an organization which facilitated international corporate relations through a multitude of advertising and public relations mediums. Although they were friends and sometimes met through business activities, Takashi and Gordon were two different breeds. Even though both of them were highly competitive, unlike Gordon, Takashi, perhaps because he had been raised in a culture that valued collective prosperity over individual success, aspired to satisfy the needs of "the group" as well as his own personal ambitions.

Having grown up in a society that was fiercely proud of every aspect of its culture, and, while it begrudgingly acknowledged the necessity of participating in foreign realms, sometimes postured in such a way that was diametrically opposed to outside influences, Takashi understood the intricacies and delicate nature of cross-cultural exchange. He also valued the importance of communication and grasped the meanings of its hardships, having struggled, albeit with success, through six years of compulsory English study. It was within this vibrant, sophisticated, yet internationally precarious environment that he sought a way to achieve both his own goals as an individual but also to remain steadfast to the demands and seemingly ageless precepts of the country in which he was born.

Takashi discovered that he could bridge the gap between often radically dissimilar cultural perspectives by creating an organization through which globally interactive national and multinational entities could relate to each other. Although the details of each corporate challenge varied with the participants and circumstances, he always followed certain trustworthy and scrupulous tenets: namely, adherence to the predominant imperatives of capitalism, the establishment of mutual understanding and respect, and the pursuit of the continued peaceful existence of human life. From this personal set of principles was born the Tokyo-based Cultural Communications Center known more simply as CCC.

"Hello?" Takashi answered, almost shocked to hear the phone's sudden ring.

"Hey, Takashi, this is Gordon. Sorry to bother you so late, but I need your help. I think I might be losing my mind!"

Gordon and Takashi knew each other well enough to be cavalier when conversing, and Gordon always enjoyed the freedom that sarcasm gave him. At work, on the other hand, he was obligated to assume a comparatively harsh tone, the origins of which emanated from the inherently and intensely authoritative Japanese language.

"It's nice to hear from you at any hour, Gordon, but what the hell are you talking about?" replied Takashi.

"Thanks for your compassion, my friend," jested Gordon.

"Gordon, of all the people I know, you're the one who least needs sympathy, unless, of course, youíre no longer the congenitally ruthless investment banker that Iíve known in the past!" joked Takashi.

"I guess Iím fortunate that these years in the corporate trenches of Tokyo have toughened me up, or else I'd be really hurt," Gordon replied facetiously.

"You should be thanking me, Gordon. Isnít it clear that as your friend, I'm testing your mettle and checking for any weaknesses which might lead to your downfall," chuckled Takashi. "Now what's that you said about going crazy?" he probed.

"Actually, I saw an incredible news report a few minutes ago, and it really gave me a jolt. I honestly didn't know whether it was real, or just some ruse going on in the States that I haven't caught up with yet. Were you watching CCN a couple moments before when they had that story about the emergence of an island in the Pacific?" asked Gordon.

"Yeah, I saw that too, but I didn't know whether to believe it or not. I tried calling a friend of mine who works over at CCN, but apparently he wasn't in. I didn't want to ask the guy who answered the phone about the story in case it was a huge joke, and then I'd just end up looking stupid. But, sure, that was an extraordinary piece of news. If it is some kind of mass-communications stunt, why would CCN risk its journalistic reputation?" asked Takashi obviously confused.

"That's exactly what I was thinking," retorted Gordon. "When's your friend going to be back in the office anyway?" he queried.

"I guess in about half an hour. Want me to give you a call back then?" said Takashi.

"Iíd be very grateful if you did, that is, if you hear something credible. But, to be honest, I'm about one drink away from calling it a night, which means that Iíll probably talk to you in the morning, if thatís O.K.?" asked Gordon.

"No problem, chief. Good night," Takashi replied, hearing Gordon's "goodbye" as he hung up the phone.

Takashi looked at his watch and saw that it was still relatively early, at least by Tokyo standards, and so he decided to call his friend Shoko.

Of all the people Takashi had met over the years, Shoko was one of the most extraordinary individuals he knew. She possessed a naturally eclectic personality and a wildly inquisitive mind. Her heart was strong and compassionate, and, despite her outward charm, internally, Shoko was fortified by an unwavering courage. She had been raised in a family of mixed heritage, her mother was Japanese and her father was Korean, and, using this background as the foundation for her spirit, she confidently embraced the intrinsic diversity of life. Yet, because of her incongruent cultural status, she learned early in life about the inherent malignancies that existed within the human character. However, Shoko always displayed an inexorable determination in response to such narrow-minded depravity, and, when she became an adult, she devoted her professional life to bettering the human condition.

She had succeeded in establishing an internationally respected center, known officially as "The Association for the Promotion and Protection of the Global Community". Her organization participated in a wide range of research and dissemination, relief missions, and fund-raising activities for the advancement of humanitarian and environmental issues. From a personal standpoint, for Shoko, paramount among these topics were women's issues and cultural discrimination. The association had set up one of Japan's most progressive, confidential hotlines for people who had been victimized because of gender, race, or heritage. While leading her staff of nearly one hundred full-time employees in Tokyo, Shoko also completed a variety of volunteer services around the world. Given its status as a nonprofit association, Shokoís center depended on a slow leak of funds that arrived by virtue of charitable contributions, tax schemes, and the guilty consciences of individuals and groups.

Although she cared passionately about her work, Shoko was neither a crusader nor a rebel. Yet with a persistent intensity, she pursued her daily mission of providing assistance to people who had been victimized and protecting natural areas which were in danger of being violated. Shoko hoped that her efforts helped, in some way and at some level, to stave off the habitual negativity of post-modernist life and the global malaise that had infected uncounted millions around the world.

What amazed Takashi the most about Shoko was that she was always composed, positive, and amicable regardless of the emotional and mental burdens created by the immense responsibilities and challenges which she took on. She never was pedantic or self-righteous even if he misspoke about a particularly sensitive topic. Her whole life focused on the process of enlightenment through pragmatic and harmonious means. Shoko was convinced that this was the only way to overcome historical precedents and instances of oppressive and violent indoctrination.

"Hello, Shoko, this is Takashi, how's it going?"

"Hi, how are you doing?" replied Shoko. "I'm really happy that you called. Itís so nice to hear from a friend," she said.

"Well, you can always count on me for friendship, Shoko. But the reason Iím calling is that I just got off the phone with Gordon, your favorite person," kidded Takashi.

"Listen, I try not to dislike anyone, but, honestly Takashi, I can't see how you're friends with that guy. I mean, he's the kind of heartless corporate soldier that I'm constantly having to confront in order to preserve a wildlife area or the homeland of some indigenous people. You and he just don't seem to be of the same ilk," Shoko said, exasperated.

"You can rest assured that none of his deceitful, malevolent influence is rubbing off on me," Takashi jested. "Besides, it's my job to deal with those business types and help them overcome the barriers that obstruct international goodwill. Perhaps my work helps to tame those corporate beasts and makes them more receptive to people like yourself who are enlisting support for worthy causes," he asserted.

"I can see a bit of truth in what you're saying," she conceded.

"However, even though this sounds a bit inimical, the business community has consistently pursued one goal: making money. Itís only been recently that, thankfully, some in their ranks have devised ways to profit through environment-friendly methods. But, the majority still persists in taking a quarterly approach to the overall health of the planet!" stated Shoko.

"I have to agree with your assessment that itís a truly frustrating situation," replied Takashi. "But, getting back to our original conversation, you'll be pleased to know that I don't share Gordon's views on most topics. However, I do enjoy having a few drinks with him, occasionally, and I tolerate his deviousness because he's proved to be an excellent source of information."

"Anyway, he called me, and we were talking about a news bulletin that we both saw on CCN. It was about an island thatís suddenly risen in the middle of the Pacific! The report said that a huge rock formation literally exploded out of the ocean in a matter of hours! Did you see that?" asked Takashi.

"No, I just got in a few minutes before you called, and I haven't watched the news yet. But, I'm going to turn on the TV right now to see if there are any more details. However, that's the weirdest story I've ever heard. Are you joking with me?" questioned Shoko.

"No, not at all," retorted Takashi. "Neither of us could believe it, so I thought I'd ask you."

"All right. Look, I'm totally disorganized at the moment, so maybe I could call you back sometime tomorrow?" queried Shoko.

"Iím not sure where Iíll be, but you can try me here or at the office," Takashi said.

"O.K., I'll get back to you, and thanks for the call," Shoko signed off.

As soon as she hung up the phone, Shoko began the reflex action of doing chores. Like almost everyone else who lived in Tokyo, Shoko had a small apartment, in her case only two rooms, and it constantly needed attention in terms of upkeep. There simply was no extra space to leave things lying around, and each activity had to have a beginning and an end to allow for the commencement of the next procedure. In addition, there was the ongoing work of maintaining a reasonably clean environment within the confined area, and this meant a daily litany of small tasks that took up time. More often than not, Shoko disliked the repetitive nature of these duties. But, on rare occasions, the routine appealed to her because of its detached quality: she could let her mind drift while her body completed the required movements. It was a process that was completely different from her normal way of thinking: usually her thoughts were analytical and deliberate, focusing on both intellectual and abstract concepts. As a result, the mundane job of taking out the trash, for example, was a chance to disengage mentally and let her thoughts flow loosely through a process of relaxed rumination.

Shoko stepped outside and made her way down three flights of concrete steps. She proceeded along a narrow path which wound its way around the apartment complex and led to a couple of metal bins which were used for the disposal of garbage. Shoko was always glad to see the separate receptacles for burnable and non-burnable waste. It was part of a nationwide effort to recycle in Japan, and she was pleased that everyone was obligated to take at least some rudimentary steps towards the proper disposal and/or reuse of materials. She also marveled at the way this type of activity established good habits in many people, setting the example for what she hoped would be more extensive environmental efforts at all levels.

It was late, and the neighborhood was quiet; although it was Friday, some people would have to work the next day and there was an unofficial curfew which reflected the sense of mutual consideration throughout the community. This did not mean that everyone had to be in their apartments by a certain hour, but, since any sound carried far in the silence of the night, whatever activity someone was involved in had to be done discreetly. In the tranquil streets, some people were out walking their dogs, swinging a golf club, or enjoying a stroll while they smoked. It was a relief to live in one of Tokyo's smaller neighborhoods because the night brought this type of respite from the bustle of big city life.

As Shoko walked back around the building, one of her neighbors appeared out of the darkness. It was Ty, an American who lived on the second floor of the building. He was of average height by Western standards, about six feet. However, aside from the members of Japan's younger generation who gradually were beginning to dwarf their grandparents, Ty cast an usually large figure compared to the rest of the area's residents, and Shoko knew immediately who it was.

Like Shoko, Ty was in his early thirties, still single, and immersed in his work. He wrote for a magazine published in English which he had started with the help of both expatriates and some internationally-minded Japanese. He and Shoko had lived at the same apartment complex for more than two years, and, after bumping into each other at odd moments, had slowly become friends. Ty spoke Japanese at a functional level, and Shoko had achieved a similar degree of proficiency in English. Whenever they met, they talked in both languages and helped to teach each other new expressions or special phrases.

Although there were no romantic entanglements, both of them felt comfortable enough to meet socially, and, perhaps if they were not so busy with work, each of them casually and secretly wondered if something more might develop between them. But those thoughts never got in the way of them being neighbors and friends.

"Hi, Shoko," whispered Ty as he approached the building.

"I knew it was you," replied Shoko. "No one else around here takes up so much of the night sky," she joked.

"What can I say?" he demurred. "At least, I'm quiet, right?" smiled Ty.

"Were you running?" asked Shoko.

"Yeah, it's a constant struggle I'm waging with my beer belly. Maybe I should be working as a forest ranger or something that keeps me more active. Then I could drink all the beer I want and still stay in shape," jested Ty.

"It appears that you possess one side that is healthy and one that isnít. Maybe you should just give up beer altogether," suggested Shoko.

This was one of the things that Ty liked about Shoko. She never was afraid to speak her mind, an unusual trait in Japan.

"What? Here in Japan? That would be almost impossible!" Ty mockingly exclaimed.

"Hey, who are you kidding? You told me that you don't really like Japanese beer anyway, and besides, I bet no matter where you lived, you'd still drink," retorted Shoko.

"You're right, I guess I should stop, but they just lowered the price on a few imported beers, so I've got a new temptation," grinned Ty. Shoko changed the subject as they continued to talk in whispers.

"How's work going? The latest edition of your magazine should be out next week, right?" probed Shoko.

"Yes, today was the cut off date for all of this month's articles, so I needed to run to let off some of the tension of being so busy," he admitted.

"We've got some really interesting topics this time, like an article by a Peruvian man of Japanese descent whoís been living and working in Japan for the last three years. It's a really personalized story of the 'good and bad' he's encountered while living in the countryside. We also have a piece written by an 85-year-old Japanese Zen philosopher who explains how those ideas are applicable to everyday life. And then there is an extremely touching story about a Japanese salaryman who rediscovers the importance of his family when his son is hospitalized after a car accident."

"Oh, I almost forgot, there's a somewhat mind-boggling article written by a Japanese career woman. Itís about what she says is a new trend which she refers to as `Sexy-feminism'," explained Ty.

"'Sexy-feminism'?" gasped Shoko, "is your publication turning into some kind of pornographic magazine? Please!"

"No, no, it's not sleazy at all. It's actually a quite compelling statement about how the societal empowerment of women is a movement which doesn't need to duplicate the insidious ways of some of its power-mongering male counterparts. The piece contends that women can take a more enlightened path towards the management and distribution of power in today's world. It's really very well written, although I think she could have created a slightly more intellectual name for this new trend. Maybe she just wanted the name to attract attention," stated Ty.

"It certainly has my attention! It'll probably be the first article that I read!" said Shoko vehemently.

"O.K., please let me know what you think of it. You know that I trust your judgment," replied Ty. In fact, he knew that he did not need to ask for Shoko's opinion. She was one of the magazine's best readers in terms of giving feedback, and, since they were friends, she was always extremely honest with her comments and often quite helpful with her insights.

"Ty, did you hear that report about the huge explosion in the Pacific and the formation of what looks like a new island? I heard that they had something on CCN about it," said Shoko.

Ty tried to muffle his laughter and then said, "Are you putting me on or what?. I overheard some people at the office talking about that story, but I was too busy to ask them about it. It sounded so far-fetched that I thought it might be some office-wide joke that I wasn't privy to. I didn't want to fall prey to our staff's usual high jinks," Ty explained defensively.

"I know it sounds crazy, but I got a call from Takashi, and he was asking me about it. I had just gotten home and hadn't had time to watch the news, but it appears to be something more than a joke," replied Shoko. "Anyway, I thought I'd ask."

"But, to be honest, I'm kind of curious to see what this whole thing is about. I guess I'll go back up to my room and turn on the TV," concluded Shoko.

"All right, let me know if it's anything serious because I don't feel like staying up any later than I have to. I always go to sleep early on deadline day," answered Ty.

"Hey, it's Friday night! Your lofty standing as an eligible bachelor is going to diminish if you don't start socializing a bit more on the weekends," quipped Shoko.

"O.K., enough jokes!" Ty playfully demanded. "In any case, I plan to resurrect my reputation with a night out on the town - I've definitely earned it. That reminds me, do you want to go to a party tomorrow night? It's one of those open get-togethers where a whole bunch of people are meeting at a restaurant," Ty said.

"Sounds great as long as I wouldn't be an intruder. What time?" asked Shoko.

"About seven. I'll leave a message on your machine in the morning with the details," said Ty.

"Thanks! I'll be waiting to hear from you," smiled Shoko, and, with a quick turn of her heel, she headed for the stairs.

Ty remained in the front of the building, though, and completed his workout with some light stretching. However, now that he had finished running, the exhaustion of a demanding week gradually began to overcome him. He knew that after a brief shower he would be ready to sleep, Friday night or not.

Ty strolled up to the second flight, removed his key from its hiding place near his door, and staggered into his room. He was tired but felt good that his work was finished and that he had fulfilled his body's need to exercise despite his fatigue. It was not usual that he let himself feel satisfied. But, regardless of the high standards that he set for himself, he enjoyed his work and knew that it was important to occasionally recognize the value of his accomplishments.

Underneath that rational self, though, dwelled a restless soul. Ty, for better or for worse, had a philosophical outlook on life, and this perspective often dominated his perceptions. The fact that he had been able to create a magazine which contained articles on a wide-range of issues allowed him a partial outlet for the torrent of ideas that whirled around in his head. However, the stark reality was that he seemed to be chasing after answers that ran deeper than what could be resolved in writing; answers that pertained to and addressed any number of societal circumstances and events.

Somewhere, in what he thought was his warped and sordid self, was the burning desire to comprehend and explicate meaningful solutions for what he viewed as the inherent depravity that was characteristically expressed in human life. Clearly, he had created a seemingly insurmountable task for himself, and he felt trapped in a predestined purgatory: he could neither participate in, nor accept, let alone enjoy, life, unless he were able to achieve some level of peace with the apparent nonsensical status quo of human existence. And yet, he realized that the quest to discern or discover comprehensive and omnipotent knowledge might, in the end, lead to his own demise.

For now, though, the sickening yet erotic 'bump and grind' of Tokyo's insatiably fast-paced and unforgiving lifestyle would have to be enough. Ty drifted off to sleep in a tumultuous froth of mental surges.

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