2022.12.21 – Please Answer 2022

What’s meant to come will always come. Becoming a normal person again, I was diagnosed with the Wuhan pneumonia last week; no, it’s COVID-19; no, it’s coronavirus infectious disease; no, it’s the coronavirus common cold (I’ll update the term as required by the storyline and authorities).

I originally intended to write a “hardcore” article as usual, but upon reflection, I felt it would be too self-righteous and not respectful enough to the power of nature. Instead, I should take this opportunity to confront my own insignificance. Besides, with the year-end approaching and many people likely entering holiday mode after the World Cup, my readers would probably need a break even if I didn’t.

Coincidentally, I received a “Please Answer 2022” chain letter in Matters, threatening me with misfortune if I didn’t reply. So, cunningly, I submitted the same piece twice, using the chain letter to fulfill my weekly report obligation as well.


1. 2022 is coming to an end, what’s the one thing you want to remember most?

Reuniting with high school teachers and classmates in a small American town.

I’ll spare you the details, as they are just trivial chitchats. In fact, the importance of this seemingly insignificant event lies in reminding me of what I had forgotten – that life also has aspects without public nature, not pursuing meaning, and even being “meaningless,” such as gardening, hobbies, desserts, and housework.

These trivial things may not be meaningful in themselves, but the connections they create with people are.

2. In the third year of the pandemic, the daily life of every city and person has started to change. What have you lost this year? And what have you tried to recover or rebuild?

It actually happened earlier, but I guess I discovered and strongly felt it this year – I hardly watch the news anymore. At least, this has been the year with the least news consumption since I learned languages.

This is supposed to be my answer to what I’ve lost. Of course, I’m answering: I lost the news. The news is lost here.

Of course, I have not ignored those journalists who continue to play their roles and face difficulties in the most adverse environments to establish new outlets. On the contrary, my respect for them has further increased.

3. Please describe someone or something you encountered this year that you care about.

Hikari Mitsushima.

Yes, I watched First Love too, and I was captivated, drunken and disoriented. As for Hikari Mitsushima, my resistance as an uncle is zero.

My generation grew up watching Japanese dramas, like “Love Generation,” “Long Vacation,” and “101 Proposals” — if you think I’m going to brag about how many I’ve watched, you’re mistaken. I haven’t seen any of them. I can’t quite explain why, but it was probably because I happened to experience some typical life events at that age (pretending not to remember), and I was feeling down for a while (pretending it was a short time), not wanting to watch anything.

When I discovered First Love on Netflix, it had just been released and hadn’t gone viral yet. I decided to watch it not because I have a good taste, but because it struck a nerve with me. Maybe it was the vibe of Love Letter, or perhaps it was the call of Hikaru Utada, or maybe it was some buried detail that resonated with me. For example, if the title were only in Japanese as “初恋” and the promotional photos featured young actors (which would not be a detail but a mortal sin), I would have skipped it altogether.

I didn’t plan to analyze the editing, foreshadowing, props, or other aspects of First Love since YouTubers have talked them to death. Anyway, I was captivated early on by Hikari Mitsushima’s performance in the ill-fitting driver’s uniform, which was supposed to be unattractive but conveyed the character’s disconnection with life.

In no time, I willingly accepted the unrealistic pure love, the clichéd scenes, the trite plot, and indulged in the visual, musical, and sensual feast brought by Hikari Mitsushima. The slightly controversial ninth episode, I took it as an optional p.s. that could be there or not; it wouldn’t make a difference. I wouldn’t mind rewatching the last three minutes of the eighth episode ten times, a scene that I knew what would happen but was still heart-wrenching due to Mitsushima’s performance.

Thank you “First Love” and Hikari Mitsushima for allowing me a brief respite, providing me with small yet certain happiness that I can revisit anytime, making up for the imperfections I missed in my youth.

p.s. When talking about nostalgia, I used to think about the 70s and 80s, at most the 90s. Suddenly I realized that what I’m reminiscing about now are the years after the millennium. I wonder when I’ll finally unseal the time capsule containing Hikaru Utada’s First Love, other CDs, and miscellaneous items stored in my mini-storage.

4. In 2022, was there a moment when you felt intense emotions? How did you eventually deal with them?

I’m not one for intense emotions, but am famously known for my facial paralysis. Rather than dealing with intense emotions, I might need to avoid numbness and not get used to it.

Of course, numbness is often the result of trying to cope with intense emotions.

If you insist on asking how I deal with emotions, you can refer to the piece I wrote a year ago titled “Super Earthling“.

5. In the past year, can you mention a viewpoint influenced by others?

None. Choose one of the four reasons:

A. Reading too few books and not watching enough in-depth commentary
B. Algorithms of social media are keeping people with different opinions away from one another
C. Everyone has given up, speaking their own mind, with no intention or ability to influence others
D. All of the above

6. Compared to last year, what changes have occurred in your relationship with your body? Do you prefer your body now?

I’ve experienced a complete collapse from head to toe.

My vision is getting blurry; the dentist warned that my molar might need to be extracted; neck pain is a frequent issue; my left shoulder is difficult to extend, and I realized “back scratcher” is not redundant; when I stand up after bending down, my right knee hurts so much that it’s embarrassing to try to get off the top level of a bus quickly; various body indexes… Oh, right, I think the doctor asked me to follow up on something after my physical examination the year before, but I forgot.

Thanks to BioNTech, my bout with the virus wasn’t too serious. I just had to drink water and sleep (well, it sounds like I don’t usually need to drink water and sleep). I bought a box of painkillers on a whim but didn’t take them for several days, regretting not keeping the receipt to return them. There’s too much paperwork in Taiwan, and my pockets are always filled with receipts and invoices within a day or two.

Not taking medicine is not only because I don’t feel much pain, but also because I rarely take medicine to begin with, to the point where I haven’t even learned how to swallow pills properly. As for whether it’s because I take too few medicines that I don’t know how to swallow them or vice versa, it’s hard to say.

All these signs clearly indicate that my body is like a worn-out car; it can still move, and it can even run downhill like a wild AE86, but if I don’t proactively get it checked, it will be towed away at some point.

I will follow up in 2023, as I don’t want to die just yet.

7. Please share a new area you discovered or continued to cultivate this year.

I absolutely don’t have the time or ability to explore new areas, so I continue to cultivate the “three blankets of freedom”: financial freedom, publishing freedom, and democratic freedom.

Even if it’s just three blankets, weaving them well is already too much, as my abilities are very limited. Therefore, a major focus in 2022 is to summarize financial freedom through the book “Moneyverse: How money works in the multiverse” and begin to practice publishing freedom.

8. The book/movie/photo/quote I’d like to share this year.

There were many good films this year, and it’s even more delightful that Hong Kong movies have regained their vitality. Of course, in terms of output and box office, we are still far behind the so-called “Oriental Hollywood” era, but I don’t care about that. It’s better to have fewer films. After all, what’s the point of having a hundred Hong Kong movies a year if they’re all similar? I’d rather Hong Kong movies maintain low production but create their own unique features, especially the unique issues, scenes, or textures of this place.

But if I had to choose one to share, I’d like to say a few words about Evangelion: 3.0+1.0 Thrice Upon a Time. Although Thrice Upon a Time is a movie from last year, I patiently waited for it to be released in Hong Kong before watching it on the big screen at UA6, no, i mean Movie Town.

Watching Thrice Upon a Time and other chapters of the new theatrical version feels neither like watching a new movie nor revisiting an old one, but more like catching up with an old friend, saying “long time no see,” chatting about the past, and asking, “What if back then…, what would have been a different ending?”

I’m not sure if others feel the same way, but it’s clear that the audience isn’t very young, and there are no parents bringing their children along to watch (if there are, it’s probably the children accompanying the parents). It’s a bit like watching a Ekin Cheng concert, with an unspoken understanding among the audience.

The “what if back then…” mentioned above could be personal choices or jokes of fate, leading to another possible world. For example, I used to like Asuka, but in the possible world of Thrice Upon a Time, I liked Misato more. I don’t know how to analyze this change in myself. Although I don’t rule out the possibility that it’s simply because I’ve reached the age of being an uncle, no longer longing for young girls and learning to appreciate mature women, I vaguely feel that there’s a deeper reason.

Animation isn’t made by “shooting,” so it can’t tell different stories like Blade Runner through editing and eventually give loyal fans a satisfactory “final cut” version. Over the past 20+ years, EVA has gone through TV series, two theatrical versions, and several other versions. This time, with ample time and budget, the story is told completely, and an end is arranged for each major character, leaving no lingering doubts or regrets.

I remember that before the entire credits played at the end, not a single person left the huge theater. When the last name appeared and the lights turned on, it seemed like everyone couldn’t react, unable to accept that this journey had truly come to an end, wondering what to do.

I suddenly mischievously felt that, over the past 20 years, the work owed the audience a perfect ending, and the audience owed the work a sympathetic analysis. It turns out that this is also a beautiful regret.

We need to owe each other; otherwise, how can we reminisce?

9. Fill in the blank: In 2022, ______ Matters.

Freedom

But then again, it’s not just about 2022.


The end.

Extended reading

  1. Please answer 2019:Days are long but decades are short
  2. Please answer 2020:裸辭迎新歲
  3. Please answer 2021:斜槓大叔與暢泳小鴨

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