Air Dolls and Loneliness

Loneliness in a
huge metropolis comes to
all, even air dolls

Air Doll (Kore-Eda, 2009) gives a look into relationships that are caused by loneliness or cause loneliness. Serious loneliness caused by big city life where people go about their own business and pay little if no attention to others. This is another of Kore-Eda`s films looking at society in Japan. Though some scenes are utterly cringe-worthy (people making love to blow-up dolls), it`s very touching and sad for the most part, looking at loneliness in different people, including an air doll who has come to life.

It can be quite lonely to move to a new place, whether a small town or a large city.   Making friends anywhere is difficult when you are facing the fact that most people are reluctant to open up their circle of friends or even just befriend you by themselves, but in a small-town setting it can make a new person feel even lonelier and more excluded I think. In any size of a city, you can distract yourself with more things to do by yourself or by way of meeting people who might be new too (and cities tend to attract a greater number of individual migrants than towns, or worse villages, do). While you may have workmates, you might not click with them enough to want to see them outside of work or they might have other commitments.  People feel increasingly shy about approaching people they want to be friends with as much if they are looking for a new boyfriend/girlfriend.  In a small town, this problem is maximized.

I personally believe a bit of alone time is good for everyone but some people hate the idea of it. Being surrounded by people does not mean you cannot feel lonely however, and being alone as a solitary person (i.e. not married or in a relationship and living on your own) does not mean you feel lonely or are yearning for company all the time. A lot of people do very well on their own but humans are meant to interact and be social. It`s also good for our mental health, and apparently helps us live longer.

In Japanese literature, through the last century, and in this one so far, being isolated is brought up a lot.

Natsume Soseki`s Tower of London gives us an idea of what it was like for the author as a lonely foreign student in London at the beginning of the 20th century and in Foreign Studies by Shusaku Endo, the Japanese student in France, in particular, is also seen to be lonely and only in demand for company by those who exoticise him (this also happens in The Tower of London to Natsume) and even want to convert him to christianity. The one girl he falls for does not feel the same. Their loneliness is pretty much enforced as they are strangers (of a different race) in a strange land.  It must have been hard for them.

To take an example from more contemporary literature, where characters choose to be alone, though society might force their hand a little, Haruki Murakami`s characters are more often than not loners, though they feel comfortable as loners. In Norwegian Wood, Watanabe says to this new girl he meets, Midori, that he does not go out of his way to make friends. In 1Q84, his main character is also a loner who does not have much company apart from a married woman he sees. However, he is not that bothered by it.  The Wind-up Bird Chronicle character is very similar to the two others except that he`s married. Murakami`s new book due to come out here shortly (but already out in Japan and very popular so far) is about a man who is urged by his wife to try and find out why his gang of friends suddenly dumped him while they were all at college.

I`ve lived in places, both home and abroad, where I felt I did not fully fit in, despite making efforts to.   Japan was cool though.  No real issues there.  I`ve lived in towns and cities and the countryside in my own country – so at least I can say that I`ve experienced different places and perspectives – and cities of different sizes abroad (some with a population bigger than my entire country`s).   I`ve only every lived abroad in these particular countries for a maximum of nine months which is nothing when you`re trying to settling in somewhere, you have to give it more time but most of my living stints abroad were restricted to the duration of a school/university semester or university year.  There was one exception where i stayed on for another half a year but I felt it was not working out for me so I left.  I`ve also travelled a hell of a lot, mostly as a solo traveller (during one long stint of travel, I also worked for several months), and have seen yet more places that way.

I`m not that crazy about my own country (I appreciate a few things about it but am, overall, not impressed with it in the greater scheme of things) and so I am itching to go abroad once again.  I really want a change and would also like to live somewhere totally new for longer than a university year.   I plan to take the bull by the horns soon and take on this change quite soon.




Any thoughts? In haiku form or not?

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