Back to the Books 机上に戻って

As I’ve written in prior posts, I’ve recently been urged by professors to spend more time focusing on “book work,” and writing my dissertation. It is true that my purpose for coming to Japan–thanks to a Monbukagakushô scholarship–is to conduct research for my dissertation. Of course, the time I spend day to day, morning to night, with Somemaru is anything but meaningless. I do learn an incredible amount while with him. Nevertheless, I have a major paper to write. Since it was very hard to speak to Somemaru about this directly, I sent him the following email yesterday afternoon:

I’m sending you this email today because I would like to discuss my future with you. As you know, I discussed my dissertation in the meeting with Prof. XX. He said that, from April, he would like me to make regular presentations on my research, and also take a course on early-modern literature.
This is very difficult for me bring up, but the reason I’m writing this email is to ask for time off beginning in March, so I can get ready for the beginning of the new school year in April.
Every second I get to spend with you is extremely important to me. The very thought of being away makes me sad. The fact that you have taken on an American such as myself, done so much for me, means an awful lot…
In my “desk studies” I have come to understand the way in which scholars perceive things, think, and write, but, as you’ve taught me, scholars often tend to over-categorize things to a point where the essence of the focus (rakugo) is lost.
I did not come to Japan to write a dissertation in this fashion. In order to be able to write a fine paper on Kamigata Rakugo and present it in the United States, it would make me extremely happy if I could continue to benefit from your expert advice.

Somemaru was very understanding in his reply, which included the following:

Okay. I guess you can’t study according to plans if you’re always by my side. Change your frame of mind and immerse yourself in your studies. Stay away from alcohol and women, and, of course, stay healthy.

So, though I am sure that I will continue to meet Somemaru to discuss my research, join him at shows, etc., from time to time, he is being kind to excuse me from full-time deshi responsibilities from March 1, so that I can focus on my studies and write. I will be sad not to see him everyday, but, as he instructed, I will work hard on my studies.







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