Thursday, June 4, 2009
Sharifah Amani, Nothingness, and Kiki Sugino.
While looking at locations for "Wasurenagusa" and meeting with investors in Japan a couple of months ago, I asked our Executive Producer, Kousuke Ono, to take us to Ozu's grave.
So off we went, the four of us. Sharifah Amani (who is to play the lead character Inom), Kiki (the producer who will also play Yukiko), Ono-san himself, and I.
We took a long train ride from Tokyo to Kita-Kamakura station, walked to Engaku Temple at the edge of it, and climbed steep paths and steps to the tomb of one of my favorite filmmakers of all time.
Written on his tombstone was the Chinese character "Wu" ("Mu" in Japanese).
In my opinion, along with the term "Zen", "Wu" is perhaps one of the most frequently misunderstood words in history. It literally means "Nothing", and herein lies the first hint of its hidden meaning.
No one is truly able to understand Nothingness or the figure Zero, any more than they can comprehend the concept of Infinity.
So what does it mean when we say a Thing is in a state of Nothingness? How can Nothing (No Thing) ever be a Thing at the same time?
Perhaps, and I stress perhaps, it has something to do with Lao Tzu's concept of emptiness.
"The True Way is empty
yet it fills every vessel with endless supply
The True Way is hidden
yet it shines in every corner of the universe"
Five times a day, a Muslim is asked to face what some people would describe as The True Way.
He begins by standing upright.
At some point, he lowers his head and torso and bows.
A little later, he finds himself at an even lower position, kneeling and pressing his forehead against the ground.
All the while, as he reduces himself physically, he expresses obeisance and utters words that concede absolute subservience to a Greater Power.
In other words, he drops all manners of arrogance, and sheds any belief of self-importance.
Is he, in fact, approaching the state of Nothingness?