‘Anerkennen’ & Call Me!


November has a way of coming around again; the light gets colder and the air gets darker.

Even amidst the planetary crises that weigh so heavily on the minds of everyone I meet, the rhythm of season change beats on, but is experienced again and again here in these times as broken and lacking in the comforts of fulfilled expectations and reassuring cycles. We seek in vain for the crowd; we cannot find our loved ones. And then, given this time of my year, there is the conscience – seeking recognition.

Bad conscience draws me to thinking over the real aim of recognition. Recognition has a history in philosophy as “anerkennen‘; not recognition as in, “I’ve seen you before, I recognize you. Didn’t we meet somewhere before?” But recognition as “I acknowledge you. I accept you as you are and as you have become.” Pehaps even, “I don’t reduce you to a false, distorted, or wounded being.” Whatever has formed you to now, it is your person; it is all that you are; and all that you need and desire is worthy. And all that you lack, you are owed by those who claim you and say they love you.

Today is my son’s birthday; your birthday Rui. Born in Queens, New York on November 16, 2005. An astonishing day, in an astonishing year. He seemed very fragile at the start, but also not so fragile. Bound for life and changing so rapidly; still he seemed beautifully completed on that day. Today, Rui, you’re sixteen.

What you Rui, my son, must never give in to is the symbolic and social patterns imposed on you of a slighted recognition; a representation of you, and communication about you that subjects you to domination, or hostility, to being disrespected, disparaged, or maligned.

That is what is sadly on my mind today. To be a son without knowledge of his father, just as to be a father without knowledge of his son, carries a stigma. To admit to this condition to others is somehow still potentially more shaming. A person can admit internally “this is what I am; this happened to me.” But to identify yourself so to others carries an extra burden of insult, an unwelcome description. And all sorts of suspicion and piteous glances.

Who is your father, and where did you come from? “Don’t ask; don’t tell.” That’s the answer they want you to give. But hold onto the hope that you don’t have to let that cruelty be your answer. Live, and let the living be restored.

The season came despite our wariness. I’ll visit my father, sister, and brothers before it’s passed on. And I’ll carry you in my heart and mind, in the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, all along the way.

Call me, Rui boy.

Elusive Dreams

Sometimes in our lives
We all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow
Lean on me
When you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on…
For it won’t be long
Till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on
Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill
Those of your needs that you won’t let show
You just call on me brother when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
We all need somebody to lean on
Lean on me
When you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on…
For it won’t be long
Till I’m gonna need somebody to lean on
Call me
If you need a friend
Call me
Call me
Call me
Call me

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
It’s not warm when she’s away
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And she’s always gone too long
Anytime she goes away

Wonder this time where she’s gone
Wonder if she’s gone to stay
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And this house just ain’t no home
Anytime she goes away

And I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know, I know, I know, I know
I know, I know
I oughta leave the young thing alone
But there ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
Only darkness every day
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone
And this house just ain’t no home
Anytime she goes away
Anytime she goes away
Anytime she goes away
Anytime she goes away


4 thoughts on “‘Anerkennen’ & Call Me!

  1. Brian we have been in contact in the past. I am sorry that you have had to spend a yet further birthday apart from your son. Today marks 10 years since my son was abducted to Japan from London and his birthday is also in November – he turns 13 on the 28th. Please keep up the posts. Richard

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    1. Thank you for staying in touch Richard, and for the sympathetic response.
      I admit freely I have not been keeping up the posts as I wish and as I should. The stalemate stagnated early; in effect, it was an unpunished crime, unrecognized by the Japanese state, and met with brutal indifference and a lot of faked concern by the American one. I suppose that’s why I write notes here and there about philosophical “recognition” like this one. To stake a claim on the grotesque damage done to Rui’s and my reality, with a better understanding than I ever wanted to have of why the point of philosophy should not be merely to “interpret” the world, but “to change it.”
      You lost your son at three; I lost mine at 4 1/2. We’re on the same dark road. Solidarity!

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  2. What should be a day of celebration has become, for all these many years, a perennially sad moment. May this day in November soon become one where we once again recognize the bond between father and son to be unbreakable, despite the efforts by a few who are incapable of comprehending its essential strength.

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    1. Thank you so much Jeff. Rui is old enough to formulate an understanding of what happened to him. It’s an open question whether what Rui knows and what a young, near-adult like him can now understand about the motives that his mother and her family and friends were driven by, provides any space for challenging the official story. The Japanese system seems to me rife with an intense relativism that is very ideologically demanding. To ask a person to see the outside of that fog is a lot to ask; but it’s not impossible.

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