During my office hours this afternoon, I enjoyed chatting with a student about Kenzaburo Oe, whom this student read in a literature class lately.
When I lived in Berkeley, I purchased several copies of Oe’s writings at Moe’s Books and Black Oak Books. One day I wandered into Amoeba Music on Telegraph Street and – amazingly! – found his son Hikari Oe’s music… not one but two C.D.s! The songs have lovely titles: “May the Plane Not Fall,” “Summer in Kitakaru,” “Barcarolle,” and “Requiem for M.”
When I was writing my dissertation, I listened to these C.D.s frequently. Oe’s piano and flute compositions helped to clear my mind – create a quiet mental space – for hours upon hours of concentrated writing. As a person who played flute and piano from childhood through college years, these two instruments hold special places in my heart.
Coincidentally, Kenzaburo Oe was invited to give a keynote lecture at Berkeley that year. I showed up early so I could procure a good seat in the giant lecture room – more like a ballroom – at the top of Barrows Hall. He was sitting outside on a “lanai” of sorts, reviewing his notes. As I peeked at him through the glass, he peeked back at me and smiled.
After the lecture, there was, of course, a long line of people waiting to exchange a word with him, take a picture, or receive an autograph. I brought the two C.D.s by Hikari and, proud father, he beamed widely and autographed behalf his son. I was pleased to share how much I enjoyed his son’s music compositions. I continue to enjoy them today. A Healing Family, illustrated by his wife, is still one of my favorite books, too.
postscript prayer: …grace through faith, not by works…in hikari we see grace.