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My Memoirs of Geisha (Original writing 1/9/06; revised 1/18/06)

I loved this movie. My eyes were delighted by both shadow and delicate beauty. It’s horrible to imagine the hopelessness of falling into the life of a geisha – yet I’m held tight to its image: moving works of art; “The artists of the floating world.” They did not sell sex; they sold works of art, to the extreme, by sacrificing an identity and life of choice. The concept of a geisha, a beautiful living piece of beauty, is wondrous, and it’s no surprise that this tradition lasted as it did. But what a paradox, as well, for how beauty masked the fierce world underneath: deception, rumors, lies, spite, competition, turning friend against friend—all for the sake of money. Need I draw a conclusion?

This movie reminds me, and challenges me, on the idea of beauty. As humans, we are able to create artistic works that convey order, harmony, and higher ideals, far from the world of pain, darkness, suffering, and death. But can we ever really escape these things? Are artistic pursuits a waste, when we all perish in the end? Why try to chase after beauty when all we do is create a false world, like the painted mask of a geisha?

The cherry blossoms in the film flourish at their peak. In all their splendor, they bloom, delight us, yet remain delicate. As soon as they come, they flutter away, leaving us with bare branches. What a metaphor for life. But in their departure, their memory remains. There is always hope in our hearts that the blossoms will come again. It’s the idea that beauty is always present in our hearts, even if we don’t see it at that moment.

So it is in our world. Beauty fades, life falters, but it always comes again. And we pursue works of art to remind us of these pinnacle times to keep the idea alive.

Perhaps arts and beauty even exist as a memory of a world beyond this one, depending on what you believe. Maybe they trickle from a world known deep in our hearts. One ever present, and so beautiful, that we are willing to suffer the pains of this world to return to that eternal bliss that some call Heaven, and some the Great Spirit, or the Universe.

Whatever it may be, may we all know how to hold on to that memory.

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