Friday, December 10, 2010

Nagasawa 2

"I don't give a damn about power and money per se. Really, I don't. I may be a selfish bastard, but I'm incredibly cool about shit like that. I could be a Zen saint. The one thing I do have, though, is curiosity. I want to see what I can do out there in the big, tough world."

"And you have no use for 'ideals', I suppose?"

"None. Life doesn't require ideals. It requires standards of action."


"Tell me, Nagasawa," I asked, "what is the 'standard of action' in your life?"

"You'll laugh if I tell you," he said.

"No I won't."

"All right," he said. "To be a gentleman."

I didn't laugh, but I nearly fell off my chair. "To be a gentleman? A gentleman?"

"You heard me."

"What does it mean to be a gentleman? How do you define it?"

"A gentleman is someone who does not what he wants to do but what he should do."

"You're the weirdest guy I've ever met."

"You're the straightest guy I've ever met," he said. And he paid for us both. (NW 55-56)


Tulkinghorn said...

Other than the phrase "I'm incredibly cool about shit like that," this would not be out of place in The Last Chronicle of Barsetshire...

Except of course the ideals (excuse me, 'standards') were so internalized that they were never discussed this directly.

David Chute said...

I think Nagasawa is a Japanese student type that doesn't quite exist in the US, except perhaps among rich kids at the Ivies (cf certain characters in "The Social Network"): He's the poised and handsome son of an established elite family who will go straight from Tokyo University into the diplomatic service. He's very nice to Toru, the narrator, who still manages to suggest that he is a bit of a dick. (He's atroicious with women, for example.)

Wonderful novel, needless to say.

David Chute said...

The '60s are upon them, so it's my guess that Nagasawa will be targeted by feminists at some point, who may scuttle his brilliant career.

Tulkinghorn said...

As philosophy, bad... But as a creative strategy.... not so bad?