Notes from heaven
In the Japanese language, the act of confessing refers colloquially and largely, to the act of confessing, specifically: one’s romantic feelings for another. So if you said “I have to confess something” in Japanese, 9 times out of 10 it’s gonna be about liking someone.
Kokuhaku (which effectively means “to come clean” or “speak a truth”), is the cognate equivalent of “confession” (Latin/French—> con: intensive + fāteri: disclose) and is just shorthand for telling someone you like them. That’s all. Not even that you’re madly in love. Just, you know: boop. I like you.
This word was uttered a lot on Terrace House, for example. It was never “are you going to tell her?” it was always “are you going to confess?”
Anyway, I recently wondered out loud: why does love have to be a confession? It felt profound to ask this question but in hindsight I think I may have been parsing this linguistic opportunity I’ve just described.
Still, and perhaps it’s because I’m the product of immigration and East Asian self-restraint, but I marvel at people who express liminal romantic affection toward friends with the ease of a breath.
I’m talking about the person who mouth kisses acquaintances to greet hello. I’m talking about the person who maintains touch contact with your arm while talking.
This used to make me extremely uncomfortable, but since C19, most physical greetings have been eliminated altogether, and maybe that’s why: today, I just marvel at the concept of porous interpersonal boundaries. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable anymore but…I dunno, I marvel.
I’m fairly convinced that the most energetic feelings of love are still unspoken. Not that they aren’t expressed, but that words, specifically, transform the energy. And perhaps it is my mistake in believing that the purity of affection is in its living without the container of linguistic intervention, but I like the idea that the most magical feeling is one that can’t quite be articulated, or for that matter documented.
Asa works in porn and I produce gay erotica, and not to put words in her mouth but we had a conversation about how little medical science there is to help the broken hearted and I think it’s fair to say that social intimacy can still be incredibly confusing to both of us despite being so versed in beastly instincts. There doesn’t appear to be any medical value in addressing the consequences of pursuit until they manifest as communicable disease. But I’m trying not to fall into the trap of facile contradictions taught to us by movies like Pretty Woman—a prostitute refuses to kiss anyone on the lips *eye roll* it’s called irony, dad—or the consequences of requiting love despite immoral laws—Harry Potter’s an orphan cuz his parents weren’t supposed to fuck each other. But it’s true that the point where you end and I start, has and might never be, obvious.
I’m going to reframe my first question:
Why do I balk at open expressions of love? Why do words change the tenor of what should be a normalized emotion? How does exposing it benefit anyone? How does exposing it hurt us? Why do so many of us learn to enjoy keeping it a secret?
And now, a jump cut, because I don’t want to answer these questions and I need a thumbnail image for this blog post.
Touch by Adachi Mitsuru, which I invoke once in a while on social media, is one of my favorite manga, and it’s about un/confessed teen love. Guys, someone should really translate this into English.