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Tonight, I am working on writing an essay. Not just any kind of essay, the pathetic, semi-resigned type of essay where I am not writing with a passionate fire in the belly, but instead writing in the exact style on the exact topics that I know will earn me praise and a good grade from the professor. Originally I wanted to write about the theme of transition as it relates to industrialization and incoming Westernization of the Meiji era in Natsume Soseki’s novel Kusamakura (which is where I got yesterday’s quotation for my epitaph!)

My proposal came back choked with red ink, criticizing my idea as being “naive”, “a product of the war machine propped up by fascists in the Ivy League” (I’d mentioned before to this professor that my two previous professors of Japanese literature had been Harvard graduates) and “banal”. I was pretty stung, I am used to criticism of my work and normally welcome it as a way of improving my writing, but this was the first time my topic had been so harshly criticized. I went into the corner to lick my wounds, and decided I would find out what I needed to do in order to earn an A on the actual essay, even though my proposal received only a paltry C-.

After several lectures and reading through the assigned material, I realize what this professor wants out of his students: He wishes for us to write exclusively about his pet topics; the freedom of choosing our own topic is merely an illusion, since he will only favour essays that fall within his interests. Those interests are “the war machine”, “the military industrial complex”, and dense theoretical ponderings related to these terms. So I re-wrote my entire essay (Mercifully it only needed to be five pages) to sandwich in as many references to the military-industrial complex, Wall-Street combines, the Mitsubishi company, and the Japanese war machine as I could.

While re-writing it, I decided to look for quotations from the author to beef up this new angle to my topic, and I stumbled across Amazon, which has all the books I need, but they’re expensive and far, far away, owing to Canada Post’s all-around meandering pace. I’d never get them to my house in time to complete this paper.

So it was then that I realized the time has come for me to save up for a Kindle. If I had one, I wouldn’t need to be vexed over not having the materials I need, they would be merely a click and a tiny credit card payment away. That would make this process (and there’s sure to be more instances of this happening over the semester, writing an essay I find loathsome and boring) a lot easier and less trying on my nerves.

Time to start saving up!

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