The Sunday Series: Sunday September 6, 2015 (Izu Oshima, Tokyo, Japan)
The Sunday Series:
Sunday September 6, 2015
Izu Ōshima, Tokyo, Japan
“If I live, I live, if I die, I’ll die.” There is very little here, except the ocean, which surrounds this island, and the mountains. All structures, and shops are close to the water, as if it has second thoughts being in the jungle like growth of nature. Once you’re on the island, you are here forever. Even if you leave, the insect bites seems to stay with you for a long time. I have rashes on top of other rashes, and for sure, me being here, must have shortened my life by at least minutes if not longer. If I die on this island, I would haunt it forever. I don’t believe death is the end, but really a continuation of one’s hell. Once you throw the dice against the wall, and your numbers don’t come up - you’re fucked, and you’re fucked for life.
I came to this island because I needed to test myself in the sense of I would choose life over death. To me, it is basically the same. The fact it is in the middle of summer, which means the weather is not only hot 24 hours a day, but also humid, where one’s sweat seems to attract every insect in existence on this island. The most common insect I have here is an overlarge spider. When you walk down one of the paths or even the street that circles around the island, which is a two-lane road, one often walks into a giant spider web. If I take a ten minute walk anywhere, I find my hair has cobwebs and an occasional living creature of some sort. The other creature I see here, and I see a lot of, is cats. Most, if not all, are wild. They don’t look approachable, but still they are beautiful creatures. I wasn’t sure if it was due to my exhaustion from the heat, but I could have sworn I saw a cat as big as a large dog. It was an orange kitty, and looked totally normal, except it was huge. I immediately walked the other direction, because for sure, I felt the animal would have approached and ate me. I think it would go for the eyes first and then the hair of my body. I then imagined that the cat would drag me into the bushes and eat the rest of my body.
I did see an odd sight, when walking down a dark road, there were two crows in the street, picking on something. As I slowly approached these flying rats, I can see they were eating a dead squirrel. Which amazingly enough, I never see these critters on trees or anywhere else. Only once, and this squirrel is quite dead, yet still, a meal for the birds. I even saw a deer with horns, but he or she pretended to hide from me in a bush. The deer never lost sight of me as I slowly walked down the street. As a human, I don’t feel that I should be on this island whatsoever. It belongs to creatures and nature. I often felt this way when I walk around the dog park in Silver Lake. Humans take their dogs here, but it seems like a concentration camp to me. There used to be grass, but now it is nothing but dirt and dogshit. There is something depressing to me when I see humans playing with their pets - it reminds me of master and servant. One can’t escape the horror of being human, and being part of the human system where one looks for love wherever they can find it. Even for a dog that clearly is with you because one feeds it. The beast must conform to the human’s point-of-view of what an animal is - in other words, their pet or animal must reflect the owner’s ego. Here on the island, beasts (cats) run free and I find it beautiful, because here they are - as they are meant to be. Not a human’s concept of a beast, but truly a beast on their own terms.
I spend my time writing, mostly at the abandoned elementary school. My wife and I set up a portable studio within the space, which is jammed full of images of students and teachers who are no longer working there, and more likely no longer alive. Even then, nature is taking over the room. Insects roam freely from one body to the next, and when I take my clothes off to take my daily cold shower, I look like a map, not made by human intelligence, but from an insects point-of-view. So if I do die here, I will become part of the natural world - food for the cats, crows, and a desert for the insects.
- Tosh Berman, Tokyo, Japan
Images by Lun*na Menoh