Going to Yale was liberating because I had a chance to change my life. But it was alienating. Yale tends to foster hyper-competitiveness. What I didn’t realize is that Yale is a gateway to power. People who go to Yale mostly come from a certain social class. They’ve been taught to think and behave in a certain way that allows them to climb the hierarchy in the United States. They have a lot of social skills and emotional intelligence that I didn’t have. They’re able to leverage their social network and use things like their charm, their charisma. They made the most out of Yale because they could expand their social network and could adapt a certain way of thinking that would help them later in life.
I did very well academically. I graduated with distinction in English. But I felt like a complete fraud. I felt I didn’t belong there and it made me really insecure. I didn’t understand my classmates. We weren’t thinking along the same lines.”
“The tongue, the Chinese say,
is like a sharp knife:
without drawing blood.”
“I had never, in my whole life, been able to understand love as a sickness. Love should not destroy our dignity. Beautiful feelings should not make us hang our heads and burn our eyes with tears. When I suggested that she get rid of their pictures and letters to help her forget, she refused, saying, “I can’t shred two years of my life.””
“I’m so odd, and I’m so limited, and I’m so different from the ordinary human being—so you say. I have a strong suspicion that I’m the simplest of you all, and that its my extreme transparency that baffles you. I dont think I ever feel anything but the most ordinary emotions.”
“I told Miyazaki I love the “gratuitous motion” in his films; instead of every movement being dictated by the story, sometimes people will just sit for a moment, or they will sigh, or look in a running stream, or do something extra, not to advance the story but only to give the sense of time and place and who they are.
"We have a word for that in Japanese," he said. "It’s called ma. Emptiness. It’s there intentionally.”
Is that like the “pillow words” that separate phrases in Japanese poetry?
"I don’t think it’s like the pillow word." He clapped his hands three or four times. "The time in between my clapping is ma. If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it’s just busyness. But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension at 80 degrees all the time you just get numb.”
“His body smelled like a precious-wood forest; his hair, like sandalwood, his skin, like cedar. It was as if he had always lived among trees and plants.”
“It’s called the impostor syndrome. It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, because I’m just going, Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud, and that I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved. I can’t possibly live up to what everyone thinks I am and what everyone’s expectations of me are. It’s weird—sometimes [success] can be incredibly validating, but sometimes it can be incredibly unnerving and throw your balance off a bit, because you’re trying to reconcile how you feel about yourself with how the rest of the world perceives you.”