18 April, Hideaki SENA 

文字数 4,764文字

Despair and Hope


At 9:30 in the morning I was waiting in the Sendai office. It was my first day back to work after the month I'd taken off for depression. NHK’s broadcast guidelines had shifted suddenly, too, and so everyone appearing on the show did so remotely, apart from commentator Kōji Nakamura. This was the first time I’d appeared on TV via Skype.
  We were recording a special called Uirusu vs jinrui 2 (

Virus

vs

humankind

2

) with producer Kyōko Gendatsu. We interviewed Nobuhiko Okabe, Yoshihiro Kawaoka, and Norio Ōmagari about drug development. I was the moderator. The guests in part one were Hitoshi Oshitani and Kōichi Goka, with Nakamura and me. The previous recording had taken place on March 11th, the anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. The next day, before dawn on the 12th, the WHO declared a pandemic. I thought it was our last opportunity to speak in detail with Mr. Oshitani, who is part of the group of experts advising the government.
  In March, they broadcast a special on Arthur C. Clarke that I did. I decided in advance that, of the expected viewer groups (A: those who know little about SF, B: moderate SF fans, and C: core SF readers), I would target A and B but would carefully consider the emotions of C. The program was welcomed by groups A and B, but as I’d expected, the reaction from group C was that they were effectively ignored, or they made attempts to show their superiority. In late March, I inadvertently saw some tweets from group C pointing out a mistake I’d made. Instantaneously, I felt that all my efforts would be destroyed and I would be blamed because of this one mistake, and that whatever I suggested, SF fans would not change. I had negative perceptions of myself, the world around me, and my future. Trapped in despair, the depression I’d had six years ago quickly returned, and my doctor advised me to take a month off from work.
  For a month, I couldn’t write. But in the meantime I picked up a book called

Why

Is

It

Always

About

You?

:

The

Seven

Deadly

Sins

of

Narcissism,

and for the first time I felt like I understood what I’d been dealing with ever since I made my writing debut, and I felt a little better. I also took a step back and was able to take a clearer look at the criticisms on Twitter. Let me emphasize so that there is no misunderstanding: not all of group C are narcissists and I will never begrudge someone kindly pointing out when I’ve made a mistake. I would also like to thank all the text editors and program producers who took the issue on and promptly posted corrections and apologies to the official website. I’m glad I was able to participate in this show.
  I saw a special last week talking about the “altruistic spirit” advocated by Jack Atari. The host asked, “You seem constantly optimistic, but where does that positivity come from?” Atari said, “Positivism and optimism aren’t the same thing. Choosing to think positively isn’t optimism,” which impressed me. It means living your life with human imagination and hope. Clarke advocated optimistic skepticism, but that, I realized, isn’t enough now, and while I will keep learning from Clarke, I should look beyond the limits of self-love and imagine what comes after.
  “The most important thing is not to be optimistic, nor to be pessimistic—it is not to despair.” ─something Mr. Oshitani told me in 2009. The program producer agreed that I, the moderator, could mention Atari.
  So I decided not to be optimistic, pessimistic, or despair about literature. Just to have hope. I started writing again from this day. For the enjoyment of readers.


Translated by Morgan Giles/Arranged by TranNet KK

Hideaki SENA
Born in Shizuoka Prefecture, 1968. Graduated from Tohoku University’s Graduate School of Pharmaceutical Sciences with a doctorate in pharmacology. Made his literary debut in 1995 with

Parasite

Eve

, for which he won the 2nd Japan Horror Novel Award. Won the 19th Nihon SF Taishō Award in 1998 for

BRAIN

VALLEY

. His works span a diverse range of genres, including scientific nonfiction and literary criticism. Became president of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan in 2011, stepping down in 2013. His works relating to pandemics include

Pandemikku

to

tatakau

(Fighting a pandemic) written together with Hitoshi Oshitani and

Infuruenza

21

seiki

(21st century influenza). His recent works include

Kono

aoi

sora

de

kimi

o

tsutsumou

(Let me envelop you in this blue sky),

Mahō

o

meshiagare

(Help yourself to this magic),

Shōsetsu

burakku

jakku

(Black Jack: The novel), and

Porokku

seimeitai

(Pollock technium).

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