The British Museum

Moon Man 4
By John Brantingham

I’m talking to a man in a brown suit in the British Museum about an original Hokusai on loan from Japan, and when he catches my accent, he asks me where I’m from.
“Los Angeles,” I say in Californian.
“Los Angeles?” he asks, and he sighs out his West Coast dreams, dreams of sunshine and wealth and convertibles filled with women who help him to forget his discontent. His L.A. is a place of eternal summer where no one is caught up in the frustrating cycle of regret and loss. Everyone there feels joy, has the freedom to pursue passions and impulses, and doesn’t have to deal with the intolerance and slow thinking that has kept him trapped in his mean little world of ambiguities and snagging little comments that he has to analyze to understand.
His Los Angeles is my London, and we’re standing here in front of Hokusai, looking into a beautiful Japanese past, one of drama and nature, and of course, what we miss is that Hokusai was painting a wave that capsized fishing boats, that destroyed crops, that flooded Japan.


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