Delving into the Intangibles


Gorimu-chu is an old Japanese phrase meaning, “I have no idea what’s going to happen.” It is based on a Chinese folk legend about a Taoist magician who creates a fog (mu) spreading over five Chinese miles (gori) to deceive the eyes of people, and disappears into(chu) it.

Originally, it might have been an expression describing how very difficult life sometimes is, since “nobody knows what the future holds.” The reason I like this Intangible expression so much, however, is because I feel a slight sense of adventure or excitement, and perhaps some romanticism, imagining a brave man wading through a fog with zero visibility.

Younger people nowadays maybe cannot figure out how many kilometers make up a gori, or they might not be able to understand the expression itself. But no need to worry: they live in an age of car navigation systems giving them all the solutions.

With the advent of the twenty-first century, it has become possible for us to obtain all sorts of information instantly. An armed drone can kill you, with surgical precision, no matter where you are hiding, even in a closet. There is no secure place. In England, 4.5million surveillance cameras constantly watch the population. A similar number of cameras are believed to be installed in Japan, and, from 2016, every citizen will be numbered and stripped bare, personal information-wise. Up until now, to identity ourselves, all we needed to do was show a passport or driver’s license, but the individual numbering system will change people’s lives profoundly. A transparent world––without any fog––is closing in on us.

It’s scary, isn’t it, to live in a world like this? It’s hard to believe anyone can live under such a situation, with technology forever leading human beings on and on. If the consequence is that we lose security and comfort, it would be much better, no matter what people say, that we slow down the pace of “progress.”

Which is more scary, Intangible fear that is invisible or Tangible fear that is visible? I, myself, have come to think that the approaching info-controlled society is more dangerous and scary.

The reason is simple: we can manage the Intangible fear of our inner world of emotions, death or uncertain fate. How? Either by giving up all thought of finding an answer or by controlling the fear through some means or another. My age tells me that I cannot come up with an answer anyway. And time is running out, so it is no use worrying about the uncontrollable.

Any sort of fog will eventually clear up. Don’t you think, on the other hand, it would be scarier living in a dehumanizing, info-controlled society?

Human beings are attracted to something that is mysterious and enigmatic. If you feel a sense of fear, is it not better to know that it, too, was the result of Intangible Power?
Is it only me who feels something nostalgic about the phrase gorimu-chu?

I would like us to cherish this almost-defunct expression once more.

It could be that an essential part of this wonderful thing we call “human nature” is the capacity to be scared by the invisible. Wasn’t it Hamlet who mistook his own shadow for his father’s ghost?

If a fox brings me a lantern in a fog, this becomes a thrilling fantasy for me… yes, just like in Disneyland.