August 1, 2006

Samurai for the sick

Posted in film, martial arts, philosophy at 3:25 pm by Jerry

Lately, I haven’t been able to shake off the sicknesses I’ve been coming down with. I’ll spare you the disgusting details. Instead, I’ll just say, I’ve had colds, flus, and a strange constant dizziness that made my doctor say, “You’re the fifth person who has come in today with this dizziness.”

So, I’m told to rest. I’m also taking something for a sinus infection. And my lovely nurse has saved me again. This time with a liquid combination to ward off an earth shaking cough — Buckley’s followed by a lemon-ginger-tea-with-honey chaser. It’s the only stuff that works.

My beautiful nurse told me to rest on the couch and watch a martial art movie while she instructed a class of university students today. I pulled out The Last Samurai. She said it was a good choice. It is quite the movie. I could care less about what is happening in Tom Cruise’s life outside of this movie, but in it? He does well. And it seems, the more I watch this movie, the more I like it.

The movie starts off with a narrator describing the Samurai…

A handful of brave men, warriors willing to give their lives for what seems to have become a forgotten word.. honor.”

I considered the movie kismet because I had been daydreaming about honoring parents (written two posts ago). And, speaking of kismet, here’s a few lines from the movie..

KATSUMOTO: You believe a man can change his destiny?

NATHAN ALGREN: I think a man does what he can until his destiny is revealed.

Cruise’s character “Nathan Algren” takes notice of the beautiful Japanese culture he is immersed in, saying…

ALGREN: Everyone is polite. Everyone smiles and bows. But beneath their courtesy I detect a deep reservoir of feeling.

I’ll have to watch it again, soon. Because I’m left pondering the ethical relationship between honor and war.



  1. Shuana said,

    Sorry about the illness, but it does seem a bit of a daydream with your beautiful nurse…

    The ethical relationship between honor and war thoughts: When I read “The Song of Roland”, a french narritive epic poem written in the late 11th century, I was really struck with the relationship between enemies. This is a story of the death of Charlemagne’s greatest knight, Roland. The battle was between the Christian Franks and the Islamic Spanish. The descriptions of the enemy show a strong bond between enemies, an honorable, chivaliric, idealization of the other. Of course, ego is involved because if one idealizes their enemy, and conquers them, then the victory is all the sweeter. But when I read this poem I was struck for the first time with the real bond between a man and his opponent. The respect that each gives the other during their fight to the death is all these warriors live for; thus they are willing to submit to their own deaths, and their own victories. Hmmm, I hope this makes sense.

    Get well soon!

  2. Jerry said,


    Ya, that makes a lot of sense. You reminded me of those times when I’ve seen boxers or martial artists hug or bow with sincere feeling (or even gratitude?) after they’ve just beaten the pulp out of each other.

    I still feel that I don’t quite understand this kind of respect. And I’m curious if any warring factions of our current day could possibly have this kind of respect for their enemy. I doubt it. But I wonder — why not?

    Thanks for your concern about my health. 🙂

  3. Eric said,

    Hey Jerry, great post, have you seen Jet Li’s Hero? Amazing movie and wonderful description of a true warrior. I came across a great quote that I think I may get on a shirt. ‘Honour the warrior, not the war’
    Very appropriate given our country’s current view of anyone that slams the Afghanistan fiasco, the ‘if you’re not with us you’re against us’ Bush bullshit that our conservative cowards like to tout’
    Anyway, where have you been lately? Missing the blogs….

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