9. Mirror, Mirror on the Wall....

Scholarship is a very human activity. Being scholars by no means implies that we forget to eat or sleep. We eat our meals, we get tired, and some of us sometimes behave irrationally. And it is not just at this level. Between the personality of the researcher and the researcher’s theme and approach, there is often a resonant relationship, and the more agreeable the resonance, the better the results of the research activities seem to be. What is more, because it is a human activity, even in scholarship, as with clothing, fashions exist, and no matter what the latest fashion is, it may not be good to a person to whom it is not suited. As it were, for each person there is a type of research that is suitable. My personal experience suggests that by failing to understand the significance of human nature involved in scholarship there are more students than one would suspect, who continue to attach their mind to a duet with a fashionable but unsuitable research theme.

If nobody but Einstein were able to become a scholar, we would all have no choice but to give up all hope. It is because scholarship is a human activity, and not the working of a computer, that even ants or grasshoppers could become attractive scholars depending on their creative thinking, mental attitude and luck. In order to engage in scholarship, it is necessary to work more than anything else at first knowing oneself. The witch in Snow White was able to ask the spirit of the mirror, “Mirror, mirror on the wall . . .” but we who are neither the witch nor Einstein can do nothing other than self-reliant efforts based on proper self-analysis. What are our own strong points and weaknesses of intellect and of character? In what ways are we superior to others and inferior to others? How can we develop our strong points, while overcoming our weaknesses? Self-reflection, self-regulation, self-reform – by the repetition of these and through process of trial and error with oneself as the subject matter, in this way are born the beginnings of cultivating a scholarship that suits oneself.

Children waiting their turn to recite, at the ceremony of graduating from a class on reading of the Koran, Kotodalam village, 1999.

KATO Tsuyoshi
Doing Fieldwork on the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies

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