I am a Cat (Chapter 8 b) Section 274 Study Guide

Practice text with full furigana

ぴんすけきしゃごなにったってらんかおをしておればいいじゃないか。どうせくだらんのだから。中学ちゅうがく生徒せいとなんかかま価値かちがあるものか。なに妨害ぼうがいになる。だって談判だんぱんしても、喧嘩けんかをしてもその妨害はとれんのじゃないか。ぼくそうてんになると西洋人せいようじんよりむかしの日本人にほんじんほうがよほどえらいとおも。西洋人のやりかた積極的せっきょくてき積極的と云って近頃ちかごろ大分だいぶ流行はやが、あれはだいなる欠点けってんっているよ。第一だいいち積極的と云ったって際限さいげんがないはなだ。いつまで積極的にやりとおしたって満足まんぞくと云ういきとか完全かんぜんと云うさかいにいけるものじゃない。むこうひのきがあるだろう。あれが目障めざわになるからはら。とその向うの下宿屋げしゅくやがまた邪魔じゃまになる。下宿屋を退去たいきょさせると、そのつぎいえしゃくさわ。どこまでっても際限のない話しさ。西洋人のくちはみんなこれさ。ナポレオンでも、アレキサンダーでもって満足したものは一人ひとりもないんだよ。ひとわん、喧嘩をする、先方せんぽう閉口へいこうしない法庭ほうていうったえる、法庭で勝つ、それで落着らくちゃくと思うのは間違まちがいさ。こころの落着はまであせったって片付かたづことがあるものか。寡人かじん政治せいじがいかんから、代議だいぎ政体せいたいにする。代議政体がいかんから、またなににしたくなる。かわ生意気なまいきだってはしをかける、やまが気に喰わんと云って隧道トンネル交通こうつう面倒めんどうだと云って鉄道てつどう。それで永久えいきゅう満足が出来できものじゃない。さればとって人間にんげんだものどこまで積極的に我意がいとお事が出来るものか。西洋せいよう文明ぶんめいは積極的、進取的しんしゅてきかもれないがつまり不満足ふまんぞく一生いっしょうをくらす人のつくった文明さ。日本にほんの文明は自分じぶん以外いがい状態じょうたい変化へんかさせて満足をもとめるのじゃない。西洋とおおいちがところは、根本的こんぽんてき周囲しゅうい境遇きょうぐううごかすべからざるものと云う一大いちだい仮定かていもと発達はったつしているのだ。親子おやこ関係かんけい面白おもしろくないと云って欧洲人おうしゅうじんのようにこの関係を改良かいりょうしてちつきをとろうとするのではない。親子の関係は在来ざいらいのままでとうてい動かす事が出来んものとして、その関係の下に安心あんしんもとむる手段しゅだんこうずるにある。

Rough translation

"Does it really matter what Pinsuke or Kishago might say? At the end of the day, it's all just mindless prattle. And why mix it up with middle schoolers? They disturb your peace, do they? Have tongue lashings and confrontations made them any less disruptive? When it comes to things like this, our Japanese forebears were wiser by far, as I see it, than their Western counterparts. The Western approach is touted as positive and proactive, and to great fanfare of late, but it's profoundly flawed. For one thing, initiative knows no bounds. You can assert your will, for as long and as far as you like, but to what end? When is enough ever enough? Take those cypress trees. You judge them an eyesore and cut them down. Beyond is that lodging house, newly obstructing your view. Drive away the lodgers, and the next house on stokes your ire. Where does it ever end? This is the Western approach. From Alexander the Great to Napoleon, were they ever satisfied with their conquests? A man provokes you, confrontation ensues, he won't back down, you take him to court and prevail. But don't imagine, even for a moment, that you've put the matter behind you. You can fret and fuss, tying up loose end after loose end, but you'll have no peace till you're in your grave. Men don't like oligarchy, so they establish a representative government. The representative government lets them down, so they clamor for revolution. Rivers are brash, so we tame them with bridges. Mountains hinder us, so we tunnel through them. Traffic is a bother, so we lay down railways. Our satisfaction never lasts long. And anyway, even the most proactive of men can only exert his will to a limit. Western culture may be proactive and enterprising, but it breeds and feeds on perpetual discontent. In old Japan, on the other hand, satisfaction was not sought through changes external, but rather through inner reflection. Where it departs greatly from Western culture is in its fundamental premise that the world outside one is best left be. Take generational strife within the family. Unlike Europeans, who seek to bring about harmony through relational innovations, Japanese saw inter-generational strife as an immutable part of the human experience. Within that context, they worked to reign in and placate their passions."

Vocabulary

ぴんすけ Pinsuke (Kaneda crony who works at same middle school as the master)きしゃご Kishago (Kaneda crony who works at same middle school as the master)なに what; whateverったって might sayらんかお look of indifferenceくだらん trifling; insignificant; not worth bothering with中学ちゅうがく middle school生徒せいと students; pupilsかまう care about価値かち value; merit; worth妨害ぼうがい disturbance; disruption談判だんぱん exchange of words; dialog喧嘩けんか quarrel; fight; confrontationぼく I; meそうう that kind of; suchてん points; matters西洋人せいようじん Westernerむかしの of long ago; of former times日本人にほんじん Japanese (people)ほう alternative (of two choices)おもう think; consider; believeやりかた way of doing things; manner; approach積極的せっきょくてき positive; proactive近頃ちかごろ recently; of late大分だいぶ very much; a great deal流行はやる be fashionable; be in vogueだいなる is big; is great欠点けってん fault; flaw; shortcomingっている have; possess第一だいいち first of all; for starters際限さいげん limits; boundsはなし situation; caseやりとおしたって even if one pushes through満足まんぞく satisfaction; contentmentいき region; level完全かんぜん perfect; completeさかい border; boundaryむこう beyond; yonderひのき Japanese cypress (tree)目障めざわり eyesore; unwelcome sightはらう clear away; remove下宿屋げしゅくや lodging house邪魔じゃま nuisance; disturbance退去たいきょさせる dispatch; send packingつぎ nextいえ house; dwellingしゃくさわる touch a nerve; rile oneって go; proceed; advance (to)くち manner; approachナポレオン Napoleon (Napoleon Bonaparte)アレキサンダー Alexander (Alexander the Great)って win; prevail; triumph一人ひとり one (person)ひと a person; a manわん not to one's liking; disagreeable先方せんぽう the other side; the other party閉口へいこうしない not be silenced; not back down法庭ほうてい court of law (usually 法廷ほうてい)うったえる file a complaint; challenge (in court)落着らくちゃく settlement; conclusion間違まちがい mistake; error; fallacyこころ heart; mind; soulぬ die; perish; pass awayあせったって fret; fuss; stew片付かたづく be put in order; be set rightこと situation; case寡人かじん政治せいじ oligarchy代議だいぎ政体せいたい representative governmentなにか something or other; this or thatかわ river生意気なまいき impertinent; impudent; pushy; brashはし bridgeやま mountain隧道トンネル tunnelる dig; excavate交通こうつう traffic面倒めんどう trouble; bother鉄道てつどう railroad; railwayく lay out; lay down永久えいきゅう lasting; persisting; permanent出来できる come about; come to beさればとって nevertheless; even at that人間にんげん human beings; men我意がい self-willとおす push through; persist in西洋せいよう the West; the Occident; Western countries文明ぶんめい culture; civilization進取的しんしゅてき enterprisingかもれない it may be that ...不満足ふまんぞく dissatisfaction; discontent一生いっしょう lifetime; one's whole life throughつくった made; produced日本にほん Japan自分じぶん oneself以外いがい other than; apart from状態じょうたい situation; state変化へんかさせて change; alterもとめる seek; desire; persueおおいに very much; greatlyちがう different (from); counter (to); at odds (with)根本的こんぽんてきに fundamentally; basically周囲しゅうい surroundings境遇きょうぐう circumstances; environment; situationうごかすべからざる mustn't be moved; is not to be moved一大いちだい仮定かてい single overriding assumption; key guiding principleもと basis; foundation発達はったつしている has been developed親子おやこ parent and child関係かんけい relationship面白おもしろくない stale; tedious; uninspiring欧洲人おうしゅうじん European (persons)改良かいりょうして improve; make betterちつき stability; steadiness; harmony在来ざいらいのまま as is; as has been安心あんしん relief; peace of mindもとむる seek; desire; persue手段しゅだん means; way; measureこうずる work at; come up with