Of Senility And Arrant Orgiastic Power

Last Friday the Old Guard (Noda, David) and one detachment of the Middle Guard (Jaime) formed up around the corner table of Kodama jansou.

David arrived from a TOEFL class which he terminated early as there was only one student and she raced through the alloted tasks in double-quick time. That meant that he could enjoy his traditional dish of Mama’s yaki-meshi setto at his leisure before the commencement of hostilities.

David has been reading Han Suyin‘s mid 20th century classic Hong Kong novel, A Many Splendoured Thing, and chatted cheerfully to Noda about it while awaiting the advent of Jaime.

There are some fine passages, but this one stands out:

Since we are, each one of us, unequal, and equal opportunity does not exist, I have never been able to understand why one should not accept to do evil as well as good, and with just as much clarity. I have a deep suspicion of philanthropists and do-gooders generally. I believe in relationships between people, devotion to friends, sticking to principle, and the pursuit of the absolute in oneself, not of perfection to impose upon others. I am feudal and a Taoist, and use despotism with enlightenment, for I am a doctor. One has to impose upon the sick one’s own will, and anything else is hypocrisy and nonsense. Doctors use power so much and get so much pleasure out of it… This is arrant, orgiastic power, the most corrupting one to the soul: that of doing good. p. 110

Once the game got underway, David continued on his recent point-shedding form, while Noda exhibited signs of going senile to the extent that he could not even remember how to say the word “senile” in Japanese.

The prospect of David and Jaime being able, with clarity, to do their devoted friend Noda the evil of clobbering him while he was wallowing in senility was somewhat called into question when Noda turned over a completed Kokushimusou hand.

There was one bright moment of clobbering Noda on David’s part Midway through the evening when David, needing just the 1-Coin to finish declared “Riichi” with the 4-Coins and 7-Coins in his discard pile. Noda, himself now Tempai, pushed out the 1-Coin which led to a spontaneous eruption of joy from David that the Old Devil had just for once fallen into the trap… Of course, Noda had been aware of the danger, but had no better option available. It just makes a change to see Noda given the squeeze!

Then in the last game it began to look like “business as usual” as Noda, second South Oya, began winning hands and racking up 100-tenbou. Noda took his revenge on David for showing overmuch pleasure in that 1-Coin result, and by the time Noda was toppled from the Oya-ship, David’s tray had been emptied.

It was during Noda’s Oya-ship that David had begun to play with the careless abandon of a lost soul, while expatiating on how when the luck is not with you – ever (as it seemed) – you might just as well take no thought for the morrow and hurl out tiles at random.

Remarkably, it was at that point that David’s luck began to turn. Actually, now I think about it, it is often the case that a person’s luck has already turned at the moment of most wounded complaint, as with Jaime’s oft heard mantra of

“I’m out of luck tonight… RiichiTsumo!”

Thus it was that on the last Oya-ship of the evening, the chief luck-bewailer of the night, David, with arrant orgiastic power, made a Last Stand that refilled his tray with Jaime’s score sticks, ended the evening top dog, and climbed off the bottom of the Grand Accumulated Points Chart, while Noda crept into the black with just enough points to set a new “best score” record on the same table.

David Hurley