NARRATOR: "Today's art club meeting is currently on hold while everyone waits for Nomiya to show up. I take this time to try and explain my theory about Yamaku to Rin. I've tried to figure out what exactly about the school feels so special to me; that concept I unsuccessfully tried to explain to Yuuko the other day. It's still difficult, but the track meet and the time I've spent observing my fellow students have helped my ideas mature a little."

HISAO: "Have you noticed that people talk all the time? I can't really explain it, but..."

NARRATOR: "Once again, as I try to explain my observation, I'm struggling for words. The student body is heavily cliqued, and I'm only now beginning to make sense of the intricate grouping and popularity networks. And yet, the feeling of being a part of a group is stronger here than I remember it being in my old schools."

HISAO: "I'm trying to say that this school isn't like other schools. Or at least, the students aren't, even after discounting the obvious. ...Do you know what I mean?"

RIN: "I don't know what you mean."

HISAO: "Oh, well... whatever, then."

NARRATOR: "I want to pursue the issue, but at that point, Nomiya arrives. The teacher is wiping sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief and breathing rather heavily. He quickly glances over the room, then settles down a bit."

NOMIYA: "Hello, hello; apologies for being late. Is everyone present? Good! I must confess, I haven't really planned anything for today as I have been extremely busy, lately. But I'm sure we can come up with something entertaining. Anyone have any suggestions? I was thinking we could have a discussion circle since we haven't had one in a while. I, at least, found the last one magnificently enjoyable."

NARRATOR: "There are some murmurs here and there, but nobody raises their voice in support of or against Nomiya."

NOMIYA: "We could delve into various movements of art. Or does someone have a good topic in mind? Come on, throw it out there. It doesn't matter if it's silly or odd, we can always cook up something interesting!"

NARRATOR: "Nobody seems to be brave enough to make such a suggestion. As the awkward silence refuses to be broken, I lift my hand in the air."

NOMIYA: "Oho? Our newest friend seems to have something on his mind. Speak up, my boy, speak up!"

HISAO: "Um, well... I don't know about anyone else, but I've always wondered why art exists in the first place."

NARRATOR: "My voice trails off. A silence sets in the room, and nobody makes a followup on my meek suggestion. Then, the teacher bursts in laughter."

NOMIYA: "Hohoho, excellent! Very good, very good indeed. Right out of the gate with the big one, huh? Fabulous!"

NARRATOR: "Chuckling, he shifts some papers around on his desk for a few moments. When he's done, he appears to have made some sort of decision."

NOMIYA: "Very well, then. Let us run with this and see where it gets us, shall we? Oh my, even an old fogey like me gets excited when such delicious enthusiasm is present. Oh my, indeed. Let me gather my thoughts a moment so I can figure out a good starting point for everyone."

NARRATOR: "For some reason the teacher seems to be almost literally bursting with excitement. He scribbles a few things down on a loose sheet of paper, then cleans his glasses with the handkerchief. He strikes a pose, then freezes for an overtly dramatic, artistic pause that spans what must be half a minute. It's so quiet I could hear a pin drop."

NOMIYA: "First, let's come up with a few questions that we want answered, such as “What is art?” and “Why does art exist?” Anyone have any questions that might be related?"

NARRATOR: "The boy with sunglasses pipes up almost immediately. His voice is soft and quiet, and I have a hard time making out what he says."

SUNGLASSES BOY: "What defines an artist?"

NARRATOR: "After him, another question comes up."

STUDENT: "If I fill a cardboard box with water and call it art, is it art?"

NARRATOR: "Everyone laughs at that, even the teacher."

NOMIYA: "Great! Wonderful, all of these! Let me start by saying that this is not a clear-cut issue by any means, and as such, I'm not going to give any answers to you. I'm only going to speak from my own perspective. Scholars have argued about these sorts of questions since time immemorial, and there has never really been a broadly applicable consensus reached. There are, however, some qualities that most tend to generally agree upon. Hopefully, you all should find these acceptable as well. In short, art defines itself. It simply cannot be contained to a definition from the outside, since the boundaries of art expand and contract from forces within. Every day, someone somewhere comes up with something completely outrageous that challenges any and all preconceptions. The core reason for this is that rather than the rational side of the mind, art appeals to the intuition, the instinct, the primal. You would find it very hard to explain why exactly it is that you enjoy some particular style or piece, no?"

NARRATOR: "He doesn't wait for a response before continuing."

NOMIYA: "This is exactly why. So, art is this sort of wild, uncontrollable thing that lurks somewhere deep in our subconscious. Now, why does it exist?"

NARRATOR: "Nomiya apparently expects someone to pipe up with a guess, but as nobody dares to interrupt his inspired speech, he continues."

NOMIYA: "It was a trick question! You see, art also validates itself. Generally speaking, you might say that art exists for no other purpose than itself. It's something that exists merely to leave a mark in history. It's the defiance of a mortal against the face of darkness, as was once said. Art is truly the proof of our existence. You all should know that human culture and civilization are tightly tied to the existence of art. Then, what about artists? What drives a man to dedicate his life to a thing so fickle and mysterious that it even defies definition? There are as many answers for this as there are artists, but if I had to put it into words... an artist doesn't make art because he can, but because he must."

NARRATOR: "Nomiya takes a pause, and his gaze sweeps over his audience, eyes flaring with passion."

NOMIYA: "It is obvious that art touches the very soul of each and every human being in one way or another. So, if you were given a chance to connect with your fellow man in such a fundamental way, how could you not? There is a poem I'm very much fond of, and I shall recite the most well-known part of it to you now. I feel that, for me personally, of all possible things it captures best the essence of what it means to be an artist."

NARRATOR: "Nomiya leans against the desk as he clears his throat in preparation. Looking at some distant place, he utters the words in the heavy afternoon air with his soft basso voice."

NOMIYA: "To see a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.[1]"

NARRATOR: "There is a solemn and unbelievably awkward silence after he finishes reciting the short fragment. Nobody dares speak a word. Nomiya clears his throat again."

NOMIYA: "To be an artist is to see the world in a grain of sand. You see, dear children, without art, there would not be much to live for in this world. It is a most profound thing."

NARRATOR: "He is clearly touched by this notion. I almost expect to see a lone tear rolling down his rough cheek, but it never comes. I turn to Rin and whisper to her."

HISAO: "So how is this a discussion circle?"

NARRATOR: "She shrugs nonchalantly back at me."

RIN: "The previous ones were the same."

NARRATOR: "To his credit, Nomiya does try to get some debate going, but the club seems to be reluctant to comply. I feel a bit guilty about opening my mouth. Maybe we would've been spared from this. As the meeting comes to a close, I realize we haven't once touched any paint or pens today, and I feel somewhat disappointed. Nomiya suddenly appears next to us. He seems to be still fired up from the speech he delivered. His cologne smells musky and saccharine at the same time, giving me an instant headache, even though I'm not sensitive to perfumes. He is looking at Rin like a hungry wolf."

NOMIYA: "Tezuka, do you remember Mrs. Saionji, who visited us at the festival?"

RIN: "I think so."

NOMIYA: "I'm going to tell you something amazing. The thing is, she's a very well-known gallerist around here. It turns out I might be able to get her to consider having some of your work put on display."

NARRATOR: "He ends his sentence with a dramatic gesture. It seems he's expecting Rin to show some sort of joyous, shocked reaction at such grand news, but she just stares at him blankly."

NOMIYA: "Magnificent, isn't it? This could be a real chance for us to get ahead, girl."

RIN: "But..."

NOMIYA: "Now now, I know what you're about to say. Yes, it wouldn't be a simple affair, but I think this is an absolutely fantastic opportunity. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised at all if we even made it big! This could be the first step! And then, when the word is out, we strike while the iron is hot! Right, Nakai?"

HISAO: "Er, yeah, it does sound pretty great. If you're into that kind of thing."

NOMIYA: "See? We should definitely not let this one pass, am I right?"

RIN: "I don't... really."

NARRATOR: "Rin seems to be troubled for some reason. I can't figure out why. What Nomiya is saying does indeed sound like a possibly great thing. She looks pretty down though, and confused. I've never seen her like this."

NOMIYA: "So, what do you think?"

NARRATOR: "Rin looks up to her teacher's glowing face, then back down at her desk."

RIN: "I'll think about it."

NARRATOR: "Nomiya is at last taken slightly aback by Rin's lack of superlative delight. Then he smiles widely at her and gently pats her head."

NOMIYA: "Good girl."

NARRATOR: "The club meeting is finally over, and as I lazily collect my things and help clean up, I start feeling exhausted, for some reason. There isn't much to do, however, so it's over quickly."

Next Scene: Underwater and a Maple with a Name


  1. William Blake (1757-1827), "Auguries of Innocence"