“I do the same thing over and over, improving bit by bit. There is always a yearning to achieve more. I’ll continue to climb, trying to reach the top, but no one knows where the top is.” Jiro searches after perfection, after Plato’s forms, after goodness. Novelty and originality are of no use to Jiro; novelty retards movement toward perfection. Jiro does the same thing “over and over” because he is convinced of the rightness of what he is doing, and he doubts his efforts. He has an image of perfection, an intuition of perfection, and he aims at conforming the tangible world around to the spiritual vision. The spiritual body” man receives in Glory is a true body, a body which conforms to the spirit. The man concerned with novelty is not convinced of the rightness of his actions or the rightness of his loves. He is sensual, double minded, unstable in all his ways.
“These days the first thing people want is an easy job. Then, they want lots of free time. And then, they want lots of money. But they aren’t thinking of building their skills. When you work at a place like Jiro’s, you are committing to a trade for life.” For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
“When I was in first grade, I was told “You have no home to go back to. That’s why you have to work hard.” I knew that I was on my own. And I didn’t want to have to sleep at the temple or under a bridge so I had to work just to survive. That has never left me. I worked even if the boss kicked or slapped me. Nowadays, parents tell their children, “You can return if it doesn’t work out.” When parents say stupid things like that, the kids turn out to be failures.” The coddled child is the spoiled child, the disinterested child. Excellence comes through the daily renewal of fidelity to a craft (“take up his cross daily”) and with dissatisfaction in your own work (“I do not do the good I want to do”). To whom much is given, much is required; of whom little is required, little is returned. Train up a child in the way he should go, and when that child is old he will look down on those who were unwilling for their children to suffer even a little. A coddled age always errs on the side of caution. Not every weakness is a holy weakness. Some weakness is effeminate.
“The difference between Jiro today and Jiro 40 years ago is only that he stopped smoking. Other than that, nothing has changed.” God is something one. God is simple; God has no parts; God cannot be reduced to His parts (which is death), and thus he is immortal. A divine way of life is a life which does not require regular change and does not depend on or plan on change in the future.
“I’ve never once hated this job. I fell in love with my work and gave my life to it. Even though I’m eighty five years old, I don’t feel like retiring. That’s how I feel.” God is love.
“[After Jiro dies] sushi may never reach this level again.” There is no standard for sushi. There is no standard for beauty. Beauty is not judged against an abstract set of criteria, but against a Man. When beauty is reduced to a set of qualities, beauty is mere inevitability. Inevitability is the source of all ugliness. However, if Beauty is a Man, Beauty is capable of surprise. If Beauty is a Man, Beauty has a will. Beauty does not have a will as a man has a will, though; Beauty cannot finally be known, for Beauty dwells in unapproachable light. For this reason, Beauty can surprise. We cannot see Beauty clearly, and we may pass over Beauty at first because our eyes cannot bear it. As a Man, Beauty opens up not unto a range of predictable outcomes, but unto an infinity of deepening realities. Beauty is not mere possibility, for possibility betrays inevitability. Possibility is potentiality, fair predictability, and yet the infinitude of Christ’s beauty does not fall within a diagnosable range of future options, as though His beauty might be one thing and not another. Christ’s beauty is not the fullness of all possible things, but the fullness of all real things, for that which is real is greater than that which is possible. If Beauty is Christ, Beauty must transcend mere possibilities. Beauty is neither possible nor impossible, but transpossible.
“In order to make delicious food, you must eat delicious food. The quality of ingredients is important, but one must develop a palate capable of discerning good and bad. Without good taste, you can’t make good food. If your sense of taste is lower than that of the customers how will you impress them?” The student is not above the teacher. We become what we see. We become what we behold. The eyes drink in meaning. The mouth gnaws on meaning. Meaning is substance. Beauty is substance. Beauty is spirit. Spirit is substance. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth eats.