17 January

Natsuki's been stuck in a melancholic streak for the past few days. She denies that anything's wrong whenever anyone asks, but it's clear to me that something's been weighing heavily on her mind. There's no other explanation for the way she's taken to walking around the office in a jumbled daze, one that she won't snap out of unless someone calls her name four or five times. When something does grab her attention, she stops in her tracks, staring at whatever it is with wide eyes as if she's just woken up from a bad dream. It's become impossible for me to hold a conversation with her for longer than thirty seconds, before her eyes grow distant and her consciousness drifts somewhere visible neither to me nor, I suspect, to anyone else. Even for someone as absentminded as she is, this is plainly wrong.

She is the foundation, and whenever she turns moody, the entire operation goes with her. This morning, she showed me what might be her most alienating, abstract work yet — literally nothing but a magenta square, about the size of an A4 sheet of paper, painted in the corner of a five-by-five-meter canvas that's otherwise entirely black. She gave it the title Representation of the Mind, as if her emotional state weren't transparent enough, and suggested to me that we make it exhibit 34. I started to remind her that we'd already been preparing another work for release with that number, but before I could even finish my first sentence, she'd already left the room. All that was left for me to do was stare in impotent frustration at this giant field of dark-colored cloth that sat in the middle of our workshop floor. The whole exchange ended up not mattering, though, because not two hours later she'd already forgotten about it.

Natsuki's always been a solitary character, which makes puzzling out what she's thinking or feeling an almost impossible task. Okay, I can at least conclude that she hasn't gone through a bad breakup, not that she's the kind of person who would let that get to her even if it did happen. But that only eliminates one choice out of a whole constellation of them. Beyond that, I can't do anything but come to approximate decodings based on the work she puts out, or her often-cryptic words. In these situations, I'm not sure if even she herself understands what's going through her head. I found an index card on top of my desk when I got back to the office. In her distinctly peculiar handwriting, it said, "The known self floats in a sea of contradiction."

So she's not the greatest of philosophers, but she never professed to be. It isn't like I can't understand what she's going through, either. The brand of gloom she's afflicted with makes ordinarily mundane statements seem to sparkle with profundity. We want them to be profound. We want to find that single, definitive revelation that'll immediately enlighten us, and break us out of the darkness that's gripped us. Of course, it never works that way. If it were that easy, I would have written known-good pick-me-ups on little pieces of paper and stuffed them into fortune cookies, and the both of us would be better off for it.