Welcome! I am Chaobang (超邦). I wander, I write, and I seek to change this world. This blog covers a very wide range of themes, so whomever you might be, I hope you can find something interesting here.

Here is a quick overview of the main sections, which can also be accessed through the tabs at the top. You can also browse the list on the right for topics that catch your attention.

The main page displays articles in the order that they are posted, most recent first.

As the title suggests, much of this blog is devoted to travel writing. Right now this mostly concerns Japan, with a few articles on Britain, the Philippines and Guyana in there as well. In general I seek to thoroughly explore the history, culture and unique stories of every place I go to, and to consider some of the challenging questions that emerge.

I also have a great regard for walking. There is a full section here on walking in Japan covering many opportunities, mostly in the mountains near Tokyo. Walks from 2019 onwards have their own section on critical walking history, which combines route guidance with deeper explorations of the areas' histories and how those shape what they are today. Another page covers my latest, ongoing such expedition up the Thames river in England.

But I do not wander this Earth for its own sake. There is a great deal of oppression, prejudice and miscellaneous unpleasantness that really should not exist. The society, politics and culture articles take an often critical look at issues such as war, peace, work, sustainability, nationalism and video games, among others. A more holistic and open-ended approach can be found in the humanity section.

More than anything else, my goal is that this becomes a world based on love. One ancient and terrible force appears to stand above all others against this goal. It divides a beautifully diverse human race into two blocs alien to and in conflict with each other, robs it of mastery over its own sexuality, and brings out the very worst in us in prejudice and hostility against all who are seen as different.

Gender is a massive topic, and the articles on it here are mostly early reflections on problems it causes or relates to. I am collecting my more recent thinking on it into a book rather than posting it here. If you are particularly interested in this topic, please feel free to make contact with me directly.

For many of us, the toll of these nightmares becomes too great. There is a separate section here on pain whose contents relate to alienation, depression, suicide and mental health problems. There are some discussion articles here, as well as a fictional short story, but also a number of more direct and personal pieces written during a period of harrowing darkness. These include my poems, a format I do not usually write in which emerged from that abyss's darkest depths.

Though some of the pieces in these last sections are very personal, I have no hesitation to include them. It is my wish that those experiences will not be in vain: that their lessons might be drawn on to create a world where no-one ever has to go through such struggles again. To that end, I hope there is material here that can console the alienated; help people to better understand and support those who are journeying through their own hells; and remind us all that in a world gone mad, we must never allow ourselves to feel comfortably sure that we and our societies are sane.

Finally, if you enjoy this blog or find something in it interesting, please do not hesitate to leave a comment in any of the articles, to recommend it to your friends, or to Like, Share, or get in touch through the blog’s Facebook page via the button with the bear on the right.

Thank you for visiting!

About the Title
Superfluous Bear invokes the superfluous man – a character archetype from mid-nineteenth century Russian literature. This individual is typically privileged and capable, but lives in conflict with social norms and is thereby left an alienated bystander. It is as though the world has no need of him, and he is unable to interact effectively with the absurd and unjust events that transpire around him.

This seems still a powerful concept in the alienating world of today, but I have always found part of it alienating in itself. The superfluous man is usually, as implied, a man, and an explicitly gendered one at that. Rather than feeling pain at his estrangement from society, he embraces it and returns it in kind with cynicism, indifference and existential boredom. He can be selfish, manipulative, given to gambling and drinking and duelling and giving no thought to hurting others for his own comfort or pleasure. Everyone knows that bears, in contrast, are cuddly, caring, curious, value honesty and integrity, can't stand injustice and genuinely long for a better world.

This blog is therefore named Superfluous Bear to capture the archetype’s sense of the alienated wanderer, but with small and fuzzy rawr-rawr-ness instead of toxic masculinity.