Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Update on The Beholdmyswarthyface Encyclopedia of Modern Japan

This just in from Sally Suzuki:
As you've probably noticed, in the past few weeks Beholdmyswarthyface and I have greatly expanded our Encyclopedia of Modern Japan. We now have over six hundred entries in a total of ten categories. However, because our encyclopedia is so comprehensive, we are going to need your help to complete it. So please, if you would like to contribute by writing an entry or two (a dozen or baker's dozen would be great too!), just send your entries to our shared email address. We will cite your name after each entry that you write. Again, the encyclopedia is scheduled to go up on the Tokyo University website sometime this year. Thanks for your support!

-Sally Suzuki, Beholdmyswarthyface Media Director

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Letter to W. David Marx

This just in from Sally Suzuki:
Dear W. David Marx,

D. Boyd and I are currently working on translations of two short stories by contemporary writer Furukawa H. Furukawa is doing a tour of the states, and has asked us to translated the two works as part of his portfolio to show writers/translators/agents in the U.S. Negotiations are underway for him to let us publish the two short works on your site, Neojaponisme.

Mr. Furukawa wanted to know what sorts of translations/reviews Neojaponisme has featured so far, so I made for him the following list. You might want to save it, and add to it if I'm missing something. It would be good to have something like this at hand for when we are trying to convince writers/scholars/artists/etc. to contribute to the site.

1. Reviews: Murakami Haruki, Azuma Hiroki, Isozaki Ken’ichirō, Ishii Hiroyuki, Kawakami Mieko, Tanizaki Jun'ichir
ō, Tsumura Kikuko, Masaoka Shiki, Yang Yi, Suwa Tetsushi, Ōno Susumu, Bandō Mariko, Kawabata Yasunari, Tanaka Yasuo, Mishima Yukio, Ochi Yoshiko, and others.

2. Interviews: Indie-rock legend Emori Takeaki, English-language author Kawakami Sumie, architect Ashizawa Keiji, sociologist and Zengakuren historian Dr. Patricia Steinhoff, etc.

3. Translations: Hirato Renkichi, Mori Ōgai, Masaoka Shiki, Kobayashi Takiji, etc.

Best,
Sally Suzuki

Friday, April 23, 2010

Love Tanka Addressed to Sally Suzuki

This just in: love tanka from anonymous married man who has apparently taken Sally as his mistress:

         鈴木サリーへ

きつぱりと切り離されて凡妻へ戻るつらさは何に例えむ

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Bugged Conversation from 2002

This just in from Sally Suzuki:
Today I received in the mail an unmarked package that contained a tape of a conversation I had in 2002 with artist, architect, and current Harvard grad student Sky M. Apparently someone had secretly recorded our conversation, which I've transcribed here as follows. Unfortunately the second half is inaudible: whoever recorded it must have left the tape out in the sun.

Sky: So I'm reading Francis Fukuyama's The End of History now. It's a nice optimistic book and good counterpoint to Zizek. I'd like to hear Fukuyama's views on "history" now, after 9/11. I'm sure they've evolved. You should read it if you haven't already.

Sally: Don't waste your time with Fukuyama. Neoliberalism is not the realization of Hegel's final stage of history.

Sky: I still recommend reading the book whether or not his analysis is correct. His mistakes might even be more illuminating than the parts he gets right. Besides, I'm not fully on board with Hegel/Marx's teleology or even the idea of "progress." Manuel DeLanda's One Thousand Years of Nonlinear History has convinced me otherwise. DeLanda's hypothesis, influenced by Deleuze & co., is that human cultural history is part of a material process of interaction and is non-deterministic, meaning that progress itself is an illusion. It's a proposition certainly worth considering.

Sally: Doubting the notion of progress certainly puts you in with the majority of today's intellectuals. Today, conservatives and liberals alike reject the idea of "progress," of "grand narratives," of "large, collective action," of universality, etc. The particular is privileged over universal; difference over sameness; localization over centralization; the individual over collective; and so on. This is why the project of Zizek, Eagleton and others on the Left is so critical; by reviving the old conceptual framework they offer the only viable alternative-- the only grounds for a resistance-- to the current order. You must distance yourself, friend, from this "postmodern" camp.

Sky: Doubting the notion of "progress" isn't to say that the particular is favored over the universal. One can still group things together and consider them as a single system (i.e. societies, political bodies, etc.) in interaction with other such systems. This approach requires generalizing and formulating universals. However, that does not mean that these interactions are necessarily heading towards a deterministic goal, which is exactly my (and DeLanda's) point about why there cannot be an idea of "progress" (no goal, no progress).

As for Zizek's stance, he's argued for a reconsideration of communist values, but I feel like the synthesis has already occurred and we live in a time where the idea of the collective has been revived, only along boundaries we don't quite understand yet. That's one of the most interesting things about Delanda's argument, namely, that he ties together the cultural movements to the natural sciences, thereby blurring the philosophical division between human and geological histories. I haven't heard Zizek talk much about artificial intelligence and collective consciousnesses (eg, internet and advanced networking technologies), but I think they are going to totally change the possibilities of traditional political organization. Similar to the way the distribution of digital information has threatened the idea of intellectual property and traditional capitalism. . . . [At this point the conversation becomes inaudible.]

*Also, to give you an idea of what the original conversation sounded like, here it is read by Ispeech: