Thank you Helen DeWitt
Last week was a week of appointments. Paper due on Tuesday that I rushed through, even though it's extremely important to me. The reward was watching Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, and Chan-wook Park is seriously one of my new favorite directors of all time.
Wednesday me and therapy had an appointment, and Thursday was the return of Susan Napier and her lecture on how Japan is an imaginary place in the west. Sadly, and I'm not sure if this is a problem with her attitude overall, or just with the audience she thought she was pitching to, but the whole thing was so lacking in theoretical meat... that it was a bit frustrating. Most of the people in the room were Asian Studies scholars, most of us aware of if not immersed in the theories of Edward Said, most of us totally aware that Japan has occupied the mind and the imagination of the Impressionists, the American-Otaku, the Sci-Fi fan and the film-maker alike. And her lecture was kind of a greatest hits version of all of this - stuff that wasn't revolutionary but instead descriptive.
For instance, the texts she mentions are as follows:
Monet's Haystacks (based on a Japanese painting of Mt. Fuji)
Van Gogh's Self Portrait (in "buddhist priest" outfit)
Gojira (though she only referred to the thing as Godzilla)
Akira (groundbreaking anime)
Rising Sun (the Wesley Snipes/Sean Connery movie set in Japan... basically racist)
Miyazaki films (Totoro, the "cute" anime)
Neon Genesis Evangelion
Matrix & Matrix Evolution
With the exception of Paprika and Neon Genesis Evangelion, this reads like an Intro to Japan syllabus that's trying to talk about East/West.
And this is not to say that I'm not happy about there being a Japan scholar who's doing the whole "Japan as imaginary in the eyes of the west" kind of project. And sure, that project *has* to basically namedrop the big events/texts. Those are the ones people in the West have used to construct their dreams about Japan. BUT STILL.
It was not as exciting as I was hoping, that's for sure.
Friday there was a mandatory meeting of our grad department, so they could roll out a formal process of goal setting for every student. I don't mind at all, since my advisor and I have been talking about needing this kind of thing for about a year now. It was funny, however, that the administrators who were leading the meeting were apologetic bordering on guilty (seriously, the words "big brother" were mentioned like four times in the context of having us fill out a two page form with our academic goals for the year). I definitely come from the land of never apologize, especially not for documentation that could potentially help people.
Luckily the last "appointment" was the best - Neil and I went couch shopping yesterday! And bought new couches! Sadly buying furniture is not like other kinds of instant gratification, since we have to wait 7-14 days to get said furniture, but sooon! Soon we won't sink into the couch because it's old and falling apart! Soon we will have to rearrange the living room! Soon!
And in honor of that, last night I mostly singlehandedly rearranged our bedroom. Sometimes it's incredibly good to change one's perspective, and now the room feels new, even if it's basically got exactly the same stuff in it.