my monkied brain (katekat1010) wrote,
my monkied brain

state of the kate

Monday was, to quote, "A rare and historic occasion, bringing critics AZUMA Hiroki and MIYADAI Shinji together in dialogue with North American scholars for the first time outside of Japan." And it happened at our University.

So, the rest of the promo went:
While critical theory transformed intellectual landscapes on both sides of the Atlantic over the last few decades, “Japanese Theory” over the past decade has become increasingly isolated, insular, and compartmentalized on both sides of the Pacific.  Since Karatani Kōjin and Asada Akira folded their formidable organ Hihyō kūkan [Critical Space], other theorists with broader appeal to Japanese youth have focused their critical acumen on domestic issues.  At the same time, Japanese studies in North America increasingly moved away from critical voices in Japan; no theoretical work since Karatani's Origins of Modern Japanese Literature (first conceived of over three decades ago) has fueled a broad range of scholarship on Japan in North America.  This series of roundtable discussions traces the current and future trajectories of contemporary Japanese theoretical discourse. 

Azuma Hiroki, postmodern philosopher, critic of otaku culture, and editor of the new journal of critical thought and social critique Shisō chizu [Cartographies of Thought], and Miyadai Shinji, prominent sociologist, prolific author, and pop culture critic, will discuss their views on the state of contemporary debate and the stakes of the arguments. 

And oh my god we were taken to task!  First, our workshop was ostensibly on this online article written by a 31-year-old freeter (person who has a part-time, not full time job, lives at home, has minimal expenses and minimal social standing in Japan) who called on war.  They were going to discuss how the neo-liberal and neo-conservative movements in Japan are developing and moving.

Instead (thank gods) they totally derailed right off topic almost immediately.  Instead they wanted to talk about this conception they were developing of ねた (neta ... roughly translates as "content" or possibly "subject" or maybe "materials").  Basically they wanted to talk about specific types of "neta" / content as being both communication-oriented-communication AND content-oriented communication.

Communication-oriented-communication isn't dependant on content, it's dependant on making connections with others by putting oneself out there.  All it requires is acknowledgement, not even agreement.  Most often it isn't trying to persuade, but more, in a certain sense, vent, share, create an emotional connection.

Content-oriented-communication does all those other things - it attempts to inform / persuade / etc.  It is intended to be taken seriously and it almost begs a line by line response.

These two gentlemen were very focused on the idea that more and more we are interested not in content-oriented communications, but in the communication-oriented stuff.  They suggested that most blogs have very little to do with convincing others, and much to do with creating a sense of community, connection, a feeling of being heard.

And frankly, other than making sure that they weren't saying "all communication falls into these two categories" (which they weren't - all communication has some aspect of both of these in it, but some are more communication oriented than content oriented... and the reverse), I'm totally on board.  They did have this naieve idea that the US's online stuff was more like second life, but hey, we have our own ideas bout online life in Japan that I'm sure are that misinformed.  Except did you know that Japan has the highest percentage of its population online?  It does.  Ha.

However, we were taken to task as American scholars because we focus too much on identity.  Seriously.  I'm not kidding.  They totally talked about how much our scholarship is devoted to ideas about construction of identities (be they masculine, feminine, neoliberal, otaku, etc). They suggested that we, as American scholars, were slightly blinded by this intent search for identity construction, and we failed to understand that it's not about identity construction/defense/breakdown.

It is, for them, about space. Occupied space. Online or offline, disparate groups come together in locations.  And these locations are the only thing that ties the group together for that moment in time.  It's not about class.  Not about race.  Not about gender.  It's about ... common interest.  Gatherings that cross all those old boundaries based on ... conventions.  conversations.  intent.

And I wonder if they're right. But then I think maybe they're splitting hairs.

other random babbling....

I managed to forget my Father's birthday yesterday, so I called him tonight.  Not only am I profoundly grateful he's my father, but I'm profoundly grateful that he doesn't sweat the small stuff (and since every year he mutters about not really wanting to celebrate another year passing... yeah, my dad is not the party type).  He is, however, the super duper dry and sarcastic type, and I adore that.  It all works out.

School is crazy and relaxed at the same time.  I went thrugh most of today trying to play a DVD on different devices (school dvd players, computers, my own laptop, etc) and came to the conclusion I think my own laptop dvd/cd drive is dead, and finally after all those other devices, that the dvd I was trying to watch was smudged enough that it wouldn't play.  Hail the unsmuger!

right now my eyes are itchy -- too many graphics, too much pollen, and too few contact changes.  I get to talk to distinguished faculty vising from Oslo tomorrow about our graduate program (yay!) and OH my god I forgot what happened monday:

  • thesis draft: done
  • thesis: NOT DONE
  • thesis translations: not done
  • accepting offical grad school:  not done (but letter recieved!)
  • turning down other grad school email: not done
  • asked Sandy Stone to be my 2nd thesis reader: done
  • assorted 2nd reader paperwork: not done
  • dog wash: not done
  • laundry: not done
  • searched for apartments in LA: done? (but it's way too early to actually consider them).
  • appt for new contacts: not done
  • permanent filling appt: not done (oh teeth, finish someday will you?)
Tags: japanese, meta, phd program, school

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