Monday, February 28, 2005

A strange dream (folkloric, linguistic)

I was talking with an elderly man, who turned out to be a fisherman. He told me stories from childhood in a seaside town on the coast of Setonaikai, an inland sea in Western Japan with superb landscapes (if only it had been left untouched).

I was taking notes. He said something like this. "When we were children there was no distinction between work and play. We dived all day long catching fish, shellfish, sea urchins, and such. But the sea never ceased to amaze us. Whenever we encounter something marvelous, after we surfaced we said among oursleves: Katapulanah kuruyah. Nobody knew the meaning of these words. Then after half a century, one day I hit upon the origin of the expression. It probably means: Katasumuri no planetarium kuruyo, or the planetarium for snails is coming."

Strange as it may sound, I was fascinated by the etymological explanation and got overly excited. I wanted to tell it to an anthropologist friend of mine. Then at the next moment the friend was there sitting with us and agreed it was such a wonderful story.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Omniphone, the book

My new book OMNIPHONE: POETICS OF WORLD-ECHOES is now materialized. On its cover is a fascinating photograph taken at a market in Recife, Brazil, by my friend Chihiro Minato in 1982. The book is designed by Milky Isobe, my favorite designer working in Japan. The book will be in store everywhere this weekend! For those of you who read Japanese, this book will show you the inherent blindness of this language of our islands. I'd love to hear what you think of it!

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Unimaginable Beings

Just back from the island of Kauai, where I attended the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania conference. The session on indegenous anthropology was really illuminating. Being indegenous today seldome means any degree of purity. Indegeneity is almost-always-already mixed--as I have repeatedly said in the past twenty years!

Yet there are people with unimaginable background. One young woman in the session was fascinating in her hybridity. Her father is from Ghana, her mother an ethnic Chinese from Malaysia, the parents met and married in Trinidad, the daughter went to a US college and became an anthropologist, and she studies the Tongan community in exile in the SF bay area!

It's all so easy to imagine such a person, but she exists in reality, and in reality a person with such a background is singular. How interesting all this is.

Depression / Sadness

In depression, nothing matters.
In sadness and grief, everything matters.

Gloria Steinem (USA Today, 2 Feb 2005)