NY Times Magazine Article: Juan Goytisolo

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/16/magazine/16goytisolo.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

I came across this article on the online version of the NY Times magazine the other day. It profiles the Spanish novellist, Juan Goytisolo. I haven’t read any of his works, but reading the article makes me really want to. Goytisolo is an example of what French writer Jean-Paul Sartre called the “intellectuel engagé,” an engaged intellectual. This engage is defined as the duty of a philosopher (or writer, intellectual, etc.) to take part in making history through social and political engagement and activism. Becoming an “intellectuel engagé” is something that I aspire to myself.

(More on the intellectual engagé (en français): http://leportique.revues.org/document381.html)

The interview with Goytisolo is just full of amazing soundbytes and quotable quotes from a wise man who is clearly a master of language. Here are some highlights:

“I don’t like ghettos…For me, sexuality is something fluid. I am against all we’s.”

“I am against all fundamentalisms”

“The Muslim world needs to do an autocriticism, to take what’s good from other cultures, prepare the way for social and economic change and not merely recall the extinct glories of Al Andalus.” (Al Andalus is the Arab term for Spain under Moorish rule, which has been evoked as a golden age not just by writers and scholars but also with chilling irredentism by Islamist terror groups.)

“There are too many frontiers in the world. I don’t want to put frontiers in my private life.”

“To have two cultures is better than one. To know three is more important than two.”

“We are educated animals, but animals. We repeat the same atrocities with minor variations, like Ravel’s ‘Bolero.’ ” (in reference to the war in Bosnia)

“You should ask for utopia. You need a little utopianism in the rough cynicism of contemporary politics.”


Videocast – Willing Warrior

A recent discovery:

Brad, the Willing Warrior presents a videocast that deals with all sorts of minority issues. Really high production values and an excellent on-screen presence. Inspiring!

Link: http://www.willingwarrior.com/


Podcast – Lucky Bitch Radio

This is one of the first podcasts that I found on iTunes. Wanda Wisdom is a 30-year old, single, sober drag queen living on the edges of urbanity outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. Her episodes are long and sometimes rambling, but always engaging. She tackles all kinds of issues and has a warm and friendly presence. Listening to Wanda Wisdom is like spending time with an old friend.

Link: http://luckybitchradio.com/


Labor riots in France.
Immigrants marching for their right across America.
Latin America shifting to the Left.

Times are a-changin’. People power is on the rise. What an exciting time to live!

My own life is about to change as well. The return of spring, marked by cherry blossoms and the start of the Japanese school year signals the beginning of the end of my time here. My contract ends at the end of July. I will be leaving my quiet life in a suburban Japanese town and go into the unknown, the uncharted, the unexplored. Although I still have not worked out the details of what I am going to do next, I know that I am ready to engage. I am ready to make a stand for what I believe in and to fight for what is right. For me, what is right is for humanity to live together in peace, while celebrating our diversity and our differences of all kinds.

Lately, my media consumption de choix has been podcasts. I don’t have cable or satellite TV here in Nakatsu, and I have long grown tired of the endless, mind-numbing cooking shows, period dramas, and variety shows on Japanese television. I have practically run out of DVDs of movies and TV shows that I want to rent at the local video/DVD rental shop. Besides, I can listen to podcasts anywhere and have access to worldwide content. I think the medium of podcasting is extremely exciting since it easily and cheaply allows for worldwide distribution of one’s content. It allows people to express themselves and tell the stories that they want to tell without being censored or filters. It also allows for the creation of dialogue and whole communities that transcend borders and timezones.

I will introduce some of the podcasts that I have been listening to in the next few blog entries.

inside a Japanese school


Some essays written by an American woman who attended high school in Japan. These events took place over 10 years ago, but many of the observations are still relevant to my experiences working in Japanese schools.