I was nervous and drank more than I ate; my father carefully dispatched his steak. Then he asked me what my plans were for the summer and in a flush of some strong emotion or other I said, more or less: it’s the beginning of summer and I’m standing in the lobby of a thousand-storey Grand Hotel, where a bank of elevators a mile long and an endless red row of monkey attendants in gold braid wait to carry me up, up, up, through the suites of moguls, of spies, and of starlets; to rush me straight to the zeppelin mooring at the art-deco summit where they keep the huge dirigible of August tied up and bobbing in the high winds. On the way to the shining needle at the top I will wear a lot of neckties, I will buy five or six works of genius on 45 rpm, and perhaps too many times I will find myself looking at the snapped spine of a lemon wedge at the bottom of a drink. I said ‘I anticipate a coming season of dilated time and of women all in disarray.’
My father told me that I was overwrought and that Claire had had an unfortunate influence on my speech, but something in his face told me that he understood.
Michael Chabon, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh
Such a beautiful, florid balloon of a description, popped so perfectly. Chabon is one of my favourite authors.
…and I told Joseph, I told and told, fighting is bad, leave off these wild ideas; but then he stops talking with me, and starts hanging about with dangerous types, and there are rumours starting up about him, Father, how he’s throwing bricks at big cars apparently, and burning bottles also, he’s going crazy, Father, they say he helps to burn buses and blow up trams, and I don’t know what. What to do, Father, I tell my sister about it all. My sister Alice, a good girl really, Father. I said “That Joe, he lives near a slaughterhouse, maybe that’s the smell that got into his nose and muddled him up.”
Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children
Well, one has to start somewhere. There are lots of possibilities. Lots of really good opening lines (and, of course, plenty of mediocre ones, too).
I’m currently reading A Thousand Plateaus by the philosophers Deleuze & Guattari. In the famous first line of their eccentric tome, the pair state: “The two of us wrote Anti-Oedipus together. Since each of us was several, there was already quite a crowd.” (Or, in the original French — the above is Brian Massumi’s translation — “Nous avons écrit l’Anti-Oedipe à deux. Comme chacun de nous était plusieurs, ça faisait déjà beaucoup de monde.”)
It’s an odd statement — how can one be several? This book is by two people, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, not a multitude. What would they have the publisher put on the cover? ‘Deleuzes and Guattaris’? But I think considering ourselves in the plural might be a helpful tool. Sometimes I don’t feel so singular. My mind is thinking about lots of different things, and I am both happy and sad, both understanding and confused. All at once.
So let me start off plurally: this blog will be a place to post about my interests and my academic work, and so will cover things like literature, Japan and Okinawa, culture, critical theory and philosophy, race relations, anthropology, art, history, people, feminism, diversity and equality. The subjects are themselves not always linked to one-another in any kind of obvious way; they are themselves diverse and nebulous, but maybe that’s OK. They’re linked through me (or my multitudes?) and my (our?) interest (interests?) in them. Plurality isn’t a bad place to start. One has to start somewhere(s).