I just finished Peter Carey's delightful Wrong About Japan, and to my dismay, there wasn't nearly enough of it! It's a great companion to Learning to Bow, and in fact I'm having Z read both of them. I'll be interested to see which she enjoys more; I'm betting on Carey's book simply because she's such a mangaphile, but I think the style of Feiler's will appeal to her more.
Anyway, Carey's book is about his brief trip to Tokyo with his 12-year-old son. Their goal: to discover the "real" Japan - not ancient wonders, but the world of anime, manga and robots. Thanks to Z, I actually knew a lot of the people, films, books and concepts described, which was a good thing because Carey takes his subject at a dead run and there's not much time for introductions. I think a rudimentary familiarity with the subculture is helpful in reading this book; some idea of "Gundam Wing" and Hiyao Miyazaki, at the very least.
The interplay between Carey and his son is the dynamic of the book, and it is lovely. As Carey learns how wrong his assumptions about Japan are, he also learns more about his son and his son's generation. Where the otaku and the visualist fit in, not only to the Japanese world but to his son's world, start to make sense to Carey and to the reader. I am sorry that I read the book as quickly as I did; it was an extremely enjoyable experience and I wish it had lasted longer. And now I want to look up more about the cultural phenomena described therein.
R & I went this evening to a lovely interfaith dinner held by the Lehigh Dialogue Center, an organization founded by Turkish Muslims. As we waited at the door in a crowd milling around, a family introduced themselves and told us, with great amusement, that their presence had been requested because the organization had desired "a Turk at every table" in order to keep things well mixed. A chicken in every pot, a Turk at every table . . . . It was the organization's fifth annual Iftar dinner, Iftar being fast-breaking, and this being Ramadan. They invited the entire Lehigh Valley community, asking only that people RSVP, and over 300 people responded.
We sat with two women who had seen the invitation in the newspaper, and a couple from Bethlehem who belong to one of the local mosques. Our table was, alas, Turk-free, but the Hijazes were fine company despite being originally from Beirut rather than Istanbul. I took along the iPod that the IT fellow at the college had loaned me for playing around with, and tested it out - I won't do anything with the recording, as I did not ask permission to record, but I will learn to edit with it tomorrow. The purpose of that was to mess around with the iPod in order to be able to use it when I have guest speakers in my classes.
I do have a pseudo-mandala to show for this week. At Dick Blick's sale I found a medium for acrylic paint that turns it into fabric paint! I tested it on a piece of old t-shirt. After it dried, I ironed it for 4 minutes as per the instructions, then threw it in the washing machine & then the dryer. What you see here is the final result of all of that. No color loss, and it's nice and soft, unlike most fabric paint, which tends to be stiff.
So, now that I know it works well, I need to decide what I'm going to do with the stuff! T-shirts are the obvious thing that comes to mind (and both N&Z have already requested some), but surely there are other good applications. Any suggestions? Or requests?
OH: the four of us watched "The Last Mimsy" yesterday. Fun! And mandalas! N was especially excited about that part of it. R appreciated the Lewis Carroll angle, and found the original story online. I'm looking forward to reading it . . . .