Recently the new issue of Representations —  UC Berkeley’s journal of cultural/aesthetic criticism — arrived on the journal rack at the university where I currently teach.  Representations 126 (Special Issue: Financialization and the Culture Industry) is edited by C.D. Blanton, Colleen Lye, and Kent Puckett.  I don’t know C.D. Blanton, but Colleen Lye and Kent Puckett are two of the bright sparks in the UC Berkeley English department and this should be a seriously good issue.  It features two essays by friends of mine: Joshua Clover’s “Retcon: Value and Temporality in Poetics” and Joseph Jonghyun Jeon’s “Neoliberal Forms: CGI, Algorithm, and Hegemony in Korea’s IMF Cinema.”  It’s been a long, long time since I’ve spent a significant amount of time in the Berkeley area, but my time at UC Berkeley was a very special one; even though I’ve been living in Japan for nine years now, holding a copy of Representations in my hand takes me right back.

And while we’re on the subject of academic publications, why not check out my friend and colleague Mary Knighton’s (also a Berkeley graduate) excellent new essay on the manga artist Shiriagari Kotobuki, which is featured in the Asia-Pacific Journal?  The essay is called “The Sloppy Realities of 3.11 in Shiriagari Kotobuki’s Manga” and can be found right here.


Recently, my loquats have become ripe and delicious.  Actually, not so recently.  In fact, recently I’ve been so busy with work that I’ve barely been able to keep up with any personal writing, much less enjoy the full harvest of the loquat tree in my front yard.  Still, I did manage to pick a few in those surreptitious moments after work between exhaustion and the couch flopdown.  Though not as sweetly juicy as the professionally raised fare you might find in the grocery store, there’s still something eminently satisfying in eating fruit freshly plucked from your front yard.  Most of the loquats, however, were eaten by the local crows, who descended en masse to enjoy the golden harvest and ended up leaving piles of loquat pits just about everywhere.

Hartland World Cup

One of the reasons I’ve been so busy and tired is that the World Cup is on.  Like Charles Simic, I have the serious problem of not being able to pull my face away from the television screen when there’s a match on.  Unlike Charles Simic, I did not once end up having a wastefully distracted dinner with Octavio Paz because I couldn’t keep my mind off the Cup.

The photos above were taken at the Hartland, my favorite local pub, where a few of us met at 9:30 in the morning to catch Japan’s first match of the Cup, against Ivory Coast (Japan lost, 2 – 1).

Now that the semifinals are about to start, I have a few observations to make about this year’s World Cup (one of the best I’ve seen yet):

1) After four years, the vuvuzela has become the ironic vuvuzela.

2) Tim Howard can save anything.  He might not be able to get a job at Hobby Lobby, however.

3) Robin van Persie dives like Superman to get the ball into the net, while Robben dives when he can’t get the ball into the net.  Also, I wish that people would stop comparing Robben to a ballerina when he dives because it gives ballet a bad name.

4) The World Cup of hair.

5) A conundrum.  If an infinite amount of monkeys with an infinite amount of typewriters had an infinite amount of time to type, would it be possible for them to replicate the infinite amount of Louis Suarez jokes that have emerged from the tooth-sized holes in Chiellini’s shoulder?

6) When Scollari gets angry and starts pacing the touchline and poking his finger at people he looks exactly like that old guy who lives down the street who keeps yelling at the kids to get off of his lawn.

7) The protests in Brazil against the blatant issues of inequality surrounding this World Cup have not gone away and serve to highlight the exploitative nature of Cup economics under the recent leadership of FIFA, including South Africa’s immense financial losses and the over 400 Nepalese workers who have died at work sites in Qatar since it won the bid to host the World Cup in 2022.  Despite FIFA’s malfeasance, at least some footballers have a good idea of what to do with the vast profits generated by the World Cup — the Algerian team has decided to donate $9 million of it’s World Cup winnings to the people of Gaza.

8) Planet World Cup will be a sadder place without the brilliant feet of Neymar.


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