The New Year
The new school year in Japan, that is.
A bit quiet around here, right?
When you have a blog and a newsletter and you start your post by apologizing for being quiet around here, it’s always a dangerous phase that often hints that it’s about to get even quieter.
Let’s try not to do that here.
The thing is that I’ve been quite busy lately for two reasons.
April is the beginning of the academic year, so I’ve been busy preparing my classes for the new semester and things like this.
The Setouchi Triennale 2022 is starting in two days, and I’ve been busy with it too, including online.
Actually, I have started a newsletter entirely devoted to my corner of Japan. So if you care about my Japanese home, its islands, and what’s happening there, may I advise you to subscribe to it too. It’s not on Substack, it’s on Revue, another newsletter service I’ve been testing too. (still can’t decide which one I like best, see one of my previous issues of this newsletter)
It’s called Setouchi Art & Island News. Just click on the link and subscribe to see what happens. :-)
Also, remember that I have a Revue version of this current Newsletter too. I’m still debating which format to use in the long run (your opinion is more than welcome).
I’m considering keeping Substack for actual written content and Revue for links to my blogs? But keeping only one is also just less work and more focus. Decisions, decisions.
OK, I do have some content for you.
First of all, this short video I shot today after bringing my kids to school (it was my son’s first day of elementary school today, by the way):
Also, on top of being the start of the academic and business year in Japan, April is also Cherry Blossom Season, and if you’re not familiar with it, know that it is a big deal here.
This year was my 10th cherry blossom season, so it was a bit of a special one. You can check this blog post to get a glimpse of the thing: Hanami 2022.
Not much activity on my other blogs (the Setouchi Triennale takes precedence at the moment), except for a mysterious old picture of a man. This picture has always been in my collection of old postcards. I have no idea when it was taken, but it was taken in front of the house that I knew to be my uncle’s and aunt’s house when I grew up (sadly, my aunt passed last year and my uncle before her). And I have no idea who the man in the picture is. I asked my dad, he doesn’t know either. My grandpa’s cousin maybe?
Swamp Media has been a bit sleepy lately. All contributors have been busy one way or the other.
I’m currently reading Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. You may have heard of the TV show. Watch it and read it. Both works are just amazing. The TV Show is one of the best TV shows around (and it’s only 10 episodes, it is a mini-series, not an ongoing show), and the book is also all sorts of great. I’ll try to write a review when I’m finished.
I also recently read Exhalation, Ted Chiang’s latest collection of short stories, and it was amazing too. Sometimes, I think that the author likes building worlds more than actually telling stories, but his world-building is so good, and it makes you think quite a bit, that the (very) relative weakness of some of his stories is totally forgiven.
You may have heard that the first round of the French presidential election happened two days ago, and the result is as disconcerting as it was predictable.
I can explain if you want me to (hit the comments), but honestly, I feel more and more disconnected from my home country. I don’t understand my compatriots anymore. Or worse, I fully understand what’s going on with them and it’s quite depressing.
Honestly, I’ve been thinking more and more about my relationship with my country and my nationality lately, and there are some telltale signs that it’s been iffier and iffier. I haven’t been back to France in five years (although Covid is to blame for this; we were supposed to go in 2020 when all hell broke loose), I have no idea when I’ll go back (Covid once again, the entire country seems to have become a country of Covidiots minus a few remaining sane people who are currently going insane surrounded by all those idiots - I feel for them, at least the Covidiots only depress me from a distance). I find myself writing, speaking, blogging, and filming more and more in English and less and less in French. Even that “going back to fiction writing” thing that I’ve been toying with for quite a while. I really think I’m going to give it a shot in English, although it’s a scary thing to write fiction in a language that is not your own.
However, on the other hand, I want to make sure my kids learn French and become bilingual in the language. I long to return and I do miss my country, but I’m afraid that it’s a country that only now lives in my head and has nothing to do with reality anymore.
I’ll go back eventually (for summer vacation I mean, I don’t really intend to live there again). We’ll see.
I mentioned several times that I’ve been back at writing fiction after a decade-long hiatus, and I’ve been “testing” doing it in English. I’m still pretty unsure of the whole thing. The problem is that I’m kinda doing it in a void now, with little to no feedback.
So here is my idea. I’ll create a new section to this Substack, and post some of my drafts there. And you tell me what you think? OK? Don’t be shy, there is a comment section here, it’s for you. Are you interested in helping me with this?
Ok, that’s pretty much it for now. I probably have a few more things to share, but they’ll be for another day.
So as usual, share this newsletter with family and friends if you think they could be interested, and don’t forget to subscribe if you got here from social media or elsewhere.
And don’t be shy, tell me what you think about the whole thing in the comments. I know quite a few of you are reading, but the comment section is awfully quiet. The great thing about Substack, even more so than a blog is that it’s an invitation to dialogue with readers. :-)
I’m looking forward to hearing from you.