Talking about Japanese Film Theory

I've appeared on television and radio multiple times, but I never like to watch or hear myself afterwards. Maybe some of it has to do with some complex over my self image, but mostly it's because I don't like how the ephemeral moment has been preserved forever. Like with writing, there's little you can do after it has been made public (unless you're writing for the net or can work with multiple editions of a book), but at least with writing you can rework the text multiple times until it's reasonably good before publication. With interviews on radio and TV, however, it's usually one take and that's it, mistakes and fumbles and all. I recognize my feelings are contradictory here. Cinema's value lies in part in its ability to capture the unrehearsed moment, to offer a glimpse of what's behind the performance of reality—as well as the performance itself—and lay bare some of its faults and inconsistencies. I admire that about cinema, but I guess I just don't like becoming naked that much myself. One realizes the camera's power once you get in front of it, and realize your image is being captured and projected into the ether.

Well, enough of my complexes. This was all just a preamble to a notice that one video interview I did recently has been uploaded onto the net. The MacMillan Center at Yale, which is the umbrella organization for international and area studies on campus, has a weekly interview program called "The MacMillan Report" which is shown in Yale buildings and posted on the web. It mostly features interviews with faculty associated with the Center, and I just had my turn.

I was sure I was going to talk about censorship or about nationalism in recent Japanese film, since the MacMillan Center tends to be dominated by the political science people, but the host, Marilyn Wilkes, wanted to know about the book I am currently writing, one that explores the history of film theory in Japan. It's a topic I've been working on for a while and has already produced a number of publications and lectures, as well as a special issue of the Review of Japanese Culture and Society that I guest edited.

The interview went reasonably well. I had be given instructions on how to perform ("Don't look at the camera!"; "Pretend we're chatting as the beginning credits roll!"), but then it was just me talking like a juggernaut for 20 minutes, with no pauses or re-takes. 

I still haven't watched this video, but colleagues say it wasn't that bad. It's just over 20 minutes long.

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