I didn’t know about Azuma Hiroki’s reputation in Japan—he is a well-known cultural critic who is popular as well as controversial—when I read the English translation of his General Will 2.0, published by Vertical. I found the book to be engaging and thought-provoking, and surprisingly a fun read. I was especially intrigued by his interpretation of Rousseau’s concept of the general will. The book made me want to learn more about Azuma’s ideas. I thought all I could do was wait for him to have more books translated into English.
But it turned out that in March, 2016, during my participation at the Tokyo International Literary Festival, I had the good fortune of being in a lively conversation with Azuma-san at his Genron Cafe. In that cozy space, we exchanged opinions on contemporary issues of Thailand and Japan, in front of a packed audience. I thought the session was quite stimulating. Azuma-san was very friendly and generous. After the talk, we went to eat and drink together at an izakaya restaurant. It was there that Azuma-san expressed his interest in reading the book-length essay I had recently published in Thailand called “ตื่นบนเตียงอื่น” (literally “waking up in a different bed”), a kind of philosophical travelogue about my stay on the mysterious and charming island in the Philippines called Siquijor.
The essay was eventually translated to Japanese by Sho Fukutomi and accepted for publication as a series in Azuma’s Genron Triannual, a journal of cultural criticisms and philosophical discourse. The first installment appeared in issue 4 which came out in November, 2016. I received issue 5 in the mail yesterday. It’s an incredible looking journal. I wish I could read Japanese.
It’s a great thrill to be published in Genron Triannual, and to be in a kind of collaboration with Azuma Hiroki and his team. Thanks to Sho-san. Also, thanks to the Japan Foundation for making the talk at Genron Cafe possible.