Raised in the tumult of Japan’s industrial powerhouse, the 11 men and women profiled in A Different Kind of Luxury have all made the transition to sustainable, fulfilling lives. Based on Andy Couturier's popular articles in The Japan Times, this lushly designed volume has a wealth of stories about real people who have created an abundance of time for contemplation, connecting with the natural world, and contributing to their communities. In their success is a lesson for us all: live a life that matters. Read an excerpt of the book here or here. Read a review of the book here, here, or here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

"Personal responsibility, creativity and wholeness as an accessible luxury"

Anthropology professor Carolyn Martin-Shaw asked me to speak to her university students:

Here's what I would like you to talk about to the undergraduates: a bit about your own journey and how you came to write your book and how your environmental ethics influences how you live and then to speak about one or two people you wrote about who exemplify the idea of personal responsibility, creativity, and wholeness as an accessible luxury.  You might put them in context of  Japan, mention that they have set out to be different and are successful at that.

You don't have to take up the issue of "meaning-making," but I will tell you want I meant by it.  It is most relevant to students in my class this term.  We just read Clifford Geertz,who famously said "man is an animal suspended in webs of significance he himself has spun."  In your book on Japan, you show in each person that you write about how that person imbues each and every act with meanings that go beyond the utilitarian and mundane.  Even when the act is making a fire or sitting my the fire, it affirms a sense of that person's place in the world and connections to a wider universe.  In showing this, in showing that as humans we are active agents in shaping our own lives and in giving them meanings that cannot be simply observed but must be understood through communicating deeply with others, you are doing anthropology. And doing it very well, I might add.
(Answer coming soon!)

1 comment:

  1. Yay, Andy! And how wonderful to connect with Dr. Carolyn -- a favorite professor of mine. I look forward to reading about your talk with her students.