Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Turning Back Time

I sometimes wonder what I would have studied as an undergrad if I had to go back in time and could not pursue cinema studies or art history. I might have gone with the social sciences: anthropology or sociology. I may have done English, but then again, that seems so ... typical. Pass on that. If I definitely went to NYU and couldn't do film studies, I certainly would have wanted to end up in Gallatin to individualize my major.

But more and more I think that history would have been a wise choice. What era? Too many to choose from. What part of the world? Same thing. But to synthesize the tedious research into something big and meaningful, that's one kind of work I'd find rewarding, and there's a certain escapist pleasure to studying history that, of course, can be easily rooted back into serving and understanding the immanent, material world. Anyway if someone gave me a bunch of money and told me I had to somehow pursue graduate work in history, here would be broad areas I would consider:

1) Christian and Islamic Europe/North Africa/Near East, from roughly 1100-1650 (or from roughly high medieval to early modern era).

2) The cultures of the Indian Ocean. While taking a course on Islamic art I learned about this huge site of cultural cross-pollination, and I find it interesting. My first encounter with V.S. Naipaul some time ago, A Bend in the River, took place in this milieu, East Africa with an Indian narrator of Muslim merchant ancestry (albeit in a modern historical setting).

3) Japan up to the premodern era.


I'll definitely peter out before long, as I always do, but once more I've initiated a close, heavily-noted reading of Deleuze's Cinema 1. If I had money I'd buy Bergson's books (I've read substantial portions of Matter and Memory), knowledge of which would no doubt make the process a little easier. But each time I gain a slightly better understanding of Deleuze through oblique means, and I think I'm really inspired by some potential in his argument for what the movement-image is and does. Sorry to be terse about it here: more on that later, hopefully.

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