Yesterday was my first day of teaching for fall semester, and I think the class meetings went pretty well. I was unable to fall asleep Monday night, causing most of the day to be shrouded in a fog of sleepiness, but meeting with students for the first time is usually very enjoyable (as it was this time). Each of the three classes very quickly began to gain personalities, and I can imagine each of the three sections having very different, but all very productive, discussions of rhetoric and democracy.
To celebrate finishing my first day of teaching, I went with a new colleague to see a free preview screening of The Blind Swordsman: Zatôichi (IMDB) sponsored by a local radio station that plays all the hits. It was a great way to relax after a long first day of teaching. My knowledge of Japanese film, and samurai film specifically, is limited, but I very much enjoyed director Takeshi Kitano’s slightly irreverent take on this genre. I learned afterwards that the film is based on, or updates, a popular Japanese film series, but what I most enjoyed about the film was its use of self-conscious moments where the director seemed to be winking at the camera, such as an early scene in which the sound of four farmers hoeing a field becomes syncopated with the rhythm on the soundtrack. The winking jokes about a blind swordsman (apologies for the bad pun) were also very enjoyable, and the film’s musical numbers add to the film’s pleasure. In reading through some of the film’s reviews, I haven’t come across this comparison, but in an odd way, the film reminded me of Juzo Itami’s Tampopo, not so much on a thematic level, but because of the playfulness and self-consciousness present in both films.
Still trying to shake the cobwebs this morning, er, I mean afternoon. Even though I’ve been teaching all summer, I think it will take a week or so to get back into the routine this fall.