Rein Raud

December 2016

2016: Summary

In addition to Meaning in Action, a summary of years of research on cultural theory, I published a poetry collection entitled The Heavy Boots of Dreambirds, my fifth. There had been a rather long pause before this one, as my last poetry collection, Two Candles, had come out already in 1990. When I now look back to my first four books of poetry, I'd probably retain a few poems from each, but on the whole I don't think of them very highly. I started to write poetry again during a time that I had more peace and quiet than usual and took to translating some of my favourite authors (e.e.cummings, William Carlos Williams, Paul Celan). Somehow they managed to wake the poet up in me, even though what I write is not similar to any of them, as they aren't to each other.
I wanted the book to be a bit like a notebook on the one hand - a bit like the one I used for writing the poems down - but also a book of which individual readers have to cut the pages open themselves, so that the process of getting closer to the text would be experienced as an act. So I was really
happy to read what Doris Kareva wrote about it: "The Heavy Boots of Dreambirds is one of those books that I read for many times, and just for the sake of interest from three different copies, which I opened with three different blades, differently each time. I wanted to know whether such a ritual might somehow influence the reading. It does, as it prepares the reader in a different way each time. Lets her notice different moments, see new angles, understand other facets. A beginner might use up three knives to open an oyster as well: the first one breaks, the second one becomes blunt, the third one might open it up."
The year was also the one when my first translated book appeared in English (The Brother), The Death of the Perfect Sentence was published in Finnish by Like, and The Reconstruction in Danish by Jensen&Dalgaard. So I appeared at the Ordkraft Book Fair in Aalborg, at the Helsinki and Turku book fairs and also toured Finland during the Estonian Literature Week. Academically, I participated in a workshop on Shinran, Heidegger and Levinas at the University of California (Berkeley) and the East-West Philosophers Conference at the University of Hawaii with a paper on Dōgen's views on nature, did a keynote speech at a Japanese Studies conference at the Open University of Hong Kong as well as gave a paper on Karatani's political philosophy in a workshop at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. The Revue Internationale de Philosophie published a piece by me, a critical reading of Zygmunt Bauman's views on multiculturalism. Most importantly, however, I organised a "meeting of philosophies", supported by the Toshiba International Foundation, where specialists of various aspects of Western philosophy (from pre-Socratics to Deleuze, neurophilosophy to quantum theory) and Japanese thought came together to discuss their similarities and differences. As we came to agree, there are more of the former than the latter.