I Am A Martian
I think I always had a preference for visual arts, and I don’t know any longer when I could possibly have thought about some of these things.1 I don’t think I knew about the sort of deep bias of western culture against the rest of the world, completely lopsided in all sorts of ways. But I think I must have had an inkling, so to say, because I find that all of my experiences have isolated me as a kind of outsider looking in — visiting as I say.
I mean I think it’s also connected with my crazy notion of being a Martian. I was asked to write a piece on my Jewish background. I don’t regard myself as a practicing Jew in any way, although I would be mortified to be found, or shall I say, inclined to obscure the fact that I have a Jewish background. But on the other hand, I have come to describe myself — I describe myself in this one paper, which I resisted writing until a friend said, “Please write it.”
And so I said, “Well, I’ll write it, and then I’ll see whether I would mind or not mind it being published”. But I describe myself as a Martian Jew, in order to think if I – because I don’t want to be a partisan member of any of the movements that I find problematic in the Jewish world, as well as in the non-Jewish world, which behaves very badly with respect to one another. Does that make sense?
I was once invited, some years ago, to give lectures in Japan. It was quite a splendid show, and I had a translator in each city that I went to, and I think it was in Kyoto that I had a young man assigned to me, who, when he greeted me, I didn’t know him at all. He looked at me and he said — and these were his words, he said, “I am a Martian Japanese.”2