As the text of the Sentence interweaves cultures with one another, so MM in his ubiquitous travels moves from country to country, lecturing to one group of people about another group of people with respect to their morality, esthetics and politics. Thammasat University, where he served as Visiting Professor of Western Literature, asked that he lecture on Shakespeare and Henry James; National Singapore University, on the whole of Chinese culture; the University of Rome, on Whitman; Beijing University, on Southeast Asia and Western Europe. To date Morrison has given 170 lectures in eighteen countries, simultaneously diffusing information and absorbing it. In Or, his brief study of Thailand, the voicing is simpler than in most of his other books. Except for seven in situ descriptions of Bangkok he turns to memory as the method for recording his impressions. (One notes the double-endedness of the Sentence in this regard.) Thailand, which I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting, strikes me in many ways as a country like France. Culturally diverse, it engages regional loyalties. As one is said to hail from Auvergne, not France, so, I am told, one is said to hail from the Isaan rather than Thailand. Krung Thep, the City of Angels, and Paris, the City of Light, are sophisticated centers of multiethnic, multicultural societies. In this they resemble ancient Alexandria, which figures textually in Second and geographically in Renewed. One notes these parallels approvingly.
The full text of Or
The opening paragraphs of Or in French translation
The Arrival of Buddhism in Southeast Asian Art