If a guy somewhere in Asia makes a blog and no one reads it, does it really exist?

Monday, May 31

City state in the sun

Sorry to keep rambling on about Hawaii. Like I said, I'm obsessed.

From an essay about Honolulu entitled "Paradox in the Sun" by travel writer Jan Morris:

"It is as though a Lisbon were to exist on the Cape Verde Islands, or a Bombay in the Maldives. Honolulu is 2,400 miles from the nearest continental shore, and, except for a few neighboring Islands, nothing but open sea lies between O'ahu and California, Japan, Alaska, or South America. History could not have chosen a more improbable spot for the creation of a metropolis."

I really like how that sounds. She goes on to say:

"Honolulu already sees its destiny as a prime point of contact for all the countries of the Pacific Rim - the Geneva, as one visionary lately put it, of the Pacific. It is almost happening already. This hardly feels like an American city nowadays, even of the most exotic kind. It is multinational to a degree unknown even in the most teeming immigrant cities of Mainland USA, and it looks to its Pacific neighbors, Japan, California, Australia, British Columbia, far more naturally than it looks to the distant authority of Washington D.C."

Just look at how the University of Hawaii makes special provisions for students from the Pacific islands, much in the same way that some Mainland universities may give assistance to black or Hispanic students. And look at the composition of American students enrolled at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan (where I work). Not that there are very many American students to begin with - fewer then 20, I think - but most of them hail from Hawaii.

Morris also describes Honolulu and Oahu as being like a city-state. I like that too. It conjures up images of ziggurats and adds to the city's mythical image. Are there any other cities in the world that are considered city-states? Singapore is one. I never realized how small Singapore was until I went there and found that one can drive cross the entire island in an about an hour! I see a disproportionately large number of Singaporeans here simply because they can afford to travel. The nation's wealth makes it seem larger than it really is in the collective consciousness of the world (or maybe it's just me).

I wonder if Sealand could be classified as a city-state?


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