J. Gabriel Boylan

  • Babylon East: Performing Dancehall, Roots Reggae, and Rastafari in Japan

    “I want to be black man. I want to be black man. Everytime.” This is the solemn admission of Brother Taffy, a Japanese dub musician. What happens when Jamaican Rasta and the musical and cultural styles affiliated with it, from roots reggae to dancehall, are taken out of the white-black binary and the Euro-Caribbean matrix? This is the question taken up by Marvin D. Sterling in Babylon East. Sterling spent more than ten years investigating Japanese involvement with Jamaican musical traditions, and his book testifies to the limitations of cross-cultural appropriation even in a globalized cultural

  • Torch in the Ear

    Absolute quiet isn’t a problem for most of us. Rather, it’s the barrage of modern life that makes it so we cannot abide long silences when they happen to come our way. We arrive home and switch on the television, even if no one watches, especially if we’re alone. We turn up our iPods to at least control our sonic environment. We lull children to sleep with white-noise machines—devices that, it turns out, make the young liable to distraction and slowed language processing.

    Why does silence obsess us, and why is it so difficult to find? In a world of sounds on top of sounds—engine roars, traffic