Takashi Sakai

The news of his death was a total shock. I have been left speechless. There is no way to measure the magnitude of this loss. I am confused by this situation that as the world has begun to be really in want of him (in Japan his Bullshit Jobs was reprinted several times only after a month of its first printing), we have lost David Graeber. While I believe he would not necessarily wish to be wanted in this way, it is undeniable that this sense of demand is one of the reasons that the news of his death has been felt so heavily. Because I have had a deep relationship with his texts as a translator, I can say with certainty that David’s intellectual creativity was incomparable to any other contemporary scholar. Should we look at the details of his intellectual itinerary, it is possible to spot certain influences from others. But as a whole, his achievements cannot be easily ascribed to any particular sources. I believe they derived nowhere but from his own way of being that synthesized an incredible accumulation of knowledge, beyond academic positionalities, and developed them in his own manner from the vantage of the tasks truly required by the struggles of people in the world.

In recent years, David’s fame unilaterally increased across the world, but my impression of him, renewed whenever I watch his latest interviews or lectures, is totally the same since I first met him when he visited Japan during the 2008 G8 summit. That is, that he was a person who could exist as one of many — no matter who he was with, he was able to fit into a group. In spite of his remarkable intelligence, he did not develop any esotericism, sectarianism, authoritarianism or oppressiveness out of it. Through his gaze, the world filled with possibilities emerging from within the everyday life of commoners. Through that gaze, we became capable of believing in the possibility of another world. We have learned from him a way of looking filled with wonder, and what can be only called affection. I cannot find a proper word of conclusion, so I just want to say: Thank you David.

— Takashi Sakai, researcher from Osaka