Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Box People

 Do the Japanese Care?


I get that Japan would love to be Barbie, just as the girls in manga all seem to have big blue eyes and blonde hair.



But then again--why do American films and TV show American life as populated by people who all look like they  come from model agencies?

We insist on our individuality -- but we borrow identity.

Authenticity requires a degree of self-honesty that almost nobody has.  On the one hand, we need other people as mirrors--to provide a degree of slightly more objective -- shall we say, "trans-subjective" evaluation: but on our need for them also to lie to us is greater. 



By and large, we are all  little emperors without clothes, waiting for a child or crazy person to cry out and tell us that we are naked.

Nations are big emperors --without clothes -- and when a child or crazy person -- Assange or Manning or Snowden cries out -- all hell breaks out.



In the case of Japan -- "Cool Japan" is the world really that impressed by Hello Kitty and Japanese girl bands as signatures of national identity? 

There are lots of reasons not to cry out.

How polite would it be to tell the Japanese that they are making asses of themselves?   

Then, there is all that cash flowing out of Tokyo.

Finally, who the fuck cares

In fact: Do the Japanese themselves really care? 

Whatever you say, they are not going to listen.

AKB48 -- 1939

They don't listen to  criticism of whaling or Fukushima or for World War Two atrocities and aggression. 




 "Shimaguni konjo" -- the Japanese are insular.  

John Donne: you were wrong.  Some people are islands.

Or maybe we should say the Japanese are boxes.

 Box people.

 
Individually, they live in social boxes, with the walls constructed by others' perceptions of the world.  As groups, they live in boxes, little anonymous but almost identical houses and apartments in the suburbs.  As a nation-- one big box. 

Of course, the same can be said of just about every other industrial society.  Insular, the Japanese may be -- unique -- in this respect -- not at all. 

The Japanese are mirrors to us all.  

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