Saturday, May 03, 2008

Europe, Japan, and collective psychosis: what ails the West, and how it might be healed

Takuan Seiyo at the Brussels Journal compares Western Culture with Japan's, to explore why the former seems to be slowly self destructing, while the latter is successfully diverging from that path.

Astarte and Amaterasu - The Diverging Destinies of Europe and Japan. -- Part 2
In the 1st part of this essay, we hypothesized that the European civilization, both in the mother continent and in its diaspora, is pursuing a path of gradual self-obliteration for reasons rooted in a deep, collective psychosis. We stated further that Japan has similar reasons to have acquired a deep collective psychosis, yet it is pursuing the path of life. We will try here to shed some light on the possible reasons for this divergence. [...]

The essay goes on to explore many interesting ideas. I can't possibly convey them all in a few excerpts, but I did find the following excerpt amusing. It poses a philosophical question, then gives a Japanese Eastern response, and a European Western response:

[...] Asked whether the dog has Buddha's nature, the Oriental sage lifts his leg to urinate on the questioner. And he will do so within a split second from the posing of the question. To arrive at this answer it will have taken him twenty years of shutting down the chatter of his mind, to align with his True Nature through arduous meditation.

The Western sage, facing the same question but having devoted his twenty years to acquiring a PhD in the hermeneutics of Jacques Lacan as applied to the transgender community's anal anxiety, will spend a year researching canine physiology and behavior, and another year reading scholarly works on Buddhism published in German, French and English since 1860. He will then write a book deconstructing the dog as a genetically programmed biological computer designed as a receptacle for the white man's proclivity for domination and exploitation.

The book will be published by a major imprint. It will receive glowing reviews in the New York Times, the Guardian and Le Monde. Herr Professor Doctor will be interviewed by BBC International and CNN. Soon the book will be on the college curriculum compulsory reading list throughout the Euroculture zone: from Sydney, Australia to Salzburg, Austria. Poisoning the minds of current voters and future leaders with the intellectual equivalent of Herr Professor's enema. Moreover, the European Parliament, quoting this book on the dais, will enact 168 new pet regulations, leading, eventually, to banning dog ownership altogether across the European Union.

The Orientals have no interest in and do not allow such rubbish. Let the stupid gaijin flock to Western Universities on the taxpayer's subsidy to take academic courses with titles like The Phallus, Queer Musicology, Blackness, Nonviolent Responses to Terrorism, and Drag: Theories of Transgenderism and Performance. In Japan, Korea and China, equally, one goes to university not to masturbate for four years at society's expense but to study nano and bio technology, medicine, and other useful things. [...]

That was my chuckle for the day! The article also touches on some other ideas, such as malignant narcissism, it's indulgence in Western culture and the resulting collective psychosis; the reasons for it, and possible solutions. In exploring these ideas, comparisons are made with Japan, to show how Japanese culture has avoided some of these pitfalls. Also examined is the roll of religion and it's integration in both cultures. A case is made, in part, that Christianity and the Age of Reason failed to completely reconcile, but that it may still not be too late.

Japan has it's own problems, no one is saying it's perfect, yet the comparisons Seiyo makes with Western culture and society are thought provoking. In attempting to sum it up in a paragraph or two, I may have oversimplified some of the more subtle ideas of the article; I do recommend reading the whole thing. Whether you agree with it all or not, there's plenty to chew on.


Walker said...

Fascinating as usual, Chas!

Chas said...

I printed this excerpt from part 2 of his essay because it made me laugh, but part 1 of the essay is equally fascinating.

I would have liked to have done a post starting with that, but he packs so much into the essay, it's not easily summarized, and I found the task too daunting, but if you like part 2, part 1 is definitely worth reading too. I've even been re-reading it, there is so much there to absorb, it's been a real treat to read.