J a p a n e s e    C u l t u r e

Modern and Traditional Japanese Culture: The Psychology of Buddhism, Power Rangers, Masked Rider, Manga, Anime and Shinto. 在日イギリス人男性による日本文化論.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

 

Life, Time and Identity

Life, Time and Identity

I take the liberty of using a Japanese newspaper article announcing the tragedy of Germanwings flight 9525 to illustrate differences in the way that Japanese view time.

First of all with regard to the two lines below the article. There is research to show that when Japanese and Westerners are asked to draw a time line and put their life - a mark for their birth and a mark for their death - upon it, Westerners put the two marks close together whereas Japanese put their marks at either end of the line - 57.9% of Japanese females are classified as having an egocentric time perspective using 90% of the line on their lives, significantly more than among Australians(Shiraishi, 1996). Shiraishi suggests that this is because the Japanese were older than the Australians. Cottle (1976: see Cottle, Howard, & Pleck, 1969) however found that older Western children have a less egocentric time perspective so the fact that the Western adolescents were younger makes this difference even more striking. Speaking for myself, the reason why I would be put the two marks close together is because, compared to the enormity of time itself, my life is but a blip upon it. Why do the Japanese put their marks at either end of the line?

With regard to the Japanese newspaper article announcing the recent tragedy, one characteristic is that it announced from the very first, as a headline the number of Japanese persons presumed to be on the flight. My condolences to their families. While Japanese newspapers are a little more self absorbed, British newspapers also mentioned the number of British passengers.

Another characteristic of Japanese, but not British, newspaper articles is that they always say both the local time, and in the small red rectangle above the equivalent time in Japan. Japanese international newspaper articles and television reports, always do this: give both the time at where the event occurred, and the corresponding Tokyo time.

Taken together with the differences in how Japanese mark their time lines, I suggest that the reason for both the egocentric time perspective, and the incessant reminders of the equivalent local time in Japan, is that the Japanese do not believe time to be something unitary and objective but a subjective quality of experience (a sort of qualia). So there is not one massive march of time but there are many times, their own which began at their birth and ends at their death, and that shared to and extent by people in the Tokyo time zone but not by people in France. For the Japanese, time is not the sort of thing that has an "itself."

This relates to how Westerners conceive of their identities to exist in time or space. The Japanese identity is exists at a place in space and centres on the face (Watsuji). That the Japanese have many "kyara" in each of these places, one for home, another for work does not make them any less self consistent. The Japanese have a spatial (Nishida) geography of the self (Miyamoto, Nisbett & Masuda, 2006; Nisbett, 2010; ), that is no less consistent than the self-narrative.

On the contrary, while I think am the same in all spaces and places, I am "sometimes" something and sometimes something else in any one place ( Cousins, 1980), since for my self is my self-narrative, a history, which exists in Time which is itself which is extended and objective. Thus, for the Japanese their selves in the absence of a spatial situation is merely a "default," (Yamagishi, et. al) for me it is my first and primary self in time: who I am.

Similarly again, conversely, for me space, res extensa, the image is merely a qualia, a quality of subjective experience. For me, space does not have an itself, indeed if empty it is nothing at all.

Bibliography
Cottle, T. J. (1976). Perceiving time: a psychological investigation with men and women. John Wiley & Sons Australia, Limited.
Cottle, T. J., Howard, P., & Pleck, J. (1969). Adolescent perceptions of time: The effect of age, sex, and social class1. Journal of Personality, 37(4), 636–650. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.1969.tb01770.x
Cousins, Steven D. "Culture and self-perception in Japan and the United States." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 56.1 (1989): 124.
Miyamoto, Y., Nisbett, R. E., & Masuda, T. (2006). Culture and the physical environment holistic versus analytic perceptual affordances. Psychological Science, 17(2), 113-119.
Nisbett, R. (2010). The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently... and. Simon and Schuster.
Yamagishi, T., Hashimoto, H., Cook, K. S., Kiyonari, T., Shinada, M., Mifune, N., ... & Li, Y. (2012). Modesty in self‐presentation: A comparison between the USA and Japan. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 15(1), 60-68.
Shiraishi, T. 白井利明. (1996). 日本の女子青年の時間知覚における Cottle の仮説の検討―サークル・テストとライン・テストの結果から―. Retrieved from https://150.86.125.91/dspace/handle/123456789/2830

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City Views and the Horror of Impartial Spectation



This video shows the the view over Yamaguchi City from Elephant Head Mountain at the entrance to Oouchi Mihori area of Yamaguchi City. You can climb this mountain from the rear of Toushiro Tea Shop opposite Yellow Hat and Uniqlo in Oouchi Mihori, or from the rear of Itukushima Shrine next to Shinwaniishibashi junction with the four legged pedestrian overpass. There car parks the beginning of both paths. The path from the shrine is wooded and natural. The path from behind the tea shop is made of concrete.

In this video I argue that Japanese people tend to avoid places with good panoramic views since they associate them with the divine which, in the Japanese case, visually spectates rather than listens. The Japanese simulate birds eye views of themselves and their situations in their minds but since this Other is that which allows them to have a self they also hide from themselves that they are doing this 'impartial spectating' (Smith, 1759). As a result of which, while the Japanese are happy and inclined to create imaginative artworks, such as pictures of the floating world and childrens' paintings, from the point of view of the birds eye view (Masuda, Gonzalez, Kwan, & Nisbett, 2008), the Japanese do not actually want to go there, to the dreaded viewing platform.

Often times Japanese are even unaware that viewpoints exist in reality. One of my colleagues was of the opinion that there is nowhere from where our town could be viewed, but in addition to this viewing platform, I live on a mountain or hill of 118m, which taller than the viewing platform shown in this video, at a mere 85m, right in the centre of Yamaguchi City overlooking both the older part of the city and the Hot Spa area. The under-utilization of Japanese viewpoints represents a tremendous potential tourism industry.

The the birds eye viewpoint is an abject place, a terrifying location that should not exist since it always exists as hidden simulation. In Japanese Horror monstresses (a neologism I use because generally Japanese monsters are female) often hang out on ceilings, looking down, or emerge from mirrors and other images. They also hang out on mountain tops as mountain aunties (yamanba).

There should be a Western equivalent of this phenomenon "Nacalianly" transformed from the visual into the linguistic. As a Westerner I should have a horror of "going" to the place where I can 'impartially' hear myself speak, the equivalent of the Japanese birds eye view. But, logophonic "places" are not really "places," but discursive 'viewpoints' or logical 'positions' (ronten 論点 not shiten 視点), so I was (until I am writing this now) confused as to where the "real" equivalent of the "impartial spectator" that I simulate in my mind might be situated in the world. Where is the linguistic version of a mountain top? Where am I scared to go?

I hypothesize now that the place that I am scared of visiting is "the text," or a particular type of text that is addressed to no one in particular. I can write a blog, here, since I imagine that I am speaking to someone, that this burogu is a dialogue with a real other. But as soon as I attempt to write, objectively, for publication, I face "The Problem of the Text" (Bakhtin, 1986) and the absence of a dialogical other and must confront -- or not confront by not writing -- my super-addressee: a monster in my mind. In fact, as I attempt to write, I often find myself going to look at visual views, especially that from the balcony at the end of my fourth floor corridor at Yamaguchi University, perhaps in order to escape *the horror of linguistic impartial spectation*.

This realisation may make it easier for me to write. Perhaps I should write on top of mountains.

Viewing platform in Google Earth
https://goo.gl/maps/SocFV
Viewing platform  in Google Maps
https://goo.gl/maps/SqQXt

Bibliography
Bakhtin, M. (1986). The Problem of the Text in Linguistics, Philology, and the Human Sciences: An Experiment in Philosophical Analysis. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, 103-31.
Masuda, T., Gonzalez, R., Kwan, L., & Nisbett, R. E. (2008). Culture and aesthetic preference: Comparing the attention to context of East Asians and Americans. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(9), 1260-1275.
Smith, A. (1759). Theory of Moral Sentiments. Retrieved 2015/03/26 from http://www.ibiblio.org/ml/libri/s/SmithA_MoralSentiments_p.pdf

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

 

SSRIs and Suicide in Japan

SSRIs and Suicide in Japan
Upon hearing of Watter's book (Watters, 2010; ウォッターズ. 2013) and the allegations he made regarding the lack of rigour in introducing new antidepressant drugs (SSRIs) to Japan, and knowing how easy it would be to portray the Japanese as depressed compared to Westerners due to their lack of a need for positive self regard (lack of a need to boast: see Heine, Lehman, Markus, Kitayama, 1999), I became alarmed at the possibility that there may be a link between SSRI use and suicide in Japan.

Fortunately there is a study (Nakagawa., Grunebaum., Ellis, Oquendo, Kashima, Gibbons, & Mann, 2007) that apears to prove the opposite: SSRIs were concluded to reduce suicide among the Japanese as well. Phew

The main graphs for men and women from that study is shown above top. I have added some arrows drawn in by hand (without any calculation) to illustrate the my understanding of the authors' conclusions.

The first author claims on a Paxil web page paxil.jp/documents/da/ev/ev004.php (from where the above image is taken) that while there is an overall correlation between SSRI antidepressant use and suicide (illustrated by my red arrows for both men and women) when one looks at the correlation between SSRI use and suicide in each age cohort, one finds a negative correlation between SSRI use and suicide rate as shown by the gently downward sloping blue arrows. The author claims that this is an illustration of "Simpson's Paradox," and that his data shows that SSRIs reduce suicide if one compares like with like.

(Simpson's Paradox is real, as many of the illustrations in the wikipedia page linked demonstrate. I have called Simpson's paradox on the data that suggests that Japanese working mothers have more children, arguing that this is in fact due to the high birth rate among poor women. I suggested, though have no evidence to demonstrate, that the tendency for dual income parents to have more children might be reversed if similar income groups were compared. )

So is this research fair to conclude that SSRI's reduce suicide rates among Japanese? On the face of it I was persuaded by the paper's conclusions since age does seem to be a very major predictor of suicide, and confounding factor in the relationship between SSRIs and sucide, so it would make sense to compare the relationship between SSRI use and suicide among similar age cohorts.

At the same time, I had assumed that the high instance of suicide among older people is due to the higher instance of health related suicide - the most common cause of suicide, rather than depression related suicide. What surprises me is that older people should be taking so much more antidepressants. In other words

1) If older Japanese people are simply more depressed than younger people, and therefore both taking more anti-depressants and committing suicide more, then Nakagawa et al.'s conclusions, and the suggestion that one should look at age cohorts, would seem to be entirely sound.

2) If older Japanese people are being diagnosed more as depressed, taking more antidepressants and therefore committing suicide more then that would be a tragedy.

How can one differentiate between the two hypotheses?

Prior to the introduction of antidepressants ("a cold of the heart") there were far fewer diagnoses of depression in Japan so it would be difficult and unfair to look at diagnoses of depression in the various age groups prior to the introduction of antidepressants. Of course there would have been fewer diagnoses since it was only after the arrival of the drugs that doctors started asking the questionnaires that would allow the prescription of the drugs.

However, if the arrival of anti depressant drugs should have been accompanied by an increase in suicide in older but not younger people then that might suggest reason (2).

After going through this reasoning, I went to see Japanese government data showing suicide rates for age cohorts, which I add below the first set of graphs.

Scarily, there does seem to be an event in about 1999 which spreads the suicide rate especially amongst males with many more older people suddenly killing themselves. The ratio of the suicide rates of young people 15-24, to that of 45 to 64 year olds jumps from three to five to one. In other words, prior to the arrival of antidepressants, the would be "confounding factor:" "old people are depressed and kill themselves more" was not nearly so true.

As pointed out by his New York Times article (Did Antidepressants Depress Japan?) and indeed Nakagawa et al.'s article shows that the introduction of antidepressants was also 1999.

That sudden dramatic post 1999 rise in death by suicide among older men represents in the first ten years of the decade represents more than 120,000 lost lives.

It also seems to me that if one answers a popular Japanese language self-check form for depression in a Japanese geezer (ojisan) way, being honest, as Japanese people are about ones declining vigour, then one is diagnosed with being "slightly depressed," merely by being honest, and perhaps therefore given drugs. This might provide a mechanism for why older people in Japan would be likely to be prescribed more anti-depression drugs.

There is also data to suggest that Japanese try harder in situations of adversity, so that would provide a mechanism for why those traditional Japanese might take their own lives when proscribed SSRIs (Heine, et. al, 2001).

At the very least Nakagawa's statement that, "After eliminating the effects of long-term linear trends, we found annual increases in antidepressant treatment were associated with annual decreases in suicide rates. " appears to be difficult to comprehend in view of the fact that 1999 was marked by a striking non linear increase in Japanese suicide rates, and it appears that that the "long term linear trends" were eliminated only for the period AFTER the introduction of SSRIs (1999-2003) and the contemporaneous step like increase in suicide among older males that continued and continues more than a decade later.

Bibliogaphy
Heine, S. J., Kitayama, S., Lehman, D. R., Takata, T., Ide, E., Leung, C., & Matsumoto, H. (2001). Divergent consequences of success and failure in Japan and North America: An investigation of self-improving motivations and malleable selves. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(4), 599.
Heine, S. J., Lehman, D. R., Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1999). Is there a universal need for positive self-regard?. Psychological review, 106(4), 766.
Nakagawa, A., Grunebaum, M. F., Ellis, S. P., Oquendo, M. A., Kashima, H., Gibbons, R. D., & Mann, J. J. (2007). Association of suicide and antidepressant prescription rates in Japan, 1999–2003. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 68(6), 908. Retreived from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3804897/
Watters, E. (2010). Crazy like us: The globalization of the American psyche. Simon and Schuster.
ウォッターズ.E著 阿部 宏美訳 (2013)『クレイジー・ライク・アメリカ:心の病はいかに輸出されたか』紀伊國屋書店

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Monday, March 23, 2015

 

Curved Jewels as (Internal) Ears

Magatama Curved Jewels as (Inner) Ears

Children and adults can make curved jewels at the Yoshinogari museum of ancient Japanese culture in Saga (吉野ヶ里歴史公園) for about 2USD a jewel. My children enjoyed making one each this weekend.

Curved jewels (magatama) are one of the few things mentioned in Japanese mythology that are also found in reality.

As 'transitional object' in both myth and reality, they form one of the three sacred items symbolic of the Japanese imperial lineage the other two being a mirror, of the Sun Goddess, and the sword, that was found inside the tail of a multi-headed snake.

In Japanese mythology, the Sun Goddess is wearing a necklace of curved jewels when she meets her brother Susano who takes some of these jewels, puts them into his mouth, chews (onomatopoeically "kami-kami") them to bits and spits them out into the 'central well of heaven' to create other gods (kami) and imperial ancestors.

This act continues the Japanese mythological theme of "creation via dripping" often onto a reflective surface. The creative act of chewing symbols and spitting them out onto a mirror making the noise of what one is making ("kami" or deities), struck me as being a pagan expression of creation via the word - we speak to internalised other in the mirror of our mind, thereby making the world, speciated, en-wordified.

In Japanese mythology this act of creation, however, ends in disaster. Susano commits all manner of "sins" and his sister the Sun Goddess is lost to the world, since she hides in her cave. When the sun goddess has hidden in her cave, Amenouzume (lit "the headdress wearing woman of heaven) the founder of Japanese masked theatre (and I believe Susano in drag) wears a special headdress including curved jewels, to encourage the sun goddess to come back out of her cave by performing an erotic dance on top of a drum which made all present laugh, which encourages the Sun Goddess to come out of her cave again.

[My interpretation is that this is Susano attempting to return from the hell of the narrative self, by enacting it as an erotic solo, transsexual, auditory - hence the drum - dance to achieve enlightenment through satire and humour. Derrida represents the tragedy in a book of self addressed loving, erotic postcards. Japanese mythology and dance is more behavioural. ]

The curved jewels are said to have first have been made by deity by the name of "Parent of the Jewels" whose shrine is about 20 km from where I live in Yamaguchi Prefecture near Hōfu City (Tamanooya Jinja 玉祖神社).

This brings me to the occurrence of curved jewels in reality. They are found widely in ancient Japanese Joumon (lit. "string pattern" [pottery]) archaeological sites and in ancient burial mounds and in ancient archaeological royal sites from Korea.

The Japanese claim that the curved jewels spread from Japan to Korea, whereas Koreans claim that they spread from Korea to Japan. In Korea they are called gogok or comma shaped jewels and are found paired with mirrors on the regalia of Korean Kings in decidedly ear shaped forms, hanging from a tree shaped crown (similar that worn by Ameno-Uzume, the head-dress-woman, my "Sunsano in drag").

The fact that they hang from a tree has suggested that they represent a fruit.

[A fruit reminds me of Adam's apple, which gets stuck in our throat. I would also be inclined to suggest that the tree crown may also have had a practical purposes as a primitive "selfie-stick" to enable its wearer to see himself reflected, and echoed, in mirrors and jewels, there dangling.]

There are several other theories as to the significance of the shape of curved or comma jewels, all of the following from Wikipedia.
The shape of an animal tusk
The shape of the moon
The shape of a two or three part tomoe (as represented in the above image top row)
The shape of the moon
The shape of the soul
The shape of ear decorations

I had liked the part tomoe (Taoist and Shinto symbol) interpretation, for no good reason, but the ear decoration theory is more persuasive.

According to recent research (Suzuki, 2006) on curved jewels unearthed in Korea and Japan, curved jewels are found alongside "nearly circular ear jewellery split into two halves. The visual evidence for ear jewellery as the origin of curved jewels appears to be strong (see the above link and bottom left in the above image).

This interpretation does not conflict with the tomoe or soul interpretation. Various scholars (Mead, Bakhtin, Freud, Lacan, Derrida) claim that the self is dependent upon the assumption of an ear into the psyche. As such, a fitting together (either as a circle or tomoe) ear-shaped or ear-associated jewel may have represented a transitional, partial-self-object.

It is known that mirrors were given to others as remembrance tokens or keepsakes by the ancient Japanese from poems in the Book of Ten Thousand Leaves (manyoushuu). Looking at a mirror presented by a loved one, one might feel their gaze. Hearing the sound of the clinking of a curved jewel, made from the earring of ones mother or girlfriend, one might imagine the attention of their loving ear.

I have also claimed that headless deformed Venus figurines, including ancient Japanese dogu and and ancient Jewish Ishtar idols, may have represented the represented part of an autoscopic visual self. 'The ancients' may have known more about the parts from which the self is created, or at least been more fully aware that the self is created from parts. Moderns may have become more prudish, and lost our sense of humour.

In Japanese mythology, when Susano chewed the Sun Goddesses' curved jewels and spat them out into a reflective surface (in which he may have been reflected as his sister, I claim), she took his sword and chewed it and spat it out likewise into the well of heaven. The curved jewels therefore form a pair with swords. In a myth parallel to that in which the sword (Kusanagi no Tsurugi) was found in the tail of a snake, the sword is associated with the naming of its owner. Indeed it could be argued that the sword that Susano finds in the snake is his symbolic self-representation. If jewels represent internalised ears, then it would be appropriate that they be paired with swords as self symbols or names. Mirrors can represent the perspective/gaze, and the transitional, part-self image that is gazed at, and the world-heart in which it takes place.

It seems to me that my self-narrative and any internal ear take place on or in the mirror of my consciousness which sees as it is seen.

In China, "nearly circular" earrings (I thought that they were "butt" shaped earrings in an earlier version of this post!) are sometimes represented as a snake or dragon biting its own tail. Out out damn butt (! I jest, ketsu, 玦) snake! My self narrative is gay.

That in Japan the "incomplete circle" 玦 "pig dragon" earrings are broken into two, and worn as necklaces seems to me to represent the way in which language and the linguistic self in Japan does not form an "incomplete circle," completed by the reality of the ear or face, nor go around in Japanese people's minds but is broken. The linguistic self, the "I" of the cogito, is in Japan, as Mori claims, broken, a "you for you."

Under this reading, the myths of Susano - with his sister and in Izumo - are about how one form of selfing defeated another: in Japan the paradoxical circle of light defeated the incomplete snake circle of speaking. Or paraphrasing the myth from Guam, some humans managed to escape from hell to live in the light of the sun, without physically or imaginatively nailing themselves to a tree.

Perhaps I should dress up in drag and dance in front of a mirror. I did in fact recommend dancing in front of a mirror to a schizophrenic many years ago. That patient showed remarkable but only temporary improvement.



Images
http://shiga-bunkazai.jp/%E8%AA%BF%E6%9F%BB%E5%93%A1%E3%81%AE%E3%81%8A%E3%81%99%E3%81%99%E3%82%81%E3%81%AE%E9%80%B8%E5%93%81%E3%80%80no-84/

Suzuki, K. 鈴木克彦 (2006) "縄文勾玉の起源に関する考証."『玉文化』3号.

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Opium War Three or a Blessing?

Opium War Three

Since the late 1990s European and American drug manufacturers have been carrying out research into attitudes towards depression in countries across the world and have been asking, for example in the above survey, are you satisfied with the way that depression is treated in your company. Only 21% of Japanese respondents said that they are "satisfied" which is the lowest in the world, and shows according to the professor who carried out the survey, that Japanese responses to depression are backward.

The biggest problem with surveys such as these is that in any self-evaluative measure, Westerners are generally inclined to rate themselves (Heine, Lehman, Markus, & Kitayama, 1999) and their groups (Heine and Lehman, 1997) unrealistically positively, i.e in the vernacular we are full of ****, whereas Japanese tend to rate themselves realistically (Heine et. al. ibid). Indeed, the West, the tendency to be realistic is only prevalent among the clinically depressed (Taylor & Brown, 1988)!

This should show the Japanese that Western society is awash with arrogance, pride, and is sick to its core. Instead however, the Japanese are taking Westerners as role models, purchasing their drugs and contemporaneously with the sky rocketing use of Western anti-depressants, there has been an great increase in suicide. This is not the first time that Westerners have sold drugs to East Asians. I strikes me as being extremely worrying, and possibly tragic, misguided in the extreme (See Watters, 2010;ウォッターズ, 2013).

It should be noted however, that the vast majority of studies show that the use of antidepressants either do not effect or in the case of SNRIs reduce suicide, among Caucasians and African Americans (Clouston, Rubin, Clen & Link, 2014) in England (Gunnell, Middleton., Whitley, Dorling, & Frankel, 2003 and Japanese (Nakagawa., Grunebaum., Ellis, Oquendo, Kashima, Gibbons, & Mann, 2007). So lets hope that even if the reasons for their introduction are not necessarily entirely rigorous (As claimed by Watters, 2010;ウォッターズ, 2013), SSRIs are still a blessing.


Article above by
Isawa, T. 伊沢友之(2015年3月18日)職場のうつ病社員支援、日本は最下位 16カ国調査. 朝日新聞.

Bibliography
Barbui, C., Campomori, A., D'avanzo, B., Negri, E., & Garattini, S. (1999). Antidepressant drug use in Italy since the introduction of SSRIs: national trends, regional differences and impact on suicide rates. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology, 34(3), 152-156.
Clouston, S. A., Rubin, M. S., Colen, C. G., & Link, B. G. (2014). Social inequalities in suicide: the role of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. American journal of epidemiology, 180(7), 696-704.
Gunnell, D., Middleton, N., Whitley, E., Dorling, D., & Frankel, S. (2003). Why are suicide rates rising in young men but falling in the elderly?—a time-series analysis of trends in England and Wales 1950–1998. Social science & medicine, 57(4), 595-611.
Heine, S. J., & Lehman, D. R. (1997). The cultural construction of self-enhancement: an examination of group-serving biases. Journal of personality and social psychology, 72(6), 1268.
Heine, S. J., Lehman, D. R., Markus, H. R., & Kitayama, S. (1999). Is there a universal need for positive self-regard?. Psychological review, 106(4), 766.
Taylor, S. E., & Brown, J. D. (1988). Illusion and well-being: a social psychological perspective on mental health. Psychological bulletin, 103(2), 193.
Nakagawa, A., Grunebaum, M. F., Ellis, S. P., Oquendo, M. A., Kashima, H., Gibbons, R. D., & Mann, J. J. (2007). Association of suicide and antidepressant prescription rates in Japan, 1999–2003. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 68(6), 908.
Watters, E. (2010). Crazy like us: The globalization of the American psyche. Simon and Schuster.
ウォッターズ.E著 阿部 宏美訳 (2013)『クレイジー・ライク・アメリカ:心の病はいかに輸出されたか』紀伊國屋書店

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Friday, March 20, 2015

 

Food Autonomy in the Matrivisual


Not withstanding the superb research by Hazel Marcus (Kitayama, Snibbe, Markus, & Suzuki, 2004; Markus, 2008; Markus & Schwartz, 2010; Savani, Markus, & Conner, 2008; Savani, Markus, Naidu, Kumar, & Berlia, 2010) on the way in which non W.E.I.R.D (White Educated Industrial Rich Democratic) (Henrich, Heine, & Norenzayan, 2010) persons are not so interested in making choices, it is my opinion that the cultural desire to exercise ones autonomy depends upon the medium or channel in which the choice is to be made.

"Choices" generally refer to verbal expressions, vocalised or thought. Westerners look at menus and make orders and people bring them things. Westerners like to do this. They feel that it increases their self-esteem, empowers them, and makes them feel like God, in whose image they were made, with the word.

The Japanese however often say "I'll have that too" copying the first person to order, and feel less desire to make choices as expressed in verbal orders for food. The Japanese even feel that making choices and orders to be a burden so that good service in Japan, as shown in the above video is often believed to be one in which the verbal choices are made by an expert host who serves his guests with the food that is in that season and locale, the most delicious, and it was indeed delicious and looked great.

But at the same time, the Japanese are very keen to express their autonomy in the visio-behavioural domain. For this reason it is another strong characteristic of Japanese food as served at Japanese restaurants, that it allows the patrons to make it themselves, there on the table according to their proclivities.

Making a sexist assumption, which I believe largely underpins these differences, Japanese restaurants allow and facilitate mummy-autonomy rather than daddy-autonomy. If you want to bark orders to a wife, do not come to Japan. If you want to be free to make food how you like it, then Japan is heaven. Strangely, among feminists, Japan has a bad press.

I also note that the Japanese creation myth or mix starts with what might be called celestial cooking. The first deities mix the 'oily' primal soup and make the first island by dripping salty water. Christians believe in and enjoy creation 'ex-nihilo' by vocalisation. Japanese enjoy creation ex-soup by stirring, and dripping -- a common creative trope in Shinto mythology -- and a lot of fun at the farewell party banquet table.


Notes
'ex-nihilo' is a lie, about a lie!

Bibliography
Henrich, J., Heine, S. J., & Norenzayan, A. (2010). The weirdest people in the world? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33(2-3), 61–83. Retrieved from http://journals.cambridge.org/abstract_S0140525X0999152X
Kitayama, S., Snibbe, A. C., Markus, H. R., & Suzuki, T. (2004). Is There Any ‘Free’ Choice? Psychological Science, 15(8), 527.
Markus, H. R. (2008). Does Choice Mean Freedom and Well-Being?. Presented at the International Society for  Cross-Cultural Psychology, Melbourne, Australia. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/651242
Markus, H. R., & Schwartz, B. (2010). Does Choice Mean Freedom and Well-Being? Journal of Consumer Research, 37(2), 344–355. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/651242
Savani, K., Markus, H. R., & Conner, A. L. (2008). Let your preference be your guide? Preferences and choices are more tightly linked for North Americans than for Indians. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 95(4), 861–876.
Savani, K., Markus, H. R., Naidu, N. V. R., Kumar, S., & Berlia, N. (2010). What Counts as a Choice?: U.S. Americans Are More Likely Than Indians to Construe Actions as Choices. Psychological Science, 21(3), 391–398. http://doi.org/10.1177/0956797609359908

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Christmas Illuminations


It was partly thanks to the Japanese that the Christians became the scourge of the earth! The Jesuits -- officially the Society of Jesus -- were not great in number. Inspired by the founder Ignatius of Loyola - a former soldier from Spain - a group of six friends set sail with traders to spread the word, and Francisco Xavier found himself in Japan.

There it was the Jesuits' initial success with the Japanese, who initially found the Jesuits very compelling, that inspired Europeans to make large monetary donations to the Jesuits and for the Jesuits and other Christian religious orders to set off proselyting around the world, and -- as the Japanese had been warned by the British inhabitant of Japan William Adams -- subsequently colonizing some, or many of the countries in which there were Christian converts.

In Japan initially the the Jesuits and the Japanese were mutually appreciative of each other. The Jesuits wrote back with glowing praise regarding the Japanese people. Xavier wrote "[Japan] surpasses in goodness any of the nations lately discovered...none that has more natural goodness than the Japanese" (Xavier in Coleridge, 1872, p237) and "They are wonderfully inclined to all that is good and honest, and have an extreme eagerness to learn" (ibid, p238).

According to Francisco's writing - which can be read online -- the Japanese appeared to have been impressed with the humility, poverty, chastity, bravery (in the face of Buddhist repression) and helping the poor - perhaps in contradistinction to the lay appreciation of Buddhist priests. The Buddhists also had no explanation for how the world was created, the Buddha having refused to answer the question regarding the origin of the illusory world, telling people to get over it. The Christians who as we know, claim that God created the world with his word. Impressed by all this initially, there were a great many Japanese converts including among their leaders. Later Jesuits were less popular.

After the long period of Christian repression, when Christian missionaries returned in the post revolution, Meiji period, there were far fewer converts and Japanese remain largely disinterested in Christianity to this day. There is however, a great consumerist splurge at Christmas, a reinterpretation of the message of love as one related to Erotic love, and a great many illuminations especially in my town of Yamaguchi, where Francisco Xavier preached.

Coleridge, H. J. (1872). The life and letters of St. Francis Xavier : in two volumes. Asian Educational Services. https://archive.org/details/thelifeandletter02coleuoft

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

 

Trapping Time: Taming Impermance



The Japanese have a fascination with and aesthetic appreciation - wabi - of the passing of time. They enjoy going to see cherry blossom, which marks the beginning of spring, and enjoy cherry blossom most when it is falling in clouds of pink snow; when it is at its most ephemeral. Thus it would seem that the Japanese enjoy an awareness of temporal flow and impermanence. SInce it is true that things are always changing, whereas there is a tendency to think that they are remaining the same, this makes the Japanese sound very Buddhist, very enlightened.

On other hand it might be argued that Britons who like to surround themselves with antiques, old cutlery and china, old houses, and relics of the past, are demonstrating a desire to stop time, and ignore impermanence and temporal flow.

But then it also occurred to me that, according to the central theory of this blog, Westerners are inclined to identify with their self narrative, which as Bruner (1987) emphasises usually has a temporal unfolding, a plot, a history, and are therefore quite happy to be aware of the the movement of time, and the awareness of their development and difference over time. The Japanese on the other hand might be happier to be aware of their changing "kyara" or visually cognised character, in each of several social spaces (Fujimura, 2015), but attempt to maintain temporal intransigence, very successfully often. The Japanese age really well.

And then it occurred to me that even when Japanese are being at their most impermanent, such as when they are enjoying the passing of the seasons and, quintessentially, cherry blossom, they do so situating these seasonal events within a yearly calendar that transforms the natural phenomena into a place within a series of symbols or icons. Cherry blossom are thus yanked out of the immediacy of temporal flow, and tamed to becomes the symbol of March and that spring has arrived again.

This transformation reminded me of the theory of Clifford Geertz (1973) on persons and time and Bali (I say the Trobriand Islands in the video). He argues that since the Balinese emphasise socio-temporal role names (infant, teenage, dad, granddad) as do the Japanese rather than individual names over the course of the lifespan, this de-emphasises the passing of time - except on the days when roles change - and gives the impression of a motionless present. One can gain this impression in Japan. For many years one remains the same until suddenly one because a "granddad," like the end of the Japanese myth "Urashima Taro." There is also something motionless about time in Japan.

Similarly by situating the flow of the seasons within a series of socio-temporal nature-roles, the flow of natural time is at once exposed and hidden. Cherry blossom become permanently flowing and yet not flowing at all, trapped within the expression of March-ness. This reminded me of cine-graph images like that below.


Into the same rivers we step and do not step, we are and are not? I am confused. The Japanese have a different appreciation of time.

Bruner, J. (1987). Life as narrative. Social research, 11-32.
Clifford, G. (1973). The interpretation of cultures. New York: Basic, 412-453.
Fujimura, M. (2015). キャラと視点 (Kyara and Perspective). Unpublished graduation thesis. Yamaguchi University, Department of Economics.

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41.6% of high School Students Enjoy Studying English: Too Kind



Japan Today reports with its usual tone of anti-Japanese mirth, that "58.4% of high school seniors say they don't like studying English." This implies that 41.6% of Japanese high school students like studying English! Japanese language education is doing something right.

But then, personally I think that that percentage is far too high for success. English lessons are, especially if communicative, seen to be a time for having fun. Students come to my classes expecting something like tea-time-with-Timothy, and are painfully surprised. If the Japanese want to learn to communicate in English, before they graduate from university, lessons need to be a lot more harsh than tea-time, and mine are which is why they are so unpopular ;-; If I could persuade 41.6% of students to like my lessons I would be very happy.

Foreign languages are pools of non-meaning into which learners must jump, even though humans fear the absence of meaning almost as as much as death (Heine & Proulx, 2006). People, even the Japanese to an extent, narrate themselves into existence, so the absence of a response - which happens often when one is attempting to speak a foreign language - is a sort of death, or hell (Bakhtin, 1986).

The Japanese are a very polite bunch of people, who do not wish to cause others distress, so Japanese teachers teach vocabulary and grammar forever rather than demand that their students jump into a Bakhtinian hell. But jump they must. Japanese kindness (yasashisa) is thus perhaps the biggest block to English improvement. Teachers and students need to realise that in order to gain communicative competence they will have to learn to put each other on the block.

I teach my English classes upon the model of martial arts classes where the idea is to attack ones opponent. While the Japanese are very kind to each other in most social situations, they are aware that the objective is to knock their opponents brains out (figuratively) in kendo (Japanese swordsmanship) and Karate classes, and change their behaviour accordingly. Ordinarily gentle high-school girls transform into killer swords women in the kendo dojo. Since my classes also contain a lot of role playing, I am thinking of calling this martial role-playing English teaching technique Ninja English (忍者英語).


私の英語の授業を履修してください。多少つらいですが、英語が話せるようになりますよ。 Image: School boy 2 by Romeas ロメアス Thomas トマ, on Flick Bakhtin, M. (1986). The Problem of the Text in Linguistics, Philology, and the Human Sciences: An Experiment in Philosophical Analysis. Speech Genres and Other Late Essays, 103-31. Heine, S. J., Proulx, T., & Vohs, K. D. (2006). The meaning maintenance model: On the coherence of social motivations. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 10(2), 88-110. http://flic.kr/p/rFGA1n

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Provide all the Accoutrements of a Temple

All the Accoutrements of a Temple

This is a bell at Two Lovers Point in Guam. The management of this most popular iconic spot on the resort island of Guam are at least subconsciously aware that if you want Japanese tourists to come to your destination, then provide them with all the accoutrements of a pagan temple: a legend, something symbolic ideally natural, some good luck charms (locks), a place to leave votive offerings (the rails to leave love locks), a way of making non-linguistic noise either by clapping, or ideally by a bell (as pictured above), and an opportunity for autoscopy: a mirror or place to take a selfie. Tourism is secular pilgrimage.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

 

Japanese Try Harder When they Fail




As demonstrated by Heine et al.,'s famed experiment, (2001) the Japanese try harder when they fail, whereas Americans try harder when they succeed.

This is explained upon the theorisation that the important thing for North Americans is to feel good about themselves, so they try hard when they succeed, whereas the important thing for Japanese is to feel appreciated and socially included so they try hard when they fail. I remain highly impressed by this research and have been teaching its conclusions in my cultural psychology classes for the past several years.

But upon reflection, the former explanation regarding North Americans is more persuasive than the latter regarding Japanese. Groups express gratitude as much as they sanction so why should it be that Japanese try harder when they fail?

Another possible explanation might be due to the fact that the task was a linguistic one - a word game. North Americans are obsessed with word games, and expect themselves to be good at them. Japanese however, do not expect themselves to be good at word games and would be less likely to feel bad about having failed at the task. What would have happened if the task was to create something in folded paper, or some sort of visual manipulation task?

This question relates to the other main theoretical thrust of the paper in question: the assertion that Japanese believe themselves and their performance, to be tractable to effort, whereas North Americans believe themselves to have intrinsic aptitudes and abilities that are not tractable to effort. Thus North Americans attempt to find the areas in which they themselves and only themselves excel, and avoid those areas where they fail, whereas Japanese are more inclined to believe that given the right environment (the right club, the right coach, the right incentive) anyone can achieve anything if they put themselves in the right environment and try hard.

I believe that Heine's theory conforms to an extent to the facts. Yes, Japanese are more inclined to believe in the power of effort and whereas yes, Americans are more inclined to believe in the importance of aptitude.

I am aware that the third experiment in the same paper tested whether manipulation of the these self views effect performance. Japanese and American subjects were told that their performance would, or would not, vary according to effort, or conversely that performance was, or was not, related to aptitude. It was found that, in the failure condition, telling Japanese that the task was tractable to effort changed their effort little, whereas telling North Americans that the task was tractable to effort changed and enhanced their performance a lot. It was argued that therefore, Japanese chronically presume their performance to be dependent upon effort (so being told that "effort work"s had little effect) whereas Americans when told that effort is effective, tried harder.

[I have tried the reverse manipulation in the success situation with non-significant but Heine predict result among Japanese. Japanese were told that that they had succeeded at a word game - thinking up positive adjectives and then being told that the average student can only think of x adjectives where x is less than the true mean. One third of the subjects were told that the task was about ability (才能) a third were told that the task was tractable to effort and a third were told nothing. I then left the room, saying that I had to get another survey and told them that they could write some more positive adjectives if they like below the line signifying those that they had written with the test time. The group that were told that the task was about ability wrote more extra words that those in the other conditions but not significantly. Having an American mindset, about words at least, makes Japanese try harder in success situations whereas having a Japanese mindset makes Americans rebound better in failure situations.]

But what if the task itself were culturally dependent? Is it that Japanese believe themselves to malleable, and North Americans believe themselves to be a product of their aptitudes as Heine argues?

Or could it be that with regard to word games (the task) North Americans believe themselves, as narrative selves, to be intractable to effort, whereas Japanese who see word games as irrelevant, believe that effort works?

The cultural attitude towards effort and aptitude was also tested, in experiment 4 or 5 of the same paper, finding North Americans to far more inclined to believe in aptitude, and Japanese far more inclined to believe in effort. However the tasks (that I can remember) were ability in History and piano playing, both rather 'logo-phono-centric.' If it is true that North Americans and Westerners in general believe themselves to be self narratives, whereas Japanese do not, then narratival ability -- definitely history, perhaps music -- may be seen to be aptitude based by North Americans and Westerners.

If however Japanese believe themselves to be autoscopically apprehended corporealities then visual tasks might be believed to be more aptitude based.

This, my hypothesis, is fraught. Even very visual, corporeal activities, such as baseball, are believed to be very tractable to effort in Japan.

At the same time, I continue to believe that the "centre of gravity" of the Japanese self may be visual, and that of Westerners narratival, so the belief in effort-changeable malleability, or conversely in aptitude, may depend upon the conception of self, and the nature of the task.

AND, oh dear, these considerations lead me to question the nature of 'identity' across time and space. Narratives exist in time, vision exist in space. Hence anyone believing in a visual self or a narratival self would be likely to believe in differing amounts of 'malleability' in the spacial and temporal dimensions.

Those believing in the centre of gravity of the narratival self would be more inclined to believe in a history, their ongoing story and temporal variability combined with a socio-spatial consistency (changing in time, invariant in space in any one time) whereas those believing that the centre of gravity of their selves is their face, would be more inclined to believe in their spatial dimensionality or plurality or extendedness in socio-spatial situations, and time invariance (changing in space, invariant in time).

Image above translated from figure 1 in Heine, S. J., Kitayama, S., Lehman, D. R., Takata, T., Ide, E., Leung, C., & Matsumoto, H. (2001). Divergent consequences of success and failure in Japan and North America: An investigation of self-improving motivations and malleable selves. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(4), 599.

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Friday, March 06, 2015

 

Face up to It: Kyari Pamyupamyu and the End of the World

Face up to It

It is a matter of some merriment that the two Japanese artists that represent the visual version of the Freudian trinity, and the Watsujian self as mask, in their work, are dating each other.

Doll-like envizualised KyariPamyuPmayu is haunted by a vast watcher (and spews up eyeballs), and broken, seeking Fukase is haunted by a massive 'watched' - a fat man in a grotesque mask. [There have been two of the masked clowns, bottom, rear, called "DJ LOVE," and second generation JD LOVE so its presence is clearly by design.]

And at least in August for 2014, Kyari Pamyupamyu and Fukase, the lead singer of The End of the World (Sekai no Owari) , were a couple.

I think that this just goes to show that one can see the horror and be creative and happy. It may also perhaps illustrate the sort of mindset expressed by Fukase's song "Phantom Self." At about 3:40 in to the song (preceded by some fascinating viisual art) Fukase sings, "If you meet a phantom in a dream, that is not a phantom any more. I will become an phantom myself." That seems like a very healthy attitude to have and he may be putting it into practice. Fukase is looking more and more like his clown. I hope they are all happy.

I was going to say that Fukase's philosophy is religious, absurd, or both, and like Nishida's perhaps it is, but the real beauty of the visual self is that it does not need to be real, or even thought to be real, to be believed. See this video, by the doyen of the visual self, Olaf Blanke, for proof. The sort of leap, required to believe in a self as narrative is a lot more tricky. Narrative calls for honesty, which the narrative self is is not.

So, as science advances and shows us all those ridiculous things that I write about on my other blog, such as that the universe is flat and oval, and it becomes more and more difficult to deny what is really going on, there may be no alternative, for scientists at least, but to become Japanese:-) It is not easy though. I can't say I have managed to silence the evil whispering and believe, video ergo sum.

Images copyright Lastrum Music and Warner Music (click the links to hear the songs).

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Thursday, March 05, 2015

 

The Synagogue of the Japanese Mind

http://flic.kr/p/rrpRSW

I went to a Jewish synagogue once. There were a lot of guys reading a book. The book was in front of the guys. They took it from an altar in front of them and they read it in front of them, of course.

They were reading God's Word. And at the same time, the women were present, yes present, sitting in the wings. In the synagogue that I went to the women were sitting on the left hand side (maybe this is only a feature of the one synagogue that I have been to, in Edinburgh).

This structure is similar to that proposed by Freud as the structure of the self.
http://ift.tt/1B6BYXB


While the self seems to be directed forwards, an "acoustic cap" or super-ego, listens on the left hand side according to Freud. The Japanese do not have synagogues, or even churches or any places of communal worship where they congregate, much. But they have martial arts training rooms (Dojo) where the mothers sit and watch from the side (as shown above) or behind. In front of the Japanese men there is no book, but instead mirrors.

The practioners do not read themselves from a book in front of themselves while women listen from the side, but see themselves in mirrors in front of themselves while women watch from the side and behind. And so it I think is with the Jewish and Japanese mind.

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Photography not Prohibited at the End of the World


Japan Today and Rocket News ask why Photography is Prohibited at Japanese concerts.

Vision is central. Japan is one of the few countries where one owns ones image to the extent that taking pictures of other people without their consent in public places is against the law (unless for a registered media corporation). Things *are* what they look like, there is little sense of their being interior qualities that define authenticity. So for example, Ise Shrine can be built new every 25 years but still felt to be Ise Shrine,. Likewise copies of foreign towns are felt to be authentic (authenticopies) if they look the same as that which they are copying, just as we believe that words manage to mean the same thing. Japanese Gods are happy with mirrors and sculptures and pictures of horses (ema) since to be is to be seen. All this is because the Other of the Japanese psyche is not something that listens but something that looks -- a mirror -- so the 'centre of gravity of the Japanese self', is not their self-narrative (which gets in the way) but their face or mask. So if one were able to take photos at concerts one would be stealing the essence of the experience..

The lead singer of the one Japanese band which is allowing photography to be allowed at its concerts, The End of the World / Sekai no Owari, who made a visit to a psychiatric hospital after an attempt to study in the USA, seems to be wise to the nature of Japanese "apparitional life" (Maboroshi no inochi with English Captions), their first single.

Watsuji, T. (2011). Mask and Persona. Japan Studies Review, 15, 147–155. Retrieved from asian.fiu.edu/projects-and-grants/japan-studies-review/jo...

Images of Sekai no Owari: Sekai No Owari Free Live "Tree" in Tokyo: Fukase by Dick Thomas Johnson, on Flickr

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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

 

Which image did You / Your Opponent See

Which image did You / Your Opponent See

Heine, Takata, & Lehman's study (2000) based upon that of Takata (1987) are the only studies that I know of that claim to show that Japanese are self-critical behaviourally. These studies make this claim due to the fact that Japanese require more information to make a decision upon who is better at a task, themselves or their opponent, when they are shown information that suggests that they are better than when they are shown information that they were worse. These requests for more information are behavioural. But the judgement they are making is entirely linguistic. They being asked to say "I was better than the other guy," which the Japanese have no desire to say or "I was worse than the other guy," which the Japanese have no problem saying.

However, in my view, the Japanese do have a desire to look better, see themselves as cuter than everyone else (Google ”自分が一番かわいい” jibun ga ichiban kawaii). In order to test this perhaps one could ask Japanese to complete the same test asking the difference in number of say red and blue rectangles, regarding images containing both random and regular patterns of coloured rectangles.

Then one could ask about a series which is in fact different, "Did you, or your partner see this image?" While disguised as a memory test, it would be asking who got the easy task. I hypothesise that Japanese would be more inclined to attribute the easy image (those on the right above) to their partner, and the difficult image (those on the left above) especially when told that the are told that their opponent did better, but I am not sure.

Another problem is that the patterned images are easier to remember than the random images so if different then all subjects would be inclined to attribute them to the partner. So therefore, the patterned images could be the same as those presented to the subject. In other words, in order to visually self-enhance subjects would be required to attribute an easy image to their partner which they had in fact themselves seen. I think that the Japanese may be so visually self-enhancing that they may do this.

Takata, T. (1987). Self-Deprecative Tendencies in Self Evaluation Through Social Comparison. The Japanese Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 27(1), 27–36. doi:10.2130/jjesp.27.27 Heine, S. J., Takata, T., & Lehman, D. R. (2000). Beyond self-presentation: Evidence for self-criticism among Japanese. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26(1), 71–78. http://flic.kr/p/rbmV3n

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Empire of Underwear


Inspired by Ms. Matsutani's graduation thesis (Matsutani, 2015) this is a video about Japanese underwear in which I claim that the Japanese visual Other, allows them to see not only themselves, but, especially if they practice Noh (Zeami: see Yusa, 1987) but inside (Ball and Torrance, 1978) and through things such as their outer clothing, allowing themselves to see their own underwear, which results in a greater emphasis upon wearing nice underwear such as the 12 layers of undergarments worn in the Heian period (Shuu, 2014) and the underwear in this video, and also, occasionally wearing underwear as an outer garment (such as kamiso-ru fashion see Matsudani, ibid; and kosode in the Muramachi Period, see Kitamura, 1985).

Ball, O. E., & Torrance, E. P. (1978). Culture and Tendencies to Draw Objects in Internal Visual Perspective. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 47(3f), 1071–1075. doi:10.2466/pms.1978.47.3f.1071
Kitamura, T. 北村哲郎. (1985). 小袖の誕生と和装小物. In 主婦の友社 (Ed.), 日本の装い (Vol. 第九巻). 三共.
Matsutani, M. 松谷麻美(2015) "日本人の服装のホンネ:日本人の下着と普段着が表わす性格と理想 (The hidden truth about Japanese clothing: The character and ideals expressed by Japanese outerwear and underwear: Takemoto's translation)." Unpublished graduation thesis. Yamaguchi University, Faculty of Economics, Yamaguchi, Japan.
Shuu. S. 周成梅. (2014, October 17). 女房装束に関する研究 [text]. Retrieved 31 December 2014, from http://ir.lib.hiroshima-u.ac.jp/00035793
Yusa, M. (1987). Riken no Ken. Zeami’s Theory of Acting and Theatrical Appreciation. Monumenta Nipponica, 42(3), 331–345. Retrieved from http://myweb.facstaff.wwu.edu/yusa/docs/riken.pdf

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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

 

Better or Worse, Believe it or Not



In Takata's 1987 study, Japanese subjects were shown 20 different grids of coloured rectangular boxes like that in the bottom half of the image above, and asked questions such as "what is the difference in number in red and blue rectangles," being given 13 seconds to given an answer. At the end of the test, they were shown their own results compared to a bogus competitors results. They were then asked to decide who is better at the test you (the subject) or the competitor. When the bogus test results showed that the competitor was better, they needed only on average 3.3 comparisons before deciding that their competitor was better than them. When on the other hand the bogus competitor is on average worse, then (in the same high a variance condition) they needed on average 9.8 test results before coming to the conclusion that they are better than their opponent. The reverse trend is found among North Americans (Heine, Takata, & Lehman, 2000), who need less data to come to the conclusion that they are better than an opponent. This is deemed to be a behavioural demonstration of Japanese self-critical, western self-enhancing tendencies, since the dependent variable is how much data they asked to be shown. At the same time, the self-presentation "He is better than me" or "He is worse than me" is entirely linguistic. Takata, T. (1987). Self-Deprecative Tendencies in Self Evaluation Through Social Comparison. The Japanese Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 27(1), 27–36. doi:10.2130/jjesp.27.27 Heine, S. J., Takata, T., & Lehman, D. R. (2000). Beyond self-presentation: Evidence for self-criticism among Japanese. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26(1), 71–78. http://flic.kr/p/qvbWJB

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Friday, February 20, 2015

 

Linguistic Self-Consistency



If asked to describe themselves in a group, to their peers, on their own, or to a teacher, Americans give three times as many positive as negative statements. Americans are boastful in almost all situations. Japanese on the other hand are generally humble even with peers. They are only a little self aggrandizing when they are on their own.

The American self-consistent bragging is a sort of self-addressed love song. They look like they are describing themselves to other people, but really they are talking to someone hidden within themselves. By this device, they make themselves feel their imaginary friend's love. On the other hand since it is well known that people the world over like humility, the Japanese are merely representing themselves in a perfectly natural, pleasant way.

Hand the subjects a camera, however, and suddenly the ghost that haunts the Japanese psyche becomes apparent, from their utra-cute selfie behaviour. It is through this comparison, I hope, we shall have her out into the light of day. Got it!

Image adapted from Table 6, p99 in Kanagawa, Cross, & Markus, (2001). Kanagawa, C., Cross, S. E., & Markus, H. R. (2001). ‘Who am I?’ The cultural psychology of the conceptual self. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(1), 90–103. http://flic.kr/p/rgNvAX

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Monday, February 16, 2015

 

cleanliness



Japanese do not use the same towel twice whereas westerners do. This is due to the fact that the Japanese have an autoscopic rather than narratival self, so blemishes upon the person and all forms uncleanliness are more ego-involoved, and the fact that Japan is more humid, so that jock-itch and athletes foot are more of a problem, so daily-un-washed bath towels are a bad idea. Japanese "bath towels" are about the size of two face flannels however, to avoid the mountains of laundry. image copyright baby centre http://flic.kr/p/rd33hv

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

 

No Other of the Japanese Self? Mori, Arimasa, Kawai and Nishida


Mori Arimasa (1911 - 1976), was the grandson of Meiji period statesman Mori Arinori. His father was a Christian priest. A Christian himself, he relocated to France in 1950 where he remained until his death. He was an accomplished organ player and fluent in French and Latin. It seems to me that he understood European's better than they they themselves.

Mori was quite critical of his own country being one of several commentators (Kawai, 1977; Kishida, 1993) who believe that the Japanese self lacks an intra-psychic (in ones head) other that might provide it with a "pivot" to leverage itself out of face to face, first-second person, social relationships.

Mori believed this "pivot" (p.230) was provided in France by the French language. Mori saw a commonality or nexus, an inter-linkage, between reality, science, language and 'the unknowable existence' by which he referred to his own, Christian, God (to whom, presumably, he addressed himself linguistically).

The connection between God and science is particularly interesting and one which I have been persuaded by some research by Ma-Kellams (2013), to be introduced further down.

Mori living in Paris in the 1960s I feel was influenced by Lacanian psychology as well as by his own religion. Expressed in Kawai's diagram above lower half (Kawai, 1977, p153), Mori felt that Westerners had constructed an other, within their culture, society and themselves, to which their ego had achieved independence from out of binary experience. This other for Mori was God, Science and above all language. He felt that the French language provided a pivot, structure, or framework within which the ego or, first person, of the francophone attains independence as a third person. As Lacan says, the unconscious in the West, is structured like a language. It is language, made flesh.

Mori contrasts this with the Japanese case in which he claimed that the Japanese first person, expressing itself in various levels of polite, humble, honorific language was always embedded in the lived experience which defined a hierarchical binary pair. When Japanese meet face to face and speak one of them will adopted the dominant, the other subservient position, and their self be defined by that relationships such that their "I" ego is no more, no less than a "you" for the "you" that they are speaking to. His most famous theory has it that the Japanese "I" is "You for you" (汝の汝). Francophone's however are not trapped within immediate experiences in this way. This allows them, he claims, to address broader social issues rather than that which is in front of their noses. Lacking a self, the Japanese also lack, Mori claims, a sense or concern for society, a collection of selves.

Kawai likewise, in the diagram above (1977, p153), believed that while Europeans had carved out of the morass of their unconscious an area of rationality occupied by the ego, the Japanese, or East Asian, self was still more at one with the unconscious. The lack of a developed self, however, no doubt appealed to the Buddhist element within Kawaii's readership who believed in their Buddha nature, the Eastern conception of God. Under this conception, Westerners have an independent self in relation to Yahweh. Easterners are like children, lacking a self but being closer to the 'purity of their experience' which they regard as divine.

Kishida (1993) likewise argues that the equivalent term that anchors the Japanese self is not God, or some intra-psychic other, but other people. Pointing out that social phobia (対人恐怖症) is particularly prevalent among the Japanese, he denies that it has no equivalent in the West. The equivalent term among Westerners is he says, "fear of God" (対神恐怖) or guilt since it is in relationship with their internalised other - God - that Westerners create themselves and maintain their sense of self-esteem, whereas it is in relation to real others that the Japanese self is created. I suggest that the Western equivalent of social phobia (which Westerners now seem to suffer from) is, rather than the fear of gazes, blushing, and sweating and all the other visual symptoms that typify Japanese psycho-pathology but paranoid personality disorder typified by conspiracy theories, and belief that others are saying and thinking (in words) bad things about oneself. Both disorders may be related to a break down in intra-psychic self-other (ego to super-ego, self to impartial spectator, self to generalised other, face to mirror-in-the-head) relationships, accompanied by excessive reliance on, and subsequent dissatisfaction with social relationships for the maintenance of verbal and visual self-esteem and self.

Mori's theory of the "You for you" may also owe a lot to Nishida Kitarou's philosophy and particularly the short essay on "I and You" in which he discusses the social construction of self as acting agent. Like Mori, NIshida argues that Westerners have always privileged the self as knowledge or knower and sense as at best a object of the knowing subject. He claimed that the acting experiencing subject is however possible and lived in Japan by the Japanese whose self is constructed through their acts, which are observed by others. The Japanese self achieves its existence as an I for the community.

It would seem (at least in the Nishida that I have read thus far) that he did not posit the same sort of unity to Japanese community that Mori felt was embodied by the language- science-God nexus that haunts the West. In Nishida's Zen Buddhist philosophy, acting (visual) self sees itself and others see it too, but there is no Other, no Japanese god, that saves the Japanese self from the you, society, the community. And this despite the fact that Japan is teeming with Gods.

This is where I disagree. The diagram on the right describes the Japanese self as much as it does the the Western. There may be many countries in the space between Japan and France in which the diagram on the left applies. But the Japanese have as much ego as French men, or perhaps even Americans.

In order to make a distinction it is important to note that the pivot, or other by which the ego is created is in fact, neither "impartial" nor "generalised." The former is a misconception that can be demonstrated experimentally through the fact that people in both American and Japan have tremendously inflated views of themselves. The founder of the Panasonic corporation claimed that the reason why putting things to a vote was unpopular in Japan, and the emphasis on consensus, is not because the Japanese are sheep but there are always so many big egos that would be offended if their faction lost the vote. Thus Japanese, and Americans, are not seeing themselves from the point of view of society, if they were they would evaluate themselves fairly and realistically, but from the point of view of someone within themselves who loves them. There is research in the West correlating religiosity with positive self-illusion. God, or one of the aspects of God, loves us.

I claim that the creation of an other for self, is as simple as having one imaginary friend that one has hidden and forgotten. One person who is not you, but within you. That other perspective provides enough socius, enough otherness, enough objectivity, to provide a perspective on oneself and make an object of oneself to oneself. But, further than that can be, and is a sole (not generalised) perspective and the very opposite of "impartial." As Derrida argues on the contrary, our "alter ego" to whom Westerners speak for instance, sending messages into their minds and waiting for the warm cranial kiss of approval, loves us terribly. The emphasis is perhaps on terribly. We have him or her trapped within us. There is something terrible, and taboo about our relationship with him or her, since if we able to see her we our selves, dependent as they are upon her, would be destroyed. But the other is nevertheless loving. Once the "other" of the self as understood in this way, as a sole, partial, autoscopic, visual perspective, on self it can be as effective a pivot. It is only important that she is hidden. I am thinking of Japanese horror such as Ringu and all the other Japanese horror that comes out of images, and the metaphorical words of Exodus 33:20 "you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live."

The fact that the Japanese can see themselves has already been proven. The Japanese have a mirror in their heads and they have the visual positivity that always accompanies one of these internalised other self-comforting, self-creating, genesis relationships (Takemoto, forthcoming).

Finally, some recent research by Ma-Kellams (Ma-Kellams, Blascovich, 2013) knocked my socks off. I have for many years been trying to find the Japanese equivalent of the mirror to Westerners. Mirrors make Westerners Japanese. How does one make the Japanese conceive of themselves narratively, and see themselves in the mirror of language? I have tried getting Japanese subjects to record their voice and listen to it. I have tried testing their self-ideal discrepancy before and after getting them to narrate themselves in answer to twenty questions tests, and other manipulations, all to no avail.

Ma-Kellams found that getting one group of Californian subjects to make sentences from jumbled words (mat, tabby, sat, the) and the other group to make sentences about science (be, proved, to, experiment, true, hypothesis) from jumbled words, she found that the latter, the subjects that had been made to think about science became more moral. In other words, I claim, thinking about science activated the mirror of language, the strict world of scientific and generally verbal, descriptions (Bloor, 1999) that is Mori claims at the centre of Western religion, science, and language. The important thing is not to get Asians to think in language, but to get them to think in haunted language, language that has an opinion, that says yes or no: language that bites back. Science makes us aware of that language: reason personified.

I hypothesise further that there were a large number of East Asian Americans in Ma-Kellams' Californian student psychology major subject pool, but this remains to be seen. I am going to try the manipulation on Japanese. It should do something because the Japanese are generally so unscientific with language it is untrue, and in Japan, true at the same time (Peng & Nisbett, 1999).

But all this above is not to suggest that the Japanese self is not more social that that of the West. In one sense both the Japanese and Westerners have modelled society, in the form of another, 'spectator' (metaphorical or not) in their breasts, but to the Japanese that their self is interdependent, social, is always immediately apparent because the 'acting self' is seen from the outside. The perspective of the other is always notably necessary, the Japanese self, as face like "stigma"(Yang et al., 2007) is "sociosomatic", its intersubjectivity cannot be ignored. But what the Japanese appear to have forgotten is that the self can be and is manufactured both in inter-human social relationships, and in relation with their intra-psychic others: the mirrors in their hearts. This mirror can save them from other Japanese people, and pontificating Westerners like myself, both.

Speaking of mirrors, I aspire to be the mirror of Mori. Mori told the West that their God, their intra-psychic other is language. I am trying to tell the Japanese that theirs is their mirror.

Here are some Mori Arimasa quotes.

This is the diary entry where Mori states the equivalence between his pivot, language and science. "Diary entry for December 14th 1971 (Tues) Shining Day, Cold [like today in Yamaguchi]" original in French. (Mori, 1988, p479 )
フランス語は新聞の見出しのような場合でもきちんとした命題の形をとることを確認した(Japanese newspaper titles often contain sentence fragments). その意味は、命題がフランス語の本質的な形であるということだ。叙述を構成する凡ての要素が、その命題性と関連付けられて(Now I know why I hate ellipses)。鍛え上げられている。 命題は、単に、総論あるいは言語の一形態ではない。それは、人間存在の極めて厳密に限定された一様態、物事を観ずるに際しての様態なのである....(He used the wrong word there? Felt the presence of another type of 観ずる?)。主語は、関心の主語である。それに動詞の補語がある。一つの命題において、同士は肯定か否定かであり、またな何らかの相(アスペクト)と帯びる。いずれにしても、動詞は様態の作用を受けるのであり、話者としての主題がどのような態度で物事に対処しているか、すなわち、私hが進展して行きうる空間というものを示す。......(空間!space. He pauses when he mentions things Japanese, forges on again into the Western world of language. It hots up now.)。換言すれば、動詞はそれに対して下すべき判断を限定することができる。と言うことは、一言語というのは単に言語ではなく、人間の存在形態でもあるということだ。それは考察を通して限定される行動である。そしてこの考察は出来事自体のうちに入っている。日本語の場合、考察は事が起こってから後に付け加わる(And Japanese people often change the meaning of their statements, even to the opposite of what their were originally going to say, by changing the verb at the end according to the reaction of their hearer)のだが、フランス語の場合、それは出来事の一部分をなすのである。時もまた出来事の一構成要素である(in the form of tense?)。これが"Science"="scetntia" (知ること)という表現の深い意味である。ここにおいて人間は問題の最後の一点に触れる。世界は既に言語活動によって支配されているのだ。あるいは、世界は、思考の対象になった瞬間に《既にして》観念化されているのである。In principio erat Verbum(初めに言葉ありき)。そうなのだ。言葉は現実である。しかし、日本語の場合、現実は《生ま(なまI think)》のままである。ところが西洋の場合、現実は現実でありながら、既に《観念》なのだ。本体論敵証明の秘密も恐らくそこになるのであはあるまいか。しかも言語が極めて徹底的に凡てを《網羅する》もので、現実には言語以外のいかなる場も残されていない。

場, the place of experience, is completely buried under language in France.

And this is the bit where he explains his You for You theory.
扨(さ)て私は、「日本人」において「経験」は複数を、更に端的に二人の人間(あるいはその関係)を定義する、と言った。それは一体何を意味しているのであろうか。二人の人間を定義するということは、我々(日本人)の経験と呼ぶものが、自分一個の経験にまで分析されていない、ということである。換言すれば、凡ての経験において、それをもつ主体がどうしても「自己」というものを定義しない、ということである。肉体的に見る限り、一人一人の人間は離れている。常識的にはそこに一人の主題、すなわち自己というものを考えようとする思惑を感ずるが、事態はそのように簡単ではない。それは我々において、「汝」との関係がどれほど深刻であるかを考えてみればある程度納得が行くであろう。もちろん「汝」ということは、日本人のみならず、凡ゆる人間にとって問題となる。要はその問題のなり方である。本質的な点だけに限っていうと、「日本人」においては、「汝」に対立するのは「我」ではないということ、対立するものもまた相手にとっての「汝」なのだ、ということである。私はけして言葉の綾をもてあそんでいるのではない。それは本質的なことなのである。「我と汝」ということが自明のことのように、ある場合には凡ての前提となる合言葉のおうに言われるが、それはこの場合当て嵌まらない。親子の場合をとってみると、親を「汝」として取ると、子が「我」であるのは自明のことのように主和得る。しかしそれはそうではない。子は自分の中に存在の根拠をもつ「我」でなく、当面「汝」である親の「汝」として自分を経験しているのである。
I bet he had one scary mother.
p163

Here are a few things that Nishida says about the self as actor (visual self I would say)

私には哲学はいまだがつか一度も真に行為的自己の立場にたって考えられたことがないのではないかと思われる。従って我々が行為することの現実の世界が如何なるものであるかが、その根拠から考えられていない。(In other-words we have not yet realised that the world is us, since we always turn away from the senses). ギリシア哲学はいうに及ばず、経験的実在を中心として近代哲学といえども、その主知主義たるに変わりはない。理性に代えるに感官を以てしても、感官的なるものも知的自己の対象たるを免れない。(マルクス主義でも 中略)。無論私はノエマ(thought content)的ななるものなくしてノエシス(Thought action, words pretending to be rarefied, I'd say)的ななるものがあるというのではなく、しかし従来のノエマとノエシスとの可名乗ってください。ネイというのものは、唯知的自己の立場から考えられたものである。(中略)行為的自己と考えられるものはいつも社会的でなければならない、唯一人の自己というものではない。而してノエマ的と考えられるものはいつも自己において自己を見るという意味において、行為的自己の自覚的内容の意義を有ったものではねればならない。(Nishida, 1988, p7-8)

Image top copyright Mori Arimasa, Philosophie et Litterature (1950) Par Laurent Rauber.
S'il vous voulez je le effacer pouvez vous m'envoyer un e-mail a' l'address a' nihonbunka.com

Bibliography
Bloor, D. (1999). Anti-latour. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 30(1), 81–112.
Heine, S. J., Takemoto, T., Moskalenko, S., Lasaleta, J., & Henrich, J. (2008). Mirrors in the head: Cultural variation in objective self-awareness. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34(7), 879–887. Retrieved from www2.psych.ubc.ca/~heine/docs/2008Mirrors.pdf
Kawai, h. 河合隼雄. (1977). 無意識の構造. 東京: 中央公論新社.
Kishida, S. 岸田秀. (1993). 幻想の未来. 青土社.
Ma-Kellams, C., & Blascovich, J. (2013). Does ‘Science’ Make You Moral? The Effects of Priming Science on Moral Judgments and Behavior. PLoS ONE, 8(3), e57989. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057989
Mori, A. 森有正. (1999). 森有正エッセー集成〈5〉. 筑摩書房.
Nishida, K. 西田幾多郎. (1988). 西田幾多郎哲学論集〈2〉論理と生命 他4篇. 岩波書店.
Peng, K., & Nisbett, R. E. (1999). Culture, dialectics, and reasoning about contradiction. American Psychologist, 54(9), 741. Retrieved from psycnet.apa.org/journals/amp/54/9/741/
Yang, L. H., Kleinman, A., Link, B. G., Phelan, J. C., Lee, S., & Good, B. (2007). Culture and stigma: Adding moral experience to stigma theory. Social Science & Medicine, 64(7), 1524–1535. Retrieved from www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953606005958

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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.