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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, May 31, 2012


Dramaturgical Self Reconstruction

The notion of a "Dramaturgical self" originates in the social anthropology of Goffman (1959), in the Shetland Ilses off Scotland, where he argued that the Scottish villagers seemed to act, and define themselves, as if on stage. The notion of the dramaturgical self was subsequently used by McVeigh (2000) to explain the Japanese tendency to wear uniforms. McVeigh is right, in their use of uniforms, and in many other ways, the Japanese behave at times, from Western eyes, as if on stage.

This notion of the dramaturgical self nears the mark and veers away from it. These anthropologists are aware of the increased extent to which their subjects take care (Foucault, 1984) over visual self presentation *as if on stage* and in this awareness they are spot on. What they do not seem to realise is that such visual self presentations are self-consumed. Goffman was an acolyte of Mead who firmly insists that dramaturgical self representations are not self consumed, not for self but for others. Mead writes, in "Mind Self and Society, "(1967)

"Is is only the actor who uses bodily expressions as a means of looking as he wants others to feel. He gets a response which revaleas to him how he looks by continually using a mirror. He registers anger, he registers love, he registers this that or the other attitude and he examines himself in a glass to see how he does so." p66-67

"If we exclude vocal gestures, it is only by the use of the mirror that one could reach the position where he responds to his own gestures as other people respond." p66

In other words, self views require mirrors whereas "vocal gestures" (linguistic gestures, self narration) do not. Westerners seem to find it very difficult to conceive of visual self presentation as anything but a presentation for an other, even though linguistic self-presentation is seen as purely self-expressive, not requiring any mirror, any audience. This assumption strikes me as being massively, Judeo-Christianly biased. In fact, language is radically external, for others, communicative, taking place in game (Mead,1959; Wittgenstein, 1973), and never entirely private (Wittgenstein, 1973, ¶243). Sure, one can do away with the particular other if one internalises the generalised other (Mead, 1959), the Other (Lacan, 2007, p.53), the superaddressee (Bakhtin, 1986, p.126) or one has a relationship with Yaweh.

I insist that the Japanese self is seen from the eye of an internalised Other, Amaterasu, a mirror in their heads (Heine, Takemoto, Moskalenko, Laseta, Henrich, 2008). However, in order to change the Japanese self it is therefore necessary to change ones self view, and integrate views of self from the eyes new others for example via drama practice (see "riken no ken", Yusa, 1987) and this motivates the tendency for Japanese to practice where they can be seen rather than in the privacy of their drama room.

We Westerners, however, like to practice our narratives in front of a presumed linguistically understanding public, as I am doing here, and as US students do in their debate clubs.

The process of restructuring of the self (as shown in the video) is akin to psychotherapy, which in the West is about narrating oneself or talking (Freud,1977) to a benign (Spotnitz, 2004) listener (Phillips), while in Japan it helps to get the client (those that want to restructure, and change their self) to express themselves visually e.g. using sand play (Kawai, 1969), collage (Imamura, 2006), movement (Tsuru, 207), potted images (Tashima, 1987), imaginative reflection on the past (Yoshimoto, I, 2007) and photography (Mukoyama, 2010 - referencing my research, under my birth name"Leuers") in front of a benign therapist-client shared co-gaze (Kitayama, 2005).

Video by generous permission of Gekindan Fue (Drama Club Whistle), Yamaguchi University.

Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. (V. W. McGee, Trans.) (Second Printing.). University of Texas Press.
Freud, S. (1977). Five lectures on psycho-analysis. WW Norton & Company.
Foucault, M. (1984). On the genealogy of ethics: An overview of work in progress. The Foucault Reader, 340–72.
Goffman, E. (1959). The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor Books.
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 http://www2.psych.ubc.ca/~henrich/Website/Papers/Mirrors-pspb4%5B1%5D.pdf
Imamura, Y. 今村友木子. (2006). コラージュ表現-統合失調症者の特徴を探る. 創元社.
Kawai, H. 河合隼雄. (1969). 箱庭療法入門. 誠信書房.
Kitayama, O. 北山修. (2005). 共視論. 講談社.
Lacan, J. (2007). Ecrits: The First Complete Edition in English. (B. Fink, Trans.) (1st ed.). W W Norton & Co Inc.
Mead, G. H. (1967). Mind, self, and society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist (Vol. 1). The University of Chicago Press.
McVeigh, B. J. (2000). Wearing Ideology: State, Schooling and Self-Presentation in Japan (First ed.). Berg Publishers.
Mukoyama, Y. 向山泰代. (2010). 自叙写真法による自己認知の測定に関する研究. ナカニシヤ出版.
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Tashima, S. 田嶌誠一. (1987). 壷イメージ療法―その生いたちと事例研究. 創元社.
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Wittgenstein, L. (1973). Philosophical Investigations (3rd ed.). Prentice Hall.
Yoshimoto, I. 吉本伊信. (2007). 内観法 (新.). 春秋社.
Yusa, M. (1987). Riken no Ken. Zeami’s Theory of Acting and Theatrical Appreciation. Monumenta Nipponica, 42(3), 331–345.

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I am curious to see what you come up with if you start on Cosplay

Thank you Mudakun!


Is there some Nacalianly transformed "play" that British people do, narrativally, or vocally? First of all plays, drama, theatre is in itself a mimicry but that which involves both word and vision.

A primary characteristic of cosplay, in my understanding at least is that it is almost entirely visual.

Do the British (or Americans) have a thing for impersonating others with their voices, saying the accents and catch phrases of others? Yes, I think that they do.

And one further twist. Cosplay is the visual mimicry of characters that primarily exist visually.

Do British people imitate vocally and verbally characters that primarily exist vocally, such as radio characters? I used to impersonate a radio character "Mr. Angry" from the radio program "Steve Wright in the Afternoon".

This man impersonates the voices of one hundred cartoon characters.
And this is of acts

The purely vocal nature of the characters is difficult to find these days due to the mutli-media nature of most fictional entities but note that these Westerners do not change their appearance hardly at all, and is impersonating only the voice of characters that do not really exist except, predominantly, for the impersonator at least, as voices.

So, I would argue that cosplay is the visual mimicry of visual characters and is equivalent to Western verbal mimicry of characters that only exist as voices. I will post this commend to my blog. Thank you very much for your question.
But wait, this won't do since rakugo the most traditional of Japanese comedic forms is all about impersonating voices. f

Hmm...I'd need to do a survey. How many poses can you do? How many times have you dress up as someone else. How many voices can you do? How many times have you impersonated someone's voice.
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This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.