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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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Zombies to Each Other

Zombies to Each Other
I believe in the possibility of a zombie apocalypse and wish to prevent it. I believe that zombies are, or at least appear to be, evil. I believe zombies come in at least two varieties, and that there are cultures that are zombies to each other.

What are zombies, apart from bad? Zombies are people that are mindless.

As the great (as yet untranslated) work by Nakajima argues, the Japanese are, from a Western, Kantian, point of mindless. The Japanese walk through retail establishments, and bullet trains, and streets almost ignoring the linguistic public announcements, and endless linguistic tape recordings, as if there is nothing worthy of their attention. Language, the holy logos, is just background noise. Further as Kim demonstrates, in her mind blowing paper, language does not improve, but actually gets in the way of East Asian thinking. This is because East Asians or at least Japanese lack the linguistic other, the third person perspective on self that would allow them to linguistically reflect upon their actions (Mori, 1999).

On the other hand, as Masuda and Nisbett (2006) demonstrate demonstrate, Western are zombies in that they are comparatively unaware of what there is to be seen. Westerners only focus upon, only cognise, only notice the central aspects of our environment, because, in my opinion, we focus on those aspects that we can linguistically describe. Further, westerners lack the power to "hansei" or literally reflect because they lack the visual other, the third person perspective on self (Heine, et al. 2008).

From a Western point of view, the Japanese are zombies. They are so caught up in the environment that they hardly notice announcements such as the endless loop tape player pictured above (top), and not feel that these voices are animate, that they are being spoken to.

From a Japanese point of view Westerners are zombies. We, Westerners are so caught up as we are by our (linguistic) thoughts, we do not notice the changes that are going on around us. We do not even notice that gorillas are in our midst (Simons & Chabris, 1999). We can put statues all around our towns and cities, and not feel these statues are animate, or that we are being watched (above bottom).

We are zombies to each other. To the Japanese, the voice is fluff and not the voice of conscience. On the other hand, to Westerners the image is "mere image," and not the mirror of heart (c.f. Chamberlain, 1982, Preface).

I guess therefore that there may eventually be another war between the Japanese and Westerners. I hope that that war is carried out as far as possible in art and literature rather than in physical violence. As Zombie comedy shows, zombies need not be felt to be evil but just wacky and amusing.

Chamberlain, B.H. (1982 [1919]) The Kojiki: Records of Ancient Matters. Tuttle Publishing, Retrieved, 2016/2/11 from http://www.sacred-texts.com/shi/kj/kj007.htm
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.
Kim, H. S. (2002). We talk, therefore we think? A cultural analysis of the effect of talking on thinking. Journal of personality and social psychology, 83(4), 828.
Masuda, T. & Nisbett, R. E. (2006). Culture and change blindness. Cognitive Sciences, 30, 381-399. Retrieved, on 2012/10/31 from csjarchive.cogsci.rpi.edu/2006v30/2/s15516709HCOG0000_63/...
Mori, A. 森有正. (1999). 森有正エッセー集成〈5〉. 筑摩書房.
Nakashima, Y. 中島, 義道. (1999). うるさい日本の私. 新潮社.
Nakashima, Y. 中島, 義道. (1997). 「対話」のない社会―思いやりと優しさが圧殺するもの. PHP研究所.
Simons, D. J., & Chabris, C. F. (1999). Gorillas in our midst: Sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events. Perception, 28, 1059–1074. Retrieved, on 2012/10/31 from www.wjh.harvard.edu/~cfc/Simons1999.pdf

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