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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.

Saturday, December 07, 2013


Get a Third Person to Stare back at You

Get a Third Person to Stare back at You by timtak
Get a Third Person to Stare back at You, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
The cover of "An introduction to the Psychology of Martial Arts" by Takashi Ozawa could not have been more appropriate to support the theory espoused by this blog: that the Japanese Other observes visually rather than taking a linguistic perspective, and the creation of this other is achieved in part through practice of Japanese martial arts.

From a distance wordy, logocentric Western culture can look rule bound, "A society based upon manuals." However, even in the case of McDonalds, the genuine objective of the manual is to go beyond the manual - the manual is only a stepping stone - to "TLC" or Tender Loving Care.

Like wise, from a distance, Japanese society can appear to be "stuck in the mould," formulaic, in so far as so many Japanese praxes emphasize the learning of set forms or "kata." But the objective in so doing, is to go beyond the forms.

So, if in both cases, both Americans with their manuals and Japanese with their forms intend to go beyond them, why do they have them at all?

My answer is that the real reason behind the Western fascination with books and language, is that language provides a generalized other, the ability to take an objective third person perspective upon self.

And the real reason by the Japanese fascination with kata is, as the red "belt" of this book (written by the editor at BAB Japan, as a summary of the contents) claims, that through the practice of a martial art one obtains a third person perspective that stares back at you, a gaze apart (Riken no Ken Zeami), a Mirror in your Head (Heine et al.)

Archimedes said, "Give me a fulcrum, and I shall move the world." I say, give me a third person perspective, and I will create a self. It is about time I started learning Karate.

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