Friday, January 24, 2014
Logotherapy for Japanese Cancer Patients: What can tourists carry?
Logotherapy for Japanese Cancer Patients: What can tourists carry?, a photo by timtak on Flickr.
First of all I worry about the effectiveness of teaching self narrative in this situation for the reasons mentioned in a previous post. A Zen priest, a more traditional helping hand in the face of death, would be more inclined to encourage us not to narrate anything at all.
Secondly this highlights a problem I having with my understanding of the Western and Japanese self and tourism. Yes, narration is extremely important in the West -- *we* really are homonarrans 人言 -- but so also equally important is "the light". Western pilgrims and tourists tour to gaze (Urry, 2002) and name (Culler, 1988) the image (Turner and Turner, 1995; Boorstin, 1992) even though they believe that the image is a qualia (Jackson, 1986), in the mind. Why should anyone need to go anywhere to get something which they believe to be in their mind?
One way of answering this question may be to focus on what people believe themselves to "carry" (Frankl, 1962, p. pp. 56–57. quoted below). The standard Western (excepting Ernst Mach) understanding of images is as "qualia:" things in the mind. Western philosophers would have it that the "brave overhanging canopy" is something that we can, if not fold up, carry around. If we do "carry" it, then it stands to reason that Mary (Jackson, 1986) and Western tourists should have to travel to get images, and carry them back.
Likewise, that the Japanese can and do travel to places with names, named-places (名所）, where there is often absolutely nothing to see (Hiraizumi, ganryuujima, kokufunoato) and other "ruins of identity." (Hudson, 1999; Plutschow, 1981)
Japanese name-places provide names, they are fountains of names. The Japanese tourists provide the images, of themselves (the ubiquitous Japanese tourist selfie or kinen shashin 記念写真) and through their imagination, and often quite physically carry, yes, carry the names back home, in the form of sacred tags （お札） stamps, from the ”stamp rally,” pilgrimage, such as to Shikoku's temples or Ise shrine, often for other people （代理参り）.
Since Westerners tend to believe in a "super-addressee" (Bakhtin, 1986) I think that we believe also that words, names, or at least what they refer to -- meanings, ideas -- are somehow omnipresent. Words are transmitted, by morse code or telephone but what they mean somehow manages to get there, be recreated in the mind of the recipient, faster than the speed of light, because it is as if all the meaning is already in the recipients head already. To someone who believes in the super-addressee it is impossible to carry a word, in its full sense, anywhere.
To explain the difference between Western and Japanese tourism I may need to focus less on the question, "What am I?" to "What can I carry?" What can we carry? Names? Images?
When we die, is it true as the saying goes, "You can't take it with you"? When we die, can we only carry what we are? I have noted that "people of the book" live on as words because they are in the book, and that Japanese believe that the dead become balls of light.
Bakhtin, M. M. (1986). Speech Genres and Other Late Essays. (V. W. McGee, Trans., C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Eds.) (Second Printing.). University of Texas Press
Boorstin, D. J., & Will, G. F. (1992). The image: A guide to pseudo-events in America. Vintage Books New York.
Culler, J. D. (1988). The Semiotics of Tourism. In Framing the sign. Univ. of Oklahoma Pr.
Frankl, V. E., & Lasch, I. (1962). Man’s Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotheraphy. A Newly Rev. and Enl. Ed. of From Death-camp to Existentialism. Beacon Press.
Hudson, M. (1999). Ruins of identity: ethnogenesis in the Japanese Islands. University of Hawaii Press.
Jackson, F. (1986). What Mary didn’t know. The Journal of Philosophy, 83(5), 291–295. Retrieved from www.philosophicalturn.net/intro/Consciousness/Jackson_Mar...
Plutschow, H. (1981). Four Japanese Travel Diaries of the Middle Ages. Cornell Univ East Asia Program.
Turner, V., & Turner, E. (1995). Image and Pilgrimage in Christian Culture (0 ed.). Columbia University Press.
Urry, J. (2002). The Tourist Gaze. SAGE.
An expert from Victor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning: An introduction to Logotherapy" which is quoted on Frankl's wikipedia page:
"We stumbled on in the darkness, over big stones and through large puddles, along the one road leading from the camp. The accompanying guards kept shouting at us and driving us with the butts of their rifles. Anyone with very sore feet supported himself on his neighbor's arm. Hardly a word was spoken; the icy wind did not encourage talk. Hiding his mouth behind his upturned collar, the man marching next to me whispered suddenly: "If our wives could see us now! I do hope they are better off in their camps and don't know what is happening to us."
That brought thoughts of my own wife to mind. And as we stumbled on for miles, slipping on icy spots, supporting each other time and again, dragging one another up and onward, nothing was said, but we both knew: each of us was thinking of his wife. Occasionally I looked at the sky, where the stars were fading and the pink light of the morning was beginning to spread behind a dark bank of clouds. But my mind clung to my wife's image, imagining it with an uncanny acuteness. I heard her answering me, saw her smile, her frank and encouraging look. Real or not, her look was then more luminous than the sun which was beginning to rise.
A thought transfixed me: for the first time in my life I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth – that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which Man can aspire. Then I grasped the meaning of the greatest secret that human poetry and human thought and belief have to impart: The salvation of Man is through love and in love. I understood how a man who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss, be it only for a brief moment, in the contemplation of his beloved. In a position of utter desolation, when Man cannot express himself in positive action, when his only achievement may consist in enduring his sufferings in the right way – an honorable way – in such a position Man can, through loving contemplation of the image he carries of his beloved, achieve fulfillment. For the first time in my life I was able to understand the meaning of the words, "The angels are lost in perpetual contemplation of an infinite glory."
Photograph and Text copyright R. Kawahara, and Asahi Newspaper and image rights belong to Dr. K. Yamada.
This blog represents the opinions of the author, Timothy Takemoto, and not the opinions of his employer.