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.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014


Two Diagrams of the Structure of the Self in Freud

Two Diagrams of the Structure of the Self in Freud by timtak
Two Diagrams of the Structure of the Self in Freud, a photo by timtak on Flickr.

Consistent with the Western tradition in the diagram in "Das ich unt das Es" (Freud, 1923) (literally "The I and the It", or "The Ego and the Id"), shows the internalised other or as an aural manifestation: an ear of the other in the mind (picture A top, original German Bottom Left, English Bottom Right). The original German is "akustischen
Wahrnehmungen" (p22) or acoustic perception. and is sometimes translated as in the above diagram by "耳殻'(lit outer part of the ear) or "聴覚帽" acoustic cap. On the Japanese blogosphere there are people perplexed by this cranial stethoscope, ventriloquist's act, living listening device, because as Mori (1999) argues, they don't have one.

The more famous picture B on the left is from the earlier "Vorlesungen zur Einführung in die Psychoanalyse" (Freud, 1916-17) (Introduction to Psychoanalysis) in which the internalised other is represented only as an "uber Ich" (lit "over I") commonly translated as "super ego". Uber Ich might be taken to suggest a visual metaphor, so perhaps the new representation in "The Ego and the Id" (1925) was to qualify and make sure that the reader understand, we are talking *Ear of the Other in Your Head*.

From a Nacalian perspective, the Japanese equivalent (see here) should be drawn a "visual perception" as intra-psychic other-in-the-mind.

One can feel the presence of this Japanese eye by looking at Japanese children's artworks , shown from the point of view of the eye in the sky (Masuda), and by seeing Japanese horror in which horrifying women women appear from the ceiling, from out of images that stare back, or from that window in Kyari Pamyu Pamyu's Pon Pon Pon. I also feel the eye in Japanese ESL classrooms and as a joke try and beat it out of the room, since it interferes with my lessons, with broom sticks and the like.

Freud, S. (1923). Das Ich und das Es. Internationaler Psychoanalytischer Verlag. Retrieved from archive.org/details/Freud_1923_Das_Ich_und_das_Es_k
Mori, A. 森有正. (1999). 森有正エッセー集成〈5〉. 筑摩書房.


What am I? Western Propaganda

What am I? Western Propaganda by timtak
What am I? Western Propaganda, a photo by timtak on Flickr.

This picture book, ”What am I" (Brenifer, 2007) written by Western authors translated into Japanese, says that while mirrors are useful for showing you how you appear to other people, the difference between humans and animals is that they can think in words, and that they can speak. Humans are "animals with reason. reason", or the ability to speak to have a dialogue with oneself, is supposed to provide us with an internal mirror, whereas all literal mirrors are external. Japanese children are being taught this in their morality classes. My son has a textbook called "note of the heart" which he is encouraged to name. Both books encourage Japanese infants to think of themselves, as their defining "hidden" characteristic as that which is refereed to by their self narrative.

How could narrative, which takes places in that most social of media, language provide anything but a view of self from the point of view of society? The earliest proponents of the narrative self (Adam Smith) and George Mead made this perfectly plain. Ah but, even if language does provide us with a social representation of self, it is a "impartial" "generalised" self-representation. Research on human decision making shows that we have anything but a generalised impartial view of ourselves. And even if language should provide a view from no-where, from a depersonalised point of view, this is exactly what those that practice karate, noh, or any Japanese art are taught to achieve, and which we all have by virtue of our mirror neurons.

The Japanese have a long tradition of attempting to emulate Westerners, and it has been suggested that they encourage their children to have a narrative self identity for many years (象徴天皇). The trouble is that one needs the internalised other to be mirrored in society. In the West language is upheld, presented as "logic" de-temporalised, by a conspiracy of white patriarchs. Linguistic consistency is upheld in upbringing. The court of language is pervasive in movies from courtroom dramas, of course, and even to the obligatory confession of love before a crowd obligatory in Western romance films. In Japan the super-ego as ear (耳殻) there is instead, the gaze of the world, a conspiracy of mothers. Instead of the court of language, encouraging us to feel guilty, there is an ever-present gaze that encourages shame. Woody Allen may have been half Japanese in that his superego was feminine (see his 'mother as blimp' . The Japanese super-I looks on silently as portrayed to perfection by the figures outside the window in "Pon Pon Pon by Kyari Pamyu Pamyu."

Japanese are humans with mirrors, for the time being.

Brenifier, O., 西宮かおり, & 重松清. (2007). 自分って、なに? 東京: 朝日出版社.

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