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.

Friday, March 11, 2016


Stamped on their Person

Stamped on their Person
Why is it that we feel that each and every instance of a word has the same meaning, and can be copied perfectly authentically such as to make copies equivalent, and redundant? Answers to this question vary, but according to Derrida they all imply a "presence," either of some entity such as a metaphysical world of ideas (Plato, e.g. Theaetetus), meanings that are hard-wired in the brain (Pinker, 2007) , or because they refer to a shared physical world (Pierce, 1973). Others posit an ongoing inter-subjective presence, of God, the super-ego, super-addressee who understands words in the same way. At the middle ground between these two extremes is perhaps an awareness of usage: an abstraction from inter-subjective communication (Wittgenstein, 1973).

The Japanese may believe, as argued by Mori (1999), that words exist in the absence of any shared additional presence across iterations. Japanese words may lack both shared system and the perspective of a "third person" intra-psychic imaginary friend . Words are contextual and imbued with the subjectivity of the situation in which they were received. In this case copies of words are no longer redundant any more than are views of colours, flowers or sunsets. Words thus conceived are not authentically copyable, but need to be received.

When on pilgrimage, Japanese have traditionally collected words from spatially separate sites. These words do not sink into a system, nor are consumed by any internal friend. They are collected by having them stamped into cards, or books that pilgrims hang around their necks, or as in the above image, onto the clothes that they wear upon their person.

I am again reminded of Revelation 22:4. "There will no longer be any curse..."

The above image is the Google image search page for pilgrim's clothes (gyoue)

Derrida, J. (2011). Voice and Phenomenon: Introduction to the Problem of the Sign in Husserl’s Phenomenology. Northwestern Univ Pr.
Mori, 森, 有正. (1999). 森有正エッセー集成〈5〉. 筑摩書房.
Peirce, C. S. (1894). What is a sign? Theorizing Communication: Readings across Traditions, 177. Retrieved from www.semioticadelprogetto.it/download/CSP%20-%20What%20is%...
Pinker, S. (2007). The language instinct: How the mind creates language. Harper Perennial Modern Classics.
Plato, 427? BCE-347? BCE. (1999). Theaetetus. (B. Jowett, Trans.). Retrieved from www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/1726
Wittgenstein, L. (1973). Philosophical Investigations (3rd ed.). Prentice Hall.

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