Friday, January 1, 2016

Being Eclectic about Being Eclectic: Japan

It's obvious that this blog has a special interest in Japan and Japanese things, what with its use of Anime illustrations all the time. But it goes deeper than cartons. If you look at human cultures as objectively as you can, they obviously differ, and it's an interesting exercise to determine their boundaries and differences.  I read Decline of the West 40-odd years ago, so I tend to separate cultures by kind and age the way Spengler did. By his measure, there have been various high cultures, with the West ascendant in our time, succeeding the Islamic, which had it's great period a few centuries ago, and which itself followed the Classical Culture of Greece/Rome. Of course there have been other High Cultures, but those are the ones that have been in our territory fairly recently.

Japan is sort of anomalous, at least to me. It would seem to be a part of the Chinese High Culture, and it certainly obvious that it was so to begin with. But back in the 19th century, Japan seems to have made a huge nationwide effort to become a part of Western Culture. Western Culture worked, you see, and the Japanese havre always had a tendency to be practical about that sort of thing.

But Japan didn't really become part of the West. It was eclectic about what it borrowed from us, and took the things that it judged good, and eschewed, as far as possible, things it disapproved of. the military practices of the West were largely copied, which surprised the daylights out of the Russians first and the rest of us later. Technology they saw as a good thing, and, if anything, they've surpassed us in the use of much of it.

They borrowed some other Western institutions and put their own spin on them — cartoons, in the form of anima and manga are of particular interest to me. In that field, they've surpassed the whole of the West with the possible exception of the United States. It's too close to call.

One thing I'd like for us to learn from Japan is eclecticism itself. They take some of our institutions and reject others that they consider disadvantageous. Like I said, they've enthusiastically adopted much of our technology and art, to include music. But some of our dopier institutions, many of which can be grouped under the term 'political correctness,' they've rejected out of hand. We need to start thinking that way, instead of uncritically accepting foreign things that screw up our culture.

And one of those things is Islam. Japan wants nothing to do with it, and we shouldn't either. We had an existential struggle with Islam, called the 'Crusades,' and barely won. Why voluntarily give up what we fought so hard to keep in the past?

Steve Sailer describes Japan's attitude towards Islam, far more sensible than ours, here:
Quibcag: What better symbol of Japan than the Japanese character from Hetalia: Axis Powers (Axis Powers ヘタリア).


  1. Cartoons! Love it! I like using the word at what few anime cons I attended and watch weaboo eyebrows shoot up.

    Yes ... the Japanese are very good at taking in what works and what doesn't.

    In their efforts to stay separate the use of three alphabets (Kanji, Hirugana, Katakana.) come to mind. Katakana is used for non-Japanese words thus reminding the reader that even though the term/thing being used is "borrowed" the reader is still Japanese.

    The term Gaijin can mean foreigner but actually means "not Japanese". In fact, it means "NOT Japanese". Anywhere else in the world a Japanese person might be, all others are gaijin ... not Japanese.

    I beg to differ with you about U.S. cartoons. I can't stand watching MOST American made post '60s 'toons. Ugly, PC and really dumbed dowm. With the exception of some of Bruce Timms' work and some theatrical releases, I can't bring myself to look at them.

    1. I sort of agree. I meant the whole body of American cartoons from the beginning. There are some good ones and clever ones around now, but mostly, as you say, not.

    2. From the begining ... yes ... Quite a different story. Early Disney (When he was alive.), The Fleischer brothers, Walter Lantz, van Buren, Ub Iwerks, Chuck Jones ... even Ralph Bakshi. The masters.

      As you can imagine, the Roger Rabbit movie was a total trip for me.

  2. Repeat after me: Kakure Kirishtan. Look up behavior of Spanish and Portuguese priest in Japan. Look up Shimabara rebellion. Japanese are willing to learn from foreigners, they are not willing to tolerate anything that threatens "Japaneseness".

  3. Sounds line the ideal balance of openess and exclusion to serve the rational self-interest of the majority of Japanese.