Friday, May 19, 2006

Bushido Saves the World

A few months ago, I wrote about a Japanese writer who claimed that westerners could not understand the famous poem about the frog and pond written by a Japanese poet Basho(?) because we are unable to tell the difference between one frog and many. This was according to a Japanese guy who was reading the book and found parts of it ludicrous.

Well the name of the author is Masahiko Fujiwara, who is a mathematician who taught in the US for 3 years and, as do most Japanese who spend a few months in the USA (or with foreigners who spend a few months in Japan, or just visit) became and expert on the US and American culture.

He has written a book entitled Kokka no Kinkaku, most commonly translated as The Dignity of the State. According to what I have read, and what people have told me, he believes Japan should return to Bushido as capitalism has destroyed Japan. (As usual, the evil foreign devils and their filthy ideas have damaged the purity of the Japanese.) He also claims that the Japanese are an emotional people (others are coldly logical, like Mr. Spock perhaps) and that rational, logical thought does not fit well with Japanese (and brings up the straw man argument that logic cannot explain everything). Yes, he is a mathematical. Do not think logically about this contradiction. One person told me that he wrote that one cannot logically explain why we should not commit murder. Apparently, emotion and bushido can. This helps explain the behavior of Japanese troops in China and other places in World War 2, I suppose. To give him credit, he does say that the behavior of Japanese troops in the war was a "humiliating" failure of bushido.

He is also one of the brilliant experts of Japan whose expertise extends to every single subject on earth, not just his area. So he has become and expert, apparently, on language acquisition without bothering to check any research. (Oh, forgot, logic does not apply here.) He claims that Japanese children should not be taught English, or any other language, while young as it will take away from their Japanese ability. Language learning is a zero-sum game.

Fujiwara also includes the usual explanations of how America is responsible for Japan's troubles, as well as similar stuff about the Chinese. Again, it's those foreign bastards.

It is good to know that logic is not required in Japan. 2+2=22. I need not prove that logically, it is because it is tradition. I believe it. You must too.

This book has become a record top seller in Japan. I have a copy and am starting the laborious task of translating parts of it. I will try to avoid distortions or taking things out of context. I will have to have help from my Japanese teacher and friends too as my language skills aren't sufficient to accurately do it, especially when things are very nuanced. Or maybe I should not worry about accuracy, as that would be a logical argument and committing various logical fallacies in analyzing what he says would be acceptable. This is Japan, after all. And I am turning Japanese. You as an impure foreign devil could never understand anyway.

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