Slavoj Žižek on Japan

(via Kevin, via néojapanisme)

There is a nice little piece in Néojapanisme about the empty meaning of shazai kaiken (apology conferences) in Japanese culture.

In making this apology, Shingo was, to borrow Heidegger’s phrase, simply “doing what one does, as one does,” that is, behaving in a typical way that conforms to the prejudices of the group. The apology itself is meaningless — in fact, impractical — as there were no victims in the first place, no amends to be made.

Which links on to a piece by Slavoj Žižek where he discusses his impressions of Japan. Well worth plodding through (emphasis mine):

What I see in Japan, and maybe this is my own myth, is that behind all these notions of politeness, snobbism etc. The Japanese are well aware that something which may appear superficial and unnecessary, has a much deeper structural function. A Western approach would be: who needs this? But a totally ridiculous thing at a deeper level might play a stabilizing function we are not aware of. Everybody laughs at the English monarchy, but you’ll never know.

It’s written in that ‘european intellectual’ style that i’m finding increasingly hard to follow – so many references to ‘isms’ and ‘ians’ that seem like they might once have been familiar, but are now fading away.

Perhaps it’s just the internet opening up vistas on an ever increasing breadth (i’ve always hated that word… it seems nightmarish to me!) of knowledge. Stretched ever thinner, one of these days i’ll split… assuming the form of netting at an alien sex fiend gig.

(see also:


Three Things

1. The mechanism by which general anesthetic functions is not understood. Given that millions of people undergo procedures requiring anesthesia ever year, you’d have thought someone would have bothered to work it out!

Equally interesting is that it’s not known why different regions of the brain react differently; consciousness is lost, but breathing continues…

2. ブリ (Japanese Amberjack) between 35 – 60cm is called イナダ (inada) in 関東 (kanto / tokyo), ハマチ (hamachi) in 関西 (kansai / osaka), and フクラギ (fukuragi) in 北陸 (hokuriku / kanazawa). The size limit in kansai is actually 40 – 60cm. There are two other sets of names (below 35 / 40cm, and 60 – 80cm), with only ブリ (buri ) at over 80cm, being universal.

Funny how hamachi is the only one to have made it out of japan – it must sound better in the marketing.

3. Benoît Mandelbrot did not discover the Mandelbrot Set, it’s merely named after him. Gaston Julia, and Pierre Fatou also have sets named after them. Of these three, Fatou is the one i’ve never heard of, and was probably the first to define the Mandelbrot Set!

There, wasn’t that fun?