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: http://neojaponisme.com/2008/05/19/orthopraxy-and-web-addresses/)

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2 thoughts on “Slavoj Žižek on Japan

  1. “It’s written in that ‘european intellectual’ style that i’m finding increasingly hard to follow”.

    Take some comfort from the impression Ive formed from having to read him alot in my law-talkin’ studies (where he is a sometimes physical as well as intellectual presence); that his presentational style seems to be wilfully intellectual, as opposed to, for instance, Eco, or (at the really populist, holiday-read, end of the range, De Boton). Its a shame, because I often find what he says quite appealing, but there’s always the nagging sense that he’s too in thrall to the frauds Derrida and Foucault. From my limited experience of the work of my former professors, too much time spent writing in the hermetic environment of academia can do that to a thinker. His apparently gargantuan, but entertaing, ego is rather a barrier too.

    • Heh. Suspect i’d have ended up heckling if i had lecturers like him… All of my lot were from the ‘loveable loser’ mould of scientists.

      It’s funny that you mentioned Eco, because that’s exactly who he brought to mind.. as not doing well in comparison. Maybe it’s just familiarity, but i find that Eco just wows me with erudition, and never leaves me thinking he might have been showing off..

Wise words...

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