Thursday, January 30, 2014

proud apologists

I've been getting some traffic for "apples and oranges" from a site called japologism dedicated to exposing openly engaging in apologetics on behalf of, and apparently free of charge for, Japanese power. Well you don't go to a neo-nazi rally and cry "racists!" and you don't expect, for the same reason, that crying "apologist" will be of much use in persuading people who openly embrace the charge. Oh well. This will be fun.

Something I posted at about this ad was reposted at the apologist site, as well:

ANA is just saying what everyone is thinking, only they’re making it a little more explicit. Arguably worse is the racism that hides, the microaggressions discussed a while back, including one that I haven’t seen discussed much, the word nihonjin itself. Nihonjin is a racist category and a racial slur against all who are not it. Tell a nihonjin that your blue-eyed child is a nihonjin by virtue of having grown up in Japan and the first point is proven by their dismissive reaction. The second is true because all racism is a slur against not-us races. Given that race is genetically baseless and that everywhere it exists it works on behalf of the in-group, there’s no other way it would exist in the first place except as racially motivated.
Followed by this dismissal: "Explicitly said calling yourself Japanese in your own language is implicitly racist."

That's an interesting use of the word "explicit." I said "nihonjin," which is not at all the same as "Japanese in your own language." When I say "Japanese," I mean the people of Japan. I do not mean the Japanese race. Because I prefer referents that do not arise from self-indulgent hallucination. Who are the people of Japan? I personally think it's unfortunate that humans cling so closely to regional identities at all, but in this case anyone who lives in Japan and wants people to think of them as a person of or from Japan. If you're born and raised in Japan, for example, and think that matters, you're Japanese. In that case, though, if you happen to have curly hair, and it's shocking I have to lay this out for people who apparently live in Japan and who have read the above quote where I made the point rather, uh, explicitly, you're not considered a nihonjin. Because nihonjin is a racial category. This is easily verifiable. I have two light-haired kids, born and raised in Japan. Absolutely no nihonjin thinks they're nihonjin. Because, again, it's a racial category.

"I don’t know if it’s a parody but at least it’s a fresh take on being an unselfaware asshat."

I dunno, what's behind door #3?

"He’s one of those people who thinks that the whole of Japanese society is a conspiracy against white male Eikaiwa teachers. He also thinks he’s a radical anti-racist, bless him, and a jolly serious philosopher. When Arudou finally gives up, can I nominate him to be the new Arudou? He’s got real potential. All we need to do is set up an onsen, and leave a trail of nachos up to the door."

Aaaaaaanddd...psychologizing, strawmen, condescension. I'm not above the last of those, fine, but psychologizing should be the icing on the cake after you've exposed incoherence, as opposed to the only thing you've got. And strawmanning is probably always bullshit.

That's it. That's the collective response, so far. Personal attacks, dickheadery, fallacies, piss poor hermeneutical skills, in-group yeah-we-get-it winkery...not a single coherent rebuttal. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

apples and oranges

In the brainspace of practically everyone raised in Japan, there are two kinds of people in the world, nihonjins and gaijins. Unsurprisingly, this works the same way as any dualism -- the inside is defined wholly in terms of not being the outside, the latter being the foundation of the human notions of bad, dirty, undesirable. Inside-outside dynamics seem to be near-unavoidable among the humans. In any given place, whichever inside has power enacts its inside-outside dynamic, making its outside suffer. Gaijin means "outside person." Exclusionary terms are rarely so straightforward. A skit:

orange A: We are so ridiculously orange!
orange B: This is clearly true, but I'm only agreeing because there's a not-orange right over there. Really brings the orange out of us, you know? If it weren't right there, I'd be analyzing small differences among us oranges and blowing them way the hell up.
apple (speaking fluent orange): Hey, do you fruits know how to get to the nearest compost heap. I'm getting on in days and...
orange A (whispering to orange B): Do you speak non-orange?
orange B (whispering back): No! What are we gonna do?!
orange A (addressing apple in the language "banana," assumed to be spoken by all non-oranges): Banana, no!
apple (speaking orange): You mean you don't speak banana?
orange B (speaking banana): Sorry. I am envy stem.
apple: (walks away, shaking head)
orange A: Did it say it was going to compost? Only oranges compost, right?
orange B: I have no idea what it said! I don't speak banana!
orange A: Whoa, do you see that orange and non-orange over there?
orange B (pointing to an orange, lemon, and orange-lemon hybrid): Yes, and it looks like they have a "half" baby. Halfs are interesting!
orange A: Fascinating, even, but half is not the right word exactly.
orange B: Why's that?
orange A: Well, of course, since it's 50% orange and 50% non-orange, that makes it 100% non-orange. Unless we have some use for it. Then we get the good half.

Differences between fruits have a genetic basis, so the real version, where nihonjins use genetically baseless racial categories, is even more absurd. In other words, change the mother category "fruit" to something far more genetically homogenous like tangerines. Either way, the nihonjin/gaijin split is primary, everything else comes after, taking place within that dualism, which is useless for coming up with a coherent perspective but quite useful for insiders.  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

expectation as the root of authoritarianism, part 2

Part 1 here

Every time a human is annoyed, angry, upset, irritated, etc., it's because their expectations have been foiled. Or so goes my scheme.

A TV show annoys you. You expected it to be better. I'm not using the term in the usual sense, exactly. Maybe you could have predicted you wouldn't like it, but if you're annoyed, somehow you were expecting it to be good in spite of itself. Obama drone bombs a wedding. You're disappointed because you expected something else. Maybe you predicted it, but the fact that you're still angry means there's an expectation not being met.

In my own case, I latched on to certain ideas about autonomy and human dignity by age 5 or 6 and have been very consistently disappointed ever since. It would be difficult to change those ideas if I tried, not that I'd want to. I also become committed to my immortality, which is why death owns me. When I go on about world and the impossibility of transcendence, it's part of my attempt to let that expectation go.

Other expectations may be more manageable. The wife, for example, tells me she'll be doing something at X o'clock, which means some time between X + 10 minutes and X + 90 minutes o'clock, or if I complain, never o'clock. When she tells me her plan, my expectations for the day are affected. Usually there's a reward for me when she does the promised thing. Free time to blather about expectations because she took the boy out somewhere, for example. She promises me blather, I white knuckle grasp it, then I'm annoyed when she doesn't give me that at the time promised. X o'clock is fixed in my head along with the reward, something that does not require intentional conscious intervention. Babies and dogs do it too, afterall (though not with actual clocks of course). I'm not sure why I let myself get attached to X o'clock specifically. The Charlie Brown kicking the football thing. Why not factor it in? I've gotten better at that. The only time it doesn't work is when I forget to do it, which is stupidly often.

Moving on, it's in this grasping that the roots of authoritarianism can be seen. What if I say I'll get what's mine at all costs? What sort of things could I do to get my way? Now imagine someone who sees nothing wrong with getting his, doesn't notice what he's doing, employs apologetics to turn himself into the good guy, and so on.

Better, don't imagine it. Just think of any hierarchy anywhere. Chinese kids are beating Japanese kids on tests. Oh fuck! We need to expectation set, stat. We need to beat them at tests! How do we do that? Bend world any way we can to make it real. Longer hours! Better (read: more conducive to expectation meeting) textbooks! More homework! Bomb China! Who needs to change? Not me, motherfucker! I'm the changer, bitch! Internalize profits! Externalize pain! It ain't just corporations, you know. The children of Japan are the ones who will suffer. They will be bent any way it takes. They will be made in the image of authority. And when they are bent over backwards, they will stay in that position for the rest of their lives. And it will be goddamn painful, so much so that they'll work 60 hours a week, spending what little free time they have in their apartment or (running!) car, avoiding all human contact, making love in their imaginations with impossibly submissive kawaii girls, who can be, yes, imaginarily bent to their expectations. And they'll consider this the least bad life option. And they will be complicit in contorting the backs of the next generation because fuck China, or whatever other form authoritarianism takes. It's the expectation, and the clinging to it, that bends world, and makes it suffer.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

expectation as the root of authoritarianism, part 1

Everything I write is either too obvious or too opaque. I don't know where that line is, but this is probably more on the obvious side, or not.

At the root of authoritarianism is expectation. Example. I'm typing something on the computer and the wife says something about paying a bill. I get annoyed because I'm in the middle of something, but quickly hide it, because I know she's just doing a normal thing that I'd do myself, i.e., talking to people. But the annoyance was there and the reason -- and here is my insight, or not -- is that I expected to not be interrupted. The expectation is there and consciousness has little to do with it. Pretty obvious, so far, I guess.  

Here's another example, perhaps building to a point. I'm walking with one of the kids, committed to the idea that their desires are as valuable as mine, or more so, and they're playing, aimlessly, like bubbles dancing in the wind. But I want to go to the store. And even with my non-authoritarian principles, I get annoyed because goddammit, I want to go to the store. But that's not it, exactly. I expect to go the store. I've already grasped it, made it my own, like Steve Nash expecting to make a free throw as he's shooting (before he's made, or missed, it). The expectation comes before. Well done, Aristotle. You can't understand systems without teleology. 

Now let's say you're minding your business and someone punches you in the face for no apparent reason. The relatively simple body cells are pissed off, because they were expecting something else. Closer to consciousness, irritation develops because this was a human consciousness who screwed up your expectation of not getting punched and such things as human consciousnesses operate in terms of an expectationality that has to do with self-serving blame games and trying to manipulate other human consciousnesses to act in accordance with local expectations via what is known as ethics. The response to hurricanes that mess up your day is quite different. Human consciousnesses and hurricanes don't relate like that.

Monday, January 20, 2014

I'd like my violence in a frame on the wall where it can tell me how great I am, and when it doesn't I will punish it

Richard Sherman: I kicked Crabtree's ass. Fuck that guy!

America: Well, golly, that's not very nice. I'll be wholesomely rooting for that wholesome Peyton Manning fellow. And poop on you, Mr. Sherman.

It's always a bit shocking to hear words from mouths on respectable American TV coming at me relatively unfiltered. Even reality shows are mostly scripted with the cussing by design for an audience that's shown a willingness to consume it. The NFL is wholesome, on the other hand, and will likely try to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen again. Don't taint the product, bro.

But now of course Richard Sherman spent the whole week getting ready to kick Crabtree's ass, something he's paid to do mostly by American fans. He did his job and he did it spectacularly well. Then he verbalized the sort of feeling every NFL player has had after a successful play because every celebratory scream, fist pump, and own-chest-thump says more or less the same thing Sherman did. "I am alive while my foe is vanquished. Motherfucker! Motherfucker! Woooooo!!!" This is at the root of all sports and games. It's also the feeling that the white person on the couch who considers Richard Sherman to be a (thinly disguised racial slur) enjoys vicariously and shells out money to sponsors and cable providers for. Get me some of that smiting!

A good sport, a gentleman, a class act, i.e., not Sherman, pretends he hasn't just been participating in a sublimated death match. He hides it from the kids, who are the future of the institution, and the adults who might prevent them from being the future of the institution.

Anyway, that was a hell of a game.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

art snobbery

The idea that art can be beautiful, where that abstract referent exists outside human judgment (outside as in transcendent, to be clear; or in other, other words, beauty as a reified stand-alone), suffers not only from the usual problem of the non-existence of non-immanence, but also from the absence of any reason to believe that the would-be authority on beauty has special access to the transcendent. Then there's the problem that the one without that access has little or nothing to gain from hearing the professional aesthete's judgments. Oh, this song is good? Let me use this information, analytically, to enhance judgment skills that are completely inaccessible to and unalterable by analysis. 


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

stateless home economy

A 5 year-old wants to watch videos on the computer. An adult doesn't want him to. Expectations collide, power wins. Power pulls the plug, threatens with revocation of future fun the child relies on him to provide, outsmarts the little one any way he can. He gets angry when the boy resists while at the same time insisting that it's for the boy's own good. Well, whether it is or not (it's not), it's surely for power's good. You can tell because he's doing it. Also, he's angry so...c'mon, that's a giveaway, yes? Power only smiles as a tactic, when it's more convenient than force. The fury is there the whole time. Power has expectations and is angered by their non-realization. Whose expectations? Power's. Whose anger? Power's. For whose good? Power's.

So, power gets his way. He's created a world in which the kid doesn't watch videos, for now. The world in which he does has been smashed, for now. Power wins.

But what if the big man puts his weapons down, sets out to avoid bullying? What if he decides that when he wants the little one to do something different, he'll force himself to come up with something interesting. The kid eats too much sugar? Make him something healthy and delicious. Don't know how to? Figure it out or the kid eats sugar. Outcompete the sugar, or lose. As for outcompeting videos, start tickling, make cardboard robot costumes, playforts, etc. If that's too hard, leave the kid to his videos.