a masochist in tokyo

Saturday, May 20, 2006

what i've felt so far in reading a lateral view is a sense of detachment and observation, a certain reverence for the subject matter. richie obviously loves japan for a number of reasons, perhaps foremost among them his notion of japan bringing old world asian sensibility into an increasingly westernized template of society. he talks about their notion of time and structure, the idea that nature isn't natural until it has been fashioned by the hand of man, alluding to a symbiotic relationship that renders unaffected natural things (man included) as "invisible." i found his ideas interesting, certainly. and i do think that there is a kernel of truth in the idea that this is a people and society that, while increasingly borrowing culture from the west, dilutes and changes it by adding to it built in ideology from a distant past (not to mention a control dictated by the shades of a former police state). however, i think a lot of what he mentions here is a bit too romantic for its own good. he may be speaking candidly about the whole of japan, but it is a little more difficult for me to sit in downtown shibuya and see much of the old world (if i can sit at all...much of downtown tokyo is perpetual motion). plus there is a marked difference between the vestiges of old tokyo and the new generation that is poised to inheret the city. the japanese men in suits that form the landscape of the train system may indeed think of themselves as natural and conforming to their environment, but the youth of the city is different. they speak on the trains, they party, they dress in fashion ranging from americanized to interstellar. one gets a real sense from observing the kids in harajuku that they have been born into a lessening need for communion with the group and an increasing need for individuality, perhaps a byproduct of international communication tools like the internet giving them a glimpse of what is outside their fair island. ritchie mentions again and again that everything in japan is deliberate and controlled, and thus tranquil as a result. i'm sure some case could be made for these youth choosing designated spots for their counterculture revolution, but regardless of the location, what exists here isn't tranquility, but rather an exhilarating sense of chaos.

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