Japan is bigger than just Japan. Japan is metaphor and allegory, successful case study and cautionary example, tragedy and comedy, Eden and the Land of the Lotus Eaters. All these multiple narratives cannot possibly be correct at the same time, unless we remove Japan from its strict geographical denotation and explore a more abstracted Japan in conjunction with our normal surveillance of reality.
Thus speaks W. David “Marxy” Marx in what he calls the first manifesto to his new group blog Néojaponisme (his co-bloggers are Jean Snow and Ian Lynam, both Tokyo-based like Marxy). Marxy’s old blog was – and hopefully will continue to be – highly insightful, for the often critical and thoughtful posts as much as for the, ahem, passionate debates in the comments section on contemporary Japanese society and pop culture. Some of the friction generated in these debates has obviously spilled over into his new project, as the following passage shows:
As Japan blossoms in the international garden, a few cling to Néo-Orientalisme, a Romantic ideology updating the old lust towards submissive geisha and beautiful ukiyo-e with an obsession for Japan’s post-1980s cultural and technological accomplishments. Japan certainly provides the world with alternate social, economic, and political systems for serious consideration, but we should not make the mistake of believing that we have discovered a utopian parallel to our own society. If we really want to advocate certain policy triumphs in Japan for global betterment, we must fully understand the sometimes painful realities behind the working order.
I wonder who these “few” might be? Anyway, count me among the regular readers of this very promising new web journal.