1. With Mr.McCormick|
Mr.McCormick -> Editor (2 Apr. 98)
I have communicated with you before. I have finally put a link to your site in my WEB site. I invite you to look.
http://www.cloud9.net/~bradmcc/elsewheres.html If you have a better description, I'd be glad to include it. Continued best wishes!
Editor -> Mr.McCormick (3 Apr. 98)
I have visited to your site again. I am happy to find our site is included in your high-quality collection of Websites. I will visit other sites you like.
Soon, I will put a link from our site to your site.
There are references to Genji and Makura-no-soshi in your site. Have you often been to Japan?
Mr.McCormick -> Editor (3 Apr. 98)
I visited Japan 4 times, for about a month each time, during 1983-85.
I had never been outside the United States before. I had *studied* Japanese art some (e.g., having read Soetsu Yanagi's "The Unknown Craftsman", Heinrich Engel's "The Japanese House: A Tradition for Contemporary Architecture"...). But I found Japan even more enchanting than I had anticipated. Yes, I've read Genji ("Hikari Genji" -- the shining prince!), in translation -- I bought the book at Maruzen, in Ginza -- I still remember the "distances to major cities of the world" in the floor, at the entrance to Maruzen. I also love the movie of Ugetsu.
I *love* many things Japanese (once I got a free upgrae to first class on JAL -- I really liked the Suntory Excellence Whisky!).
My "signature seal" design: the "Knotted Letter:
is from the design of a messenger's letter case in the Suntory Museum (has it moved from Akasaka, across the street from the beautiful Prince Hotel?
I also just remembered a wonderful 13th(?) century wood sculpture in the Kyoto National Museum, of a standing man, with the front of his face "split open" by a vertical slit, and the skin peeled partly back to reveal a second face beneath (false-self and true-self....)
*But* let me also say that I am sensitive to another side of Japan: the militarism which hurt many persons in and before WWII. I speculate that the lack of Christian background in most japanese makes it easier for some of them to *split* esthetic and cultural refinement from moral responsibility more easily than many Westerners, who, again, I speculate, may be more vulnerable to a *guilty conscience*. I'm not saying that Westerners are morally superior, but it does seem to me that the *contrast* between Ryoanji and the atrocities of some of the Japanese officers and doctors in WWII (e.g.) is more striking
than the contrast between Western baroque (e.g.) esthetics and Hitler's officers and doctors....
Editor -> Mr.McCormick (5 Apr. 98)
Thank you very much for your reply.
I understand that you have many links to Japanese places and Japanese culture.
You said " I am sensitive to another side of Japan: the militarism which hurt many persons in and before WWII. "
I also disgust the militarism of Japan. In the midst of WWII ,my father evade conscription by untrue medical certificate , which his young wife asked a doctor to write . A friend of my father agitated her, she should do everything to escape him from military service, because this war had no positive meaning.
My father had ambiguous feeling about this experience even in his last years. But if he was vainly "brave", he would be killed by bombing to the ships and I may not be here in this world, because I was born in 1947.
Some Japanese of my generation have kept thinking on the problems why Japanese society had rushed into the cruel war, why Japanese people could not prevent such irrational action of the government, what are the principles of citizen's action to bring open society.
As an example in Japanese history to consider these problems, we can remember the Earthquake of Kanto in 1923. Suddenly attacked by a big earthquake many people were killed by breakdown of houses and fire. Even the people who could escape from the danger were grasped by deep anxiety. Ultra-nationalistic conspirators took advantage of such condition. They started a rumor that Korean people who were lower laborer intended to attack Japanese by putting the poison into wells. This rumor caused a big effect and many Korean people were killed by Japanese. Of course there were some Japanese who protect Korean, but there was no effective counteraction to the conspiracy. In such a way, gradually most Japanese were involved to hostile relation with Korean, Chinese etc.
Reflecting these experiences of Japanese society, I think one of the most important way to prevent exclusive nationalism is the encouragement of citizen's open-mindedness to different culture.
This is the one of the reason why I selected Kenji Miyazawa as a Japanese author who is worth introducing to the world by our Website. As Kenji passed away in 1933, we cannot know how he would cope with WWII. But while he was alive, crises of Japanese society were deepening and the invasion to China had begun. I think Kenji felt deeply the danger of Japanese exclusive nationalism and we can read in his works his consideration on the problem.
I think one of main theme of his stories was open communication between villagers (often children) and inhabitants of surrounding nature (Mountain Man, Wildcat, Foxes,Bear,Dear----). We can read here his consideration on alternative way of Japanese society.
Mr.McCormick -> Editor (7 Apr. 98)
From the way WWII is presented to us here in America, your family's action must have been (1) highly unnsual, (2) personally frightening and source of emotional conflict, (3) painful -- seeing all the other
persons who were killing and being killed --, and (4) risky in terms of their personal safety. My mother told me that a brother of hers here in America, who had an exemption from military service because he was a machinist, would be heckled when he walked on the streets: People would ask him what was wrong with him that he was not in uniform.
In every bad time, there seem to be good people who help save others from being destroyed in the insanity (e.g., the doctor you write about, who surely was taking a risk).
Thank you for sharing your very touching story.
I saw a lovely film about Hiroshima about 10 years ago: I think the title was Black Rain (about the love between a victim of radiation sickness and a man driven crazy by the war).
I was born in 46. My father was a gunner on a B-29 that fire-bombed the major Japanese cities in the spring of 1945. For some reason, when I was younger, I thought he had been an *engineer* (an officer), but then I learned he was just a soldier, although in "an elite corps". He joined the Air Corps because he believed his chances of surviving would be better in the sky than in the trenches (certainly the living conditions proved better).
> Reflecting these experiences of Japanese society, I think one of the most
> important way to prevent exclusive nationalism is the encouragement of
> citizen's open-mindedness to different culture.
Yes. For this reason, I do not like the tendency of a lot of persons in America to romanticize their "roots", and try to pretend they are part of a tribal community. Our roots are in a future of universal dialog, in which all persons are respected, each has the opportunity to have his or her voice heard, each gives serious considerations to the opinions of others.... (The German philosopher Jurgen Habermas is a leading theorist of what he calls "discourse ethics"....)
> This is the one of the reason why I selected Kenji Miyazawa as a Japanese
> author who is worth introducing to the world by our Website. As Kenji
> passed away in 1933, we cannot know how he would cope with WWII. But while he was alive, crises of Japanese society were deepening and the invasion
> to China had begun. I think Kenji felt deeply the danger of Japanese
> exclusive nationalism and we can read in his works his consideration on
> the problem. I think one of main theme of his stories was open
> communication between villagers (often children) and inhabitants of
> surrounding nature (Mountain Man, Wildcat, Foxes,Bear,Dear----).
You seem to have made a good choice. Happy the person who finds "good work" to do: work that is personally satisfying and socially constructive.
I believe we should be *open* to all creatures who would approach us in peace. And we should respect the right of those who do not wish us to meddle with them, to be left alone, provided they do not hurt us.