When any particular organized system ceases to exist, as when an atom splits, a snowflake melts, an animal dies, its organized field disappears from that place. But in another sense, morphic fields do not disappear: they are potential organizing patterns of influence, and can appear again physically in other times and places, wherever and whenever the physical conditions are appropriate. When they do so, they contain within themselves a memory of their previous physical existences.
- Rupert Sheldrake, The Presence of the Past (1988)
The issue with the life-or-death of an individual, or a group of individuals such as a nation-state, is not a laughing matter. It is for this simple reason that I have always refrained from talking about the fate of a foreign country, except when retaliating against arrogant American busybodies. They think they have special privilege to make their living by peddling their armchair prophecies about the future of foreign countries. That is why these guys predict so lightly that China or any other country they don't like is doomed to failure by such and such date, or that Japan or any other country they are fond of will survive formidable difficulties facing it by "reinventing" itself over and over again.
Thus far they have succeeded to dupe America's super-credulous audiences into believing in their opportunistic diagnoses of Japan. But I will never retract mine because if I changed my diagnosis, my entire 75-year life mostly spent here would turn into "much ado about nothing," retroactively. My dignity as a man is at stake in these statements I have deliberately made.
I have long defined Japan as a Culture of Apologies, but now I'm inclined to call America a Culture of Quotations. These self-styled scholars and pundits have long made it a rule to cherry-pick this idea here, that idea there, without really internalizing them. They jump at any idea that fits comfortably into their cheap ideologies. For one thing, they often compare communism against democracy, but they haven't read a single book written by Karl Marx, let alone Friedrich Hegel who had a profound influence on Marx's thoughts. As a result, they've got something that looks very much like spaghetti inside their skulls. It is true that in some areas of expertise such as computer science, web-based technologies, musical art, business administration, and quite understandably, psychiatry, America remains the world leader. But these are exceptions to the Culture of Quotations.
Also, I know some exceptions at an individual level. My American friend who has been known on this website by his handle "Diogenes" is one of them.
Last week, Diogenes sent me another gift. It was a book titled The Presence of the Past. I hadn't known its author even by name while many Japanese acquaintances of mine could tell who they thought Ruper Sheldrake was. According to these superstitious people, Sheldrake is a guy who developed a theory that scientifically explains the psychic power the likes of Uri Geller claim to have. Of course, that's not what the British biochemist actually is.
This post is not meant to be a book review, but I thought author's thought-provoking hypothesis of "formative causation" through "morphic resonance" on "morphic fields" was worth mentioning here. Sheldrake presents it in comparison with conventional ideas such as Newtonian inertia and Darwinian assumption of survival of the fittest.
When I was on the book, Plato's "recollection" and Kierkegaard's "repetition" were always on my mind. I don't claim to have delved into the history of European philosophy extensively. Yet, I am confident that unlike the average American, I have learned from some European thinkers, Plato and Kierkegaard in particular, to think things over very systematically and conduct my life very methodically. So, let me summarize their thoughts below here.
Plato was one of the disciples of Socrates. I think Socrates can be a good role model for American "thinkers" because he famously said, "All I know is that I know nothing." But Plato did not really agree to his teacher's agnosticism because his epistemology all boiled down to the idea that learning is nothing but recollection of what you have already known deep inside. 22 centuries later, Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard thought backward recollection is not enough to cope with difficulties facing modern man living in an uncertain world. In this context he came up with the idea that forward recollection is crucially important in real life. He named it repetition.
He warned, however, that if you try to repeat something without recollecting what exactly you have to repeat, you will end up in a life that is nothing but a fuss over nothing. To Kierkegaard, faith in God was the guiding light, but to atheists like myself, too, there is something that can help avoid a chaotic life.
We call it intuition.
It's no accident that the media in the U.S. are single-mindedly targeting intuition on the part of their audience, just like Joseph Goebbels did as Hitler's propaganda minister. Goebbels not only believed but also proved that repeating a same lie over and over again will give it an indisputable credibility. As a result, the American people have now had their intuitive faculties, as well as abilities to learn, or even think, seriously damaged. Small wonder their first, and last response to my theory about the unviable Japan is that it's totally counter-intuitive.
Admittedly Sheldrake's hypothesis is so extensive and have so far-reaching implications in many areas that they can't be fully proved in a matter of decades. That is why it still remains a hypothesis.
On the contrary, it's relatively easy to vouch my heretical theory. In fact, it has already worked itself out at least four times in the last 150 years. If I have to specifically name these epochal events one last time, they are 1) Commodore Perry's port calls in the 1850s, 2) the war defeat (or the launch of the unwinnable war) in the 1940s, 3) the burst of the bubble economy in 1990 and 4) the man-made disaster of 3/11/2011. What else do I have to have to substantiate my hypothesis?
Sheldrake's hypothesis has also helped me deepen my understanding of two other important theories.
One of them is Dr. Frank W. Putnam's clinical analysis of cases with child abuse. According to him, most of those who had been abused, sexually or otherwise, in their childhood, started to feel, typically in their adolescence, that something remained unsettled deep inside. This sense of uneasiness almost always led them to a compulsive urge to be re-victimized over and over again. Putnam could have said the same thing if he had learned the modern history of Japan.
The other one is Harvard professor Robert D. Putnam's theory about path-dependent trajectories. He said: "Where you can get to depends on where you're coming from, and some destinations you simply cannot get to from here." This also explains why Japan's insatiable aspiration for Westernization in the last 150 years has taken a fatal toll on this country. When I first quoted Putnam, one of my former American friends said he didn't like his "determinism," which is not exactly what it is, as if like or dislike of someone's thought was all that matters in his brain-dead country. Obviously he was badly in need of good education.
The Japanese disease is no longer remediable. If we still want to see a new and viable organism emerging in this archipelago, it will be born only out of the ruins of the nation-state named Japan.
To this end, I have repeatedly argued that the United States should pull the plug on the life-support system called the strategic alliance between the U.S. and Japan. It's quite unlikely that this country would survive the termination of the 50-year-old security treaty, but that is the only way for Japan to possibly "appear again physically in other times and places, wherever and whenever the physical conditions are appropriate."
And this is the only way for America to possibly break its addiction to recidivism.
By the way, did you know America, too, is terminally ill with its people acting more and more like the Japanese? Their Japanese friends have long been known for their unique behavioral pattern to stick their head in the sand in the face of a crisis. One example is the seclusion policy that lasted from the early-17th century to the mid-19th century.
Now we are seeing another example of ostrich policy across the Pacific. The stupid Americans think it is the only way to avoid domestic confrontation to police the world with their 369.000 troops stationed in 150 different countries including Afghanistan and Japan.