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The Nightmare of dichotomy

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- Diogenes of Sinope (When asked about his take on Zeno's arguments, he just stood up, without saying a word, and walked, in order to prove they were false.)

Every Internet & Manga cafe in Japan
has tens of thousands of funny and
serious Manga books in its library.

Day and night a number of "Internet
cafe refugees" fence themselves in
jail-cell-like cubicles.

I lived an extraordinarily rewarding life, but it's all over now. My English writing skills are too poor to describe the strange sensation, but I feel what I am today is exactly what I was. (NOTE at the bottom of this post.) I want to preserve the memories of my life until the last moment so they all vanish when I vanish.

I still hang around this side of heaven primarily because it's too cold outside to die there. So don't tell me I still have some obligation to give free lectures on life to you American people.

In fact, the scattered responses to my recent post about a new political model and its followup piece about the Deluge of Manga really let "me" down. Judging from the online and offline feedback from a handful of specimens, most, if not all, Americans can't address a serious issue such as this one in a principled way.

I just wanted to send a message that we can stem the overwhelming flood of Manga only when we come up with a new sociopolitical model with which to supplant the dead one, and vice versa. We can't solve either part because it's one and the same problem.

I have defined Manga so broadly as to include any visual or audiovisual aid that allows people with defeatist mindset and change-phobia to escape from reality. No more, no less. To me, George Orwell's Ninety Eighty-Four is a piece of Manga simply because quite a few Manga loving people here consider it as a high-end alternative to Gekiga (serious Manga) despite the fact the dystopian story is presented in a different format in Orwell's book.

I have absolutely nothing against Manga itself. The problem always lies with the people.

Nevertheless, those who gave me their comments, directly or indirectly, still talk about it in terms of good or bad, or, harmless or harmful. Simply it's a non sequitur to my serious argument. They might as well have ignored it altogether.

Among other things, they had difficulty understanding my frequent reference to Zeno's Paradoxes. As a result, they all thought my argument about the dichotomic world was way too far-fetched.

Last night I was writing the following sentences for yet another piece which might have been titled something like Evil resides in people's minds to further clarify my point.

"Just think of two places and plot them on a white canvas in the corners of your mind. Let's assume the places you pick are a utopia or a dystopia you tend to think Manga addicts are resorting to, and the 'real' world you tend to liken to a prison. Then you somehow feel an urge to bring a Manga-loving person back to the 'real' world. You try to drag him into the prison in the hope that he would wake up to the reality there.

"Then you realize that no matter how you map the two geometric points relative to each other, you will never succeed just like Achilles can never catch up with the tortoise. The reason your dichotomic tactic fails in human society is because you always opt to leave yourself out of the picture. What good do you think it would do to tell him to wake up when you are not creative and imaginative enough, yourself, to come up with a bright idea of a workable model for a new society? Nobody wants to wake up to the reality which is synonymous with hell. Everyone has the right to deceive himself the way he likes.

"Human nature is such that it continually transcends itself, or continually refuses to do so, in order to pursue, or suppress the 'free will' of its own.

"Easier said than done, but you should know it doesn't make any sense to tell others to change without changing yourself.

"You should know you have also chosen to remain fenced in Zeno's prison. There may be some other guy who thinks he remains outside of the fantasy world. He says to the inmate: 'Stay inside if you feel comfortable there.' But actually he has also fenced himself in a prison built on his utter ignorance.

"All in all, everyone in this picture is trapped in the same illusion."

When I came to this point, something clicked in my mind. I said to myself: "Shit, what the hell am I doing here? I've already done as much as I could. I don't want to waste any more time on this futile discussion."

Now I know time isn't ripe yet, and will most probably remain so forever, for the Americans to break what I call "Imperial Determinism" amid the vast intellectual vacuum spreading across North America.

I went to bed although it's actually nothing but a couple of dirty, crumpled rags. As usual I couldn't fall asleep despite the fatigue. Then, I got stricken by a spell of panic over how I've been screwing up my entire life when the final curtain is falling on me. Until dawn, I kept asking myself, as if in delirium, how to get out of this jam.

There are only two roles played on the stage: one for the Rebel, the other for the Plain Fool. There is a third role which is played by the Revolutionary, but he normally stays off-stage throughout the dichotomic drama.

My lifetime philosophy teacher Jean-Paul Sartre observed the Rebel is a clown because he badly needs his enemy to withstand his rebellious attack so he can remain the same Rebel all along. But now I've learned the Rebel also needs the Revolutionary because he is there to prove for the Rebel that the Revolutionary is an inviable species. In a dichotomic world, he always ends up destroying himself.

The Plain Fool may hate the Rebel because the Rebel is there to mercilessly attack him. Yet, he also needs the Revolutionary on his side because he wants to sleep in peace with a belief that the Revolutionary always keeps vigil on his behalf. The Plain Fool needn't know what the Revolutionary is watching out for. It's none of his business.

Maybe I can define my role as that of the Revolutionary. But I don't want the Rebel or the Plain Fool to count on me because it's always a he. At least in Japan, women don't belong to the dichotomy unless/until they are fully assimilated into the male-dominated world. Actually it was always a woman, who was too intelligent to be called the Plain Fool, that made my life really worth living. Not that all Japanese women are like this - far from it. The Manga-loving female manager at the tax-collecting department of the municipal office, for one, is a real bitch.

I said to myself it's about time to have abandoned the role of the Revolutionary. It's none of my business to suggest my predominantly American audience that they should seek a brand-new sociopolitical model.

Enough is enough.

To make up for the sleepless night, I took a long afternoon nap. At a little after 5 PM, a sudden jolt woke me up. Funnily enough, the first thing that cropped up in my mind was that cockeyed, short (5'02"), impossibly nicotine-addicted Frenchman named Jean-Paul Sartre, and his ontological essay titled L'Être et le néant. If I remember it correctly, he wrote in the book to the effect that natural phenomena such as winds that blow, streams of the river and waves of the sea are the "disease" of L'Être en-soi (being in-itself.)

His statement here was not really convincing. But now I think I've really understood the idea. When a dichotomic world falls apart, it will be caused by itself, like in a case where a big quake destroys Japan. Fortunately or unfortunately, most seismologists are now saying the probability of a real devastating earthquake hitting the metropolitan area in the next four years is 70%.

Incidentally, did you know that an exceptionally talented Manga cartoonist has recently debuted in New Jersey, U.S.A.? His name is Gordon G. Chang. Although he still uses the format of political analysis here, its content is unmistakably Manga.

In the funny piece he contributed to the World Affairs website under the title of Aging Asia's Demographic Dilemma, he wrote: "The last Japanese citizen will be born in 3011. About 80 years after that, he or she will die and the country will then become extinct." He quickly added that "the extinction of the Japanese does not seem possible" without spelling out the reason. Remember it's a Manga piece, after all.

This shows he has gone completely out of touch with reality.

In the past I repeatedly warned Chang it's turning the causal relationship upside down to attribute the loss of Japan's economic vigor to shrinking population, and that the quality of people by far outweighs the number of people. But the self-styled Northeast Asia expert shrugged off my commonsense arguments because he thought there was no reason to listen to an obscure blogger that I was.

Since the fall of 2008, the Japanese media have realized the country is actually overpopulated. That's why Chang was refraining from talking about his pet issue in the last four years. But now he thought he had to resort to the irrelevant topic to avoid starting the long-awaited countdown for the collapse of China.

He is no exception in this intellectual decline in the U.S. Now hundreds of thousands of his followers seem poised to indulge in chitchat with their guru about a utopian or dystopian future of the 31st century.

Bon voyage, American Plain Fools.

NOTE: In other words, now I have outlived myself. According to Sartre's ontology, man's being can be defined as L'Être pour-soi (existence for-itself.) But now I am a "being in-itself." The depressing situation arose in February when I let go of my last girlfriend. At one time, I wrote I was just killing time, but actually I've been trying to engage myself in things of secondary importance to me. But my efforts haven't really paid off, except for my renewed involvement in the activities of Lara Chen Tien-shi. Under the circumstances, my failure to convince my audience that we should explore a new political model has dealt me a fatal blow. ·

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The Nightmare of dichotomic world
Authored by: samwidge on Friday, December 07 2012 @ 03:53 PM JST

You said, "... the Rebel is a clown because he badly needs his enemy to withstand his attack so he can remain the same Rebel."

That is correct and few understand the point. I am tasked with (gently) teaching Republicans to speak to their opponents in ways that prove that they listen and really want to work with others. It's a tough job because sometimes we'd rather fight than win.

Anybody can teach fighters to fight. Teaching fighters to win is a more difficult challenge.

As it is, we may or may not have the right ideas but, whatever those ideas are, we tend to be jerks about expressing them. We seem to be more interested in rebelling than in working in unity. It is the Brownian motion of political interaction.

Intellectual Brownian motion is l'etre en-soi.

As always, you fill me with hundreds of thoughts. Thanks for the gifts you give.

The Nightmare of dichotomic world
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Saturday, December 08 2012 @ 05:18 PM JST

Thank you for reminding me of Brownian Motion. I don't know about the random movements of particles any more than what I learned in school 60 years ago. I don't even know whether or not Einstein unraveled the mystery, let alone how.

As I wrote in this post, I'm now in real crisis, not only money-wise and health-wise, but also metaphysics-wise. So I want to know about anything I haven't known.

In that context, I'll appreciate it if you educate me on the basic science at large. I no longer need to learn about applied sciences such as computer science because applications always come from the areas of social sciences. And most of the time these technologies are misused.

Yu Yamamoto
The Nightmare of dichotomic world
Authored by: samwidge on Saturday, December 08 2012 @ 05:56 PM JST

Ah. Metaphysics!

The great, "I am therefore I am" argument.

A friend once told me that she wanted to know about the paranormal. The paranormal is, by definition, something you cannot know about.

I must admit to no expertise in any of these things. As each of us passes through time and space we have but one option. We can neither build nor destroy. We can neither create nor void. The one thing we can do is like.

Despite your sometimes harsh words, you make it clear that you like people. You like them immensely. In fact, you seem to like every thing you encounter. The fact that you like indicates that you make that passage smoother for all.

You teach me to like and, with that, I hope to make the passage smoother for others as well.

This is all that we can do. It is all that we should do.

Thanks for all that you do.
The Nightmare of dichotomic world
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Saturday, December 08 2012 @ 06:13 PM JST

You took me wrong. I'm not interested in superstitious things at all. All I wanted to say is that every time we discuss things, I want you to educate me on science because you are a scientist while I'm 100% business-minded (believe it or not.)

Yu Yamamoto
The Nightmare of dichotomy
Authored by: Diogenes on Sunday, December 09 2012 @ 12:56 PM JST
This quote for many persons reflects the sentiment of our current zeitgeist. It's taken from the "Sandstone Papers: On the Crisis of Contemporary Life" by Martin Glass. This is from the speech delivered to the audience by playwright Louis di Prima titled: "Facing a Few of the Facts." While I believe this sentiment is an accurate representation of the pre and post WWI & WWII years, I also believe this sentiment has been deliberately generated to keep the people of the planet in a constant state of fear of...what? It's never quite resolvable and plastic, so we are left living in a state of free floating anxiety, leading to an even more deleterious state of hyper-vigilance, a global PTSD on a grand scale. Fearful people are more easily controlled people.

Something Big is going to happen! Something Big is going to happen!
We have to prepare!
What is it? What's going to happen?
I don't know!
Then how can we prepare? How can we prepare for it if
we don't know what it is?
I don't know! I don't know! Just prepare, that’s all! Prepare!
The guru tells you about the Great Truth that remains the same throughout all eternity while everything else just comes and goes.
The prophet tells you you're in big trouble and it's going to get much worse if you don't clean up your act, and maybe it's too late anyway.
The commissar tells you what you're going to do for your own good whether you want to or not.
The revolutionary tells you your hour has come and
nothing can stop you now.
The shrinks and their cousins tell you whatever you pay
them to tell you.
Where will you turn, baby, where will you turn?
The headlines are not reassuring. You laugh at them,
shaking your head in gentle disbelief, and then forget
them. Who really gives a shit anymore? Who can be
seriously concerned about a situation so utterly hopeless?
Only the well intentioned fools, filled with outrage or
alarm, who never seem to realize that all they're really doing
with their efforts to save the world is throwing their own
little twig into the conflagration, adding their little squeak to
the roar.
Fools. Are they really fools? Or are they the salt of the,
earth, the model, the heroes and heroines who point the
way, for the rest of us?
Who can say what they are? Or what anyone is. The
bottom's dropped out of the world.
What are you going to do? I mean really: what are you
going to do? Do you actually believe anything is going to stop the drift toward disaster? The drift of an entire planet?
Do you actually believe we're going to be saved? Everything is heading straight to hell, the whole thing is falling apart, the whole world is going insane. Do you really believe all this can be halted or reversed? It's too late. It's all over. Just dig it. Every- thing was always headed this way, building up to this--we can see that now--and we're the ones privileged to watch it happen. We're the generation privileged to know the whole story, the whole drama, from the beginning to the end. We're going to see the curtain come down. Our understanding of humanity is the most profound. What difference does it make if it ends now or in a million years?
The whole past, every bit of it, everything that ever hap-
pened, is entirely vanished, gone completely. Whatever
fragments survive exist only in our memories, and then only
when we're actually remembering them, only in the living
moment in which they are actually being remembered. The
future, of course, also doesn't exist. No past, no future.
Nothing exists but this living moment, right now, and even
this moment, like memories of the past or anticipations of
the future, is only held there by our minds.
So what is lost, and who loses anything, if the world comes
to an end?
Many decent responsible people seem to have decided to face the end enjoying music and screwing. If there's nothing we can do about it, what's wrong with celebrating life right up to the end, along with the rest of nature? Other decent responsible people shuffle around with downcast eyes and troubled expressions; they hope they'll be able to confront certain death with the dignity appropriate to a noble being in its hour of tragedy. Like the captain and crew singing hymns on the deck of a sinking ship. Still others, also decent, also responsible, are determined to go down fighting, defiant to the last. It'll be business as usual, however. Business as usual. Our
ordinary nervous daily lives, noting quite settled and
nothing quite appropriate, exploded into sheer screaming
terror. Don't you think so? Sure. And it's OK. Who are you
to be critical?
Now you could say that we have to save the world for the sake of future generations, so humanity can continue to
evolve toward its divine destiny, or that we have to save the
world to keep the faith with past generations, so that their
labor will not have been in vain. In either case, it's humanity
itself we're supposed to be concerned about, "Humanity"
with a capital H. Something bigger than you and me, in other words.
But you could also say fuck that way of thinking. Unless
we choose to make them an issue, the dead and the unborn
are out of the picture completely. They have nothing to lose,
nobody but us; we are what's at stake. We're the ones, we
and our children, who have to figure out how to face this
incredible nightmare. All by ourselves, and for ourselves.
Just think of it: the dead are going to kill the living! We're not doing this to ourselves. It's the momentum of the history they made, and the damage they did, that's going to kill us. We're not committing suicide, we're being murdered. By the dead! Talk about bad karma!
In the whole history of humanity, there have only been
two human situations. The one that ended about fifty years
ago, and ours.
True, there were other times when people thought the
world was going to come to an end, although of course they
were wrong. But it was always for a good reason, always as
part of the scheme of things. Divine retribution, the end of a
cosmic cycle, the arrival of the Kingdom of Heaven--there
was always a meaning, so it was always acceptable.
But our situation is different.
Or at least it appears to be.
It's really just a question of style; there's no right and
wrong in a terminal situation. Different people will face the
end in different ways, that's all. There's nothing unworthy
or debased in refusing to think about a calamity so immense, so beyond our comprehension; it's not more "elevated" to look it in the face than to ignore it. We're not morally required to try to save the world. To eat, drink and be merry is not shameful any more than to join organizations is exemplary. Everyone has a right to their way, and every way is just as human as every other way: they're all human--fully, completely, totally human. Make your choice, play your role, respect everyone.
Existence is clearly a gift. We have done nothing to earn or deserve it, so we have no right to complain if it is withdrawn. For a while, we existed. For a while, there was something rather than nothing, and that something was clearly a miracle glorious beyond glory, and we, whatever "we" are, woven somehow into that miracle, are a "place" where it becomes aware of itself. More could be said about all this, but it would just be glory heaped upon glory. The proper response in the recipient of a gift is gratitude.
You keep thinking that maybe somehow everybody's
going to pull it together at the last minute and save the
world. A rally in the eleventh hour. The whole human race
suddenly realizes it's now or never, and in one stupendous
spiritual and physical exertion actually rises to meet the
occasion. But at the same time you know this is a fantasy.
You know what people are like, and you know what we're up
We became five billion interchangeable parts in one giant death machine and anything we do on the scale of the death machine's power is just more machinery. That's cold reality, feet on the ground. The ways we came to think and live and work, the end we created for ourselves by thinking and living and working, in those ways, and the various ways in which we then confront that end all add up to one life style: it's all one reality, in other words, one circular dynamic. Preparing our end and confronting our end are the same process. To oppose our actual way of facing it with some fantasy about how we might save ourselves is nonsense: the situation and the response are a single reality, they cannot be separated. It could even be argued that this is the only way it could have happened, that all along, from very beginning, this was our only destiny. Who knows? But look around you: you don't see what should be and you don't see what shouldn't be: you see what followed...


Que sera, sera (What will be, will be.), old chap. This might be simplistic for you, but for me, I've given up on trying to believe that I can change the direction of the Juggernaut bearing down on us all. If it crushes me, well, so be it. There are 300 + million souls in the U.S. Shouldn't they be responsible for their fate, too? Why am I musing about it, when there doesn't seem to be much concern expressed by those around me? It appears that for them, it's much ado about nothing.

What am I to consider in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, if this "I" exists past the next minute due to some kindness granted by the Norns? Wouldn't it be more appropriate to consider the end, the trip of a lifetime? What di Prima is describing is more than the fear of death. It's the dreaded loss of control, where our imaginations can instill any nightmare that is brewing in our conscious or unconscious mind. Isn't the ultimate dichotomy: life vs. death?

If so, we appear to have four choices to consider: the Indian version where we'll be reborn again and again; the Buddhist version where we can beat this rebirth, repetition compulsion by getting "enlightened"; the Christian and Muslim versions where a select group of deserving persons will be granted entrance rights to some location that is above us mortals...up there somewhere, vague but certain by the believers; or this picture of nothingness painted in Thomas Wolfe’s short story “Dark in the Forest.” A narrator is on a train and traveling in Germany before WWII started. He shares a compartment and was talking to an elderly German that appeared gaunt and ashen. After the elderly gentleman reclines for a nap, our protagonist quietly slips out to visit the dining car. He now returns.

“The man had not changed his position by an inch, and yet at once the boy was conscious of some subtle, fatal change he could not define. What was it? He took his seat again and for some time stared fixedly at the silent ghostly figure opposite him. Did he not breathe? He thought, he was almost sure, he saw the motion of his breathing, the rise and fall of the emaciated breast, and yet he was not sure. But what he plainly saw now was that line, vermilion in its moon-dark hue, had run out of the corner of the firm set mouth and that there was a large vermilion stain upon the floor.

“What should he do? What could be done? The haunted light of the fatal moon seemed to have steeped his soul in its dark sorcery, in the enchantment of a measureless and inert calmness. Already, too, the train was slackening in its speed, the first lights of the town appeared, it was his journey’s end.

“And now the train was slowing to a halt. There were the flare of rails, the switch-lights of the yard, small, bright, and hard, green, red, and yellow, poignant in the dark, and on other tracks he could see the little goods cars and the strings of darkened trains, all empty, dark, and waiting with their strange attentiveness of recent life. Then the long station quays began to slide slowly past the windows of the train, and the sturdy goat-like porters were coming on the run, eagerly saluting, speaking, calling to the people to pass their baggage through the window.

“Softly the boy took his overcoat and suit-case from the rack above his head and stepped out into the narrow corridor. Quietly he slid the door of the compartment shut behind him. Then, for a moment, still unsure, he stood there looking back. In the semi-darkness of the compartment the spectral figure of the cadaver lay upon the cushions, did not move.

“Was it not well to leave all things as he had found them, in silence, at the end? Might it not be that in this great dream of time in which we live and are the moving figures, there is no greater certitude than this: that having met, spoken, known each other for a moment, as somewhere on this earth we were hurled onward through the darkness between two points of time, it is well to be content with this, to leave each other as we met, letting each one go alone to his appointed destination, sure of this only, needing only this—that there will be silence for us all and silence only, nothing but silence, at the end?

“Already the train had come to a full stop. The boy went down the corridor to the end, and in a moment, feeling the bracing shock of the cold air upon his flesh, breathing the vital and snow-laden air into his lungs, he was going down the quay with a hundred other people, all moving in the same direction, some toward certitude and home, some toward a new land, hope, and hunger, the swelling prescience of joy, the promise of a shinning city. He knew he was going home again.”

The Nightmare of dichotomy
Authored by: Y.Yamamoto on Sunday, December 09 2012 @ 02:01 PM JST

Thank you so much for alerting us to Sandstone Papers. I know nothing about Martin Glass. Neither do I know whether or not this Louis di Prima is a fictitious figure. But in a sense, I find this speech very touching.

The only thing that doesn't really resonate with the Japanese retired businessman, that I am, is that there is something fishy in this kind of despair. I even suspect Glass, or di Prima, is "controlled" by something/someone more than his audience that Glass, or di Prima, says is controlled.

If I were him, and really viewed the life the way he says he does, I would never write a book, or deliver a speech. I would live my life the same way I do: having junk food once or twice a day, instead of three times, and for 90% of the rest of the time, laying myself in a dirty, crumpled rags.

Not that I'm already waving a white flag. I don't want to be a defeatist or underdog. I'm still struggling to find an effective way to fight back. That's why people think I'm crazy.

I think Glass, or di Prima, is very sane person. Of course, there's nothing wrong with sanity. I'm only saying I don't like self-deceptive people.

I hope you keep your thought-provoking comments such as this one coming. I really want to learn from exceptionally intelligent Americans like you.

Yu Yamamoto
The Nightmare of dichotomy
Authored by: Diogenes on Sunday, December 09 2012 @ 02:36 PM JST
di Prima is one of several characters Glass created, who are delivering papers at a convention with the theme listed in the title. di Prima's complete presentation is on "the bomb," the nuclear one, but it takes a while to get there.