The Nightmare of dichotomy

Thursday, December 06 2012 @ 11:17 PM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

"□ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □ □"
- 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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