Myth - or math - about genealogical roots

Saturday, November 14 2015 @ 04:36 PM JST

Contributed by: Y.Yamamoto

I have already told my audience why I disowned my biological elder son. I could put an end to our feud, that stemmed from his strong antipathy toward the ex-husband of his mother for being intellectually demanding since his childhood, when I said, "I apologize for having fathered you guys at all. This is the greatest mea culpa of my life."

There's nothing to add except that breaking-up was hard to do like everywhere else. Since I have no tangible assets carrying a yen value possibly to hand down to him or anyone else, that's the end of the story.

As for the younger one, it was a lot easier. I'd already been too tied up with his elder brother to expect him to grow into a mature man wiping off all the influence from his maternal grandfather who turned out to be a former small-time yakuza gangster and his entire clan which was under the influence of the Soka Gakkai cult.

Eventually I lost both.

Twelve years or so ago the younger one married an obnoxious divorcee. At that time he changed his surname to save his stepson from suffering the stigma at school. Soon twin sons were born to them. I was kind of forced to meet them when they were around one year old but afterward I kept declining to see them again primarily because in Japan giving at least 5K yen, preferably ten times as much to be spent for crap is the only important role a grandparent is supposed to play every time he sees his young grandchild.

This past summer my son started to insist all over again that I should meet his twin sons during their summer break. He said: "Now my 11-year-old kids seem to be in the early stage of identity crisis. They are anxious to know about the 25% of their biological roots." I complied because there was no reason to decline. But I didn't fail to warn him to tell them in advance that I am the weirdest man they have ever met and they should not expect a single buck from me.

At first I couldn't tell one twin from the other. So before the lunch I "interviewed" them, one by one. I handed each of them a simple questionnaire to make it easy for them to introduce themselves before my digital camera. Later I uploaded the videos to share them with a limited audience.

After they introduced themselves to me, I tried a quiz on my son and his kids. I said: "If you guys 'think' I am a 25% ea of you kids, you are completely wrong. Believe me, I'm nobody's part. To begin with how many ancestors do you 'think' you have?" Neither my biological son nor his kids could answer. They didn't understand why I raised such an unusual question in the first place.

I explained: "As you know, some of my ancestors, i.e. our ancestors, were ninjas by occupation who served the Tokugawa Shogunate which was in power from 1603 to 1867. If you use the Excel exponential function (2^(2015-1603)/20) on an assumption that 20 years make one generation, you will find out we are 2 million ancestors away from the first ninja even if you forget about collateral ones.

"Moreover," I continued, "there's no reason to stop at the first ninja if you really want to trace your roots. I'm afraid you guys still believe, deep down in your hearts, in the downright lie that Japan was founded on February 11, 660 BC by the son of the Sun Goddess. Then you should know you have an astronomical number of ancestors. If my Excel calculation wasn't wrong, it's 21,778,071,482,940,100,000,000,000,000 trillion."

They were shocked but obviously not by the number itself. In the face of a frightening abyss, they were totally at a loss over what to make of the arithmetic.

To them an "identity crisis" is nothing but a rite of passage where they are supposed to pledge an unconditional allegiance to the homogeneous society that embraces the trilogy of faiths. That is why they didn't understand "identity," "root" or any other borrowed word had to be defined more precisely than the stupid writer named Alex Haley did in his 1976 bestselling book titled "Roots: The Saga of an American Family."

Actually I was playing devil's advocate as usual. What I was getting at could have been summarized like this:

One's sense of identity is an emotional attachment and/or an intellectual resonance felt voluntarily (not obligatorily) and spontaneously (not biologically) toward specifically portrayable figure(s) in the huge family tree.

A larger group of faceless people such as mankind, male, female, working class, capitalists, the stateless, the handicapped, liberal, conservative, etc. has nothing, whatsoever, to do with it.

The only thing that pleasantly surprised me was the answer the younger twin (photo) gave to my banal but tricky question: "What do you want to be doing when you become an adult?" The older one answered without hesitation, "I want to be a policeman." But his younger brother declared, after mumbling for a while, "I haven't made up my mind on that yet."

I was really impressed because this is an utterly atypical way an 11-year-old would answer the standard question. Most every kid answers it without hesitation because he knows it doesn't really matter whether he is fully committed to his "dream" to become a cop, an astronaut, a professional athlete, an artist, a TV personality, or anything else. In fact, though, you can't seriously commit yourself to anything until you find out who you are, i.e. your identity.

It is the same thing that Henri Bergson exquisitely analogized as a "canvas which the ancestor passes on for his descendant to put his own original embroidery."

I was going to tell them a chimp can recognize itself in the mirror but it isn't concerned a bit about its identity. At that time my son and his elder son quickly sent me a clear signal that they didn't want to listen to my lecture on identity. So I stopped there to concentrate on the free lunch.

Back home, I started to write a followup letter to my son to tell him that I was really impressed by his younger son's answer and that as his principal educator he should try hard to protect him against incessant indoctrination or counter-indoctrination the boy is subjected to at school or everywhere else. But on second thought, I said to myself that it would be totally useless. After all I am his biological parent who miserably failed to cultivate his thinking ability.

In the letter I wanted to send a link to the video embedded at the bottom of this post to explain how geese are imprinted almost at birth. Certainly he would have said, "Don't worry, father. We are not geese, but human beings."

In response I would have told him to watch the second video which clearly shows the chimp by far outperforms the human being at least in certain kinds of cognitive abilities. Anyone who believes we are superior to chimps should be able to tell exactly how. And if he "thinks" man does the thinking whereas an ape doesn't, he should be able to tell exactly what it is for man to think like man. I would have had to explain sorting out tons of information children are gathering on the web or anywhere else has nothing to do with the process of man's thinking.

I stopped short of completing the letter because after all I know it would be a total waste of time to repeat my thought-provoking lecture on the Digital Altar to someone who is already thinking-disabled like "well-educated" elements among my audience, let alone uneducated guys like my biological sons.

Recently I learned that a man named Stefan Molyneux has been talking about the merit of "deFOOing." (FOO stands for the Family of Origin.) He said all adult relationships should be voluntary and discretionary rather than obligatory in the context of his primary advocacy of a "Stateless Society." For a certain reason I prefer the words "Stateless Nation." I may come back on the issue of deFOOing if time permits. But for now I have concluded Molyneux's "thought" isn't worth studying more in depth.

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