Rahil

Category Archives for: Travel

Japan

30 November 2016

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Fuck Japan

Fuck Japan.

That’s all I got.

Fuck Japan.

Perhaps the reason I never thought to talk to others when I lived in suburban America, anyone nearby, as I did during much of my 20s [and perhaps childhood], is because I simply wasn’t interested in the others. Japan [Japanese culture] has altered my behavior to not be interested in other people. As I [just earlier] peered through the express train’s window as it was rushing me toward the airport, perhaps the first time I’ve taken an express transport whilst having time, I didn’t care what is inside those buildings, those giant apartment complexes, the curtained shops, or traditionally-achitected homes.

Fuck ’em.

And here’s why

And here’s why:

Japanese culture has these characteristics: exclusive, unwelcoming, stingy (mentality, monetarily, and urban design), unhospitable (no hospitality), extremely organized (/obessissively), cold (temperature and feeling), robotic (rule-based automoton behavior), unwilling and no desire to learn (beyond what was learned to survive in an individuals tiny social unit), ie (家, socially seperated into tiny social units, nepotism), instrumentally reasoned toward survival and comfort, and overall, inhospitable (uninhabitable)… [todo: add more charactersitics]

Much of it overlaps with (rich?) suburbia. The simple, I’m surviving (living), why do / learn anything else? Why care about what other people / cultures / minds think? It’s a classic social problem: closing of the mind, habituation.

[todo: give examples to all characteristics?]

more thoughts from right now (maybe overlaps with notes)

When a society develops, it develops materially too. It industrializes, organizes, constricting creativity and freedom. It organizes what you eat (taste), see, feel, and do. Japan has narrow taste in all aspects: food, design, fashion, textures, images, and so on. When one doesn’t fit what the local culture has organized the material to, then one has to go back, to raw materials, and create it, from scratch. Cook, design anew, make. I almosted needed to, to survive it. Perhaps that’s how cultural neighborhoods form in cities: a desire to make the material world according to one’s own taste shaped by past cultures.

/

One may wander, how such a narrow-minded society became rich? Robots are good at making (barely creative) products, and that’s a much wanted commidity for most of the world. Well-made cars, house appliances, farming equipment. Automate work needed for survival, automate the process to make the machines, then sell it. That’s the limit of Japan’s intelligence. It never quite gets to actually creating information, ideas, new ways to live, new ways to help others. The ultimate Japanese society is the present one: it already reached it’s end.

The small social unit idea works (is successful) for the same reason a specialized machine works: it is a machine, it was made to work.

/

A thought from earlier today:
Japanese people are not good at playing games; Games play them. They are good at abiding rules (being obedient), but not playing (in any sort of creative sense). They work within rulesets, similar to their small social units / knowledge / life. They can “play” a calculative arcade music rhythym or card or fighting “game”, but they will fail in any one that rewards creativity.

An older recurring thought:
Japanese society is exactly the one depicted in Wall-E. It really is that dystopian. People aren’t fat, but people do go from one place to another while watching a screen in their box cars, eat CalorieMate (a “nutritious” block of food), and consume addictive substances without the bad stuff (Coke zero, Strong zero, cigarettes with devices that remove the smell?, etc.).

notes from papers and text files written during the trip

ordered from past to present:

1

the Fablab charter is similar to my own: of allowing the public access to tools to enable people to make [almost] anything,– but making is such a small part [subset] of doing (performing, teaching, work, etc.).
.
at the lab I realize the reasons I made or did anything [in the past] was for poltiical [/personal] reasons: I wanted to alter the behavior of people {not true, there were many motives: bring awareness to society, or simply just to spend time with people whilst being productive – whatever productive may be in my mind during a time and place} . Making a sign {for the no vehicles in market areas idea} was just a small part of a solution to do so. That’s all it ever is {That’s all fablabs are able to do}. It’s not an end. It’s just an enabler for making stuff {, materially}.
.
Outside the lab {Fablab Dazaifu}, there is one large panchinko parlor and duplicate apartment complexes. Such a boring place! Only the lab is homey. Perhaps all indoor spaces are homey. But the problem is that most are exclusive.
.
I should try to make something at each space, but, as I said, I need a political / personal motivation.
– {I felt that being at a space would be no use without a reason / motive. A desire to do something for society is needed, then one goes to a space to work something out, but I had zero care for Japan’s society.}
.
[todo: to blog]
$Fab labs, like hotels contain great people, like [censored name]. People at service for others, for the community.
.
But the problem of fab labs, or most spaces, like departments at a school, is that they are narrow
– {mmm, thus, every space is too narrow, not enough diversity (of minds). That seems to be a recurring problem of mine. Whatever space I go to, it is a gathering of similar interests, as opposed to a set of random people. What kind of space has that?: A household? Shared living? Co-living spaces.
in ideology / culture / mind – they tend to make the same things (was thinking of things same things all fab labs make). The goal is to invite others to participate. It’s a good start. It’s still an open, public space, like a public garage.
– {hmm, that really is all it is. Make a garage public. Host events at home. Isn’t that how the internet was created?}
.
Still, I can’t live here – I am not motivated / living in Japan’s society.** I need a society that I love in order to make stuff for it** (Jiufen’s Spirited Away idea, urban interventions, etc.).
– {love reciprocation idea [todo: etch this out later]}
.
[todo: to blog]
In Japan, people do the work, they do what’s needed to survive the longest [and to maximize comfort]; In Taiwan, people care for the ideas, talk about it, but not worry much about the age they will die {, or doing things – implementing ideas.}
.
[todo: to blog]
$In Japan, people [only] care for their culture, only focus on their own narrow culture’s desires; In Taiwan, they’re open to other cultures and ideas – for aboriginals and foreign cultures – , thus they develop more unevenly, but accordingly for / to each culture – thus it is free, open.

Japan is singular. There is only Japanese culture; Everything else is “other”, rejected.

Laws exist. Social pressures are strong. It is difficult, unlawful, unfaithful, un-family-like to go against the grain.

Taiwan doesn’t care much for culture, other than langauge and ideas (including knowing their own social history). Thus, Taiwan is more ideal, but in reality may not seem so; Japan seems ideal, especially statistically, but in reality is dystopian.
– {It’s as if Japan designed their society and actually abide the design. There is no human element, no natural feelings to disrupt it.}
.
but comfort and long survival come at a cost of material commodities. Japan accumulates capital to build the most comfortable, convenient place. Taiwan does not care much for comfort – they care for just living on by doing whatever they’ve become habituated to do – craft, cook, all is okay to live such a lifestyle, even if it does not improve survival or comfort.
– {The cost of material commodities being human labor and the destruction of nature; It’s the difference between living in a shed in Taiwan and a fully-equiped apartment in a high rise in Japan.}
– {Though Taiwan doesn’t care much for comfort of the body, they’ve somehow created the most comforting, hospitable culture.}

2, 11/3/16

Japan is super-developed. Almost no nature {to be found}. Farms, well-planned, land intensely used. The world has been dominated. They win. Really get that Takahata theme felt. It seems (appears) that the mountains may sitill have natural areas {Maybe. Or maybe those trees were planted too.}. The farming villages next to mountains are beautiful {in a rustic aesthetic sense}, but completely planned out like Sim City. Capital is planned for. Efficient capital and work. No life. No experience.

Japan, well, Kyushu’s largest festival (Karatse Kunchi [Nagasaki Kunchi too?]) provides the only lively feeling in Japan. Steets closed, kids wander large areas and play. A ton of vendors sell food at stalls. Expensive now, but a glimpse of the past, less developed times – a diferent lifestyle, similar to present Taiwan, or other Southeast Asian markets. {Teenagers and men alike get drunk, equally unable to hold their liquor; A glimpse of the repressed hedonism.}

[todo: worded / recalled differently – X]
Japan’s society is ordered like ants; Taiwan’s allows freedom? Taiwanese people appear to be hippies compared to Japanese people!

Japan planned their economy and followed it obediently. | It worked for commodities (products) for the moment (period of time) in the past, but now, they lack the creativity to excel, which only exists with good, diverse, dense places and a culture that interacts and plays.

Japanese peoples’ bodies move robotically, following straight-forward structure and routine, but what about their minds? They act according to material – capital-rational, but their minds escape through childish images of characters, manga, anime, and digital worlds. It’s a utopia for the body – isn’t that the ideal? Keep the bodies comfortable, through convenience!; But minds keep working, don’t they? They act culturally-economically {group consensus or for capital), not making decisions creatively, or finding different ways to live, rather, following old ideas, and making them a concrete reality.

Taiwan communicates well, but Japan works well – obediently, robotically.

Japan’s work ethic is that of a lone tinkerer, working on ever smaller parts. Their society full of cogs / boxes, a larger one working on smaller ones.

split with Atsushi at Kagoshima harbor

Sleep / nap. feels for [censored name] still linger. Human contact? Atsushi [todo: check name] split, allows me to think beyond destined-travel. This country is too cold to do anything, or feel like doing it. Long daydream of being president, conversation with Jon Stewart, life as president, morals, social development, etc., stars freely go in and out, as do friends.

I need her [ambiguous her]… I just want to live.

Ideas over the past few days:

Sensory deprivation caused by cold and loss of sight via sleeping bag over head inside a tent beneath dreary weather.
– Also leads to depression, oversleep, etc. Just to maintain homeostasis.
– Less sun power to enhance sight.

$ Daydreams as conversation imagined – example: president / Jon Stewart day dream, wedding speeches, etc…. media-oriented, written-oriented can be generalized to sign-oriented – using signs as basis of rational decision-making. Look at nutrition facts, not the food (CaloriMate, coffee, cola zero, cigarettes, alcohol zero, etc.). Look at hitchhiker’s sign, not (not understanding) the thumb. Look at maps, not reality. Look at the phone, not reality. Design on canvases, not {on} reality.
|
Japan designed an efficient society devoid of life.
$ – The material of Japan is designed / developed. So it feels ideal / others ways of life are impossible; though it is just of the mind.
|{?}
[next idea / argument]
Japanese culture is rational through signs, therefore:
$ * It rationalizes toward capitalism, survival, and comfort (when under capitalism).
$ * Money-actions are not creative: it is not creative to buy something, there is an infinite amount of things to do {/ one can do}, and it all starts with communication ({ideas, talking, }games, play too!).

Japan makes me feel capitalistic-rational, ad opposed to communicative-creative, free-rational (of Taiwan).
|
Creativity (communication, education, ideas, information, etc.) pays. Commodities (form, manufacture) really is old money.

Japan is stuck in the 80s / 90s in development, material, social, fashion, ethic, culture, politics, etc.
– They wear business suits without reason, uniforms, work without reason, all old ideas, no thought, only manufacture.

Japan is completely developed. Farms mechanized. People fit to property.

$ Property fixed, deemed (/ pedestaled) by culture [cool argument]; Leads to a fixed society in time and space.
– {Because the culture is so private and exclusive, those with property seem keep and / or gain wealth even more easily: coin laundries, restaurants, hotels, etc. There are probably too many laws and policies for people to start their own businesses to compete, and, furthermore, is probably not even thought of due to cultural reasoning. Since all material on the property is designed by some collective consensus, there is little change to the material world. No gentrification, but no creativity for capitalism either. Just creating capital for survival, not experiences.}

$ Although Taiwan is less developed materially, social organizations [maybe not needed?], healthcare, etc., it is more developed in the mind. It skipped commodity-capital-rational that post-war Japan and Korea had, instead, it relies on service (time spent together: tourism), information, education – because social development is more important than material organization.

Japan’s (culture) repression crosses to sex (porn), drugs (cigarettes and coffee), and probably hard drugs and prostitution. These are used out of addiction / need, not fun / social as in America. They are used to replace social activity – to ease the mind, perhaps to artificially move some brain cells (inhibitors, etc.).

Fukuokan women spent time and money on beauty. Beautiful {in appearance} through daily work. {Ugly in ethical make-up.}

Only [censored name], [censored name], and maybe [censored name] seem normal {to me}.

Mostly mothers with children hitched? me a ride. They care. Have time. Not super work-oriented. Move at the speed of life. In time with life. They care for those that feel cold as they do their children. They are human [something here?], unlike their cold male counter-parts. The male drivers know nothing apart from their specific jobs, barely able to drive, and completely unaware of their surroundings, no care for proximal society {, or even other people}.

Perhaps all of socio-cultural Japan occurs though the internet via written language – jobs, sex, talk, etc. Nothing is physical-oral. And I am only looking at and listening to the physical-oral reality, not caring for written language, therefore it may be impossible for me to understand their mind, decision-making, thought, ideology, education, etc.
– {I was unwilling to read. That’s too boring. Too unsocial.}

Manga / drawing as a way of communicating, because they live so much less, that they must use {simplified} images to convey {a} reality instead of words. They are out of tune with reality [reverses an old thought].

[$ todo: give up rural?]
Creativity / Osaka maybe the way out of this decades old society [/ culture].

Japan is only good as industrial machines – to manufacture / design a working product for comfort, longevity – traits [end goals] of Japanese society.

[The end for now. Look for farms. Then go to Osaka.]

at gas station waiting for hitch to Kumamoto

People who have time, and/or are more human pick me up: elderly (retired?), women (old and young. I feel the young ones often appear to look at my face to see if I am a female), young people (though maybe less have cars, using public transport instead). People who have cars are the suburban capitalists.
|
$ Suburban capitalists destroy the world without awareness (knowing). They were born into via place, time (, nearby culture), in capitalistic country, accumulate capital, waste the world in the process. The countries with wealth organized themselves to be better at gaining capital, but missed on human values (including value for nature).

To wait is to waste life. Suburban capitalists wait, city-goers create {keep creating}.

Japanese cars are shaped like Japanese houses, and the Japanese social structure: boxes, of various sizes, compounded together.

[idea:]
\[$\] Tools for anti-alienation (/ altering human-values / altering human behavior)
$$$ – tool / app for mothers to list / sell cooked food (servings left, cost, ingredients cost, etc.), unused ingredients, minimize food waste, increase human interaction, remove organized food (chain restaurants, {industrialized food products at super markets}, etc.).

By developing, Japan has organized their country to a few food items: ramen, sushi, fried food, etc. It over-uses those ingredients, because capitalism and property has created chain restaurants, super-market industrialized products, vending machines. Developing countries have a better food industry because the ingredients (raw food) has not been industrialized / organized. That explains my love for vegetable markets in Chinatowns {in American cities, Southeast Asia}, and Taiwan: you eat the raw food – no work in-between necessary. Food should not be organized. Eat what your country you live in grows.

another session, perhaps at the coin laundry store near the park

Sleepy, after afternoon nap, woke up at 5pm, feeling it a waste to hitchhike at night, missing the scenic beauty of Japan, but, perhaps worth it for the random experience. Cities and highways are boring anyway: repetitive suburbs, yet, I must see for myself – never know. Perhaps need to travel via Google Maps more. Maybe needed a day’s rest after that long bike ride. Fuck it. Let’s go. Nothing to do here, or at least it feels… Hmmm… can at least hitch out of Kyushu, perhaps Yamaguchi.

travel tips:
Kid’s playgrounds are attached to neighborhood parks and usually have bathrooms. 24-hour coin laundry shops can be found nearby, providing warmth, and maybe even an electrical socket or television.

Only with a bicycle (that I stole for a day) was I able to reach farms, land, non-concrete, with shrines and traditional, old houses that emanated an Yilan feel, cheap / fresh vegetables and ingredients too! {Finally a livable place.}

Hitching local roads at night (11pm–3am, until 8am) was near impossible, {perhaps especially} as a male, dark, non-Japanese. SAs / PAs vary from large sleepy truck stops to a tiny strip mall where few vehicles stop at, trapping hitchhikers on a highway island.

There is no interaction that occurs outside, aside form parks / playgrounds – that is all the “nature” people get in this super-developed world.

The mountains of Japan seem untouched, beautiful nature. Perhaps it is the best place to live?

The rural areas too are developed, unlike Taiwan’s tiny farms, there are large apartment complexes nearby, large greenhouses and farmland bunched together so that people cannot walk through, blocking human interaction / access to nature [for efficiency,] via urban planning. Farms need walkways (dirt!) through them.

Japan is the death of society / Societal death. Society has lots it’s life and exchanging it for longevity, comfort, convenience, health, safety.

It requires non-decision-making {non-thinking} robots to live in Japan (and the suburbs).

All real Japanese films take place at the house because nothing occurs outside of it. Miyazaki and Takohata are the saviors of this drab society, mindlessly destroying itself {yet, their own lives contradict the ones they depict in their films – they are not living on farms, they are sitting in studios in Tokyo etching out more animated films. At least, Miyazaki is.} Keichi shows the drab suburban reality best, with actual modernity as its setting – pachinko parlors, supermarkets, road, and only media {ex. history of trams} as a savior [escape] from it.

[probably written after glancing at a few manga books:]
Manga is still terrible. Narrow. More narrow than Hollywood films… I decided that in 6th grade {thinking of anime on Toonami on Cartoon Network}.

[todo: perhaps written twice]
A nurse said there is no need to learn English. It shows how insular Japanese culture is, and how uncaring for other societies and minds they are. | They are the American suburbs. | They were born into it, organized their lives {and their surroundings} according to it, and know nothing outside of it. A nurse! Does the nurse not care for how nurses act in other societies? Read their biographies?

80s / 90’s fashion in Japan in 2016 is funny. Levis jeans. High heels. Striped shirts. lol. Back to school sale?

– [break]

Maybe Japanese culture is OCD (about organization, cleanliness, health, etc.); It can’t handle disorder, nature, it must conquer it. Taiwan can handle messiness, more broader information via reality – they process information in the present; Japan relies on past, planned information – schedules, {designs}, etc.

Many lonely pangs. Dreams of any girl I’ve met recently – gold digging, gigalo, lots of sex. Japan is socially repressed, so I feel (socially and sexually) repressed too. Manga are probably the daydream and wet dreams of the society.

Lots of thoughts on food industry – and how it affects everything – farms, distribution, transport to supermarket, $ limited organization of food to fit culture, etc. It is vastly better to not organize food into meals – that’s a cultural problem.

I mentioned concrete. “Concrete jungle” should be applied to Japan and South Korea, perhaps moreso than tiny Hong Kong, because these jungles are much larger…

… the ’burbs have taken over all land. Earthquakes and vlocanic eruptions fight through concrete, but the car and road system is constantly repaired ot maintain order {human order, homeostasis of human order}. Here, it is easy to see the nature vs artificial themes of Miyazaki and Takahata films.

Perhaps the society communicated digitally, a digital social world. Nothing much occurs in reality; – How boring! Perhaps they create JRPGs to escape the boring reality of suburbia. They generate in-game capital as opposed to real capital. They don’t understand that they could live in a different way, as they live it through JRPGs / MMORPGs.

Drab.

I want to fuck and get money, like an animal, several times. Gold-dig. Just be a house-husband. That’s all. Take care of her, {her} body and mind, to allow her to efficiently do her work. Surely I can just use some kind of dating site for this? Or try living in a city. Osaka? Taipei? New York?

– [mini-break]
Japan’s social structure (ie) creates a very voyeuristic culture. They peer from within their cars, houses, {to the outside}, and into other’s cars, houses. | They don’t interact verbally, instead, they just look, judge, from appearance, and continue their programmed routine; making them shallow, as they don’t judge by mind.

– [mini-break]
I thought by coming to Japan, I would get to experience a culture that acts more upon reality, physicality. I got it. I just didn’t know that that kind of non-verbal-language-orientation would be so cold. I thought that much could be communicated through reality, actions. But they don’t {even} act! Perhaps, it is because I am not acitng. I need to be aggressive, or at least, just less passive then them. I need to {my normal} outgoing talkative {self}. But I don’t speak their language, nor care much for it. Hmm… I just have to be with them, next to them. No need for intense philosophical conversation, or travel questions. But they’re so {fucking} boring! At least, outside they are. Maybe inside, they are like [censored name] {act differently with people outside and within social relations}…Yeah, I just need to get active again, somehow, despite how being broke excludes me from most places. I need active people. I haven’t met a person similar to an active Taiwanese, or foreign traveler yet. Japan is so dead.

– [TV break]

Japanese people spend their life indoors, and by habit, have made the world feeel merely concrete to indoor places

internet readings

some random reading via Google, all read after the trip. Nothing deep or lengthy.

highlights from internet readings

some thing by Columbia

ROLES IN THE FAMILY

The fact that Japanese fathers in contemporary urban households spend so much time at work, and the company demands on them are so great, means that they often really have very little time or energy to spend with their children, and so not only does the responsibility for raising children, overseeing the education, fall onto the mothers, but fathers themselves are absent, removed, from the children’s lives.
– true. Only the mothers seemed human, and therefore picked me up as I hitchhiked.

COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITY EDUCATION
One of the really interesting paradoxes about Japanese education is that you have a very rigorous, very intense educational system up to getting into college, and these very difficult entrance exams. And once students get into college, oftentimes people joke that college is the four-year vacation in a long and hard educational life. Once you’ve made it into college, you’ve made it to wherever you’re going to get educationally.
– true for Taiwan too, and probably much of Asia. It seems to be the problem of entering an exclusive social group. It’s ugly; They’re ugly.

GROUPS: INSIDE/OUTSIDE
Another important aspect of the way in which social relationships are structured in sort of the day-to-day interactions of people in Japan, is a strong consciousness of in-group versus outside-the-group boundaries. And this gets expressed in all kinds of settings.

Students are very conscious of the school they go to and the class within the school that they’re part of, and that forms sort of a shell, a social shell, that people who are within the shell are expected to interact with one another rather informally and rather intensely, and interact with people outside that shell, or outside that boundary, in a more formal, more distant, perhaps more hierarchical way.

So at schools, in families, there’s a clear distinction between who’s a member of a family and who’s not; in communities, there are clear distinctions between people who belong to the community and people who are outsiders; in companies, a very clear sense of division; in political parties; even in ethnic relations, relationships for example between Japanese and Koreans who live in Japan, the sense of insider versus outsider status.

THE IE AND GROUPS
It’s very difficult to say exactly why Japanese social relations take the form they do. Why are social relations hierarchical, or why is there a strong emphasis on in-group versus outside-the-group interactions? You couldn’t necessarily come up with an historical reason for this, but certainly there are parallels to other sets of social institutions. If you look at the traditional family structure, for example, the so-called ie, as it’s known in Japanese, it is a kind of a family, a kind of a kinship organization which puts a great premium on understanding hierarchy and rank, that every member of a traditional family stands in a very complicated set of relationships with every other member, but they can all be ranked in some kind of a hierarchical form.

So, for example, the eldest son occupies a social role that is quite distinct from a second or a third or a fourth son. The eldest daughter occupies a rank and position that is quite distinct from younger daughters. Certainly fathers and mothers occupy different ranks from their children and so forth. So, it’s a very hierarchically structured social unit, and some people would argue that that’s sort of a template for understanding why hierarchy is such an important part of Japanese social relationships.

In another sense, the fact that the traditional Japanese family system puts this great emphasis on defining sharply the boundaries between people who are members of the extended family and people who are going to have to leave — that is to say people who are going to become non-members in the future — is a social template for this emphasis on in-group, inside-the-boundary membership versus relationships outside or across a boundary to people who are not part of that social group.

CONSENSUS
Consensus is a well known part of Japanese social relationships. It seems, to an outsider at least, as if everything in Japan is decided by this sense of harmony and this sense that everybody has to agree. And there are all kinds of trivial examples that you can come up with, like if you watch a group of Japanese businessmen sitting down for lunch, it’s likely that everybody around the table will order more or less the same dish, and people point to that and say: “A-ha! this is a harmonious society; everything has to be equal.”

And indeed, Japanese talk a lot about how to preserve this sense of equality. One of the ways in which they do this is by making sure that any decision that affects a group as a whole is at least going to be circulated around and discussed amongst all its members. So indeed, Japanese organizations do often appear to have a much higher degree of consensus about policies, about aims, about aspirations, than would be true in an equivalent American group.

On the other hand, it doesn’t mean that Japanese inherently agree with one another, or that there isn’t conflict in society, but rather that conflict is managed within the group, and conflict is negotiated against other demands of personal interaction, personal social relationships. And eventually the goal is to, through conflict and through very carefully managed conflict, to come up with some kind of unified position that everybody can agree with.

from Wikipedia article for Nihonjinron:

Japanese social structures consistently remould human associations in terms of an archaic family or household model (家 ie?) characterized by vertical relations (縦社会 tate-shakai?), clan (氏 uji?), and (foster-)parent-child patterns (親分・子分 oyabun, kobun?). As a result, the individual (個人 kojin?) cannot properly exist, since groupism (集団主義 shūdan-shugi?) will always prevail.

further reading:

Social Concepts in Japan powerpoint by Keio, maybe for new foriegn students

book review of Japanese Society by Chie Nakane

It is advantageous for a man to remain in the group in which he starts his career and move up step by step in the course of time. It is very difficult for him to move from one group to another, because he can rarely succeed in breaking any of the vertical links already established between individuals in the other group.

Japanese organizations regularly suffer from what they call “sectionalism”

There are no successful functional groups built on a coalition or federation of subgroups.

Leave a comment | Categories: Action, Anthropology, Area, Art, Determinism and Free Will, Epistemology, Ethics, Experience, Experience, Humanities, Japan, Metaphysics, Personal, Philosophy, Political Economy, Political Philosophy, Rationalism, Rationality, Social Philosophy, Thoughts, Travel

In Search of a Past Time

23 May 2016

[self-note: this was published using markdown, and is a good for testing it. The original text is in a text file in Dropbox. Can either copy the HTML from the text file using an application (Writebox) or use the WordPress markdown plugin. It seems I may have been playing with the formatting of highlights and notes, using unordered lists (via markdown), which led to some cosmetic updates to the CSS. I don’t know how to write a non-html-list in markdown using “\n- text”. I really sure hope all this messing with digital bullshit will make expressing thoughts easier during more active times in life… This thought has been proceeded to My Workflow for Written Expression.]

[todo: this is a super drafty mess of wanderings exported straight from my phone. It shouldn’t have been published. I’m probably not going to touch this again though. But at least it was fun, and therefore maybe fun for others to wander along too. History is so, uh, unreal. Man, I’m done with history!]

Romantic Periods continued:
Let’s call them ideal [time] periods. Ideal being, an ideal in my mind at least.

Continuing the search for a certain period of time where people created the greatest ethical and political philosophies. A time where people focused on these things. A time where people cared for one another.

contents

As societies urbanized, they needed to figure out as social/political solution, so it came out of necessity of the sudden growing dense areas. That’s the most common sense reason. For politics, and ethics?

Then, it seems, one ethical system bested the others, unifying the cities with benevolence and harmony, resulting in a “peaceful” (no war, but still highly unequal society) golden age, until it became an empire (the most unequal).

But this doesn’t say anything about what’s most important: capital and capitalism in the cities: the motivation of work. The slaves that powered the classical ages and empires.

He argues that credit systems originally developed as means of account long before the advent of coinage, which appeared around 600 BC. Credit can still be seen operating in non-monetary economies. Barter, on the other hand, seems primarily to have been used for limited exchanges between different societies that had infrequent contact and often were in a context of ritualized warfare.

Graeber suggests that economic life originally related to social currencies. These were closely related to routine non-market interactions within a community. This created an “everyday communism” based on mutual expectations and responsibilities among individuals. This type of economy is contrasted with exchange based on formal equality and reciprocity (but not necessarily leading to market relations) and hierarchy. The hierarchies in turn tended to institutionalize inequalities in customs and castes.

  • in line with first to second stage Marxist social development

…The great Axial Age civilizations (800–200 BC) began to use coins to quantify the economic values of portions of what Graeber calls “human economies”. Graeber says these civilizations held a radically different conception of debt and social relations. These were based on the radical incalculability of human life and the constant creation and recreation of social bonds through gifts, marriages, and general sociability. The author postulates the growth of a “military–coinage–slave complex” around this time. These were enforced by mercenary armies that looted cities and cut human beings from their social context to work as slaves in Greece, Rome, and elsewhere. The extreme violence of the period marked by the rise of great empires in China, India, and the Mediterranean was, in this way, connected with the advent of large-scale slavery and the use of coins to pay soldiers. This was combined with obligations to pay taxes in currency: The obligation to pay taxes with money required people to engage in monetary transactions, often with very disadvantageous terms of trade. This typically increased debt and slavery.
Wikipedia, Debt: The First 5000 Years

  • and so capitalism was introduced in the classical age, institutionalized, and at its apex during the empire age. Sounds like Dubai.

Surely after that one must desire some purer ethical treatises to get out of that extreme form of capitalism and violence.

Argh, even in 600BC, one can’t escape capitalism! I’ve spent so much time getting away from it, and even traveling through time, I must go back at least 2600 years. How can one ever escape capitalism? It’s spatially and temporally impossible!

So, anyway, it’s pretty difficult to tell how much capital affected people’s action as opposed to ethics of their philosophies. I’m guessing Confucius China was far less motivated by capital (“profit”) than the Europeans. Bhuddist India too. The influence of philosophies still show in both countries’ contemporary cultures. So, after all, it was the Europeans that were most ruthless, most extreme, the Roman Empire being the apex of ruthlessness, killing for coins, just to make a living.

Anyway, what was I looking for? A certain flourishing period of time? Im not sure. Maybe China’s Han Dynasty is best? They don’t seem to have had a caste system, and likely were more peaceful than Romans, and I read that they were prolific inventors.

Or was I looking for a prolific time where people thought about ways a society can live? I guess there aren’t any other times: around 600BC most of the civilizations created coins. Thus, one must look to other civilizations, precisely at the time when a society begins to urbanize, and better before the invention of coinage

Hmm, I wonder about the geographic view. If urbanization caused people to think of ways to socially organize, was coinage the real solution? (As opposed to ethical precepts.) Then, did other civilizations simply copy that idea (maybe for trade?)? Then, the newly founded social system, capitalism, caused some kind of psychological madness to the point of slave-driving an empire and conquering others (Hi America!)? Then, as a reaction to that madness, people reverted to a morally better religion/ethical precepts?

This shit is crazy. I’m done with history!

Actually, I think was just looking for a period of time where people thought about others, focused on politics and ethics as opposed to [instituinalized, capitalistic] work, not only in the sense of creatively thinking about ways a society can live and govern itself, rather, more simply, just more focused on each other, being aware of one another. [Perhaps I was seeking] The most socially aware period of time [in the development of a society]. An empire, by the definition, is a stage of society that is least socially aware. Perhaps it was indeed before coins were introduced, that people focused on other people, and not coins, or useless wage labour.

Well, I first began to read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius because I wanted to become less aware of social problems. I was hyper-aware, and it was damaging my life. By reading Stoic philosophy, I thought I could be less aware, and it worked a bit. It’s not too bad. What’s bad is knowing that a Roman Emporer did not care for social problems. He wasn’t just unaware, he was decidedly unaware. Like Epictetus, he didn’t let external things bother him, and suggests others shouldn’t. To use one’s mind, free will, to do what they want, but not to grind against society, instead, flow with it naturally. What makes it difficult to digest is that it’s the Roman Empire. He spent much time on the field, battling. Was war simply determinism, fate for him? Stoicism makes sense for the time, to be calm and not be afraid of dying, just as Zen Buddhism made sense, but in contemporary society, it’s a terrible set of ethics.

Then I thought the Second Sophistic was great. Sophists, the artist-educator-senator-public-orating-philosophers, were free, independent [of institutions], debating in the public, talking to Emporers without beauracracy, creating their own schools; a huge part of society. Yet, again, thinking of the history of the Roman Empire, it’s difficult to admire them too. Did they try to socially organize against problems? I guess I’ll know when I read some of Cicero’s speeches.

notes

general time periods:
[Prehistory, ]Archaic periods (Bronze Age), Classical periods (Iron Age), Age of Empires (Iron Age)[, Middle Ages]

Greco-Roman:
Archaic Greece, Classical Greece, Hellenistic Greece, Roman Empire, Holy Roman Empire
|
Seven Sages and Pre-Socratics, atheism/ethical treatises/complex epistemology, early Stoicism and Epicureanism, Stoicism wins, then Christianity wins

India:
Vedic Period, Mahajanapadas, Maurya Empire
|
Brahmin sages, many religions?, [Indian] Buddhism/Jainism wins?

China:
Zhou Dynasty, Warring States (end of Zhou), Imperial China (Qin, Han, etc. Dynasties?)
|
Mandate of Heaven?, every Chinese religion/philosophy, Confucius wins

Japan:
Yayoi, {Kofun, Asuka (most societal changes), Nara}, Heian (golden age and empire)
|
Shinto {Shinto, Bhuddism introduced, both?}, all religions from China, a mix wins?

in general:
archaic, classical, empire
non-sense cosmology, creation of ethical treatises, choice of one ethical treatise (the most humane one, exception: Roman, until it becomes Holy Roman)

geographical (reality) progression:
feudalism/agriculture, urbanization (state/city governor/tyrant), empire (Emporer and their many generals/governors, building of huge trade routes)

highlights and notes from Wikipedia

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_world:

Beginning in the 8th century BCE, the so-called “Axial Age” saw a set of transformative religious and philosophical ideas develop, mostly independently, in many different locations. During the 6th century BCE, Chinese Confucianism,[53][54] Indian Buddhism and Jainism, and Jewish Monotheism all developed. (Karl Jaspers’ Axial Age theory also includes Persian Zoroastrianism on this list, but other scholars dispute Jaspers’ timeline for Zoroastrianism.) In the 5th century BCE Socrates and Plato made significant advances in the development of Ancient Greek philosophy.

In the east, three schools of thought were to dominate Chinese thinking until the modern day. These were Taoism,[55] Legalism[56] and Confucianism.[57] The Confucian tradition, which would attain dominance, looked for political morality not to the force of law but to the power and example of tradition. Confucianism would later spread into the Korean peninsula and toward Japan.

From around 550 BCE, many independent kingdoms and republics known as the Mahajanapadas were established across the subcontinent.

Regional Empires (Age of Empires):
The millennium from 500 BCE to 500 CE saw a series of empires of unprecedented size develop. Well-trained professional armies, unifying ideologies, and advanced bureaucracies created the possibility for emperors to rule over large domains, whose populations could attain numbers upwards of tens of millions of subjects. The great empires depended on military annexation of territory and on the formation of defended settlements to become agricultural centres.[65] The relative peace that the empires brought encouraged international trade, most notably the massive trade routes in the Mediterranean, the maritime trade web in the Indian Ocean, and the Silk Road. In southern Europe, the Greeks (and later the Romans), in an era known as “Classical Antiquity,” established cultures whose practices, laws, and customs are considered the foundation of contemporary western civilization.

  • perhaps ones must look at these empires for some real philosophy (link to second sophists, real philosophy). In the axial age people scrambled and created social structures, such as ethical treatises, to maintain stability (or in the negative: hagemony). In the empires age, people maintained society by the forcing capitalism culture upon others. Hmmm.

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurya_Empire:

Under Chandragupta and his successors, internal and external trade, agriculture and economic activities, all thrived and expanded across India thanks to the creation of a single and efficient system of finance, administration, and security.

  • empire-wide social systems!

After the Kalinga War, the Empire experienced nearly half a century of peace and security under Ashoka. Mauryan India also enjoyed an era of social harmony, religious transformation, and expansion of the sciences and of knowledge. Chandragupta Maurya’s embrace of Jainism increased social and religious renewal and reform across his society, while Ashoka’s embrace of Buddhism has been said to have been the foundation of the reign of social and political peace and non-violence across all of India. Ashoka sponsored the spreading of Buddhist ideals into Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, West Asia[9] and Mediterranean Europe.[3]

  • Jainism is to India as Confucius is to China, a good ethical system promoting harmony

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edicts_of_Ashoka:

These inscriptions proclaim Ashoka’s adherence to the Buddhist philosophy which, as in Hinduism is called dharma, “Law”. The inscriptions show his efforts to develop the Buddhist dharma throughout his kingdom. Although Buddhism and the Gautama Buddha are mentioned, the edicts focus on social and moral precepts rather than specific religious practices or the philosophical dimension of Buddhism.

“Ten years (of reign) having been completed, King Piodasses (one of the titles of Ashoka: Piyadassi or Priyadarsi, “He who is the beloved of the Gods and who regards everyone amiably”) made known (the doctrine of)
Piety (Greek:εὐσέβεια, Eusebeia) to men; and from this moment he has made men more pious, and everything thrives throughout the whole world. And the king abstains from (killing) living beings, and other men and those who (are) huntsmen and fishermen of the king have desisted
from hunting. And if some (were) intemperate, they
have ceased from their intemperance as was in their power; and obedient to their father and mother and to the elders, in opposition to the past also in the future, by so acting on every occasion, they will live betterand more happily.” (Trans. by G. P. Carratelli[4])

  • animal ethics in 200b.c.

Ashoka showed great concern for fairness in the exercise of justice, caution and tolerance in the application of sentences, and regularly pardoned prisoners.

When Ashoka embraced Buddhism in the latter part of his reign, he brought about significant changes in his style of governance, which included providing protection to fauna, and even relinquished the royal hunt. He was perhaps the first ruler in history to advocate conservation measures for wildlife.

However, the edicts of Ashoka reflect more the desire of rulers than actual events; the mention of a 100 ‘panas’ (coins) fine for poaching deer in royal hunting preserves shows that rule-breakers did exist. The legal restrictions conflicted with the practices then freely exercised by the common people in hunting, felling, fishing and setting fires in forests.

  • yeah, but it’s the creation of culture that mattered, not the enforcement of law

Roadside facilities
Along roads I have had banyan trees planted so that they can give shade to animals and men, and I have had mango groves planted. At intervals of eight krosas, I have had wells dug, rest-houses built, and in various places, I have had watering-places made for the use of animals and men. But these are but minor achievements. Such things to make the people happy have been done by former kings. I have done these things for this purpose, that the people might practice the Dhamma. Pilar Edict Nb7 (S. Dhammika)}}

  • urban planning! Making life comfortable.

— (another sitting?)

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Japan:

Between the third century and the eighth century, Japan’s many kingdoms and tribes gradually came to be unified under a centralized government, nominally controlled by the Emperor. The imperial dynasty established at this time continues to reign over Japan to this day.

  • there’s the period, but holy shit, imperial up to this day!?

In 794, a new imperial capital was established at Heian-kyō (modern Kyoto), marking the beginning of the Heian period, which lasted until 1185. The Heian period is considered a golden age of classical Japanese culture. Japanese religious life from this time and onwards was a mix of Buddhism, and native religious practices known as Shinto.

  • and there’s the romantic period of urbanization, religion, ethics of normative society, ethics of recluses, etc.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heian_period

The Heian period (平安時代 Heian jidai?) is the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185.[1] The period is named after the capital city of Heian-kyō, or modern Kyōto. It is the period in Japanese history when Buddhism, Taoism and other Chinese influences were at their height. The Heian period is also considered the peak of the Japanese imperial court and noted for its art, especially poetry and literature.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heian_literature,
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recluse_literature:

The origins of the literary style known as Recluse Literature has roots in the Taoist movement in China, said to date back to the 3rd or 4th century BCE. Like the recluses of Japan, Taoist philosophers such as Zhuangzi and Laozi advocated a casting off of the bonds of society and government, and instead living a life free of obligations and the pressures of urban life. The first Japanese recluse is considered to be Saigyō Hōshi, who worked as a guard to retired Emperor Toba until the age of 22, at which time for reasons unknown he took the vows of a monk and proceeded to live alone for long periods of time. Following the relocation of the capital from Heian (present day Kyoto) to Kamakura, located 50 km south-south-west of Tokyo, many court aristocrats, due mainly to the influence of Jōdo shū or Pure Land Buddhism, became disillusioned with the standards and practices of government and every day life, and instead chose to live on the outskirts of civilization in isolation. The practice of taking the tonsure (becoming a monk) after life in the Imperial court was not entirely new to Japan, but the concept of doing so and completely retreating from secular life into nature, as opposed to the many Buddhist monasteries around the capital, was considered a novel alternative to these newly disillusioned intellectuals. From this isolation, it was common practice for the recluse to focus his efforts on self-reflection, expressed through the arts such as poetry or the writing of zuihitsu-styled essays.

  • transcendentalism/Daoism in Japan

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zuihitsu:

Zuihitsu (随筆?) is a genre of Japanese literature consisting of loosely connected personal essays and fragmented ideas that typically respond to the author’s surroundings.

  • personal essays of reality!

The genre next gained momentum as a respectable form of writing several centuries later in the Kamakura Period. With the depotentiation of the Heian Court and the relocation of the capital to Kamakura, near modern-day Tokyo, many intellectuals, amidst social chaos, grew disillusioned and chose to live in asceticism – a trend that also reflected the growing importance of Pure Land Buddhism. Writing from isolation, these authors reflected on the degeneracy of their contemporaries, whom they considered philistines, in comparison to themselves, as well as general consideration of the impermanence of the material world. Major works from this period include Kamo no Chōmei’s Hōjōki and Yoshida Kenkō’s Tsurezuregusa.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kamakura_period:
– warring, samurai, feudalism, middle ages, zen as reaction, kind of like roman times / stoicism?

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edo_period:

The Edo period (江戸時代 Edo jidai?) or Tokugawa period (徳川時代 Tokugawa jidai?) is the period between 1603 and 1868 in the history of Japan, when Japanese society was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate and the country’s 300 regional daimyo. The period was characterized by economic growth, strict social order, isolationist foreign policies, a stable population, popular enjoyment of arts and culture, recycling of materials, and sustainable forest management. It was a sustainable and self-sufficient society which was based on the principles of complete utilization of finite resources.

  • holy moly, why wasn’t this in my travel guide

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_literature

  • ah, I forget how great Wikipedia is
  • boom, 5th and 4th centuries BC, all of the religions
  • also lol at Aesop’s Fables beating most religions
  • also holy shit at the Classical Greeks writing things way beyond contemporary intelligence while the rest of the world was writing cosmological tales and ethics, except the Chinese, they kept it real, real boring

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Study_of_History

  • lolol, let’s not go that route!

www.goodreads.com/book/show/16057286-the-ellen-meiksins-wood-reader

  • this lady seems to be investigating the period capitalism rises in society for the West, in English farms, apparently, probably after simply noticing when several political theorists came about. There’s a section on precapitalist societies. Maybe should read Debt by Graeber first?

The problem is that all of the books go over how capitalism rises solely for the west. What about every other society? I want to see how capitalism rises in every society. Did it just come by imitation? Also, if coinage came in 600BC, how is that different from capitalism in 1700? To me capitalism is simply the use of currency, not the industrial revolution, or whenever a few control the mean of production.

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism

Capital has existed incipiently on a small scale for centuries,[35] in the form of merchant, renting and lending activities, and occasionally as small-scale industry with some wage labour. Simple commodity exchange, and consequently simple commodity production, which are the initial basis for the growth of capital from trade, have a very long history. The “capitalistic era” according to Karl Marx dates from 16th century merchants and small urban workshops.[36] Marx knew that wage labour existed on a modest scale for centuries before capitalist industry. Early Islam promulgated capitalist economic policies, which migrated to Europe through trade partners from cities such as Venice.[37] Capitalism in its modern form can be traced to the emergence of agrarian capitalism and mercantilism in the Renaissance.[38]

Thus for much of history, capital and commercial trade existed, but it did not lead to industrialisation or dominate the production process of society. That required a set of conditions, including specific technologies of mass production, the ability to independently and privately own and trade in means of production, a class of workers willing to sell their labour power for a living, a legal framework promoting commerce, a physical infrastructure allowing the circulation of goods on a large scale, and security for private accumulation. Many of these conditions do not currently exist in many Third World countries, although there is plenty of capital and labour. Thus, the obstacles for the development of capitalist markets are less technical and more social, cultural and political.

  • makes sense for why Asians can live off of a food stands / booths: the culture allows it — dense settlement and not much law/beauracracy makes it viable. Try setting one up in the suburbs only to lose to a fast food joint.

Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit.[1][2][3] Characteristics central to capitalism include private property, capital accumulation, wage labor, voluntary exchange, a price system, and competitive markets.[4][5] In a capitalist market economy, decision-making and investment is determined by the owners of the factors of production in financial and capital markets, and prices and the distribution of goods are mainly determined by competition in the market.[6][7]

Economists, political economists, and historians have adopted different perspectives in their analyses of capitalism and have recognized various forms of it in practice. These include laissez-faire or free market capitalism, welfare capitalism, and state capitalism. Different forms of capitalism feature varying degrees of free markets, public ownership,[8] obstacles to free competition, and state-sanctioned social policies. The degree of competition in markets, the role of intervention and regulation, and the scope of state ownership vary across different models of capitalism;[9] the extent to which different markets are free, as well as the rules defining private property, are matters of politics and of policy. Most existing capitalist economies are mixed economies, which combine elements of free markets with state intervention, and in some cases, with economic planning.[10]

Capitalism has existed under many forms of government, in many different times, places, and cultures. Following the decline of mercantilism, mixed capitalist systems became dominant in the Western world and continue to spread.

“History of capitalism”

Capital has existed incipiently on a small scale for centuries,[35] in the form of merchant, renting and lending activities, and occasionally as small-scale industry with some wage labour. Simple commodity exchange, and consequently simple commodity production, which are the initial basis for the growth of capital from trade, have a very long history. The “capitalistic era” according to Karl Marx dates from 16th century merchants and small urban workshops.[36] Marx knew that wage labour existed on a modest scale for centuries before capitalist industry. Early Islam promulgated capitalist economic policies, which migrated to Europe through trade partners from cities such as Venice.[37] Capitalism in its modern form can be traced to the emergence of agrarian capitalism and mercantilism in the Renaissance.[38]

Thus for much of history, capital and commercial trade existed, but it did not lead to industrialisation or dominate the production process of society. That required a set of conditions, including specific technologies of mass production, the ability to independently and privately own and trade in means of production, a class of workers willing to sell their labour power for a living, a legal framework promoting commerce, a physical infrastructure allowing the circulation of goods on a large scale, and security for private accumulation. Many of these conditions do not currently exist in many Third World countries, although there is plenty of capital and labour. Thus, the obstacles for the development of capitalist markets are less technical and more social, cultural and political.

“Agrarian capitalism”

The economic foundations of the feudal agricultural system began to shift substantially in 16th-century England; the manorial system had broken down, and land began to become concentrated in the hands of fewer landlords with increasingly large estates. Instead of a serf-based system of labor, workers were increasingly employed as part of a broader and expanding money-based economy. The system put pressure on both landlords and tenants to increase the productivity of agriculture to make profit; the weakened coercive power of the aristocracy to extract peasant surpluses encouraged them to try better methods, and the tenants also had incentive to improve their methods, in order to flourish in an competitive labor market. Terms of rent for land were becoming subject to economic market forces rather than to the previous stagnant system of custom and feudal obligation.[39][40]

  • hmmm that’s one way a society can lead to capitalism. Ouch property rent already?

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahajanapada, “Vamsa/Vatsa”:

Kausambi was a very prosperous city where a large number of millionaire merchants resided. It was the most important entreport of goods and passengers from the north-west and south. Udayana was the ruler of Vatsa in the 6th century BCE, the time of Buddha. He was very powerful, warlike and fond of hunting. Initially king Udayana was opposed to Buddhism but later became a follower of Buddha and made Buddhism the state religion.

  • millionaire merchants? In assets in today’s standard? Surely they didn’t have caves of gold coins, did they? Who’s playing with Wikipedia? But doesn’t that count as capitalism, if they received the money by owning a bunch of slaves as their private means of production?

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On Stoicism

06 May 2016

On Stoicism

After what felt like several years of cold, summer finally arrived in Taiwan, with its beautiful shifts of before the storm weather, bursts of typhoons, and sweltering zero entropy humidity. With it, I began to wake up late, lulling to “Summertime” by Girls, and the rest of that half of the album. With the summer laze, I feel I can relax, be apolitical, do some useless professional work for a high rate of capital. So, I thought, it would be an excellent time to read some Stoicism, especially Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

Here, it seems, I found my childhood’s ethics (Moderate Ethics, Early Ethics, I’m Fortunate). Be responsible, diligent, do your work, focus on work. But I was a child, Marcus was a Roman Emperor. It seems he never grew up out of these childish ethics. He did his work diligently until death. He lived a rather normal life.

Not to be sidetracked by my interest in rhetoric.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Book one’s ethics merely sketches the model of a socially normal, straightforward father: the model of the role he played. To play that role was his goal, the plan, for him, and then by him.

That I wasn’t more talented in rhetoric or poetry, or other areas. If I’d felt that I was making better progress I might never have given them up.

He avoided the difficulties of academic philosophy, granted he was reared to become an Emperor. He avoided thinking deeply. He didn’t think of the problems of philosophy, mind (psychology), humans (anthropology), society (social philosophy, political philosophy). By avoiding it all, he lacked critical thinking in these areas.

He also avoided art, in the education from it, and the process of creating it. His communication was restricted to human languages: rhetoric.

That whenever I felt like helping someone who was short of money, or otherwise in need, I never had to be told that I had no resources to do it with. And that I was never put in that position myself—of having to take something from someone else.

He never experienced what it is to be someone else, poor, a slave, in a different place, excluded, etc. He probably didn’t think deeply of these problems either; It’s against his principles. Therefore, his view of societies and individuals was very limited.

If my childhood ethics match his, then perhaps he too didn’t experience or concieve what it would be like to be raised and live in other societies and their cultures. He kept the same role, job, class, but physically moved for work purposes. It almost sounds like the ethics of a good suburban child, which makes it seem as if he derived much of his philosophy within the walls of his isolated cozy dwelling, which contradicts the reality of an Emporer’s life.

His ethics are shallow. His cherished traits avoid the discovery of knowledge (of humans and natural science), art, design, and technology. Therefore, he is merely reduced to an interlocutor with good rhetoric and socially normal ethics. This may have worked for the role of an Emporer, but it doesn’t work for a society (easily apparent for Ancient Greece, with its many philosophers, artists, and formal and natural scientists).

Stoicism in Taiwan

It seems the culture of Taiwan have many characteristics of Stoicism embedded [into it]. Perhaps there is some overlap between Confucius ethics and Stoicism. The culture still reads Ancient Greek philosophy as part of their early and late education. The country lacks contemporary forms of art (entirely: in education, museums, and the hippest art districts); their medium is mostly the Chinese language and physical crafts (which is basically the only forms in the history of Chinese art). The culture restricts people from expressing themselves, prioritizing responsibility (or benevolence?). The culture doesn’t understand the process of creativity, throwing diverse people and ideas together in the same space, thinking, expressing, out of passion, out of intrinsic desire, altering society. There have never been any great artists (three exceptional filmmakers, also art here being a very limited definition), philosophers (according to the West), designers, or inventors from the country.

The same contradictions of Stoicism exist in Taiwan’s culture: they work diligently without questioning why. There isn’t deep thought into social philosophical problems. This allows capitalism to nearly freely determine the lives of the people. They work diligently for capital without questioning why. Work is work, and life is so. Perhaps it’s hard, but what can be done? That is the ideology. An ideology which contains stoicism.

There are no passions to do more, to create, to consume crazily for gestalts, to think independently, to go out and dance all night, to make games all day, to analyze deeply of social or cultural problems, to desire social or cultural change, to innovate to solve social or urban or environmental problems, to engage in dialectic with institutions internationally to cooperate academically, to obstruct society or individuals in any way, to engage in any kind of serious conversation with other individuals.

Thus, all there is to do in the culture is to live a Stoic’s life: to live “responsibly”, work, consume (increased by capitalism), have shallow experiences (because aesthetics have not developed), shallowly understand others (and make huge generalizations of entire races and countries), yet be kind toward all, living unexamined lives.

It [stoicism] creates a society that is unartful, dispassionate, uncritical, apolitical, uniform.

A Note

Though I am critical of Book 1 of Meditations and of Marcus, these are only a few selected highlights which I wanted to focus on and argue against. I actually think there are a ton of good or interesting things said in the book. I just had to get this bit out of my mind before I continued.

It seems, thus far, though Marcus wrote well of Stoic ethics, Epictetus (and probably Seneca too) reaches much deeper in philosophy.

This website provides good info for translations, and a good introduction book.

Selected Highlights and Notes on Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Book 1:

To do my own work, mind my own business, and have no time for slanderers.

To practice philosophy, and to study with Baccheius, and then with Tandasis and Marcianus. To write dialogues as a student. To choose the Greek lifestyle—the camp-bed and the cloak.

– No sports, focus on philosophy! Also, writing dialogues seems like a good method of learning. And, having a camp bed, to allow the body to live simply, is great. The cloak, I’m guessing refers to war, which in the context of time, is also a great decision, and really must have shaped their body, attunning them to reality. Of this last bit, I feel related to my desire for nomadism, to avoid sedentarism.

Not to be sidetracked by my interest in rhetoric.

– *** Avoid abstract philosophy, stick to reality, action, practical philosophy. Practice, not academic philosophy

Independence and unvarying reliability

– ***

pay attention to nothing, no matter how fleetingly, except the logos

– *****

And for introducing me to Epictetus’s lectures—and loaning me his own copy.

– Mmm, Epictetus book of lectures, maybe includes the enchiridion!

What it means to live as nature requires

– and later again, That I was shown clearly and often what it would be like to live as nature requires
– Second time mentioned this. I guess it’s just stoicism from earlier stoics.

…the principles we ought to live by.

– Should humans have principles?***** It seems to me Marcus took a set of principles, ethics, to live by, but is it possible that such a set could be successful? Doesn’t life require different sets for different goals? To experience different states of minds. I don’t think any stoic would make a good artist, or many other personalities. They are a narrow set of personalities made for the Senate.

His ability to get along with everyone.

– *** Reminds me of Ivar. Getting along with everyone is different from being everyone, or another. There is still a class difference. One can get along with a slave, but to do nothing about the fact slavery exists is wrong.

To recognize the malice, cunning, and hypocrisy that power produces…

– Sneaky power tricks of upper classes

…the peculiar ruthlessness often shown by people from “good families.”

– Mmm, corrupted upper class

Not to be constantly telling people (or writing them) that I’m too busy, unless I really am.

– ***** very important. I think Taiwan’s culture is good with it. But with such small deeds, could one ever specialize knowledge? And change society through discovery or technology?

Similarly, not to be always ducking my responsibilities to the people around me because of “pressing business.”

– ***** Responsibilities to the people around. Sounds like a spatial thing there. But yes, perhaps being responsible is another stoic standard. But, did he ever think of why he was responsible for them? Does he not think of what other groups of people or societies are responsible of? Is he simply a completely digiligeny socially normal person?

…conceived of a society of equal laws, governed by equality of status and of speech, and of rulers who respect the liberty of their subjects above all else.

– ***** this is beautifully simple

Doing your job without whining.

– Slave-like thought, if the job I’d actually harmful to society, or useless

…his advance planning (well in advance)

– ***** as opposed to desiring socio-political change now, slow change for the slaves

That I wasn’t more talented in rhetoric or poetry, or other areas. If I’d felt that I was making better progress I might never have given them up.

– *****Neither a politician or an artist

That whenever I felt like helping someone who was short of money, or otherwise in need, I never had to be told that I had no resources to do it with. And that I was never put in that position myself—of having to take something from someone else.

– Fortunate in capital too, no experience of being excluded or poor

That when I became interested in philosophy I didn’t fall into the hands of charlatans, and didn’t get bogged down in writing treatises, or become absorbed by logic-chopping, or preoccupied with physics.

– Not science, not philosophy treatise, not minute logic. Just the practical bits that can be applied to life: notably, ethics.
— (end of Book 1 selected notes and their highlights)

[todo: possible quotes:

The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and the active relationship between cosmic determinism and human freedom, and the belief that it is virtuous to maintain a will (called prohairesis) that is in accord with nature.
– Wikipedia, Stoicism

According to Stoic ethical theory, the stage in which a human being merely keeps himself alive leads to the stage in which he chooses the good and rejects the bad; this leads to the exercise of choice out of a sense of duty of which he is not fully conscious. The fourth stage is the state of continuously making the correct choice. The final stage of ethical development sees the individual abstracting from experience and forming general ideas about good and evil. This results in an understanding of the natural order of the cosmos to which choices are to be made to conform. In other words, he sees the harmony of the Whole, which is the good, because the harmony is nature. He then chooses to conform to the harmonious Whole, being fully conscious of its nature through abstraction.

]

Leave a comment | Categories: Area, Art, Essays, Ethics, Experience, Humanities, Literature, Personal, Philosophy, Social Philosophy, Taiwan, Travel

Capitalistic Behavior

19 April 2016

[todo: this might become my largest post, which may involve my experience in each society (from childhood to now), my desire to reverse it, and perhaps use Marx’s Capital to continue thinking about it.]

“What is the point of mentioning the word profit1?”
Mencius, Mencius, first sentence

When one physically sees the masses that move across streets in large cities — New York, Seoul, Taipei, and especially Tokyo — one wonders, why are they walking to their destination? Are they thinking? Are they human, or zombies? Is their mind separated from their body? Must one use music to stop thinking in order to move the body?

“Gotta get up, gotta get out, gotta get home before the morning comes
What if I’m late, gotta big date, gotta get home before the sun comes up
Up and away, got a big day, sorry can’t stay, I gotta run, run, yeah
Gotta get home, pick up the phone, I gotta let the people know I’m gonna be late”
Harry Nilsson, “Gotta Get Up”

The body needs to be somewhere at a certain time. But with current technology, is it necessary for many jobs? Why not simply communicate through digital means?

[Singapore and Hong Kong: Asia’s businesses cities. Let’s not talk about them please. I could only stand half a day in Singapore, and I was happy to purchase a flight out of Hong Kong as soon as possible.]

In Seoul, one really gets a strong sense of capitalistic behavior. That, the economic system is almost in entire control of the society. That nobody is thinking about their actions. The entire society blindly follows what capital wants. If capital wants technology, that is what they will give it (hence the economic boom). Capitalism determines the actions of all its citizens from professional business to art to everyday life. The way shopping malls (thinking of Rick Roderick’s Philosophy and Human Values) determine where people go and what they buy, the entire city is planned to control Seoulites position and advertise their feeble minds to purchase commodities. A good dungeon master or game developer could easily create the material structure and rules for them to follow. (Unfortunately, the masters are boring, rich capitalists.) Capitalism determines their place in society. If capital values exchange-value, that is what society values. A higher salary actually is valued in this society. Go figure.

In Tokyo, the capitalistic behavior pervades, but perhaps is weaker in some parts. Of work, it is the same as Seoul: the old bergousie wealth culture, mannerism still exist. But it doesn’t extend to entertainment, or their everyday life after work. They have unique arts, though, itself extremely insular. When they have free time, they don’t go to malls (well, many do), but they might actually go home and play some video games, or actually go to a park.

In Taiwan, the capitalist behavior is the weakest [of East Asia], hence the lack of economic boom. Somewhere in the culture (Confucius?, benevolence is prioritized over ‘profit’?) having an experience (a la Dewey) at a good price is prioritized. Every experience is calculated, from snacks to flights. Thus, perhaps, going to Thailand is better than going to a developed country, because there is more experience in Thailand. Maximizing experience is the categorical imperative. Strive to make every action a social experience. Try anything. Nothing is looked down upon, instead people cheer you on (加油). It doesn’t matter what the direction is, therefore, capital does not affect their actions; It doesn’t matter if an action generates capital or not; Just do it for the experience. Go on, try (试试看) riding a skateboard, or hunting wild boars with aboriginals. Who cares. If one fails (which is pathetically often the case), oh well. It was worth trying; It was worth the experience of trying. If one runs out of capital, well, one must work (工作) for it, it’s one’s duty (负责). Playtime (玩) is over. But surely after work, maybe even during work, and after saving a little, one can play again. Thus, capital here is merely something needed in order to try things, to take actions in desired, natural directions. Those directions could be to have an experience (try something new: food, travel, art), urbanize a comfortable place, or volunteer to try to do good (热情) for one’s society. Capitalism limits behavior, but only for the time necessary to earn capital.

[todo: America.

three parts? VA, SF, and NY?

[applies to all] Work and play. Work hard, play hard. Life is separated from work. Work is completely alienated. One goes into some work zone, physical and mental, then comes out 8 hours later, then proceeds to a social space, a bar, a cafe, an event, home, etc, to not think about work again. Because the wages are so high, benevolent thoughts, politics, society, are not thought of. One doesn’t need to think about how to create a better society, because one is already surviving quite well off.

In Virginia, the suburbs of which I’ve come from, corporations have nearly defeated all small businesses and replaced them with superstores which contain a million commodities, which makes it impossible to imagine the labor that went behind it all. Industrialization is in full force in the suburbs. Cashiers are automated now. So is security. Go on, get your manufactured milk and cereal and check ’em out yourself!

The work in Virginia is either corporate or government, the latter, having a large military presence. Do the engineering for some part of some battleship or spacecraft or secret intelligence program. They’re huge enterprises, and the work is a tiny cog (todo: link to Helplessness Blues). My school spit out cogs for SPAWAR, NAVSEA, NASA, and DARPA. But somehow, no student saw the simple ends: war, wasting capital toward positive science, and building an Orwellian society. That’s the American education. Hurray science! Use a STEM-pack. Ah yeah, that’s the stuff!

SF, see Silicon Valley and Capitalism.

NY?]

[todo: every other society I’ve experienced]

[very much related to my posts on criticism of capitalism.]

1. profit – the Confucius definition seems to be to gain, but usually in the context of gaining as an end, which goes against the categorical imperative of benevolence

possible things to read:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture_of_capitalism

Leave a comment | Categories: Determinism and Free Will, Ethics, Experience, Humanities, Japan, Metaphysics, Personal, Philosophy, Psychology, Social Philosophy, South Korea, Taiwan, Travel

Time and Space in Anthropology

19 December 2015

[todo: kind of messy, but I think I got out the main ideas: comp lit / phil, the impossibility of mirror of reality, emphasis on time instead of space, should look at past pictures that I took to understand the world {mmmm, this is a good idea that I didn’t mention. Should look at pictures to remember one’s personal past as opposed to reading history one hasn’t experienced, or even experiencing more things. There’s much to understand from past experiences.}, should live in a city, or, take a scooter around.]

I’ve been moving around since I received a bicycle at age 4, and since at least then it seems, compared to others, I’ve always emphasized space over time. Contrary to me, people who write books don’t seem to travel much (probably reading and writing so much) and emphasize time, looking back in history. As a person who enjoys traveling and doesn’t enjoy reading, I’ve tended to disregard writers, many of whom maybe be classified as academics, and time.

As travel is more natural to me, so is comparing societies and the areas they exist in.

Academics seem to tend to look at societies historically, to gain ideas that worked in the past and reuse them for the future, or see compare the trajectories of societies in the past, but isn’t it easier to simply walk around one’s own country — from rural to urban, variously sized settlements, ethnic enclaves, and perhaps, to neighboring countries — to not just gain ideas, but a better understanding of the world?

One of the simplest and greatest learning experiences is simply going to the most developed city one can. One will immediately experience good urban planning, good neighborhoods, good creative and innovative environments, and good communities.

The next great experience is to travel from a good creative area to nature, experiencing all of the steps in the development of societies in-between — the entire spectrum of urban development. Though, I wouldn’t say the spectrum of human development. This experience is especially useful in a society under a capitalistic system, because capitalistic cities are so corrupt, and better values can be found outside of it, often, just outside of it.

What next? Travel more societies? Live in one of the past societies? [todo]

I always feel that one is able to have infinite experiences with the many societies that exist right now, at this time. Instead of looking at history, one could simply find some aboriginal tribes. Even just outside of the cities in Virginia, USA, where I’m from, one can probably find people living on a similar standard to aboriginals. The difference here is only the import of manufactured products, though, it’s quite difficult to evade global capitalism even in the most remote regions.

Hmm, I guess what I was getting at is that reading histories of societies cannot replace experience in contemporary societies, for the same reasons a book cannot replace an experience — it’s not holistic; It’s missing the ecology.

There is no way to mirror reality into the medium, though, film comes close. So reading histories will always be missing much information. The mind cannot form the precision that reality offers from media.

[todo: was trying to get to the point where the mind thinks with recent audio-visual experiences best, because the detail of it only constrained by the mind]

It seems higher order academic disciplines compare academic disciplines and hopefully by now more modern medias, titling it “comparative [subject]”, i.e. comparative literature, comparative history, etc. This discipline also seems to somehow overlap with my favorite direction: critical theory. The people who compare medias sometimes find light in their comparisons of societies at different times in history, i.e. Foucault’s findings of how institutions have developed over time.

That’s not how I think, and maybe, it’s not natural to think that way. I think about my personal experiences in societies, travel or living. How do the suburbs in Virginia compare to the city of San Francisco, San Francisco to New York, New York to other cities in the world, Singapore to Hong Kong, the culture of Korea to Japan, the culture of Taiwan to Nepal, the culture of Taiwan aborigines to the culture of Zomia, Taipei to Japan, the other cities in Taiwan to other huge cities, the slums in India to the Myanmar refugee camps in Thailand, the railway and railway towns of Asia, and so on. I just don’t think any amount of media can overcome the natural tendency to compare real experiences to real experiences. Certainly not in reading. Film has a chance, but it would have to be done in the form of lengthy documentaries.

So here again, I grind against academia and their use of a mirror of reality, as opposed to reality, to excavate knowledge and ideas. History is one way to compare societies, but it should be far less privileged than travel. I’d conjecture that academia’s tradition of privileging classics and privileging writing a medium has lead to academia privileging time over space. It’s true that global capitalism is eating away at all culture, but it hasn’t come to the point where one must look to the past through mediums for insight. The insight is in existing societies, in reality, and always will be, well, until the world loses to global capitalism.

Leave a comment | Categories: Anthropology, Experience, Humanities, Media, Personal, Philosophy, Philosophy of Education, Philosophy of History, Philosophy of Social Science, Social Philosophy, Thoughts, Travel

The Ideology of Taiwan

09 May 2015

[TODO: mind dump part 1:]

In the past I’ve professed many characteristics of Taiwan that I enjoy, and even would want in an ideal society: Taiwan: First Impressions, Taiwan and Japan: Active and Passive lifestyles, Autonomy of Taiwan.

Poke some questions at a Taiwanese person and one will quickly come to the conclusion that Taiwan lacks ideology. Ask them their identity, what they’ve done, are doing, and want to do, what they like and don’t, the common response is “I don’t know”. But watch for a moment and their ideology comes to view, like cute ants they create incredibly cute mounds for everyone to live in, high quality tools for everyone to use, and still have a soft spot for their traditions: old and new.

Positive Facade

Everything is done with a seemingly positive attitude, so it’s quite difficult to see the struggle. During the protests, their struggle expressed itself in the least forceful ways: sunflowers, posters, decorative arts, and sit-ins. Again, ask them how they feel about the protest and the common answer is “The government is bad. I don’t know what to do. Taiwan is always struggling.” with a cute angry face.

Another example of this positive facade: it is common to see people happily working, yet once one reads their Facebook posts, their journals, their LINE messages, struggle appears in the form of sad emoticons from LINE, FB cat emoticons, and short writings.

Why the positive facade? Why not simply directly express negative feelings? Was negative expression punished and rid of during education? Frowned upon (should endure)? Is this simply a cultural difference in negative expression?

When a positive facade is created in society, perhaps it becomes more difficult to express negatively, simply because it is against the norm. The resulting conflict being a positive facade opposing another positive facade.

This seems to be the case in employee-employer relationships. Both work seemingly happy, but force exists, and in covert messages unhappiness exists.

The unhappiness doesn’t seem to stem from working, but rather, working for another person. Whenever one encounters an individual worker, say a street food cart worker, or a small school teacher, they seem to have to no qualms. It is a happier choice to have one’s own business in a less developed area than to work for another in a more developed one. (And I agree!)

[Even the slightest force is avoided. An aversion to force.]

Cute and Happy World

The cute and happy aesthetic even manifests itself in material: cute advertisements, products, applications, fashion, shoe-gazing music. Perhaps the same can be said for Japan. It creates an incredibly safe environment for all ages. One may feel quite difficult to find anything remotely socially bad in even Taiwan’s largest city.

The happiness of the people and material makes seeing the problems in society, consciously thinking about them, ever more difficult. This may be my largest criticism against Taiwanese society. So although there is plentiful cuteness in food stands, pet stores, foreigners, and any new product, worthy of several photos to the social norm, few seem to see the butcher of animals, the tiny cages pets live in, whatever awful things foreigners often do, and the factories in which the products are made.

The Cute Impulse

The response to cute aesthetic is a savage impulse. Like reacting happily to eating of tasty food or watching a cat video, it requires no rational. It is a an impulse, a feeling. And in this way, Taiwanese society seems to often react impulsively.

Technology has exasperated this problem. LINE is Facebook, Instagram, Vine, voice-messaging, maybe even Skype, all-in-one. Feelings are expressed in emoticons. Messages are shorter than twitter messages. The sublime is captured by phone cameras. Action is taken without waiting.

If it Works, Integrate it

[Action without thought. Buying things at 7-11, McDonalds, without thought of consequence. Whatever works, the society will integrate it. Hostels work? Build hostels. Tea, snack shops, cafes work? Build them! Too many in Taipei? Develop the rest of Taiwan!]

They have a knack for creating hospitable places, have high regards for health.

Good design.

Leave a comment | Categories: Social Philosophy, Taiwan, Thoughts, Travel

The Infinite Amount of Information of the City

11 January 2015

A digression from the end of The Limits of my Language.

When I think of New York City. I think of an infinite amount of information that I actually have, of ethnic enclaves, buildings, waterways, shops, streets, people, interactions, technology, places of art, places of education, districts, and so on.

Just walking through it is enough.

I think about how I could live in Sunset Park, a Chinatown. How Chinatowns are developed autonomously by Chinese immigrants. How hipsters use the low cost of living to start businesses and studios on a nearby street. How the Chinese parents came here to provide an education for their children. Their children enjoying the knowledge of New York, while satisfied with the simple pleasure of eating Korean fried chicken.

I think about the millions of useless jobs, especially related to government (and those that Veblen said: religion, sports, education). How that money is paid by imperialistic wars.

I think about the millions of immigrants working long hours at restaurants and lower paid jobs to merely pay for rent, the concept of which seems feudal.

I watch a homeless Asian lady live off of the plastic bottles she snatches from trash cans [for non-recycables], and think of the culture that built such a humble nature. Her belongings in her cart. Her routes determined by experience. Her home under the bridge with the rest.

Hipsters in Williamsburg create commercial works for companies for big money, and to feed their creativity. The Financial district, a ghost town except during lunch.

The Orthodox Jews and their families between Williamsburg and Bedford. Very familial, traditional. Their synagogue reminds me of my childhood temple.

The artists that know all of this, trying to better society, but can only react to all this external stimuli by making art outside of the institutions, and for the most part, the city.

This is only a bit of what I think of now, being away for five months. A page can’t describe a city. I think of a lot more once I’m in it. Yet even when I’m in it, it’s still impossible to describe it.

To describe New York, one would need to understand all of the people in it, their cultures and history, the history of the city itself, the government, American culture, all up to its current state.

Some people organize the knowledge into small subjects. Some people make art that reflects it, which allows other people to gain knowledge from it.

Jane Jacobs wrote some urban planning ideas about her experience in New York. But even to write ideas about urban planning, one must know of the people in it, and their cultures, and their traditional ways of living.

All we can do is observe, gain a bit more knowledge, and act upon it, or not.

Leave a comment | Categories: Mind and Matter, New York, Philosophy

Survival and Self-expression

15 December 2014

[just finishing and publishing old drafts]

Animals try to survive. Once survival is easy enough, they try to create.

In some societies, survival is life (developing countries), in others, it is given (developed countries, at least agriculture).

If one believes in materialism, and moves to the other, will that person adapt to the other values? Meaning, can people’s values adjust from self-expression to survival and back?

When a middle class person from a place with self-expression values goes to a place of survival values for a long period of time, it’s quite possible for the person’s mind to change. For example, when people go to the army. They experience severe depression and are sometimes unable to adjust back.

When a young person from a place with survival values goes to a place with self-expression value, they seem to have a appreciation for both. I’ve encountered a lot of great kids throughout Asian cities with creativity. They create, but many use their creativity to do good toward society, as opposed to more capitalistic reasons.

When an old person from a place with survival values goes to a place with self-expression value, say Asian immigrants, it’s rare they show much self-expression. They simply provide security for family and life. If money is left, it goes to comfort. No further thought is put into it. I still have no idea what elderly successful Asian Americans do.

continued on 9/9/15:
…Accumulate capital?

When an old person goes from a place with self-expression values goes to a place with survival values, say exile, do they have the flexibility to adapt to survive again? Well, I guess the change of habits to survive will happen quite soon as one needs water and food. But I believe I was thinking of developing countries, not dying. Will a complex businessman do simple craft work? With the factor of time lived practicing one lifestyle, what is the general equation for human minds to alter their ideology?

When a young person goes from a place with self-expression values goes to a place with survival values, they similarly seem to develop an appreciation for both. They try to direct their past self-expression values for the good of society. The good travelers I met from developed countries seem to embody this.

Perhaps the goal is to balance both; Creatively increase survival.

This may have been thought after reading a Wikipedia article of the World Values Survey.

Leave a comment | Categories: Psychology, Social Philosophy, Travel

Nuclear Families and Communities

05 December 2014

In a past post I described Taiwan as active and Japan as inactive:

An active life, that is, one is constantly making decisions before taking action. One thinks to call a friend, cook something, go to a park, embark an adventure, not because they were told to, but because one decided themselves to do so.

The narrow passive consumption of Japan is more akin to the suburbs. One consumes the media around them or computer (although the computer is a more interactive form of consumption). The only new stimuli is media (if they chose a new one) and the social experience with people of whom they already have a relationship with (if they even created new relationships outside the ones they were born into i.e. their family).

I would stereotype the two countries’ societies as so: Taiwan is the social island nation where the people are always friendly and happy; Japan is the dsytopian future where media and machines replaced human interaction.

In another view, I feel that they have opposite social conceptions of community. I feel that Taiwan is a community and that Japan is a bunch of nuclear families (or, in the case of cities, single households).

In Taiwan, there are a few kinds of housing options: single without bathroom, single inclusive (suite), shared apartment, and entire apartment. The single rooms are often connected, and sometimes the people know each other, especially if it’s near a school.

I imagine it’s similar for Japan.

In American cities, people tend to live together in two to four bedroom apartments, or even a house.

Though Taiwan and Japan have similar housing, it feels as if there’s less time spent in a Taiwanese household. The people are out, day and night. Perhaps thanks to the street culture.

In Japan, it feels more common to go home. There’s even formalities of entering and exiting a home. A home feels like a really important part of their culture. They buy groceries (which are almost as expensive as a meal outside) and cook food for themselves or their household, which may contain a nuclear family (or mate). They eat at home. They have a library of media at home — bookcases full of manga, DVDs, and games.

Because more time is spent in the household, experience becomes limited to it. Experience is constricted to the social relationships in the home, media, and now, the internet.

I’ve personally always been a kind of street kid. It seems that Japanese culture doesn’t work for street kids. People go to a library (or cafe) to take a book home, not to read at the library. There’s less communal areas, less public spaces, because there’s a less need of them.

In a country of nuclear families, media increases in power as a means of communication. Contrarily, public communication, solidarity required to take mass action, decreases in chance. It’s the suburbs effect. Except in the case of Japan, it includes the cities.

This thought was raised after spending a day with a nuclear family. The people only talked of food. The leisure time to think and talk about it is a privilege that no one can see. The time one could spend thinking of others (outside of the nuclear family) was thought about a few times, but never lead to action.

I always face a tension when coming into relationship: how much time should be spent on relationships, and how much should be spent on others.

I feel Japanese people spend more time on relationships, and emphasize the importance of them greatly through parenting, culture (especially rituals), and it permeates to work relationships. Being a part of society means having relationships. Being outside of society is viewed as extremely bad. In this view, bums should not be cared or helped for, because they chose to be outside of society.

Though Taiwanese people spend a lot of time on relationships, it seems there’s less emphasis. One could be a part of the society without many. Outsiders are welcome. All people are cared and helped for. One could be invited to eat a meal with another social group, even a nuclear family. The outsider isn’t seen as such, it’s another person, another part of the community.

In this post I use Taiwan and Japan. In another view, Taiwan could represent a city and Japan the suburbs. In another, Taiwan represents traditional societies (Nepal, small towns) and Japan modern (most developed countries). I feel the vital, simple difference in society this: one is aggregate of communities, the other is a community of communities.

[todo: can extend with thoughts about living in a nuclear household compared to a larger household, care for elderly, care youth, etc.]

Leave a comment | Categories: Japan, Social Philosophy, Taiwan, Thoughts, Urban Philosophy

New York and Taiwan

04 December 2014

aka In Praise of Taiwan

[todo: way too long, accumulates several ideas, need to clean up.]

When one is away from their home, forced to be in a place they don’t want be in, one becomes homesick.

An artist’s home often isn’t just a dwelling. It’s a community, which could be in the form of a group of people, a city, a country, or even the world. It’s a place where one feels the urge to take action. The artist belongs in an active place, and desires it, though breaks may be needed (or breakdowns if one fails to take a break).

Now, away from a home and in isolation for nearly half a year, I can hear two: New York and Taiwan.

Since my stays in both of them, they’ve been on my mind, as a place I tell myself that I’m going to come back to.

From personal experience, I know the environment affects me greatly. Whether that’s a lack of willpower or responsibilities doesn’t matter. It affects my social construction of the world and what I do — for work and art. Therefore, the choice in environment is the greatest.

In Searching for the Greatest Environment Ethics, I came to the conclusion that:

A single small community is exclusive (the reason for my apathy of college towns). The community must be inclusive. A community of communities, including public interaction — a city, or even a country.

An inclusive city or country is better than an exclusive institution.

In Philosophy from Media versus Life; New York versus the World I questioned:

Does America consume more media than the rest of the world? Especially compared to social nations such as those in South East Asia and Taiwan?

I don’t think so. Taiwanese people consume a lot of media too. But the way they consume it is different. They do it while living a very lively life, and use their phones to watch television or movies. I’ve only seen old people sit at home and watch television. This contrasts greatly with the suburbs, where media is consumed solely.

All one needs is a few good relationships, creative ones, and both would work.

Now I begin to question this, is a few good relationships really enough to make up for the deficit of good characteristics of the environment?

From Public Places:

In East Asia, it didn’t matter where I slept; There’s no crime there. I’d sleep when I was tired, or at a friend’s house, or at a park. It cut commute time.

In Taiwan, it didn’t matter where I ate. The food was cheap enough to eat anywhere. There was no reason to go home. I could eat, sleep, work, anywhere. Absolute freedom.

Though I feel quite confident in nearly every part of the world, there is a bit more freedom felt when crime does not exist. As a night person who enjoys the company of people awake at night, or just strolling around at night, this is much appreciated. It enables me to stay active day and night, regardless of when I am awake.

Though I could live with a box of cereal and some fresh fruit in my backpack, the prevalence of cheap food allows me to worry about one less thing. And this thing is important as it’s required for survival. It being delicious and healthy are extra.

Public Places as a Savior from Commoditization:
Public places in cities I think are closely associated to freedom. The sense of freedom gets lost in social norms of the artificial. People are conditioned to sleep at home, cook and eat at home, work in offices, and work more at home or at a cafe, leaving bars as the only place to socialize. This is the result of commoditization, people feel (and often do) that they have to pay to use a computer, pay to rent a book or dvd, pay to sleep, pay a cafe to use the internet, pay to park, pay to sleep, pay to travel, pay to pitch a tent, pay to drink water, pay to wash clothes. Without a healthy street life, worse, in the suburbs, it’s possible that people live without knowing they could actually meet friends at a park, have a barbecue, and enjoy.

Though I’ve become quite resistant toward commodities and an adherant of minimalism ethics, I fear that over time that it may be possible to recondition my mind toward more capitalistic behavior.

During my short time in New York, just by following the belief of not eating out alienated me of several chances of social interaction.

I neither wanted to be inside of a building in front of a screen or inside another building paying for something to do something. I just spent the time in the public, talking, thinking of ideas based on time in the public. And they were some of my best ideas, I felt. It was just a simple matter of thinking of design philosophy and walking around.

The law of America felt restraining too. I watched bums gets kicked out of parks. And it showed too, in the ways people acted in society. Not just refraining from doing unlawful things, but in taking several extra unnecessary actions in daily life (todo: see if i can find examples in thoughts).

I usually feel the freedom of New York only half of the time. Sometimes I feel I could takeover any abandoned building in New York and run an event there. Other times I feel pushed constrained by society to into a tiny space to make something on a computer, which leads to a huge problem.

There is no free wifi in New York. Its age is showing. I don’t think modern architecture can be blamed there. Also, there aren’t any outlets. One has to rely on commodity.*

A lot of my negative thoughts of New York are based on my visit after traveling, which is kind of unfair. Even worse, I spent quite a bit of time on Manhattan because the school is there. It was quite a suffocating experience. When I used to live in Brooklyn, things seemed much peachier.

From I Still Don’t Understand:

To live in a society where one has to constantly, consciously and unconsciously, make decisions to avoid doing wrong, especially in simple daily actions such as buying food and discarding trash, to ignore indoctrination and propaganda, obvious or not, is the result of a failed society.

All nations suffer from these things. No nation is pristine; Shit is prevalent.

I feel there’s far less of this kind of decision-making taking place in Taiwan. Less research, more doing. I find a local service person to do whatever I need to do, and it just works. My money goes to the street vendor, the healthcare shop, bike shop, or whatever. Convenient stores may be the only decision-making I remember (suck it 7-11!). There was no research of ratings or quality assurance of the places I went to. I just have faith in the people. I’m not sure if I’ve quite quite built that much faith in New York, especially for professional services. I only feel good in a good neighborhood, which is usually an ethnic enclave.

I felt quite good in San Francisco too. Though, I lived in a Chinatown there. Perhaps it’s just the friendly nature of the people there, of which a great amount are Asian.

Yet, because less developed societies are just that, the problems are less developed too. Government may be corrupted, but people at least know what they’re eating, drinking, where their trash is going, how their dwelling was made, who their children’s teachers are, have less equality problems, and can afford and/or have free emergency healthcare. Also, with less money, there’s less chance of government committing large-scale wrongdoing such as imperialistic wars.

Taiwan throws out the trash themselves, know what they’re eating and drinking (kind of, hah), take care of educators, have affordable healthcare.

New York suffers greatly from this. It is an entirely artificial world. People throw trash anywhere, nothing is recycled (though it’s negligible compared to larger matters), there’s over-consumption and over-production, teachers are underpaid and under-appreciated, and the food comes from the top food manufacturers which themselves have awful ethics. Poor ethics exist from the top to bottom.

From Creativity as Organization from Chaos:

If this is the case, then it is best to live on the edge of society. Cities are the most potent area of human organization. One needs distance, surround oneself with less common materials, then create. It will also lead to a more creatively efficient lifestyle, as the mind struggle to piece together the world into new designs and idea

During the two times I spent in New York, I never left it. I didn’t go into any kind of nature, save public parks, and that’s frightening. I didn’t see any farms, beaches, hills, mountains, forests, anything. A friend said he was able to camp just an hour away. So it was possible, but I didn’t think of it. I was so far into nature, I just didn’t think about exploring out of it on any weekend. Everything I experienced was artificial.

Taiwan has nature, bounds of it, and I actually feel it, and can quickly hike a nearby hill, or even bike to the beach.

In San Francisco, I also spent quite a bit of time biking around Golden Gate park, to the beach, and up and around some other places. Nature naturally attracts me, and if it’s accessible, I spend time with it.

Taiwan feels it goes further though. I can go to other cities, towns, or farms, beautiful natural places. This is because Taiwan has a fantastic train system that goes around the country at every hour, whereas the public transportation of America is limited to the metro system and infrequent buses with no stops on the coasts.The train has a huge enabling effect. I have a friend who works on in one city and commutes to another one-quarter across the island. It was very easy for me to move to another city and work. There’s a feeling that one could work anywhere on the island, save the mountains in the middle, because of it, and people do. Many people in Taipei school or work for a short period, or even commute from other cities everyday. Low-cost trains have such a strong effect that I bet if America was linked by trains, the suburbs would have died much quicker, having people move into cities.*

From The Ideal Neighborhood:

Developing countries with problems may sway one toward human rights and politics. Living in two contrasting societies can make one feel that the other is absurd.

Though not developing, Taiwan sometimes feels so. I don’t feel much difference from Taiwan and Thailand. And I do feel much closer to people, as opposed to materials.

Creativity in cities can lead to furthering of aesthetics. My history clearly shows that I think of aesthetic ideas while living in a city where I consume contemporary art. Though, that may be from reacting to it. I do often think about high art in less developed places too, but it’s greatly affected by the locality, perhaps using less technology and more local materials: local craftsmen, bamboo, food carts, natural landscapes.

As a foreigner in Taiwan, even after living there for quite some time, I still haven’t quite adapted to everything to the point I’ve forgotten the artificial. Also, going to the arts shop on Canal St. isn’t quite the same as going to a random shop in Taipei to buy junk. I feel quite alright to cut a tree for wood, go to a mine for minerals, find metal at a scrapyard. I feel this is incredibly important for any creative profession. Materials is precisely what I feel lacks in the developed world, full of digital data. Though I’m sure people feel comfy in a workshop in Dumbo, I wasn’t able to achieve such heights.

And again, this closeness to nature may have been gained because of the simple access of trains.

Creativity in developing countries, or any society other than one’s own, also provides another perspective, which will shape what one creates. It forces the creator to be more mindful of the audience, resulting in a more universally appreciated art, one that works in their past society and current society, fitting for structuralism. It could have elements of traditional cultures, different political systems, different amounts of wealth. I feel Ai Wei Wei exceeds because of this. He can use craftsmen in China to create a massive piece, understanding their place on a human and political scale.

I think just living in two kinds of societies is enough: developed and developing. Africa might just be too mind-bending for me. Learn the aesthetics before going to the developing country.

Creativity in developing countries can also lead to practical applications, useful technology. In a developed country, technology seems to have passed the needs of humans. Each individual could live with 50 things or less. Living with less would increase the chance of creating something useful. If it is useful to someone with less, it is likely be useful to the rest.

Therefore, I believe creating in a developing country may be better for artists, humanists, innovators, hippies, and, perhaps, anyone of age. With the internet, it is easy to catch up current sciences and aesthetics. Being a part of a human rights community would surely lead to more practical technology. If one has time, one can continue creating high aesthetic art with a unique perspective, likely more political. Though, it may be difficult without a community, such as those that exist in cities.

I don’t think Taiwan suffers from much human rights problems to the level of developing countries. It seems they’re gotten rid of most of the bad things. But it’s quite possible for me to take a very cheap flight to Indonesia for empowerment, which could be conducive to practical innovation. Though, perhaps the same could be said for Central America.

New York has great communities; Taiwan is a community. The recent bailout in America and protests and elections results of Taiwan proved that.

It’s possible to live in a community and ignore anything higher in structure, but I think, especially of people who have the knowledge and time to worry about things on grand scale — international affairs, politics, imperialism, etc., it’s human to care for it.

If a failed government doesn’t have the solidarity for successful activism, not just Ferguson, then the I think that the people of the country don’t care much for their own country or of others.

To even have morals (and not confused with patriotism and “defense”) is new to me. Though I attended John Stewart’s march and Occupy Wall St. I didn’t have much hope in it. Contrarily, The Sunflower Movement was a profound experience.

There’s no better way of understanding a country than traveling around it, and any traveller will tell you that like Southeast Asia, Taiwanese people are polite, courteous, and extremely helpful.

The effects of the ethics show in the way modern society was shaped: it’s clean, convenient, people are not wasteful, people are willing to spend time to talk.

Stay in a country with those ethics, and one starts to build a deep appreciation and affection for the people.

Ethics override financial factors. Besides, it’s the Information Age, professional work is now location-independent.

When a country has ethics you appreciate, working, even the lowest service job, doesn’t feel so bad. As a person who’s had a decent salary before, I don’t mind working as a street vendor, or even in a popular tea shop in Taiwan. The customers are nice. The shops are outdoors, so there’s good public interaction and vision. It feels good. I don’t think I would feel the same if I were to work at McDonalds.*

Perhaps the main question is, are the ethics of a country more important than a select few amazing people?

Yes. Yes it is.

And with that, I now know, Taiwan will always be my destination.

Leave a comment | Categories: Ethics, New York, Social Philosophy, Taiwan, Urban Philosophy

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