Monday, 22 August 2005

Update / book review pt. 2 : (more a review of my own book-reading than the book itself)

Am I gullible, or just too freely accepting? I get stuck into a book and tend to believe every word it says. (I do this with a lot of books) and think highly of the book (and its arguments) until I read something else that refutes, disagrees with or criticizes the book, then I just agree with the criticisms instead. I thought I was an independent thinker, but maybe I’m more like a chameleon.

The intensity with which I have been reading D+D is no doubt a factor in its effect on my total acceptance of it. I have left little time for thought between sections, and apart from the odd meal here and there, only once or twice have I got up off the couch and interacted with the society described in the book. D+D contains a lot of truth and valid complaints (concrete, noise pollution, etc. which DO REALLY ANNOY ME!) but there is a lot about life in Japan that really isn’t that negative – I enjoy my work interacting with people and seeing the interaction between their preconceptions and my non-Japanese teaching methods, I really love being up in the mountains (although they seem to be filling with useless roads and dams) and in spite of what Kerr says about good onsens disappearing, I still really love those – even the seedy urban bath houses have their own charm.

The book itself is somewhat repetetetetitive (and I did notice that myself) but I feel like here I am now having read these forums and adopting their viewpoints (or changing mine to fit theirs). Am I just a mollusc? Latching onto any writing and thoroughly accepting its viewpoint without discernment? Well, I guess I’m not much of a critical thinker… but why think critically? I don’t want to become cynical. Also, thinking critically (or even thinking at all?) prevents me from getting caught up in a good read (which is one of the reasons I read in the first place).

Perhaps Kerr’s image of Japan as a creaking hulk heading for the rocks (I keep visualizing it as similar to the castle monster thingy in last year’s anime Howl’s Moving Castle by Miyazaki) is somewhat over extreme / alarmist but there is certainly a lot of truth here and food for thought, as well as scarily satisfying explanations of the causes behind a lot of the
nazo one sees in Japan.

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