Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pseudosoph PONPONPON

So I'm in Madrid waiting for 2:30pm to roll around when the art gallery around the corner is free. I am a shit traveller, and I feel bad about it, really. I spend most of my time, wherever I happen to be, online. The real world is like a backdrop to my mac screen (ok, not that bad, but close).

Today I procrastinated by: booking a flight to Nepal, booking my guest house in Nepal, reading about the bus system in Nepal. Fascinating stuff. Then I read about the 'meaning' of one of my favourite songs/ videos/ phenomenons of the last few years : the much re-posted ponponpon. I stumbled across this adorable article by a music snob admitting the limits of his understanding. This got me to thinking two things: 1. Isn't it cute how people from one culture LOVE media from another without even knowing why? 2. Aren't we all just exotic birds to each other? (I thought this in the Prado gallery the other day, when I was like 'blah blah hundreds of Italian paintings of Jesus and Mary ... boring' and then I noticed the incredibly high numbers of east Asian students walking around in blissed-out awe - comparable to my behaviour at an exhibit on art of the Mughal empire a few days previous in London). I think it's pretty natural/ cool to find stuff from cultures other than your own a bit more seductive. And I don't think there's enough talk about the positive side of this creation of the 'exotic other' or fetishization of it - a behaviour not, as white male philosophers seem to suppose, limited to European cultures. The philosophers I've seen most eye-to-eye with on this issue have largely been 'subaltern' voices, like Gaayatri Spivak and Homi Bhabha.

Anyway blah blah indeed. While reading the cute article above, I came across the below comment from a reader and nearly cried with happiness. I wish I could put it in my thesis. I wish I could put it on page 1, in bold, in my thesis. Well anyway, at least I can put it on my blog:

"I write about Japanese culture and design. The most important thing to remember, and the thing most Westerners get wrong, is that logic and linearity are mundane (in the sense of being bound to the worldly and material), and are therefore gross and inferior. Logic is avoided. It is considered the language of deception and antisocial behavior. Sociable beings rely not upon logic and reason but mutually consensual feelings. (The very term “nee” is a non-meaningful, non-verbal indication of assent or mutual agreement). Absurdity, imprecision, and contradiction put you closer to the divine and non-transitory. It is very difficult for Western people to abandon linearity, which makes its appearance in minuscule and subtle ways that are mostly invisible to them but that are immediately recognizable by Japanese people, and thereby often rejected as “non-Japanese”. This rejection may be seen by Westerners as mysterious and arbitrary.
In short, don’t look so hard for meaning and you’ll have it in your pocket."

- 'DGI' 

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