Tuesday 6 January 2015

All Men Must Die

With the turning of the year, as with the turning of the tide, one’s thoughts are inevitably drawn towards the cyclical nature of life. This arbitrarily designated point on our terrestrial orb’s procession around the solar sphere fittingly provokes consideration of where one has come from and where one is heading; while we may appear as if we are endlessly retreading the same repeating path around our own personal orreries there are nonetheless perturbations; the precession of our equinoxes are far from regular as we pirouette about whatever attractor is placed at the centre of our worldly existence. This time, then, as we literally turn the page on the ledger of our years, allows us a pause, a moment, in which to take stock to consider, to reconsider, what we have come to understand; to wonder what it is we have learned and what it may befit us to unlearn.
Allow me to expand. My own personal orbital adjustment concerns, as it seemingly must, my understanding of the nation, state, and culture which I have chosen to call my home. As with all such entities, Japan excites certain images within the minds of concerned observers, while for its own part projecting and encouraging selected comprehensions of itself. We have, I am fully aware, covered aspects of this before at length: Japan’s unique character; Japan’s situation as a Small Country; the Japanese people’s love of Harmony; the Japanese people’s unique concern for ambiguity and appreciation for the subtleties of life; concerns and loves that are often beyond fathom for those unfortunates among us not blessed to have been born within of this uniquely inscrutable archipelago. While it may have been suggested that these characteristics are occasionally overplayed by various parties (who, shockingly, may oft include the Japanese themselves), one cannot doubt the weight of accumulated evidence, and so it is that I feel moved to talk on something we have not yet discussed in this vein: the uniquely unique comprehension of the inherent transience of existence as captured in the untranslatable phrase mono no aware (“the pathos of things”).

How to convey the unconveyable wisdom and deep understanding invested in these six simple yet elegant syllables? Alas, the task may be beyond me. Alas, the task may be beyond all of us, hobbled as we are with a mere twenty-six crudely etched characters with which to express ourselves. How could we hope to compare to the thousands of years the Japanese have spent investing their culture and themselves with such a subtle and refined sense of the central ambiguity of existence; the understated sophistication which imbues Japanese as a language, culture, and people and allows, nay, compels them to interact with the world with an appreciation for the nuances and vagaries of the world that we are perpetually doomed to aspire but never better.

What, you no doubt ask, has prompted such verbose reconsideration on my part? A pertinent question, I’ll grant, and so with your indulgence I shall expand. Observe the broadcast below; how could you not witness this and be convinced of Japan’s unique place in the world as humankind’s guardian of subtlety and ambiguity? Of its incomparable regard for the fleeting transience of life and the delicate inertial balance invested in all human experience?

What other culture could conceive of such a fitting memento mori as the inexorable, implacable, ineluctable approach of a naked fat man’s sweaty arsehole? How else to interpret this literal rubbing of our collective noses in the stench of decay but as a finely wrought metaphor for the inevitable onset of death and corruption, its ordure inescapable despite our best, most desperate attempts to avoid the unavoidable? We may wiggle, we may squirm, we may beg, but at the final reckoning nothing shall spare us the abrupt and mortal conjunction of nostril and taint, as we shuffle of this mortal coil with our hooters forcefully wedged up some D-list talent’s shitpipe.

You can keep your temples and your geisha and your tea; this, this is the true essence of Japan.



  1. You're lucky I've been reading this blog long enough to know that you would have a sucker punch at the end.
    Happy new year!

    1. http://www.marco.org/2008/07/17/fuck-the-casual-viewer-seriously-who-wants-a

      I have precious few readers as it is. If I wrote in this style all the time I think I'd completely lose those of you who do keep coming back :)

  2. I see you did not get away at New Year's, nor perhaps in the summer. Reminds me of my state of mind after two straight years in the country, such as this post:

    "I am losing my shit. I need to get home soon permanently... to lower the homicide rate in my end of Tokyo. It hasn't come to physical violence yet (beyond shoving), but fuck cultural-relativism: only fuckwits walk like many Japanese, and need to be told what they are."


    How long has it been for you... ?

    1. Yes, I remember that post on The Razor.
      Between children, and my wife's illness, I haven't been home for 6 years. Normally, I'm ok, but sometimes I lose it.

    2. I'm sorry your wife is unwell. I had no idea (is this 'kamo'?).

    3. Thank you.
      No, I'm not Kamo, I post here and on your site sometimes, but always anonymously.

    4. Trip home coming up this summer. The aim is to get back every couple of years. I sell this as being mainly in order to keep the kids in touch with their extended family back home and keep up their English, but there are definitely more selfish reasons as well...

  3. Replies
    1. How could you not?

      That's a rhetorical question.