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Old 01-21-2008, 08:06 AM   #42
Erick Mead
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Dojo: Big Green Drum (W. Florida Aikikai)
Location: West Florida
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,568
Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 5

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
... my students have virtually no concept of the value of fighting to defend principles and have even less clue of the value of martial arts, which they equate with prewar militarism that is no longer relevant to them... I am struck by the awkward combination of (1) a ‘shared cultural heritage'
This is worth looking at.
The fMRI revealed that Americans' brains worked harder while making relative judgments, because brain regions that reflect mentally demanding tasks lit up. Conversely, East Asians activated the brain's system for difficult jobs while making absolute judgments. Both groups showed less activation in those brain areas while doing tasks that researchers believe are in their cultural comfort zones.
In both groups, participants whose views were most aligned with their culture's values showed stronger brain effects.
From my perspective Aikido presents a set of problems that challenge both the relativist and the absolute understandings of reality, and so it is a good meeting ground, actually.

Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
... I know myself that there is no thought of what a "culture not bound to any one nation or people" actually entails. All the research I have encountered points in the opposite direction—to culture espousing a set of values that can be expressed in national(ist) terms, which is eminently true of Japan. ...
Plainly, the cultural intensity underlying "yamato damashii" has been put to other ends, some good, some not, just as the original concept was put to different ends, some good and others absolutely not. That transformation is plainly evident among your students. To less salutary results, it is a far larger problem that does in fact transcend cultures. For our Columbines, Japan has hikikomori and parasaito shinguru, and less negatively, but no less concerning, otaku.

Can nothing change or can the understanding of one thing in one time not be understood another way at a different time? In Aiki, who is attacking who, exactly? So what if the nationalist associations existed, there were nationalists and then there were the Sakurakai and League of Blood. There is context even in that arena, which I have tried to point out.

But even if it were once so does not mean it was always or remained so. Why then do both Omoto and O Sensei explicitly adhere to universalist sentiments transcending particular cultures? Why then go to the length to relate the HIGHLY idiosyncratic Japanese concept of kotodama, to the Divine Logos, the fundamental concept of Western theology AND philosophy (Rene Descartes, call your service). And why is any of this troubling merely in the context of aikido?

Why is a transformation of purpose in Aikido so troubling, or an acknowledgment that people with good and interesting ideas may have unsavory associations that taint their achievments? I will put it to you that the concern of poor associations is vastly more inflated in the context of Japan, than in the context of the United States. Respected mavericks and inveterate ne'er-do-wells are often associated and very often only a few critical decisions seperates the one from the other. That scandal is vastly greater in Japan of a certain day, certainly more than it ever was here, or even there, now.

It is the very modern sense (and bothersome, East and West) that personal sacrifice for higher ends is an atavism, and the darker pages of history have somehow ended. It isn't and they haven't; but you try telling people that and they'll think you're a nut, whether in Japan or not.

Not having Wii's in stock -- there's your modern sense of crisis, East and West. Material abundance and desert of moral purpose. Only personal tragedy or a will to dwell on the darkness of soul in which budo exists shakes the modern mind from that, if then.


Erick Mead
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