View Single Post
Old 09-17-2008, 12:58 PM   #65
C. David Henderson
Location: Santa Fe New Mexico
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 607
Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 10

This will be my first post on this site; my thanks for your consideration of my question:

I've been reading the exchange between Professor Goldsbury and Mr. Mead, and it seems to me two somewhat separate issues are cojoined in their discussion.

> One is whether O'Sensei's move to Iwama was in any way related to events in Manchuria;

> The other is whether we can understand the move more fully by attempting to understand his motives and actions in a "mythic" and situational context. As I understand the argument, this analysis rests on an examination of Japanese mythology; Ueshiba's religious beliefs; and the social context in which he expressed those beliefs, understood in cultural context.

I think the exchange has established that the Manchurian thesis is an interesting one that can't be "proven" based on the historical record; but so far the invited "mythic" analysis seems embedded in the discussion of whether O'Sensei was reacting in some way in part to events in the war in China.

One may dispute, accept, or entertain for entertainment's sake the hypothesis that events in Manchuria are relevant to the move to Iwama. However, that still leaves unanswered how O'Sensei's visions, statements, and actions would have been viewed by someone who shared his beliefs and cultural understanding.

Professor Goldsbury, what do you make of Mr. Mead's proposition that Ueshiba's revelations amounted to what I will call a "heavenly indictment" of the Emperor giving his imprimatur to the decision to go to war based on your understanding of the deities he discusses? Does this line up with the textual evidence of what Ueshiba reported?

This discussion reminds me of the analysis of an anthropologist named Marshall Sahlins about Captain Cook's arrival in Hawaii, and how the resulting conflict was ennacted by each side based on very different cultural understandings.

Sahlins makes what I found to be a very cogent argument that to the Hawaiians, Cooks arrival coincided with and evoked as reinactment the arrival of a particular deity; hence his initial reception as an avatar of that deity. Subsequently, when Cook returned, he happened to return at the point in the mythic cycle when that deity is ritually killed, and Cook's actions upon return were subsumed into this mythic "text" by the Hawaiians, who eventually attacked and killed Cook (and reportedly ate his heart).

Similarly, I agree with the idea that understanding O'Sensei's decision (to the extent possible) should focus on bth the "mythic" and situational context of his visions.

I'd be curious about other's reactions to this analysis -- does this help us undertand?


David Henderson
  Reply With Quote