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Old 02-13-2010, 07:29 AM   #3
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 17

Hello Ellis,

Here are a few preliminary comments on your comments. I am sure there will be a need for more discussion.

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Peter - once again, I continue to be both moved and honored by the critical reading of my work. I also feel quite lucky that, through Aikiweb, I can respond in a way that one cannot in usual printed material.
PAG: Thank you. Actually, I am aware that TIE 17 will be fairly heavy going for the average Aikiweb reader (if there is such a person)—and I had the choice of making general, though unsupported, statements, or going into some detail. I chose the latter course.

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
I do not assert that anyone who went through what Takeda "went through" would end up like Takeda. Instead, only Takeda could end up like Takeda.
PAG. Sure, but I do not think I am making any kind of opposite assertion. I am taking Takeda in the cultural context of his time and looking at everything he went through, but in the same cultural context. I think you are looking at Takeda, but are moving outside his own specific cultural context because you believe that there are certain ‘absolutes’, such as torture, that are somehow independent of culture. I am not sure that I share this belief.

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Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
The observation of horror, independent of culture, does cause one's character to develop, in general, along certain lines.
PAG. This is a very general statement for which I would need more supporting evidence than you have given. The problem is partly that you are making general statements about situations‘independent of culture’, but your statement is also ‘culture bound’.

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Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
But this does not guarantee the "development of a Takeda."
PAG. I do not think I am making any argument about guaranteeing some development or other.

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Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
The majority of warrior cultures are typified by distant fathers, a coming of age where one is separated from the feminine, initiation ceremonies that define, clearly and harshly, the masculine role, and very often, de-sensitization procedures so that one is at ease with violence. This set of components would explain the creation of the samurai class, for example - and a wonderful example of this is described in Junichi Saga, Memories of Silk and Straw: A Self-Portrait of Small-Town Japan, 1987, Kodansha International, a book you cite. I do not have the book at hand, but one chapter describes a former executioner of a han, the grandfather of the narrator. He is a very severe man who goes duck hunting in the following manner: He takes a musket and a small lead smelter. At the riverside, he smelts a single lead ball. Loads his musket. Shoots a single duck. Returns home.
PAG. Agreed, and in Shiba Goro I presented the example of a product of just such a warrior culture, exactly contemporary with Takeda, but who turned out quite differently. You may say, “Ah, but Shiba was not tortured by his own father.” To which I would reply, “Neither was Takeda.”

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Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
First, I believe we start with innate character. To take my own sons, each was born into my hands. And I would assert with complete confidence that they are fundamentally unchanged from that moment - they were born with soul. The way they greeted the world is still the way they live. Takeda Sokaku was a ferociously independent being, defiant of authority. He had several significant disruptions of attachment - fostered to Dengoro Kurokochi's and then left alone/abandoned near a battlefield. (I shan't repeat the thesis of my chapter) - but in short, I am saying the "obvious" - Takeda Sokaku's life made Takeda Sokaku. Flamboyant, paranoid, and at the same time, passionate and desiring contact with others.
PAG. Well, this is a very old issue: nature vs. nurture, and I do not think it has been settled either way, yet.

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Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
Yet, I am not out of line in referring to what Sokichi did to his son as torture. Torture is the deliberate infliction of pain and destructive psychological experience. It can be done for sadism and it can be done for education. I don't care what your culture is - being involuntarily forced to experience severe pain - against one's wishes - with no way of making it stop - is, as Jean Amery, a holocaust survivor writes, always a rape of the body. With different cultural memes, that pain/torture may be "assimilated" differently, but it is still torture.
PAG. I disagree.

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Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
What is most significant to me is that Takeda found it necessary, as an adult, to point it out. One several occasions. What is significant is that he cut his own father out of his "lineage" of Daito-ryu.
PAG. But he did not actually state anywhere that he had been tortured by his own father. You might believe he actually meant this, but I do not believe that matters were that simple.

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
I want to make it clear - unlike most others, I believe, I do NOT believe that Takeda Sokaku was impaired to the point of psychological pathology.
PAG. Indeed not. My point was that I do not think he was impaired even to the extent you appear to think he was.

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Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
A couple of other issues:
I did not rely on the account of Takeda's sumo as an old man to substantiate my belief that he learned the skills young (Heck, it's possible that Hisa was just being kind to his teacher and tanking, for all I know). I've done some provincial sumo when I was in Japan. I was at the peak of my physical strength, well over 200 pounds, and tough locals, with some real skill and lots of power, handled me easily. What catches my attention about Takeda is that he was a young teen, probably somewhere between 100-130 pounds, most likely on the lighter side of that range, and he was defeating such work hardened men whose family well-being would be impacted by victory or defeat.
PAG. Yes, but family well-being is not directly relevant here. If you had trained as hard as Sokaku is believed to have done, the results might have been different in your case, also.

Quote:
Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
And that is what led me to ask how the scariest man in most aikido books was never violent to his students, but stabbed his own son, who surely learned from his father, but erased him from his own history, except to point out to others his lifelong damaged nails as his father's work.
PAG. Sure, but I am not sure that your answer, “Aha! He was tortured by his own father and that made him the person he turned out to be. We know it was really torture, even though they would not have called it that in the times he was living in,” helps us all that much.
As I read this chapter, I considered that Sokichi also needed a spokesman (or defense lawyer) and I am not convinced that the traumas of the Boshin War were what led him to treat Sokaku in the way you describe.
Nor do I think that your account of Sokaku’s supposed traumas offers a more convincing explanation of the sources of Ueshiba’s power than an account that places less emphasis on Sokichi’s transgressions.

Best wishes,

Peter G

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 02-13-2010 at 07:32 AM.

P A Goldsbury
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