Peter Goldsbury wrote:
The reviewer does not give any indication as to why the chapter is weak and I wonder whether one reason might be lack of acquaintance with the complex Japanese cultural milieu in which Ueshiba Morihei operated—and which is rarely discussed in connection with his aikido. As for the alleged contrast between Ueshiba's mystic meanderings and Amdur's own "rejection of aikido as a personal training path", it seems to me that the main object of the book as a whole, is to point to crucial differences between Ueshiba's own training regime—and the concepts he used to present this, and the postwar training regime in Japan, as Amdur himself found it. So I myself am not convinced that the chapter is ‘weak', merely on the basis of the reviewer's comments.
However, the chapter might or might not be ‘weak' for other reasons, one being the rather fragile basis for Amdur's speculations.
I can say with some confidence that the particular review you reference would be better referred to, not as a "review," but as "Shallow Impressions from a Fast First Reading"; and further, with even more confidence
, that the particular reviewer does indeed suffer from "lack of acquaintance with the complex Japanese cultural milieu in which Ueshiba Morihei operated . . . "
Now in the middle of my third reading of HIPS
, I still regard the fourth chapter as the weakest of a superb book, but it relates to the primary personal reason for which I read and re-read HIPS
, that is, for scattered clues to tangible insights and methods of training internal connection and power. The limited (I prefer "focused"
) paradigm from which I operate tends to pay much more attention to discrete, teachable physical exercises connecting body awareness, fascia, and breathing than to second-hand (actually, third-hand) accounts of disparate aspects and traditions of the "complex Japanese cultural milieu" which I freely admit having no real acquaintance with--certainly not enough to judge whether Ueshiba Morihei really understood what he was discoursing about. So my evaluation of the fourth chapter is a little like an atheist rendering a literary critique of the Christian Bible.
, having put that evaluation out there, I was rewarded with a pointed reminder (gently expressed) of my lack of knowledge about kotodama
, etc., and have gotten more curious about the role that misogi
practices and related beliefs might have played in Ueshiba's personal cultivation. There are analogous practices and beliefs in traditions of Daoist cultivation that inform the teachings of certain CMA practitioners I've worked with. In particular, with respect to mental imagery, intent, and connecting breath with body through sound, I strongly suspect that there is more to Ueshiba's 天国のマニュアル地球 (Tengoku no manyuaru chikyū--don't blame me, blame Google) than is dreamt of in my feet-firmly-in-the-mud empiric philosophy.
A little learnin' is a befuddling thing.