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Old 02-14-2010, 01:08 AM   #9
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 17

Ellis Amdur wrote: View Post
2. If the word "torture" is not on the mark to you, I would still assert that having moxa burned on one's fingernails so that it damaged the nail beds permanently, something that Takeda obsessed about enough that his son mentioned it prominently in his bio of his father, and Sokaku himself highlighted it in the only interview we have, makes it of symbolic import in Takeda's own sense of himself. So one can drop the word, torture, if one likes, (I don't, but that's neither here nor there), but it would be wrong to deny it's significance to Sokaku.
PAG. A problem I have with ‘torture’ as applied in HIPS is the extent to which such a loaded term is appropriate. That it is loaded with moral opprobrium is clear from the fuss being made about the result of the court case in the UK over Binyam Mohamed. A random quote from the BBC’s website: “Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohamed, 31, says UK authorities knew he was tortured at the behest of US authorities after his detention in Pakistan in 2002,” and a Times editorial about being told the truth about torture. I am assuming the definition of the term in the OED, which places the primarily meaning in the ‘official’ sanctioning of physical pain for reasons such as eliciting confessions. (Of course, I am well aware of the wider, transferred, use.)

Hence my interest in Daniel Botsman’s work was to see whether there was a late Tokugawa / early Meiji ‘culture of torture’ in the Aizu domain, that would have placed Sokichi’s actions in a wider context. I have been concerned to add rather more detail to this contemporary cultural context of Sokichi’s behavior to his son than you have done in HIPS. This is partly to find out whether there was a contemporary connotation to the Japanese equivalents of terms such as ‘discipline’, ‘punishment’, ‘violence’, or ‘torture’ that existed in late Tokugawa / early Meiji and that does not exist now, or vice versa.

I am not concerned to diminish the fact of causing intense physical pain, so much as to wonder aloud why Sokichi chose this particular form of infliction, which clearly had some form of precedent.

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 02-14-2010 at 01:12 AM.

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