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  #26  
Old 07-23-2009, 10:14 AM
Peter A Goldsbury AikiWeb Forums Contributing Member
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Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14

INTERLUDE
VI: The Question of Kotodama
Part 2: Kotodama becomes Japanese:
From Motoori Norinaga to World War II

The main thread of this column was explained in the first few pages of Column 13 (which...
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Last edited by akiy : 07-25-2009 at 10:40 AM.
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Old 07-25-2009, 12:22 PM   #25
Fred Little
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14

Quote:
Allen Beebe wrote: View Post
I missed this. I wonder how I could get my hands on Fred's paper? It sounds very interesting!

I do recognize your assertion of order of influence. Given the facts at hand, that makes sense to me.

All the best,
Allen
Allen,

There is a version that is floating around the web, but the formatting of the text was botched badly by the proprietor of AikidoFAQ and he was singularly unresponsive to a number of my requests to either get it right or pull it down, so I can't recommend that version of the paper.

I'm nowhere near my files right now, but should be able to lay my hands on the original,scan it, and make it available as a pdf by end of business on the first Monday in August.

It will be immediately obvious that Peter's current article brings a much wider range of disciplinary perspectives to bear than I did, as well as drawing on a much larger body of primary and secondary materials than my paper did, many of which were not available in 1995. Lastly, the depth and rigor of his research an analysis is much greater than I was able to bring to bear in what was, when all is said and done, a mere graduate student term paper.

Where his current conclusions differ significantly from mine in 1995 -- especially his assertion that the influence of Deguchi and Yamaguchi was ultimately stronger than that of Shingon; I generally concur. What disagreement I have is fairly minor and nuanced: Your choice of the phrase "order of influence" makes me uneasy, as does Peter's emphasis on "indirect influence," not because I disagree regarding the comparatively greater weight of Deguchi's influence, but because both phrasings carry less than felicitous connotations regarding the sequence of influence, which I still believe may incorrectly minimize the effects of his early exposure to Shingon.

There is still much that isn't clear about Ueshiba's early engagement with Shingon, his turn to Oomoto-kyo, and the question of whether (at least in his mind) the turn toward Oomoto-kyo marked a turn away from Shingon, or whether it was just an example of the kind of functionalist "division of labor" that seems so common among the Japanese, who see no conflict between multiple religious affiliations. I'm inclined to see a direct influence from Shingon that was overpowered by the demotic appropriations and heterodox bricolage of Deguchi, but that's less a substantive disagreement than evidence of the kind of scholastic parsing and ritual language that I'm swimming in while writing a draft of my disseration this summer. Before making any substantive comment on Yamaguchi, I would need to take Peter's advice and go back to the materials listed in his references, which I simply can't afford to do this summer, as I've got a stack of references of my own that demands reviewing.

The day before this installment was published, I was reading "Two Shinto Myths: The Golden Age and the Chosen People," in Carmen Blacker's Collected Writings (Blacker's Catalpa Bow is, of course, one of the key resources listed in Peter's bibliography, and is the essential work on Japanese Shamanism), and I encountered this passage on the subject of the Kokutai no Hongi (which Peter references in his discussion of Kisshomaru's approach to the question of kototama after the war), and the relationship between the Kokugaku scholars and the Chosen People myth that lay at the root of their literary undertakings:

Quote:
The Chosen People myth, though pushed underground for much of the Meiji and Taisho periods, was to reappear in all its irrational force during the 1930s as one of the doctrinal pillars of the cult of State Shinto. it realized a final and triumphant exposition in the notorious document Kokutai no Hongi, published in 1937. In this short work, which until the end of the war was made the subject of compulsory reading and study in schools, and which in private homes was often treated with the reverence due to a cult object, the myth of the superior people was given all the authority and official backing of the state, the government and the Ministry of Education. The term kokutai, feebly rendered in dictionaries as 'national polity' , was in fact a shorthand sign for all that Hirata's (Hirata Atsutane, 1776-1843, a comparatively late kokugaku propagandist whose virulence and counterfactuality is so great that it casts its own shadow) myth implied. By this single word it was intended to convey all that Japan possessed, in race, culture, language, heart and mind, which was intrinsically superior to the rest of the world. Oddly enough, its content remained largely unknown to foreigners, and no translation was attempted until four years after the end of the war. (A reference to the Gauntlett translation Peter discusses in his article above)

The book was proscribed by a directive of the Allied Occupation authorities in December 1945, and with its disappearance the myth it propounded, first mooted by the Shinto scholars, seems to have vanished from the consciousness of Japan.

Only one wrack, it seems, was left behind, and that, it has recently been pointed out, lies in the improbable and peripheral field of the Japanese language. Motoori's notions.....find a late echo in the theories of Dr (sic) Tsunoda Tadanobu, who argues from neurophysiological research that the Japanese language proceeds uniquely from a different part of the brain from that which with other peoples of the world governs language and speech.
To which I can only add that, had Ms. Blacker had the work at hand available to her at the time she wrote that particular article, the phrase "only one wrack" would certainly have been changed to "one of the few wracks" and she would have listed at least one more "improbable and peripheral field."

I confess that I didn't make much progress with Blacker the following day, for I took most of it to slowly and carefully read this installment of Peter's series, a taking I don't regret in the least. And although I have referred repeatedly to "Peter's article" and "Peter's series," I must close by thanking Professor Goldsbury for the many teachings contained in the lesson before us, and be on my way: Blacker has to be finished today and tomorrow is Sun Yatsen in London.

Best regards to all,

Fred Little

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Old 07-25-2009, 01:29 PM   #26
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14

Fred,

Thank you for the response and the best of luck on your current impressive endeavor!

Allen

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Old 07-25-2009, 01:31 PM   #27
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14

Oh, and once again, thank you Jun for hosting all of this.

Allen
p.s. I mean that from the bottom of my Totoro!

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Old 07-25-2009, 04:20 PM   #28
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14

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Blacker has to be finished today and tomorrow is Sun Yatsen in London.

Best regards to all,

Fred Little
Fred,
Sounds like an interesting dissertation that you're writing.

Best,
Tim
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Old 07-25-2009, 06:38 PM   #29
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14

Hello Fred,

Many thanks for the constructive response. A few comments.

PAG

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Allen,

Where his current conclusions differ significantly from mine in 1995 -- especially his assertion that the influence of Deguchi and Yamaguchi was ultimately stronger than that of Shingon; I generally concur. What disagreement I have is fairly minor and nuanced: Your choice of the phrase "order of influence" makes me uneasy, as does Peter's emphasis on "indirect influence," not because I disagree regarding the comparatively greater weight of Deguchi's influence, but because both phrasings carry less than felicitous connotations regarding the sequence of influence, which I still believe may incorrectly minimize the effects of his early exposure to Shingon.
PAG. The think the 'indirect influence' was more baldly stated in the above post than in the column itself. I have been careful to keep Shingon and Shinto influence as separate as possible, in relation to kotodama. In particular, I have not looked in great detail at the writings of the Yoshida / Urabe family, for example, for a view on the blending of Shinto and Buddhism before the nativists came along.

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
There is still much that isn't clear about Ueshiba's early engagement with Shingon, his turn to Oomoto-kyo, and the question of whether (at least in his mind) the turn toward Oomoto-kyo marked a turn away from Shingon, or whether it was just an example of the kind of functionalist "division of labor" that seems so common among the Japanese, who see no conflict between multiple religious affiliations. I'm inclined to see a direct influence from Shingon that was overpowered by the demotic appropriations and heterodox bricolage of Deguchi,
PAG. Yes, and all we have to go on are the edited discourses and the doka.

Quote:
Fred Little wrote: View Post
but that's less a substantive disagreement than evidence of the kind of scholastic parsing and ritual language that I'm swimming in while writing a draft of my disseration this summer.
Best regards to all,

Fred Little
PAG. Best wishes. I am reminded of finishing my own Ph.D. thesis. Have you set a severe deadline for finishing the dissertation? Who are the examiners, by the way? (I recently became a life member of the AAS.)

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Old 07-26-2009, 10:04 AM   #30
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14

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Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
(I recently became a life member of the AAS.)
Peter,

Congratulations upon becoming a life time member of the . . . American Astronomical Society!
American Association of Suicidology?
Applied Acoustic Systems?
All About Symbian?
Association for Academic Surgery?
All American Selections?
American Astronautical Society?
Austin American Statesman!
American Autonomic Society?
Assyrian Academic Society!
American Auditory Society?
American Antiquarian Society?
Academy of Applied Science?
African Academy of Sciences!
American Arachnological Society!
Assyrian Aid Society?
Ask A Scientist?
Asian American Society?
Arnold Air Society?
Association for Asian Studies!

Allen's Asinine Sometimes!

Take care,
Allen

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Old 07-26-2009, 02:31 PM   #31
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14



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Peter,

Association for Asian Studies!

Take care,
Allen

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Old 07-26-2009, 09:18 PM   #32
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14

Hi Peter,

Once again you can tell where I am at by what I talk or ask about . . . Hey! I'm a slow reader!

When you say "for Deguchi, the Great Universal Deity; later, the Divine Parent = Amaterasu-o-mikami" do you equate "Great Universal Deity" with Ame no Minakanushi no o kami?

Thanks,
Allen

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Old 07-27-2009, 12:29 AM   #33
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14

Hello Allen,

Yes, I think so. However, Deguchi is nothing if not flexible in his theology, so it is also Ame no Toko-tachi-no-kami. After Deguchi returned from Mongolia and started Reikai Monogatari, he needed to please the government authorities and align his theology with the emerging Emperor system, so he finds a place for the Divine Grandchild and for Ama Terasu o Mikami.

Best wishes,

PAG

Quote:
Allen Beebe wrote: View Post
Hi Peter,

Once again you can tell where I am at by what I talk or ask about . . . Hey! I'm a slow reader!

When you say "for Deguchi, the Great Universal Deity; later, the Divine Parent = Amaterasu-o-mikami" do you equate "Great Universal Deity" with Ame no Minakanushi no o kami?

Thanks,
Allen

P A Goldsbury
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Old 07-27-2009, 01:27 PM   #34
Fred Little
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14

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Hello Fred,

Many thanks for constructive response....

PAG. Best wishes. I am reminded of finishing my own Ph.D. thesis. Have you set a severe deadline for finishing the dissertation? Who are the examiners, by the way? (I recently became a life member of the AAS.)
Hello Peter,

You're quite welcome. Likewise, I repeat my thanks for the way in which you've not only opened up this area of research, but done so in a way that points to further regions of exploration.

The deadline is, unquestionably, severe. I have a schedule which calls for a presentation of a draft to my committee this Fall, and allows for a several rounds of meetings, revisions, and subsequent meetings into the Winter with a defense in the Spring of 2010. My committee is made up of Dr. Eva Giloi (Department of History, Rutgers-Newark, who is serving as the committee chair), Dr. Maurie Cohen (Department of Environmental Policy Studies, NJIT), and Dr. Yale Ferguson (Co-founder and Director Emeritus of the Division of Global Affairs at Rutgers-Newark). There are two other readers who have offered significant assistance thus far, but we haven't finalized their participation in the defense.

Best,

Fred Little

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Old 07-27-2009, 07:05 PM   #35
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14

Hello Fred,

Thank you for the information. Is the result of your oral defence a foregone conclusion?

Mine certainly was not, though my adviser gave me a large glass of sherry, just before the oral was due to begin. It took three grueling hours, but I passed and they told me a few minutes afterwards. Candidate and examiners then retired to a local pub for some champagne (the examination was at Kings College, London University).

It is curious, but I returned to Hiroshima University in Japan, but have never taught any classes in the area in which I wrote the Ph.D: which is Aristotle's theory of knowledge and science (though I did once teach some doctorate classes on Aristotle's Rhetoric). However, on the strength of the work I had already begun to do on Japanese culture, that has resulted in columns such as this one, I went to a new department--of Management Studies, teaching comparative culture.

Teaching these Japanese Master's and Doctoral students has been very stimulating: they probably know as much (as little) about kotodama as anyone else in this forum, but they have an easy familiarity with the kind of homophonic wordplay that was the basis of Yamaguchi's and Deguchi's kototama gaku.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Old 07-27-2009, 07:34 PM   #36
Fred Little
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14

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Hello Fred,

Thank you for the information. Is the result of your oral defence a foregone conclusion?
Hello Peter,

I've found that it is best to take nothing for granted. What I've seen in practice is this: If the committee is not well-satisfied with the work prior to the scheduled defense, the defense date is usually deferred. Even in cases where the committee is well-satisfied, there is generally a final round of emendations that has to be made prior to submission of the bound dissertation. What seems to be most critical is giving all members of the committee ample opportunity to review drafts of the dissertation prior to the defense and incorporating their concerns early on. Failure to do so can result in intractable problems at the defense resulting from differences of perspective and discipline among the reviewers. I have seen a few instances of this in the PhD Program I administer, and it is very difficult indeed to advise a candidate that another six months or a year will be necessary to bring the matter to a successful conclusion. My production and review schedule is fairly severe, given my work schedule, but it has been built with an eye to these issues. All I can do now is plow steadily forward and hope the furrows remain reasonably straight and the weather suitable.

Quote:
Peter A Goldsbury wrote: View Post
It is curious, but I returned to Hiroshima University in Japan, but have never taught any classes in the area in which I wrote the Ph.D: which is Aristotle's theory of knowledge and science (though I did once teach some doctorate classes on Aristotle's Rhetoric). However, on the strength of the work I had already begun to do on Japanese culture, that has resulted in columns such as this one, I went to a new department--of Management Studies, teaching comparative culture.

Teaching these Japanese Master's and Doctoral students has been very stimulating: they probably know as much (as little) about kotodama as anyone else in this forum, but they have an easy familiarity with the kind of homophonic wordplay that was the basis of Yamaguchi's and Deguchi's kototama gaku.

Best wishes,

PAG
Similarly, I find myself teaching Japanese architecture and have recently been asked if I would develop a course on the subject of Japanese Swordsmanship for Digital Game Designers to fulfill their Physical Education requirements. If the latter comes to fruition and time spent at the task is any indication, I think all of the students in the latter will be considerably more expert in digital gaming than I am in any form of Japanese swordsmanship. Neither has much to do with either the Division of Global Affairs' core coursework or my particular topic area, and I'm beginning to see why my advisor at Michigan State was fond of remarking that a PhD is like a union card -- it only matters as long as you don't have one.

Best regards,

FL

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Old 07-28-2009, 07:28 AM   #37
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14

Hello Fred,

When I started my work for the Ph.D at Harvard, I was made aware that the doctorate course was a kind of 6-year ascent of the mind, not to God, but to a teaching position at some good university or other. I have never been so mentally stretched there since I did the AS-level course at school in the UK. And there was more mental stretching--physical stretching as well, down the road in Central Square at Kanai Sensei's New England Aikikai dojo. The two years in Cambridge were extremely fulfilling. I was in a milieu of very bright people--being constantly intellectually challenged, and the aikido training was truly excellent.

By comparison, in my experience the arts faculties of Japanese universities are a kind of waste land and I think this has some relevance to the issues discussed in this and previous columns. Basically, the shihan/sensei-centered teaching method might, just might, be fine for the martial arts, but it is of little relevance to the disinterested pursuit of knowledge for its own sake--and this leads Japanese academics to denigrate the disinterested pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. It is far too dangerous and goes against the utilitarian 'frame' of education here: that education that does not serve a purpose is dangerous because it is uncontrolled.

The other issue is the esoterically-structured system of knowledge acquisition here. There is very strong sense here that one cannot obtain knowledge until one is judged fit to receive that knowledge--and the judgment as to who is fit and who is not is made, not by the student--who might flounder with benefit as a result of misjudgments, but by the shihan/sensei, who will not impart the knowledge to those deemed unworthy to receive it. Thus the knowledge is seen as a secret key to access to a higher level.

The other thing I have found is that there is nothing in Japanese that corresponds to the columns I am writing for AikiWeb. No one, but no one, has ever placed O Sensei and aikido in a cross-cultural context, not even in a purely Japanese cultural context.

Best wishes,

PAG

Last edited by Peter Goldsbury : 07-28-2009 at 07:37 AM.

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Old 07-31-2009, 11:19 PM   #38
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: Transmission, Inheritance, Emulation 14

Hello David,

Apologies. I omitted to respond to your ealier post.

I have never considered an index, partly because the series is nowhere near finished and partly because I doubt whether Jun has the resources to mount an index for the columns in the format he uses for the columns in the forums.

Of course, I can see the value of an index, but I am actually revising some of the earlier columns and so they are now somewhat out of date.

Best wishes,

PAG

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Don't expect to understand it all on the first read. To really understand it you must read it over and over and over again and at each reading you will gain a little more understanding. It is a lot like practicing Aikido.

David

P.S. It would be nice to have an index for future referencing.

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