Oubliette: The Forgetting Place

My last few posts have, at least semi-unconsciously, been working towards a peak. A pinnacle. Unfortunately there are no two ways about this. Living in Japan is hard. Doesn’t matter what most folk say, there are marked differences between living in Costa Rica and Japan and Australia. Obviously, there are mitigations to be considered but one that particular ledger has been balanced Japan comes out on top. Part of what makes Japan so difficult to live in is its Harmony. Sometimes this is called ‘Japanese Style Harmony’ by people while other showcase it as a case of what happens when the status quo goes unchallenged for too long. Truth be told, at least one of these is true.

“You can have Peace. Or you can have Freedom.” R.A Heinlein.

Guess which Japan chose; and criticism shan’t be abided by.

Criticism, even by other Japanese and especially by ‘non-Japanese’, is not well received. Rapid express ticket to becoming a Pariah. The foreigner population (read: predominantly white Anglo folks who have stayed in Japan) are often the first to quash any non-Japanese instigated complaints and criticisms about Japan. Lest the Harmony be disturbed. Almost ironically, it’s quite unpopular to both like Japan and have your criticisms. Somehow, nowadays, the foreigners tend to be the ones who defend Japan for all it’s faults and the Japanese who are berating Japan for it’s faults on the front line.

“Think of the Children.” – Anyone

Bereft of its usual rhetoric, I think of this less as a tactic and more as a an imperative. It is how I gauge that I am on the right track.

There is a sense of shame that pervades basically every part of Japanese life. Beyond the little changed accoutrements of the language. Their sense of self is smothered beneath inferiority complexes, wrapped up in superiority complexes about their inferiority complexes and a sentiment of animality usually expressed by rape victims. This is what its like to be around adults in Japan; people a decade or more my senior. They talk and behave with an almost put upon air of serenity. You tip toe around them as though you are Annie Lennox with bleeding feet. Gingerly try to reciprocate, only to be told ‘it’s ok, you’re not Japanese. You can’t understand’. A pox on both our houses. On yours for your hubris and mine for the obstinance and sight of both my families.

I see beyond the lie you tell yourself. I see the hole where your dignity once was and I see the way you look at yourself. Clothes torn, covered in mud and shit and blood. I recognise the look on your faces. Worst of all, I see what you do. You seek to partition your shame from the Next; you take all the burden and all the agency. You think they cannot be trusted with their own will because you were punished for having one. You think to protect them when instead you are merely making it that much easier for them to suffer worse than you did. You want them to have an easier time of it than you did.

I am the one to whom you, however much abstracted, have given the responsibility of preparing them for the Future, the World. I am the one that must try to help these gelded and lobotomised Yet-to-be-People. You made it my role to feed their souls because you lack the impetus. Your hearts have rotted away; your souls rent asunder; your spirit left an ashen ruin. You cannot do the task so you bring others to do it for you. Bring others who can open up the wonder of the universe for your children.

Flawed process; trying to feed something with no mouth. You sewed it shut, all the while saying ‘its for your own good’.

“God is Dead.” – Nietzsche

I have long wondered how this country can feel so empty. Japan should be rife with spirits, gods and more. So much so that even I should be aware of them. Perhaps, now, I finally have an answer.

They hide.

Cloistered away in far off retreats.

You have become ashamed of them and lo! They are so much more of you.

The Land of the Rising Sun.

Now made an Oubliette.

A prison with walls of air and elegant words.


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