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(Don't want to live in a) hub and spoke world - click opera — LiveJournal
February 2010
 
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Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 01:16 am
(Don't want to live in a) hub and spoke world

85CommentReply

imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 12:02 pm (UTC)

I think there's a tendency for Americans to think this way about America -- it's the "I don't have an accent, but everyone else does" syndrome. We don't have a culture in America, just "freedom" etc etc.

Now, it's true that when I lived in the US I tried to live in a mukokuseki (or stateless, or international) way. And in New York or California that's almost possible. In fact, I wrote one blog entry called "New York is almost a city in Asia". But that "almost" is a huge reservation. Actually, America is a very specific culture with a very specific habitus and flavour. It has attracted immigrants from everywhere, but they've been a particular sort of exile, and they've been heavily socialized upon arrival. In no way is America the whole world in microcosm, and in no way can this be advanced as a justification for a one-way cultural imperialism.

A better justification might be the little moments when it looked as if Japanese firms like Sony could take over Hollywood. But that financial input didn't lead to a spate of films with "Japanese values", did it?

I tend to talk about a "third culture" emerging in Japan, which is the product of miscegynating couples (foreigner/Japan combinations) and cultural collaboration between Japanese and Westerners. But it's crucial for both parties to listen and learn from each other. If we ask whether America is listening to, and learning from, say, its emigrant Poles, I think the answer has to be "Well, once it did. But then the Poles stopped arriving in such big numbers, and the American ones became Polish-American, and then just American."

(And by the way I have reservations about the "emerging third culture" idea even when it's couples like my own relationship. Just as emigrants to America were a particular subgroup of the indigenous population, I think the kind of people who self-select for a foreign partner are a particular subset of their own culture. Quirky, atypical Westerners are meeting and mating with quirk, atypical Japanese, in most cases! So it's important to keep listening to the majorities of, say, Scots or Japanese who don't do this when talking about Scottishness or Japaneseness.)


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(Anonymous)
Mon, Mar. 26th, 2007 11:03 pm (UTC)

The US has a flavour and an accent but it tends to absorb the world's selling points as soon as they emerge, leaving other places looking at their roots, and wondering why being 'true to their style' is so joyless. Surely it is just a flipside of the imperialist coin to expect 'Japanese values' to be 'arthouse', or accuse anything commercial of 'bowing to US values'. You're putting the world in a lose-lose position.


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