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Superlegitimacy: passion and ecstasy of a Tokyo train driver - click opera — LiveJournal
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Tue, Jul. 20th, 2004 09:45 am
Superlegitimacy: passion and ecstasy of a Tokyo train driver

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charleshatcher
charleshatcher
charleshatcher
Tue, Jul. 20th, 2004 07:10 am (UTC)

I'm not sure what, exactly, to make of this. On one hand, I'm charmed and delighted by the social custom, but then, on the other, I'm genuinely saddened by the idea of one's career becoming the core of one's life. That's not to say I don't think a person should take their job seriously and tackle it with expedience, conscientiousness and eagerness, but I feel I also might prefer my train driver to see their job as a job, and aspire to something more: to do a good day's work and return home to oil paint or listen to Dietrich Buxtehude or write short stories or whatever takes their fancy.

Then there's the matter of whether this intensity of utter dedication, when it has become the standard or prerequisite, is, in point of fact, genuine or a mere empty gesture. I've often wondered this about the universal reverence displayed by the Nipponese in countless ways: is the conduct demonstrating respect if it's automatic, almost innate? Do we not value some people more than others? Can we not deem for ourselves who warrants our full esteem? This is not to say we should not be polite, but bowing for bowing's sake seems almost to mock the motion. Is it better to be candid and on occasion indecorous, or somewhat superficial and excessively courteous?

As for the subways being abandoned in the west: I wish! Or maybe I don't; I like that the London Underground inhabits people who put their feet up and rabbit on on mobile phones; I like the chaos of the public, the fumble of personalities, the mash of decorum, the individualism of train drivers.


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(Anonymous)
Tue, Jul. 20th, 2004 09:35 am (UTC)
Train of thought

In the West familarity breeds contempt, in the East familarity breeds contentment. Or so it seems. Maybe if you lived in Japan you would no longer be able to "see Japan" to quote your song. Vocational passion only seems to exist in the professional or artisan classes in the West. The utilitarian is stigmatized, hence the lack of willing hands to do the dirty or drab jobs and hence the culture of bringing in immigrant labour. Japan obviously does not operate this model. By ritualising the repetition (as in your example) it glorifies infrastructure workers and it's society.

Is all of this obsessiveness healthy ? Well maybe to our eyes it seems odd but then we always want to find fault, we always want to explain it away in psychological language. Do the Japanese have psychiatrists ? I'd be interested to know what are the current 'obsessions' in popular culture right now. What are people reading on the train ?

So where does anomie operate in Japanesse society, surely there must be some ? Does it reveal itself in Manga and in the imagination of popular culture ?

Another fabulous entry, Nick. Do you realise that you are fostering a form of compulsive behavior in the people who read and post here ! Reading your musings are habit forming : "Kkkkyyyyyoooooooo!'

Richard g


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