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Archive for December 9th, 2017

Me shihei-san!

Kazuo Ishiguro, hanzi/kanji name 石黒 一雄, on the day he learned that he would receive the 2017 Nobel Literature Prize: Seeing the impact of his work inside Britain, not outside, White and Anglophone reporters duly assembled at Ishiguro’s home to pay homage. “At last, here, truly, is one of us,” says Whiteman to himself.

You’d have to admit though that in his (English) writings さん shihei-san is very good, the perfect banana imitation to an English way of life, even thinks like one. He’s King of the Anglophile Anglopheny.

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Fan Jiayang, still want to be Anglophile Queen of Anglopheny? You aren’t going to make it in New York. You got to be in England. But if the weather isn’t suitable then try Australia. Stick to your wok, girl. Does New York think that’s all there’s to it about you?

On the bright side though: In Australia you will be among tongbao 同胞, and will have for a brother (warning: he likes girls, younger than teenagers; even dream dreams of them) this piece of Anglophile kangaroo prick for company but since konverted, rekonverted now re-re… to the greater cause. Round and round they go; one loses count.

That’s Anglophile for you, Queenie SupFan…

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Nobel Lit Revisited. Award goes to…

The Banana Republic of Anglophiles

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The British and the Japanese may not be particularly alike, but the two races are exceedingly comparable. The British must actually believe this, for why else would they be displaying such a curious desperation to deny it? … Hence the energy expended on sustaining an image of Japan as a place of fanatical businessmen, of hara-kiri and sci-fi gadgetry. Books, articles and television programmes focus on whatever is most extreme and bizarre in Japanese life; the Japanese people may be viewed as amusing or alarming, expert or devious, but they must above all be seen to be non-human. … No wonder the British are so fond of the ‘inscrutability’ of Japanese faces. — Kazuo Ishiguro, London Review of Books: Uchi, 1985 August.

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THE INSCRUTABLE

Soon after the 2017 Nobel Literature prize went to Kazuo Ishiguro, he came to some “serious biographical thinking.”

Biographical thinking? And serious, too. Let’s dig into it.

Start with Josephine Livingstone who had strung up that phrase in the New Republic. Does she mean to say and yet not saying it that the western literary world has begun to question Ishiguro’s credentials for writing as if he were an Englishman? With which you can hear the quiet refrain spoken in London pubs: ‘But he isn’t even one of us!‘ Is he even English?

In America, Ishiguro became a further source of excitement among Koreans and Chinese writers and, of course, the Japanese — this is the Asian Anglophone world. In the New Yorker, Jane Hu wrote of a response by a writer friend, one Ed Park who thinks skin:

The Remains of the Day‘ was an important book for me twenty-five years ago—I was fascinated by the idea of an author of Asian ancestry writing so outside his skin. I hadn’t read anything like that before…

Not even in America with the like of Amy Tan (The Joy Luck Club, horrid book, overrated) and Michiko Kakutani (New York Times, under-represented?) had they done it. Could they? A Japanese in England isn’t the same as one in America, No? Being an American was first and foremost a question of identifying where the immigrant had come from before, ‘What’s an American am I suppose to be?’ In contrast, there is no existential angst with being British; the only problem is one of skin-color.

Take (the American?) Fan Jiayang, eight when she was taken to America by her Sichuan parents but, Rosie Blau first.

In ‘Who is Chinese‘ (Economist, 2016 November), Blau, conflating notions of nationalism and race, then went on to suggest that China becoming a global influence has an underlying racial — even racist — motivation. That is, Han Chinese power. (Past commentators rarely say this of Europeans or Americans when they went global marching in — White power.) Picking up on the Blau’s sour-grape diatribe about Chinese identity, Fan tweeted, ‘complicated subject I’ve been thinking about for a long time‘.

Complicated? Thinking about who’s Chinese?  As if she’s capable of some independent, profound thinking, excavating the depths of her existential soul for answers nobody had before.

What’s there to think about when, after all, it’s either you are or you aren’t? Or, either you want to be, or you don’t want. (We, Chinese, would say to her: 老乡,想太多了.) Fan’s soggy brains and vacillating heart reflect the many dilemmas the Chinese needlessly put themselves into when they end up in West, among the first of which: How the fuck on paper am I to put my name, first name or last? Poor woman, but she has now decided to go with white: I’m Jiayang Fan, she shouts from Twitter and the pages of New Yorker. She doesn’t realize it. Just flipping the name around, half of her deep-thinking work in ‘thinking about’ has already been conceded to someone else.

By ‘thinking about’, Fan probably meant her rightful place — as Chinese — among Americans and as one of them. It also meant that, under editorial diagnosis, the human specie, given yellow and black skin types, are like rat specimens with which objective, independent traits exist to be cut up, fished out, labelled, classified then bottled in a jar for the start of some morality lessons, usually peppered with Christendom. In that attitude, Blau is representative. The western world believe that their moral standards constitute the primary basis for establishing modernity and culture. (The German sociologist Jurgen Habermas said that actually: the West is fundamentally Judeo-Christian, any other explanation is modern claptrap.)

A cottage industry writing books and editorial columns have since flourished from the slicing and dicing of the Chinese and Japanese. For one, we, economically, culturally and intellectually, make up the strongest ethnic group outside the West: no other society, not Indian, neither Aztec nor Arabs, come anywhere near to challenging western dominance in modern life. Today, at the height of this exercise, exasperated commentators, they’d throw up their hands in exasperation; you’ll find Anglophile motherfuckers, the RD and Kangkung types, by the dozens hogging Annie’s Life.

Enter Ishiguro: Inscrutable, you say? He knew how to set straight the record on what is it to be inscrutable, word by word, line by line, 100,000 words in all. With unparalleled finesse, he had turned inscrutability into pure art; he could tell you what is it be English, down to the man’s penile urgings.

The Remains of the Day is old world, blue blood English in fictional disguise, complete with tones, nuances and language style. With it, Ishiguro saw a way to offer a complete display of English traits: egotistical and self-centered, deluded, pretentious, prone to lying, and more inhuman than a dog when the butler Stevens left his father to die alone upstairs while, downstairs, his cruelty is justified by his dedication to some principles of greatness. More important than his father was Stevens’s dedication to his job — attending to the rich and famous.

[This kind of moral exchange is rampant among Anglophiles today. Remember Petra Kamarudin and Malaysiakini‘s Steven Gan? The latter, in the name of some journalism righteousness, had published and circulated RPK’s defense for abandoning his thieving son in jail over some moral, unbending dedication to supposed high ‘principles’, which is, better to retain the purity of his godly soul than soil his hands — not even once with a bribe to a cop — to bring out the son from a lockup cell where doors and windows don’t exist, and walls cram in ten people in a space for one, where the common odor is sweat and floors are thick with urine.]

In The Remains, Ishiguro employed a literary technique sometimes referred to as an interior monologue which, really, is an act of confession, the difference being that the confessing is delivered to oneself instead of the padre. This act, so Christian, so personalized, and because it reaches down to the depth’s of a white man’s soul, the interior monologue became a highly effective tool not just to answer the question about who is English but, more important than that, what is English.

It is this intrinsic quality in the butler Stevens, emblematic of English culture, that Ishiguro not only turned the tables on the West. He would also undo two centuries of an English-centric view of the world that they are superior, culturally, morally, and in their thinking.

Yet, it is befuddling how, after Stevens, could England and the West be the same to the rest of the world?

INSIDE THE SKIN

Indeed, nothing like this has ever been written until Ishiguro. It drew a backlash. With western writers in particular, whose own lives now sequestered by an outsider, how are they to consider life “outside their skin” when they can’t truly tell what’s on the inside, of their own lives?

What is a Japanese — really, really a Japanese? For an Englishman or a westerner to reach into the the inside depths of the Other, crossing the Pacific in a sampan would be easier. One John David Morley did try or became on; living or probably imagined a Japanese life; tried his hand at a Ishiguro-kind novel, and out came… trash (more on that later): Garbage in, garbage out.

Unlike a Chinese or Korean raised to contemplate the world primarily in terms of an external web of relationships as opposed to a lone Self radiating acts and thoughts, the western child has no such perception. The western child sees the world around him as he would as an anchor, from where other people are considered, examined and after which the child makes daily judgments, sometimes from moment from moment. His rules of living are received from the outside, not created from within and, indeed, an anarchist would prefer none. Growing up, religious morality, education and job training reinforce this self radiating view.

Ursula K. le Guin: Experience of the ‘Other’ is a gift….The West now sees the ‘Other’ on TV.

Christopher Hitchens sensed the same dilemma facing white, post-Christian society, without the self provided and instructed by a God. The ultimate source of western morality, the root of Englishness, has been the man Jesus Christ who pretended then bragged he has answers to everything and now he is dead and you can’t even find his gravestone while countless numbers in the west don’t give a shit for him anymore (the ‘Atheists’). Hitchens:

What will do about values, ethics, morals; how will we teach the children; how will we learn to live with one another in the absence of any real religious authority, any credible one.

Shuzheng now prays: Forgive him, my Allah in Heaven, your son Christopher hasn’t yet come to read Daoism nor Confucianism — and now it’s too late. He’s with you! But, he has the answer (and thank you, our Jesus in Heaven, for sending him to us) which, although 3,000 years late, is all self-evident with the Chinese and with Confucianists who have all along maintained that humanity is an acquired thing, by experience, day-in, day-out, so that being good or learning to be good doesn’t cease until death because morality, in our definition (and correctly, too), is internal volition. Hitchens again:

Morality is not learned by orders — they are thought crimes in the Ten Commandments! It’s acquired by experience, by moral-suasion and by comparing and contrasting these questions. Morality is what you do when you think nobody is looking.

No viewpoint could be more insular than, a child having grown up then becoming a writer, thinking thoughts of an outside world where its objective reality can only be penetrated by the experience of it. The west, contrary to its self-spun mythology, is the most insular thing that the human specie has evolved into.

Small wonder the English (and the West) thought Ishiguro inscrutable; we, the Chinese, knew more about inscrutability than Ishiguro or the Englishman, indeed we had preceded both. From the daodejing 道德经:

Say it, you will lose it

daokedao, feichangdao
mingkeming, feichangming

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say it’s that way, the way is lost
name that thing, the thing is lost

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ANGLO JAP

Ishiguro was also exceptional as a Booker prize recipient and not because he is Japanese, and until him most of those writing outside the skin never wrote inside it, and were invariably Indian. They were Anglophiles writing Anglophile things, that is, looking at Indians as skin Indians from a cultural, self-radiating western platform: Roy, Adiga, Rushdie, Desai, Naipaul, Thayil, Mukhejee, even Martel.

They were imitations — and imitation was easy as god — but could anyone say that of Ishiguro?

English identity wasn’t the only thing he had taken up in The Remains because inside the (white) skin, what’s it like? How do you become English?

What’s Ishiguro as Englishman? Is that even possible? Or, is there anything to being more English than English? An uber-Anglophile perhaps.

Ishiguro would have thought of taking this ‘inscrutable’ path from an idea seeded when in 1985 he came to Morley’s Water Trade: Adventures of a Westerner in Japan. The book was typical, been-there, done-that sort of thing and just about every gweilo who came to the Far East wants to write a book about their ‘experiences’, certainly autobiographical but always disguised: What was it like, in China, in Japan? About Thailand, it almost always talked women and prostitutes when it isn’t about poverty.

All had one thing in common: those books invariably failed because all were wrong, including Morley. Their failure wasn’t just in the banality of their observations — and it couldn’t be anything other than banality. It was especially their self-delusion. In a book such as Water Trade, Morley trades his own Englishness for his egotistical notion of the Japanese by replacing the former with latter as one indivisible specimen — a rose is a rose, a cockroach is a cockroach, a Jap is a fucking Jap.

Morley, on the other hand, pretends to be a well-meaning and disinterested man in an apron and scalpel, never mind the times spent running in and out of other people’s bedrooms. His Englishness never left him and, invariably, all his efforts came down to pure literary fraud. To an outside reader, especially if Japanese, there was indeed something persuasively absurd with the style, language and genre and a quick example suffices to see it: a Japanese simply doesn’t talk nor think the way Morley had put it, especially in the translated English.

Ishiguro was clever enough to avoid following this inscrutable path because the problem with imitation — and this is fundamental to any good writer — is that an Englishman like Morley can never tell the real from the superficial, nor between truth and pretense in Japanese society, in its characters and their lives. How could Morley? In common, philistine parlance, this inability of some outsider getting and looking in then finding it all bewildering is called a ‘cultural shock’.

There is another expression for this shock: Inscrutable.

From Ishiguro’s standpoint, If the Japanese is inscrutable, how then is a Japanese to be English since Japanese to the English has to be unattainable because inscrutable? This encapsulates an essential emigrant dilemma, an impasse with contradiction piled on contradiction that renders meaningless and stupid Salman Rushdie’s one time claim that Ishiguro, in The Remains, was into Big questions of life: What’s identity? What is it to be English? That’s like asking a pig what’s it like to be a cow, a Japanese to be English, or worse in its absurdity, as in Morley’s case: Now that you have fucked all the Japanese women, what is it like to be a Jap?

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Part 2 of Inscrutable Ishiguro is next.

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While Ishiguro, in England, went out of his way to be nice when writing about the English, the same wasn’t happening about an Englishman writing about the Japanese (above). All that the author John David Morley (below) could think of and imagine while in Japan was to go up and down the country inserting his dick into every Japanese housewife he encounters and, in between all that, going to brothels.

That’s about summed up the Englishman’s view of the Japanese, in contrast to the view of the English by the rest of the world. Morley, it seems, understands next to nothing about Japanese culture but manages to find the metaphorical term for the night-time pleasure world of brothels, clubs and cabarets: The Water Trade.

The book was released four years before Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. Morley’s stereotyping of the Japanese so rattled Ishiguro that although Morley was just regurgitating White trash, Ishiguro in England reviewed it for the London Review of Books and managed to stay civil:

I fear, then, for this … book by John David Morley, based on his three-year stay in Japan during the mid-Seventies, which adopts the approach of assuming the Japanese to be human beings, and rather ordinary ones at that.

Assuming? There we go again: Are the Japanese even human? Ishiguro:

[The book]  is the story of a man who – for reasons left unstated… – feels a powerful need to leave his own culture behind and become accepted by the Japanese. He succeeds so far as to find the inner doors closed to him.

Wrong, shihei-san! He got past the bedroom doors, didn’t he?

Truth be told: All that interested Morley was to fuck as many Jap cunts as he could lay his dick on (then recoup his testosterone capital selling his experiences in book form), any of who — the girls — he couldn’t get in a deeply butlerized English reserve society so saddled with all its Christian morals. Besides, Japanese women are far, far, far far, far less likely than Virginia Woolf to shout sexual harassment.

Small wonder, the Islamic State like to cut white man throats: they are in competition for a scarce resource. It’s all masochistic.

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Morley, above, born in Singapore, 1948, he is close to Ishiguro’s generation. Like Ishiguro’s Stevens, he is also English, but for another problem: Trying to find his way into the world, he goes for the most English of notoriety —  native sex and then he brags about it to Anglophiles, at book length, about the conquest of his penis.

Morley is the Englishness that Ishiguro pretended not to see — or maybe couldn’t — in an imitation case of English self-delusion so characteristic of Anglophiles.

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Pictures of the Water Trade: The Sexual Adventures of John David Morley

Photos like the one above help inform and complete the English worldview of the Japanese, today Thai and Chinese: a bunch of whores they can buy, own and discard. The images, above and below, were taken before the time Morley was there, but the same Japanese location, circa 1910. Notice the English naming of the brothel as well the motherfuckers in bowler hats (think RPK). They probably work in the offices of the East India Company. Or maybe Jardine Fleming, or Sime Darby.

Imagine, hence, John David Morley entering the same place 50 years later.

Raja Petra Kamarudin, the half-Welsh Malaiyoo and Anglophile, today lodged in Manchester, has an identical stereotypical view of the Chinese; he said so himself.

https://shuzheng.files.wordpress.com/2017/12/e3b66-japanese-prostitutes-8.jpg?w=500

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Spot the Difference

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One for the Stevens: Look Annie! There’s a Chinaman in our home!

Francis Yeoh (above, and don’t you dare ask who is he among them) badly wants to be a Lord Darlington, indeed any kind of Lord so long as Lord and never mind where so long as it is England (not motherfucking Scotland, please). He is the Lordly kind of Anglophile, Christianized, Anglicized, Malaysian (still is?), build railroads and utility plants for a living, a pedigree to its own that the Anglopheny world happily prostrates to.

But who among the above — and he has to be an Englishman — is going to be his butler?

The world upside down.

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