Saturday, December 30, 2006

Beyond this linguistic closure

Some time ago, aneta made a comment on my earlier entry and asked how I divided the topics between my English and Japanese blogs.

My blog in Japanese has been running for 7 years now, starting on the 12th of November, 2006. It is fairly well established in its style and readership. The entries during the period of 2004 to 2005 has been edited into a book (Yawaraka-nou, or "The flexible brain"), published from Tokuma-shoten.
My English blog, on the other hand, is far from being established and is in the process of experimentation.

Actually, expressing oneself in English, while living in Tokyo and being absorbed more or less in the Japanese cultural environment, is a difficult task. It is related to the context in which the Japanese people and culture are thrown into in the modern age.

Since the Meiji revolution, Japan has been playing the game of a catch up. It has been customary for the intellectuals to "import" ideas developed in Europe and the States, and the same process is basically happening even today. I am not saying that no original ideas have been nurtured in this country. I am just pointing out that the product of Japanese intellectuals have failed to find its market outside Japan. Although Japanese sub-culture (Manga, Anime, Otaku) are getting popular in the world market, many intellectuals (university professors etc.) in Japan remain in a "domestic" existence.

Japan as a nation has a tendency to be closed and self-contained, mainly because of the language. Once you write something in Japanese, it is almost certain that the majority of the readership will be Japanese citizens. I have published ~20 books in Japanese, and I well know that my readership will be effectively limited to this island country as long as I keep publishing in my native tongue.

I think this linguistic closure is bad for me personally and for people in general living in Japan. There is a nationalistic trend rampant recently, and I am personally worried. A sense of universal liberty and a tolerance towards people from different backgrounds can only come from an effort to meet the unknown, to communicate, however clumsily, with people who literally speak a different language.

My English blog is in a totally different context from the Japanese blog, and I enjoy the contextual departure. When I write something in English, my imagined readership is not necessarily people from countries where the native tongue is English. Although I do much appreciate people from U.K., the United States, Canada, Australia, to read my blog, I would at the same time very much like people from regions of minority languages, whose only means of opening oneself to the wider world is by adapting to the English language, to access my humble blog.

I do not know where this experimentation is leading me. I will keep writing any way.


Jackson Lima said...

I like the subject. I write from Brazil (SA) and would like to have the url of your Japanese blog. Thank You.

Ken Mogi said...

Dear, Jackson.
Thank you for your comment.
I have been to Brazil once (Rio de Janeiro,
Sao Paolo, and Manaus) and loved every moment of my stay there.

Here's the url of my Japanese blog.

I have mentioned this blog in the qualia journal

Unknown said...

interesting stuff here...thanks