Libmonster ID: JP-1245

A reasonable person is the creator and creation of culture, in the broad sense of this concept, as everything created by his mind and hands, whether it is a hand chopper or a space station, the most primitive jewelry made almost 200 thousand years ago or paintings by Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael. An integral part of this culture and, as anthropologists believe, a marker of the final formation of the modern human species 70 - 80 thousand years ago was art culture, or culture in the narrow sense*.

In the mid-20th century, humanity realized the importance of preserving biodiversity in nature as an important condition for its own survival. Cultural uniformity is also like death because of the threat of irretrievable, if not complete, loss of the ability to innovate. Of course, differences in the external environment and the internal state of human groups (populations), ranging from the clan (clan) and ending with superpowers, prevent the establishment of universal unanimity and unity of feeling. But in the context of globalization and the information technology revolution (as well as the colonial world in the past), the problem of preserving the identity of national culture, including artistic culture, as well as the ways of its natural synthesis with the peaks of world art and the "lowlands" of mass culture is becoming increasingly acute.

Often, Japan is called an example of a skillful combination of its own culture and a creative interpretation of the inevitable borrowing of "someone else's". In this regard, the first comprehensive study of contemporary Japanese mass culture in Russia, which has gained many fans all over the world over the past decades, attracts attention-the book by our regular author, Doctor of Historical Sciences, Candidate of Philological Sciences of the Center for Japanese Studies of the Institute of Cultural Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences E. L. Katasonova "Japanese in the real and virtual worlds. Essays on Contemporary Japanese Mass Culture" (Moscow, Vostochnaya Literatura, 2012, 359 p). The author rightly emphasizes: "The Japanese have always tried to adopt only what corresponded to their traditions, rejecting everything that contradicted them, and assimilating the best and most advanced with the native national" (p.16).

I would like to clarify: the point is not only and not so much that the Japanese "tried". Although both the state and certain art creators did this consciously, or even ostentatiously, in general, the process of transforming foreign influence in the art culture and lifestyle of the Japanese people took place and is happening "at the behest of the heart", somewhere in the depths of the "subconscious", as naturally as a person breathes.

E. L. Katasonova successfully acts in two guises-as a historian and a cultural critic, in particular, convincingly showing the ancient roots of Japanese art culture (p. 23). The foundation of Japanese culture was many pagan rituals and rituals, the artistic perception of the world during the spread of aspic rice in 300 BC-300 AD (yaoi culture) like the" semi-pagan " Shinto religion.

In my opinion, this foundation was mostly not shaken either by the adoption of Chinese hieroglyphic writing and the dominance of Chinese culture during the Nara period (VIII century), or by the Westernization of the XIX-XX centuries. Many Japanese art masterpieces and genres seem to have anticipated the modern mass culture of the XX century and the cyberculture of the XXI century. In the latter, the unique sensuality and artistic perception of the world that had been formed in the Land of the Rising Sun for centuries was revived.

The success of modernization during the Meiji Restoration (1868) was also facilitated by the fact that Japan followed a similar path to Europe

Mellars Paul. Why did modern human populations disperse from Africa ca. 60,000 years ago? A new model // PNAS (Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, USA), 20.06.2006 - 103/25/938 l.full.pdf+html; Leaky Richard. The Origin of Humankind. N.Y., BasicBooks, 1994, p. 101 - 118; Johanson Donald, Johanson Lenorajohanson and Blake Edgar. Ancestors. In Search of Human Origin. N.Y., 1994, p. 299 - 303, 326.

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paths in the era of feudalism and the birth of capitalism. The world of the emerging Japanese bourgeoisie, indulging in hedonic "joys of life", is beautifully described in the book. According to the author, it was then that a mass commercial culture emerged in the country, which was already very different from the culture of palaces and huts.

It seems that many readers and female readers will be attracted to the pages dedicated to the" floating, perishable world "of Ukiyo, which has transformed from a Buddhist philosophy into a "sad and cheerful vision of the world", "a fleeting world of pleasure". At that time, a natural semi-linguistic Japanese eroticism, almost unknown to the Soviet and Russian readers, flourished, ennobled by the elegance of etiquette (pp. 32-33). While in the United States and Western Europe, as a result of the invention of the birth control pill and the first international "youth revolt" in the history of mankind in the 60s of the XX century, a "sexual revolution" broke out, in Japan there was a "sexual counter-revolution". In 1956, prostitution was banned in the country, and disciplined Japanese obediently obeyed the law.

I came to Tokyo as my own correspondent for Komsomolskaya Pravda in 1965, when no traces of the famous Yoshiwara" fun quarter "remained - neither a museum of eroticism, nor an"architectural monument". A whole world has disappeared, like Montmartre in the days of Toulouse-Lautrec or New Orleans ' Basinstreet, where the genius of jazz Louis Armstrong grew up running errands in brothels.

The" floating World " of ukiyo, along with other deep traditions of Japanese culture, has been revived in such popular forms of popular culture as comics-manga and their animated offspring - anime.

Although manga is generally considered a cultural phenomenon of the second half of the twentieth century, it seems that manga absorbed almost everything that could be absorbed in the Japanese art tradition and creatively adopted borrowed artistic wealth. Some Japanese researchers trace its lineage back to popular prints of the ancient Yaoi agricultural culture mentioned above, others to medieval scroll paintings, and still others to ukiyo-e engravings by the great artist Katsushika Hokusai, who not only created "live" drawings, but also used the word itself. There is no doubt that the artistic perception of Japanese people and manga itself was influenced by Chinese hieroglyphic writing and, finally, the style of American and European comics organically fit into them.

The hieroglyph itself is radically different - or, more precisely, it was different - from the concept conveyed by the phonetic (sound) alphabet. From the point of view of theory, a single word is also a sign, a symbol, but there is no direct connection with what it means. And any hieroglyphic writing - whether ancient Egyptian or Chinese - grew out of pictographic drawings depicting objects and phenomena. In other words, the visual and sound series went hand in hand. In Japan, the" picture " of a character, without changing its meaning, was called a Japanese word (although the Chinese phoneme was also preserved, primarily for phrases of two or more characters). Two Japanese alphabets, Hiragana and Katakana, especially the first one, have given variety and special grace to the hieroglyphic script. The result is a natural and attractive language cocktail. Unlike the Korean and Vietnamese scripts, where Chinese characters were removed, Japanese still has Chinese characters.

As the author notes, perhaps this is the origin of the peculiarity of Japanese artistic thinking: the perception and generalization of any information in pictures and images, as well as the associative principle on which the Japanese artistic tradition is based. The harmonious combination of visual and sound series, on which writing is based, has determined the further development of Japanese culture up to the present day, which gives reason to consider Japanese hieroglyphic writing among the most ancient artistic sources of modern manga culture (p.63).

The world cinema luminary Sergei Eisenstein emphasized the cinematic character of hieroglyphics. His famous theory of editing arose as a result of acquaintance with Chinese and Japanese hieroglyphs, analyzing which, he came to the conclusion about the evolution of the image of objects into symbols, concepts.

To say that manga is a Japanese craze is almost an understatement. If in America the culture of comics is mainly focused on teenagers, in Japan it is a basic component of the entire modern mass culture of the country (p. 59).

Everyone is interested in the art of manga - from young to old. After all, it can convey in an accessible form both philosophical treatises and instructions for using household appliances. In the genre of such comics, it is customary to publish textbooks on history, economics and law, as well as election programs of political parties. Books and magazines with pictures are enthusiastically read on the train and at home, during recess at school and during lunch break in offices. Everyone reads-men and women, schoolchildren and students, clerks and professors. In 20 minutes, a reader who is used to hieroglyphic writing reads a 320-page comic book magazine. The speed of the brain's perception of information when reading, or rather, viewing manga, in Japanese-

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cev is 28-30% higher than when learning alphabetic text.

The concept of manga is primary, it contains all the fundamental principles that later spread to animation-anime, and video and computer games, which are, in essence, a logical continuation of manga. It is hardly necessary to clearly separate these "branches", since in fact it is one phenomenon of mass culture, only existing in different guises - in print, film and digital versions.

And yet, the most important secret of the popularity of manga is, perhaps, in the rare ability of Japanese people to feel and perceive at some genetic level the artistic traditions of their ancestors. According to some Japanese and Western psychologists, manga is a unique way to comprehend the Japanese consciousness, closed for understanding from the rest of the world by the peculiarity of a thousand-and-a-half-year-old culture, unique traditions. Without knowledge of the manga phenomenon, it is difficult to truly understand Japan and its people (p. 59).

Now there is a powerful offensive of the Internet and e-books on printed products. But whether they can beat the manga is a big question, although manga is also present in the virtual world.

Books and magazines with manga are more familiar, convenient, and easy to understand. They are like cigarettes in countries that have not yet declared war on tobacco - on every corner. They are more than affordable. They, like syringes, are designed for one-time use: I ran my eyes and threw them in the trash. They are fascinating: they can, like an intoxicating potion or sedative pills, distract from the vicissitudes of life, help you forget yourself, return to the fairy tales of childhood.

E. L. Katasonova's book is very modern and in the truest sense of the word, for example, youth subcultures, cyberculture, video games, etc. occupy an important place in it.And, therefore, it is also attractive for the younger generation, who prefer virtual worlds to real ones, readers and gadgets to books, and computer games to amateur sports.

Typical in this sense is the phenomenon of the new otaku subculture, which today is formed by fans of the world of manga, anime, computer games, special effects in movies, Japanese pop and rock music. Moreover, for its extreme fans, anime, manga, and computer games are the goal and essence of life. A typical image of Japanese anime otaku is a lonely "young man" between the ages of 14 and 40, poorly dressed, almost a hermit, often a dependent. In a word, a "parasite" of the information and communication age.

Is otaku good or evil? It's hard to say. But it is clear that this is a very modern phenomenon, a product of the rapid advance of virtual worlds that have straddled the information and communication rink and filled the minds, hearts and souls of billions of people.

Quite naturally and rightly, the book focuses mainly on the best examples of mass Japanese culture, which also became the country's brand at the international level and a component of Japanese "soft power". And even if the book contains criticism of her, it is on an "elevated" level.

It seems to me that in Japan and in any other country, for a more complete and objective assessment of mass culture, as well as national peculiarities of mentality, it is important not only to see the "shining peaks", but also to sink to its"bottom". After all, even among the Japanese, the process of creative development of borrowing is not always fast and smooth: mass-cultural trash ("garbage") was often swallowed, which was difficult to get rid of only with time.

I was convinced of this by my own experience in the 60s of the XX century, when, preparing an article for the newspaper, I went to the cinemas. The impression was bleak.

The role played in those years by the films of the world-famous patriarch of post-war Japanese cinema Akira Kurosawa is invaluable, and he was supported by other luminaries. But these were rare spools in a huge pile of primitive and outright thrash, which then did not go beyond the borders of the country, and a rare Japanese person could perceive the colloquial language of these films. However, reality is always more prosaic than touching images. So, in Japanese homes there is a cult of cleanliness, but in cinemas and public places there was a slightly different picture. Yes, and under the cherry branches while admiring it, you could see drunken peasants with liters of sake.

Oddly enough, in my opinion, the situation was better with television. There were no artistic breakthroughs, but the bar was kept quite high both in historical dramas and in music shows (the East-West competition, in which popular singers were divided according to the manner of performance), etc. Apparently, this is due to the fact that TV advertising immediately began to "make money". During the Japanese-Soviet festival of youth friendship on the lake. Yamanaka in the summer of 1966, cosmonaut pilot V. M. Komarov, who had arrived in Japan just a few hours earlier, performed live on the quiz show, which was a complete surprise for the viewers (I was assigned the role of translator).

The book by E. L. Katasonova is an excellent guide to the labyrinths of Japanese art culture and the national way of thinking and feeling, it will find a lot of interesting things for "both old and young", both a specialist and a lover of art culture - "high" and mass, eastern and western.

E. M. RUSAKOV, Candidate of Historical Sciences


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E. M. RUSAKOV, MIRROR OF THE JAPANESE SOUL: SAKURA BRANCH OR MANGA COMICS? // Tokyo: Japan (ELIB.JP). Updated: 23.01.2024. URL: (date of access: 25.06.2024).

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