By Marilyn Ivy
Publish yr note: initially released in 1995
Japan at the present time is haunted by means of the ghosts its incredible modernity has generated. Deep anxieties concerning the capability lack of nationwide id and continuity disturb many in Japan, regardless of frequent insistence that it has remained culturally intact. during this provocative conjoining of ethnography, heritage, and cultural feedback, Marilyn Ivy discloses those anxieties—and the makes an attempt to comprise them—as she tracks what she calls the vanishing: marginalized occasions, websites, and cultural practices suspended at moments of coming near near disappearance.
Ivy exhibits how a fascination with cultural margins followed the emergence of Japan as a contemporary geographical region. This fascination culminated within the early twentieth-century institution of jap folklore experiences and its makes an attempt to list the spectral, occasionally violent, narratives of these margins. She then lines the obsession with the vanishing via a variety of modern reconfigurations: efforts through distant groups to advertise themselves as nostalgic websites of authenticity, storytelling practices as symptoms of premodern presence, mass shuttle campaigns, recallings of the lifeless via blind mediums, and itinerant, kabuki-inspired populist theater.
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Additional info for Discourses of the Vanishing: Modernity, Phantasm, Japan
The freedom of women to travel secures the eroticization of the trip—and Japan—with a doubled sense of discovery. The task remained, then, to sell tabi to young women by determining what would appeal to their specific psychology. Fujioka depicts women as kusemono, "rouges" or "rascals," by which he means they do not know their own intentions: women do not know their own minds and are easily manipulated. The early market surveys conducted by the team reinforced this analysis. In these surveys, questioners asked groups of young women where they would like to travel in Japan.
Because of this history, it is problematic to assume that an embedded cultural relationality can be used in any direct way to critique a presumed nonrelational, logocentric western singular self. As I am arguing here, any such sheer opposition between "Japan" and the "West" is in danger of ignoring the deep historical imbrication of those two discursive unities, and of ignoring as well the cross-cutting individualizing modalities of capitalist modernity that have already made it quite impossible to insist on purely relational or situational selves in contemporary Japan (the obverse, that American selves are not rela tional—even if the ideology of American selfhood is all that is considered—is equally impossible).
The difference between these two national discourses reflects changing valences in popular perceptions of national-cultural identity over a span of almost twenty years. Seem ingly assimilable to one variety of the modernist/postmodernist di vide, this distinction has replayed itself in a range of affiliated contexts. The fantasy of Japan as an archive of exotic commodity forms finds parallels in marketing texts that speak of retro "neo-nostalgia" and the ascendance of the "neo-Japonesque" as a commodifiable style; paral lels also cross the domains of academic theory, where the momentary emergence of "new Japanology" recapitulated the rise of the "neo" in other spheres.