The boys are engaged in a pure highly aestheticized

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Unformatted text preview: ad been able to reaffirm his faith in the traditional literary and aesthetic values of Japan and, in particular, in the spirit of Zen Buddhism. In his own writing, however, Òe found himself torn by what he saw as the “ambiguity” between Japan the traditional and Japan the modern. As he put it: After a hundred and twenty years of modernization since the opening up of the country, contemporary Japan is split between two opposite poles of ambiguity. This ambiguity, which is so powerful and penetrating that it divides 346 Culture in the Present Age both the state and its people, and affects me as a writer like a deep-felt scar, is evident in various ways. The modernization of Japan was oriented toward learning from and imitating the West, yet the country is situated in Asia and has firmly maintained its traditional culture. The ambiguous orientation of Japan drove the country into the position of an invader in Asia, and resulted in its isolation from other Asian nations not only politically but also socially and culturally. And even in the West, to which its culture was supposedly quite open, it has long remained inscrutable or only partially understood.59 One of the most remarkable phenomena of postwar mass (popular) culture has been the boom in comics (manga). In the United States the popularity of printed comics has declined steadily since the 1950s largely because of the competition from television. But in Japan, which, like the United States, has also become one of the world’s most television-saturated countries, comics of the “story-line” kind have during the same period exploded in popularity to the point where, in 1980, 27 percent— or 1.8 billion—of the books and magazines published in Japan were comics.60 But what is perhaps even more astounding than the sheer volume of comics publications is that comics are voraciously read by adults as well as youngsters. Thus, for example, to the great surprise of many foreign visitors, it is not at all uncommon t...
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This note was uploaded on 02/08/2013 for the course ANTH 142 taught by Professor Hans during the Spring '13 term at The University of British Columbia.

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