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Brain Diving - It's All Geek To Me


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Fronzel



Joined: 11 Sep 2003
Posts: 1377

PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:16 pm Reply with quote
Why did anyone bother translating a shallow, stupid book on Japan from Spanish when we have so many shallow, stupid books on Japan written in English to choose from?
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here-and-faraway



Joined: 21 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 27, 2011 11:49 pm Reply with quote
Out of curiosity, are there any "foreigner living in Japan" books that you would recommend? I tried a few, but could never stomach them enough to finish. They were all so myopic.

I enjoyed reading your article though. Thanks!
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eyeresist



Joined: 02 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 12:57 am Reply with quote
Wow, this book does sound pretty bad. Especially the "little 'non-thinking' ants who simply copy and improve what they see". He seems to be one of those people who travels but never broadens his mind. Like a guy I knew who lived in Korea, who always complained about the food, the language and the customs as though they were doing all these things just to piss him off specifically. "Why for sit onthe floor that is stupid !!!&*!"
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doc-watson42
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Joined: 10 Feb 2003
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 1:26 am Reply with quote
I want an "advanced Japanese toilet". Very Happy

As for books on Japan from the perspective of anime and manga, I highly recommend Gilles Poitras' Anime Companions and their Web site.
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reanimator



Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 890

PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 2:16 am Reply with quote
I saw the book displayed at Kinokuniya SF bookstore window. Upon reading the review, I'm glad that I didn't pick it up and take a look. Besides, the title itself is shallow to me. Personally, I prefer books translated from Japanese authors who have ample time to observe their geek culture with some kind of credential.

Anyway, geek is geek no matter country you're raised in.
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enurtsol



Joined: 01 May 2007
Posts: 10829

PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 3:07 am Reply with quote
Hahaha, I just mentioned this book a month ago in this very column. Laughing


doc-watson42 wrote:
I want an "advanced Japanese toilet". Very Happy


Don't forget the ubiquitous vending machines that dispense everything. That's on Cars 2 too, and some kids actually asked about "Tires in vending machines?!" I wouldn't bet against it. Laughing
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GWOtaku



Joined: 19 Jul 2003
Posts: 621

PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:14 am Reply with quote
Wow, thanks for reading this so I don't have to. The stereotypical, sweeping statements about Japanese citizens alone would've been more than enough to make me put it down early.

The narrow focus on Tokyo isn't good either, although I can give that a pass to a point since the book seems to want to be an introductory tome.
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Shenl742
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Joined: 11 Feb 2010
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 8:46 am Reply with quote
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Of course, these kinds of stereotypes have their meaner flipside, such as when the author writes that the Japanese are "little 'non-thinking' ants who simply copy and improve what they see" and that, in the author's experience, "I can assure you that the Japanese are generally quite pigheaded and not at all open-minded." Such statements come dangerously close to dehumanizing the people that this book says that it wants to help us understand.


Dangerously close? That's an outright ethnic slur if you ask me! I mean what the hell? If it weren't for the references to video games and "advanced toilets" you'd almost think this was written in the 50s or something!

What an awful, awful sounding book. Nice to see you give it a good dressing down.
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Yorl



Joined: 14 May 2009
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 11:05 am Reply with quote
It's hard to walk down a street in Tokyo without finding a 2nd hand shop of some sort. Anyway, I hate anything that labels itself as for "geeks" because it's usually just for boring people who think they are smart. Yes I'm a geek, but I'm also a jock, a musician, and a bit of a lech. Stereotypes for the loss.
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Nephtis
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Joined: 21 Jul 2005
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:04 pm Reply with quote
I feel like Brian's taken a bullet for us. Just reading small amounts of this text through the column made me cringe; couldn't be happier I now can avoid this book entirely.

Having been to Japan myself briefly in high school on an exchange (though by no means am I saying I'm any form of expert) I entirely disagree with the concept of an alien nation. Sure, there's lots of aspects of culture that are different, but that doesn't make the experience feel like I'm going to another planet.

Mind you I only was in Tokyo for a couple of hours at the airport, and spent most of my time in a smaller city in Hokkaido. I didn't feel that this area was super crazy and weird. The main differences for me was the sheer densisty of the population and the urban nature of Japan. Asahikawa (where I stayed) has 195,000 more people than the equivalent city in my own state in Australia. This is mostly because if where I come from - it doesn't make it seem so foreign that it's another world.

It's times like these I wonder how many opinions out there that think Japan is so crazy and alien are formed because of books and other media forms that are written like this one.
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enurtsol



Joined: 01 May 2007
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:36 pm Reply with quote
Nephtis wrote:

It's times like these I wonder how many opinions out there that think Japan is so crazy and alien are formed because of books and other media forms that are written like this one.


It's probably because most people here have only lived in 1 or 2 first-world countries. Laughing
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nemesiz



Joined: 20 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 2:36 am Reply with quote
Quote:
Out of curiosity, are there any "foreigner living in Japan" books that you would recommend? I tried a few, but could never stomach them enough to finish. They were all so myopic.

I enjoyed reading your article though. Thanks!


The Roads to Sata, written by the Englishman Alan Booth in the late Nineteen Nineties. It describes his travels from one end of Japan to the other. A brilliant read detailing his trials and tribulations while walking, and talking to the population and seeing the undiscovered Japan. The second book by Alan Booth, Looking for the Lost is technically a follow-up discussing his favourite walks. DO not read this until you have read Roads to Sata and please would no-one spoil the ending or comment about the Author.

Lost Japan by Alex Kerr. Discribes the current situation affecting Japan, and how culturally the country is slowing changing. A good read and leads onto his second book Dogs and Demons explaining how Japan is affected by Bureacracy and Cover-ups.

Hokkaido HIghway Blues by Will Ferguson discusses his exploits while hitchhiking across Japan. A funny read.
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UtenaAnthy



Joined: 27 Oct 2006
Posts: 691

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 8:27 am Reply with quote
eyeresist wrote:
Wow, this book does sound pretty bad. Especially the "little 'non-thinking' ants who simply copy and improve what they see". He seems to be one of those people who travels but never broadens his mind. Like a guy I knew who lived in Korea, who always complained about the food, the language and the customs as though they were doing all these things just to piss him off specifically. "Why for sit onthe floor that is stupid !!!&*!"


I prefer not to sit on the floor as it tends to result in pins and needles, but I don't have a problem with someone else doing so, and I will if the floor is reasonably clean and I don't have somewhere else to sit. Customs vary in whether they are A) something that I want to try myself B) something I don't want to try but do not have a problem with others doing or C) a violation of someone's rights which has to stop. I'm happy to try local food but there are some things that I will become nauseated if I even think about eating, and I really don't enjoy spicy foods. I can't make my tastebuds not experience pain when I try and eat them, if I went to France and tried to eat snails, for instance, the waiter would have to clean up a lot of vomit, it has nothing to do with closed-mindedness.

I also agree that that "non-thinking ants..." is not only xenophobic, but seriously dehumanising.
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bravetailor



Joined: 30 May 2009
Posts: 775

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:28 am Reply with quote
I prefer to think of "non-thinking ants" as mainstream moviegoers, but anyway... Wink

The truth is most people who write books or essays about another culture often have some kind of agenda. Some people overpraise the culture they're writing about and whitewash some of the dicier aspects, while other people write to basically say, "Look how weird they are! And look how inferior to us they are socially, psychologically, etc,."

And this is evidence that just because you travel around doesn't necessarily make you a more worldly person. A person can go to every country in the world and still be the same moron he was when he left home.
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Echo_City



Joined: 03 Apr 2011
Posts: 1236

PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 12:17 pm Reply with quote
I'm finding some serious discrepancy between the preview for this article and the article's content.
Article Preview wrote:
A Geek in Japan, and it's pretty much just like the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
In the article, it was stated that the book was poorly done & borderline offensive. When I see a comparison made to the ending of Raiders of the Lost Ark, generally it is used to convey the image of a treasure trove. The book certainly doesn't seem to be regarded as a "treasure" in itself, and is said to contain barely any knowledge, so its contents aren't any sort of "treasure". So what's going on here?

Also, on books that were written by people who resided in Japan, what do you all think about Angry White Pyjamas?
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