By Harry D. Harootunian
In the a long time among the 2 global Wars, Japan made a dramatic access into the fashionable age, increasing its capital industries and urbanizing so speedy as to rival many long-standing Western commercial societies. How the japanese made feel of the unexpected transformation and the next upward thrust of mass tradition is the point of interest of Harry Harootunian's attention-grabbing inquiry into the issues of modernity. right here he examines the paintings of a new release of jap intellectuals who, like their ecu opposite numbers, observed modernity as a spectacle of ceaseless swap that uprooted the dominant historic tradition from its fastened values and substituted a tradition in keeping with delusion and hope. Harootunian not just explains why the japanese valued philosophical understandings of those occasions, frequently over sociological or empirical causes, but additionally locates Japan's event of modernity inside of a bigger worldwide strategy marked via either modernism and fascism.
What stuck the eye of jap thinkers was once how the construction of wish really threatened old tradition. those intellectuals sought to "overcome" the materialism and consumerism linked to the West, relatively the USA. They proposed types of a modernity rooted in cultural authenticity and geared toward infusing which means into daily life, even if via paintings, reminiscence, or neighborhood. Harootunian strains those rules within the works of Yanagita Kunio, Tosaka Jun, Gonda Yasunosuke, and Kon Wajiro, between others, and relates their arguments to these of such eu writers as George Simmel, Siegfried Kracauer, Walter Benjamin, and Georges Bataille.
Harootunian indicates that eastern and ecu intellectuals shared some of the related issues, and likewise stresses that neither Japan's involvement with fascism nor its past due access into the capitalist, commercial scene may still reason historians to view its adventure of modernity as an oddity. the writer argues that lines of fascism ran all through so much each state in Europe and in lots of methods resulted from modernizing developments ordinarily. This booklet, written by way of a number one student of recent Japan, quantities to an enormous reinterpretation of the character of Japan's modernity.
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Extra resources for Overcome by Modernity: History, Culture, and Community in Interwar Japan
11 With nothing to do and no friends, the protagonist of this story, like many others, is cast afloat in the urban flow of strangers who simply wander the streets with no explicit purpose. In this story, it is interesting to note that Rampo has his protagonist suddenly spot somebody he knew from a former life. If writers like Yanagita and Rampo reported the qualitative effects of the mass migration into the cities (and the former’s Meiji Taisho¯shi, seso¯hen and more analytic Toshi to No¯son  are filled with such observations), its quantitative dimensions were analyzed by a variety of social researchers, like Kagawa Toyohiko and Ando¯ Masayoshi in their Nihon do¯toku to¯kei yo¯ran (Statistical survey Japanese morality, 1934) and Toda Teizo¯, who in 1938 published his analysis of the first national census, taken in 1920.
In Asia, Japan was liberated from trade competitors as its own domestic market was freed from the importation of foreign goods. Similarly, the growth rate was matched by a significant reorganization of international trade and payments, not to mention a spurt in investments. Because Japanese industries were diverted from producing consumer goods, consumption rates were low throughout the war years and wages remained depressed. At the same time, some people profited immeasurably from the 6 CHAPTER ONE wartime boom, especially investors and speculators.
Kikuchi Kan, participating in a roundtable discussion published by Modan Nippon (Modern Japan) in 1930, asserted that the “modern of our young era will be intellectual. ”35 Here, “intellectually modern” undoubtedly referred to utopianism, new forms of representation, abstract art, and functionalism, but it was manifestly evident that what momentarily constituted modern life was an Americanism that overwhelmed the claims of high art and thought. Ideas were being replaced by things, as the arc of consumption swung widely to accommodate the masses.
Overcome by Modernity: History, Culture, and Community in Interwar Japan by Harry D. Harootunian