Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Nationalism of Hikikomori and the Shameless Evasion of Shame

Public lecture by Naoki Sakai
Monday, February 15, 2016, 4:30 p.m. at The Franke Institute for the Humanities


Incomplete Notes

Pax Americana I
  • Global hegemony of USA
    • The US-centered collective defense system c.f. Empire of Bases.
    • Overwhelming presence of the US military, economic, political forces in the world.
    • The international management of mass media and knowledge production.
  • Institutions produced under Pax Americana
    • Japan’s Emperor System (天皇制) after the Asia-Pacific War or the Second World War.

Pax Americana II
  • San Francisco Peace System, together with the US-Japan Security Treaty (in 1951).
  • The end of Pax Americana: the Japanese people benefited much from the American hegemony under the political climate of the Cold War.
  • The end of Pax Americana gave rise to anxiety over uncertain future among the Japanese.
  • An inclination toward an inward-looking and reclusive withdrawal from the international world.

Pax Americana III
  • Japanese Imperial Nationalism after the Asia-Pacific War
    • How was Japanese imperial nationalism reconstituted after the war in accordance with the political, economic and military order of the Western Pacific?
    • Did the Japanese manage to discard the mindset of the colonizers who had customarily looked down askance at the former second-class citizens of the Japanese Empire?
    • If many in the Japanese nation did in fact fail to get rid of their imperialist consciousness, what allowed them to disavow the loss of their empire?

Japan’s postcoloniality
  • Ghostly presence of the past in the present.
  • Postcoloniality—the state of affairs particularly noticeable among former colonizers or in an ex-imperial society, where the people’s mindset and modality of identity remain distinctly colonial.

The feeling of shame
  • In the presence of some other person. Exposed to the gaze of another human being.
  • The person or being to whose presence you are exposed must be human.
  • Shame is a feeling evoked by the presence of some other human beings or beings. To avoid the feeling of shame, one can regard some people as “non-human.”

The nationalism of hikikomori
  • Hikikomori is a reaction to the international world, to the fantasy of shame
  • A collective refusal to go through the experience of shame. In this sense, the nationalism of hikikomori disavows the loss of the empire and aspires for the “good old days.”
  • Many individuals belonging to the former suzerain state refuse to accept the collapse of political, economic and social institutions that once sustained the colonial hierarchy and the explicit or implicit practices of social discrimination.

Two characteristic features
  • Hikikomori
    • Stevens does not know how to get out of his given personality. He does not know how to encounter people of different social backgrounds.
  • The crisis of masculinity
    • An old gender identity defined by the old social dramaturgy of colonial relations. The obssession with symbolic castration.

The two modalities in the feeling of shame
  • The performance of shame, in which a person feels shamed in the presence of other people, who must be regarded as “human.”
  • The fantasy of communality, in which the outsiders are not regarded as “human” agents, in whose gaze one feels ashamed.