Off the coast of north-east Asia, a noxious cloud forms, darkening the sky as it gathers and grows in malevolence while it balefully bides its time until the ripeness of its malignance is attained. Then, gathering its full strength, it spreads forth across the globe leaving a trail of devastation behind.
Radioactive fallout? Nah, I'm talking about J-porn. Japan, as anyone who's ever spent more than a half-hour surfing the net with the "safe search" option disabled, is the motherlode for pornography of an eye-watering depravity. I confess to being a bit of an.....okay, a HUGE aficionado in my salad days but alas, now that the lettuce is wilted, and the cress is looking distressed, my interest these days tends to the sociological and anthropological rather than its anatomical aspect. Having burnt through my addiction through sheer surfeit, I find I can now view it as dispassionately as an observer from another planet. As William Blake wrote, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom", or to take an example from real life, St Augustine, who in the flower of youth was busy sowing his oats, spreading his seed, starching his sheets (OK, OK, I'll stop), and famously uttered the heartfelt prayer, "Grant me chastity and continence, Oh Lord, ...but not yet". But eventually one day the hormonal carousel slows, the music dies and the good ship SS Libido heaves into a calm and sheltered bay. And then one writes "The City of God".
To illustrate what I wrote earlier on an underlying moral sickness in Japanese society, here are some images gleaned off the web. These are neither pornographic nor titillating (unless you're of a particularly perverted bent) but as I said, just indicators of moral decay. For obvious reasons I'm not including those verging on child pornography although that seems to command an alarmingly large audience (also nothing on Tub-girls as I have a sensitive stomach). Imagine a country where its such a commonplace for adult men to have a predilection for pubescent girls that it warrants the coining of a general term: lolicon (or roricon), a Nipponized contraction of "Lolita complex". Sick, sick, sick.
|Even as a horny 14-year old I would never have found this fappable|
|By Hokusai (1760-1849), so presumably deeply ingrained in the culture|
|And the other way around. Octopussy?|
|A whole new meaning to snail trail|
I think you get the picture so I shan't post further examples. On second thought, how about a few more.....
|Alarmingly frequent depictions of sexual violence|
|I must have skipped this chapter of Kafka's "Metamorphosis"|
|I shudder to imagine what happens next|
Obviously then, there is this massive disconnect between the surface appearance of Japanese society, which is hyper-refined, painfully polite and decorous, and its throbbing, seething undercurrents. Having spent 3 weeks there 20 years ago, (which naturally qualifies me as an expert), I can testify to the orderliness and refinement but ultimately, who can see into the dark heart of man? Having said all that, I greatly admire Japanese culture, particularly the strong emphasis on aesthetic composition and design even in day to day life. One sees it in the presentation of food, the myriad tiny and charming trinkets, the breathtaking marriage of skill and invention in netsuke*, and a generally obsessive attention to detail. And its not as if they're hypocritical about their predilections as Judeo-Christian-Islamic societies are.
*I used to spend hour upon hour at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford admiring their netsuke collection.
Nevertheless, the Japs do tend to make an awful big deal over some aspects of their culture, particularly those that are held to be quintessentially Japanese (they're perfectly within their rights to do so, it just gets up my nose a bit). I'm talking about things like the tea ceremony with all its interminable shuffling about and arcane ritual that has been elevated into something-that-is-pure-and-spiritually-refined-and-if-you-don't-think-so-you're-a-goddamned-Philistine. It's only a beverage, for crying out loud, and it was invented by the Chinese, and why must everything be soooo bloody slow! Honestly I feel like farting in the middle of one just out of orneriness. Ditto for Zen archery. It drives me wild to watch documentaries where it is presented in hushed tones and a reverent air of you're-about-to-witness-something-special-so-approach-it-with-the-proper-frame-of-mind. Again, they're sooooo bloody slow and, they hardly ever hit the target! OK, some might say that in the spirit of Zen it's not hitting the bullseye that's the aim (perish that there should be something so coarse as a specific goal), but if that's the case why fucking bother?
Venting over, I wish the Japanese all the best in overcoming their current difficulties. If there is one nation on this planet that can do it, it's them. And I'll say it once more, I greatly admire their culture and intend to visit their lovely land again someday.