Countries like the two Koreas, China, Japan as well as many others in the Middle East and around the world, where there exist high doses of conflict with their neighboring states, typically fall in the category of what is called “hyper-nationalist state” in political science. From these nations' political points of view, it(embracing and propagating nationalism) often seems to be an inevitable and understandable defensive measure and a natural consequence of the respective state’s geopolitical quagmire. In these countries, the interests of the ‘individual’ is placed behind the ‘national’ and this is evident in nearly every aspect of their cultures and policies. Don't get me wrong, there are just as many, if not more, ego-driven narcissists found in many of these countries but the idea of prioritizing the "greater good" of the nation/society/company over the individual runs in the background as a default, inalienable right by all members of the society, to be wielded at will when it is convenient, and/or serves their exclusively collective interests. So when I typically hear a Japanese or a Korean person stress the importance of “human relations”(人間関係/인간 관계), as I often do, it immediately poses multiple layers of meaning and irony. It is just highly unlikely to be able to build a genuine, one-on-one, “human relationship” with those who put higher importance on their national identity prior to the actual individual. The idea of ‘nation state’ is a powerful and an enduring one but it still is an idea and not a living being. So prioritizing the national identity before the individual equates to celebrating death over life. How do you build a relationship with that? Why should anyone want to?
For the great majority that find it impossible to see themselves separate from their nationality, I guess it would be natural to assume that I am comparing country by country to determine which is better. And that would be a perfect example of purely nationalist style of thinking. Non-nationalism means non-nationalism. It's one thing to renew one's passport at, and pay taxes to, the appropriate authority but quite another to identify oneself as part of that ideological entity called the nation state.
Even in the case of a very much "individual rights"-oriented and liberal state like the US, there's plenty of blind nationalism to go around as there has always been. This is an entire human species issue, not a national one, although there's no doubt it is more dense and pronounced in some countries than others; thus the term, "hyper-nationalist state". Regardless of what country, it is up to the individual to observe these tendencies in self and find a way out of its blinding and socially paralyzing grip, that is, if anyone chooses any level of truth or true meaning in their lives.
A classic. What happens when talking to a completely brainwashed folk, or as Peterson puts it, "the pathology of ideological possession"; Might as well pass on any attempt at communication with a possessed robot/company man/agent.
"I see there are two different realms; there's a realm of values and a realm of facts. And in the realm of facts, science rules supreme, but it doesn't in the realm of values. You have to look elsewhere. That was what the humanities were for, before they got hijacked by ideologues. And the idea that something should be consistent, you were talking about the necessity for consistency in ideology, it's like, I'm not hearing what YOU think, I'm hearing how you're able to represent the ideology you were taught. And it's not that interesting because I don't know anything about you. I can replace you with someone else who thinks the same way. And that means you are not here. That's what it means. It's not pleasant. You're not drawing/integrating the specifics of your personal experience with what you've been taught, to synthesize something that's genuine and surprising- and engaging in a narrative sense as a consequence. And that's the pathology of ideological possession." - Jordan Peterson.
Not a huge fan of Peterson's- just didn't find his books to be too engaging personally- but many of his interviews and debates(most notably with Sam Harris) are fascinating and he makes very sharp points on ideological identities/identity politics, issues with postmodernism, etc. For the truly weary however, no amount of intellectual theories & arguments will do any good. But then again, most people aren't even interested to begin with so... may be there is room for some noisy thoughts after all...
What started the hostility(in part). Another great showcase of the utter impossibility of communication with a thoroughly prejudiced individual.
Speaking of relevance, this one's right on the money. Absolute favorite political theorist/philosopher. Pat yourselves on the back; you are on the winning side! I just wonder how that fits with artistic discipline of any kind.
Any books, talks, interviews by Mearsheimer are pure gold.
I had to learn and pay attention to what was going on in politics and to the history a bit in order to be apolitical or non-political in the proper sense of the word(s), although it is technically an impossibility to be completely so; we are all political to a degree for our own survival and regardless of our choice/will. But survival is one thing, greed/vanity is another. (How much of "creating a harmonious society", small or large, a matter of survival by the way? Are there ulterior motives? I'm sure it's a case-by-case thing but something to think about.) Likewise with nationalism, I used to be a pretty hardcore, ignorant nationalist for the longest time. But if anyone had pointed that out at that time, I would've completely disregarded it. All without understanding what it really is or even being interested in finding out.
Korean and Japanese societies are insanely political, with so many intricate social codes of acceptable and non-acceptable speech and behavior. And that does not exclude the Jazz circles either, regardless of how their constituents think or believe. For instance, talking politics is generally a big no-no(and I wouldn't do it if I had an inkling of desire to be a professional musician). And when musicians express their distaste for the subject, it is often reminiscent of the local mob boss character in The Godfather II that says, "I don't like violence" as he walks away from a street theater performance. Sure, there are worse things to be than a naive and ignorant hypocrite. 'Naive' and 'ignorant' are guilt-free concepts after all. But if anyone wants to stop being the hypocrite, one thing that can be done is to educate oneself to understand a little bit(doesn't require a degree), the meaning and/or history of some of these concepts such as nationalism, identity politics, and ideological identities, etc. so that one can make a conscious choice.
A much better alternative in my opinion however, would be to find a form of philosophy, spirituality or religion that is suitable and that one can devote oneself to. Ideally speaking, this kind of info is what the artistic discipline is also supposed to cover but apparently, when it is approached as no more than an acrobatic or mental sport of some sort, it will fall short. But hey, I am guilty of being a walking contradiction myself, mostly thanks to the alcohol-dependance. But one thing I can say with confidence is that I'm not a nationalist and that presence is what I offer at Cafe52; it's somewhat of a rare quality and especially around this neck of the woods. The jury's still out on whether that is at all desirable; not according to my life but a proper study/verdict will require a bigger pool. (Actually, when I'm feeling politics-savvy, my views tend to fall in line with those of the 'libertarian', and the verdict IS kinda out on that one. There you go, it's the opposite of win-win. Thus, not a recommended path for success-driven psycho/sociopaths..?)
What all this means for the patrons/participants/musicians at Cafe52 is that they can expect a non-judgemental, equal-opportunity jam session system with a slight lean towards competence. What they should not expect is that everything will be in accordance and harmony with the Japanese norm, outside of the legally binding. It's a privately owned business by a foreigner and not a democratic congress of the people. Also I'm not here to "learn" and adopt the customs and culture of the land; in fact, for reasons of professional efficiency, I am more inclined to do so at the minimum required level, to just be efficient enough to serve the real purpose of the Jazz music. And I've met so many musicians that express disbelief when I say I'm in Japan for Jazz but seriously, there's no other place with this high a level of density in Jazz musicians. And that gives me some much needed wiggle room. So where's the mystery? The only real unbelievable mystery I see is the level of self-conceit/deceit and blind intolerance for "others/outsiders" that is accepted and sustained as a norm. And for the fascistically inclined that think I should "adapt or get out", I'd recommend reading this essay again from the top(or do us both a huge favor by not showing your face at/around the bar).
CJ Kim- Owner/Manager at Cafe52.