A YEAR’S OBSERVATION
Lengthy But Not Lengthy, All about Irony
Breaking down East Asian phenomena through ironies based on its culture, philosogion, and how the ancient philosophies have been lost, which are all meant to be a part of a bigger joke 30 12 2021
As per Asian culture, ideas should be circulating when being expressed, or compressed. That is to say, idea compacts that would take a thousand words to compress might as well end up in the low thousands if not mid thousands. Hope this does not happen to this lengthy post intended not to be lengthy. Of course, when Neuralink becomes a thing in the future and no information is lost in the process of idea compression (into language) and decompression (reaching the recipients), a new door might also be opened for new hackers in this new domain. It wouldn’t just be attempts to ‘download’ data from other Neuralinks, but to impose data on them without permission. There, that’s already one ironies (1), but the true ironies lie in the ecosystems below, unable to be decompressed to most.
There is a bonding force between the flow of thoughts among Asia’s 2.91 billion population (this is no typo) and hardcore religious, or philosophical applied-ritualism. This is the case spreading across the Euphrates-Tigris Basin, the Indus Basin, the Ganges Basin, the Paro Valley, the Gissar Valley, the Minahassa Peninsular, the Hangang Basin, and the Tone Basin.
How ideas are defined, first and foremost, before being formed, or organised, creates its own ecosystem in the case of East Asia, the main focus of this post, with a few exceptions such as Japanese writings that come with heavy Western influence. Possibly a phenomenon mutated from the writing-style of prominent, or previously prominent Eastern philosophers such as Confucius, or Lao Tzu, thoughts in contemporary East Asia are formed and expressed, in a way almost as if in desperate attempts to reproduce the limitless sub-universes given birth to by the vagueness, abstractness in the original texts of those philosophical teachings.
Such mutation, as in how replicating the ambiguity found in the teachings by multiplying a fixed number of ideas into paraphrases, deemed one of the crucial methods to inherit the thinking, has blurred the boundary between philosophy and religion in time and cross bred a new species that could be seen as the Playbook of the Absolute Dogmas, a philosogion.
Similar with Jazz music before the early twentieth century when the recording technology was made available and passing down the know-hows to master improvisation that was unreachable through reading the notes possible, the ancient Confucianism and Lao Tzu philosophy (not to be confused with Daoism) from the 4th century B.C. would inevitably face the fate of being unintentionally misinterpreted and distorted, leading to failed captures of the true value of vagueness found in the original philosophy, namely the mutation that has recorded the chassis, yet not the fleshes.
The mutation, however, has not been viewed as such, but rather, the authentic successor of the teachings, manifested in how ideas are overwhelmingly preferred to be organised in vagueness and empty repetitiveness over diversified ideas and deeply explored sub-ideas within them in contemporary East Asia.
This seems to be coming from the instinctive desire to ensure that the ancestral philosophy is passed down in the new definition of a correct form. This is the first layer within the second irony (2-1), descendants of ancient East Asian societies (approximately 3000 years old in Japan’s case, counting from when its Transeurasian heritage started to be weakened; 3300 years old in Korea’s case when its Transeurasian heritage started to be weakened) taking only the albatrosses’ skeletons, with no full wingspans, nor feathers present, yet are fully convinced that the skeletons in hands are albatrosses with fleshes and feathers, alive and flying even.
The second layer within the second irony (2-2) unfolds in how languages being symbols are largely ignored by the users from whom their ability to carry thoughts root. Despite the information loss, or risk of false interpretations when ideas are compressed into languages, as is the case in the first layer, languages carry thinking, and the one that East Asian languages carry today is enormously different from the one in the 4th century B.C. East Asia.
It was an era where platforms welcomed different philosophies, voices, or even ecosystems to compete fair and square, boosting openness, venturousness, incentivising reinvention and renovation, and potentially the ability to listen to one another, whereas contemporary East Asia solely values imposition of group identity over those features.
What the contemporary language users are not aware of, is that by reversing, say, the modern day Japanese language into Archaic Japanese through reviving the latter, pushing it into the realm of practical everyday usage, might potentially awaken the long-lost philosophical fleshes, mitigating the information that’s been lost on the way through lack of correct interpretation, minimising the repetitive idea-recording pattern that might have worsened the data loss of decompression in the process. The fact that contemporary East Asia know more about the space (JAXA, KCST) and the deep ocean (JAMSTEC, KIOST) than they do the archaic counterpart of their languages adds even more seasoning to 2-2.
To unveil the third irony, one couldn’t look away from the Japanese saying, ‘Deru kugi wa utareru (出る釘は打たれる)’, translated into ‘The nail that sticks out gets hammered down.’, and its being applied to nearly all aspects of Japanese life to the point that it is omnipresent.
Take work, it is taboo to talk about ‘the uncertainties out there’ that could ‘harm the harmony’ at workplace, namely any sense of rejection against orders from superiors to work overtime would be interpreted as that common enemy nail prioritised to be hammered out. Yet despite compensation pays for working overtime written into Japanese laws, employers largely circumvent and violate the labour laws, leaving the workers working overtime with no extra pay.
The rationale behind company leaders is that the longer the time employees spend in office, the higher the productivity would be generated, this is, however, far from the case as attention span would plunge as work drags on, rendering any extra hour spent below the productivity stop loss line unproductive.
It also seems to be failing in seeing how the Netherlands has approximately the same amount of, if not more of work done within an average 5.8 working hours per day
(Ranking 27th in GDP based on purchasing power parity, PPP, at $1.05 trillion by IMF, producing 11 Fortune Global 500 corporations with its 17 million population and total area of 41,865 km²; suicide rate at 9.3 per 100,000 population by WHO).
One could argue that the average working hours per day in Japan is 8 hours, looking humane enough
(Ranking 4th in GDP based on purchasing power parity, PPP, at $5.58 trillion by IMF, producing 53 Fortune Global 500 corporations with its 125.8 million population and total area of 377,975 km²; suicide rate at 12.2 per 100,000 population by WHO).
Yet what such reasoning would be missing is the fallacy in failing to consider that corruption plays a big part in how the data is manipulated as well as the case in whether the labour laws are effectively enforced, which, in Japan, usually appears to be the latter. From that, a few scenarios should be taken into consideration, to mitigate misdirecting effects from the aforementioned factors sliding right into the grey area with convenience where statistics couldn’t penetrate, despite OECD making an effort in estimating it to be at 50 working hours per week.
First, the forcible out-of-office drinking time hours where food-cult like eating/drinking rituals are held centering topics regarding work and business ideas (or corruption ideas) that would extend late into night, followed by the take-it-for-granted-style of off-work-time-summoning, dictating workers to instantly reply to messages or calls regarding work in spite of being on holiday (failing to do so would lead to one being fired, opening a vacancy where other ant-like job-seekers fight to fill), both of which would in turn leave the workers’ free time fragmented if not completely compromised.
Combined, they would contribute to Japan’s Karoshi culture, death by overwork. The imposition of group identity contributes to a miserable population with invisible and visible wounds, or deaths such as mental illness, heart attacks, or suicides due to overwork (Karojisatsu), a closed system where anyone who dares to speak out against the dictated lifestyle that could mentally and physically be life-threatening, yet believed to boost productivity and sustain harmony within the ecosystem, would be met with a following execution suite, alienating them into the ‘national foreigners’, or simply direct them to taking their own lives.
Those who run the ecosystem, in sharp contrast, consider such phenomenon a chain reaction where a group of positive energy hook another, empowering a domain where fleshes of the culture is retained, whose chassis-remaining appearance falls invisible to the delusional eyes.
‘If the eyes possess different visions, they should be plucked out’, if I might add to the original saying.
A perfect full-stop for the first layer of the third irony (3-1). Oh, beg pardon, not full-stop, as it would be an insufficient analogy, it should rather be ‘If one dies of irony, then this should be it.’.
It is widely accepted in contemporary East Asian societies that ‘Cool things, concepts, innovations, activities included, come from the contemporary West.’.
This could due partially to the ‘learnt hopelessness’ from the majority of the population in these societies not wanting to be that nail to be hammered, or simply letting self-doubt and insecurity, which they perceive as pragmatism, occupy them when brand-new possibilities of the world they have never seen are offered to them. In simple language, it is literally the,
‘Oh, I could never have done it.’,
‘it is because it is ‘‘them’’ that having that done is possible. Therefore, it is not for me.’,
‘That’s day-dreaming. Grow up!’,
‘Oh, you need to do that kind of thing, let me first focus on money-making (but then don’t know how to start step 2 when step 1 money-making is done, and retreat back into the comfortable step 1 and stay there infinitely).’
sort of self-hyptonising mentality without even giving anything considered different, or new a try.
Basically, jumping to conclusions without testing theories out through experiments. Experiments should be banned according to the values behind such mentality.
This would then contribute to the self limbs-chopping behaviours and erosion of their openness, optimism, adaptability, ability to innovate and create new things, leading them to materialise their stereotype on themselves — boring, plain, not-cool.
Drilling deeper into the second layer of the third irony (3-2), one would have to move the lens away from the Japanese archipelago to the southern half of the Korean peninsular, where the situation is exacerbated by an overwhelming authoritarian emphasis on the significance of career success as part of the widely recognised values of life-victory.
Life-victory, as the aforementioned nickname the Playbook of the Absolute Dogmas implies, is the values where every phase in life is deliberately catergorised as if industrial products in standardised procedures along with instructions to follow, which, when failed to be met, intentionally or unintentionally, would see the system authorise the activation of the complex unforgiving punishing mechanisms underneath, marginalising the Playbook violators. Clear-cut guidance as they might seem, the underlying layers of the Playbook tell a story that of extreme angst towards uncertainties and nothingness.
There is a reason why death in East Asian societies is banned from discussion, not by law, but by the Playbook, so much so that kids growing up not knowing the concept of it — a manifestation of the societies resorting to the extreme to wipe out anything abstract. As was mentioned in 2-1 and 2-2, the contemporary East Asian philosogion has only the chassis preserved, not the fleshes.
In the Oscar-winning 2020 Korean film Parasite, such mechanism is beautifully dramatised by showing us the firm motivation behind a poor Korean family to look pass morality and scam their way up of the social hierarchy ladder, with the family having themselves either killed or traumatised along the scamming scheme. Korea’s suicide rate at 13.4 in a 100,000 population tells the other side of story of the actual, less fortunate Korean families in poverty, who do not have the intelligence to deliver a scamming scheme, nor to have such a chance to parasitise an unsuspecting rich family.
Once they failed to secure resources required to be victorious in life by Playbook standard, they would face the fate of their kids not scoring high in a top-ranking school to weaponise their credentials in combating the hyena-like competitors in the credentialism only education system; adult kids failing to secure a respected position, an engineer, lawyer, doctor, finance worker, that pay well for them to be respected enough by their potential partners before they get married, own cars and houses, and reproduce; parents losing faces in their extended families, clans, neighbourhood, society and the kids’ subsequent lack of capacity to deliver the responsibility and respect to caring, accompany them for the rest of their lives.
These are all the opposite sides of the procedures written in the Playbook and when these scenarios are materialised, it is not hard to picture how staying alive is a torture far more excruciating than the instant pains of committing suicides, which is seen by the non-victorious in Korean societies as an eternal relief, yet demonic behaviour by the victorious as the topic of death, which belong to the uncertainties and nothingness, is instantly triggered. If not eradicated, they would have their more-than-hard-earned status shaken.
Successful, or failing in doing what are instructed in the Playbook, the Korean values have elevated its people to always be ready to sacrifice for it. While the failing families are facing the fate of bankruptcy, homelessness, starvation, and suicides, their successful rich counterparts only seem dazzling through hiding the story of them being dysfunctional.
This stems from the parents’ leisure time deprivation caused by working overtime, trading mental and physical wellbeing for the preferred lifestyle, a jouissance dictated by the Playbook, which would ultimately force them to throw their loved kids to money, creating Gatsby-style emptiness, loneliness, then revenge-bedtime-procrastination-styled relentlessness down the line through series of misunderstandings and affections having failed to reach one another.
The wonder of 3-2 is yet to deliver another spike.
While philosophical fleshes were actual efforts Lao Tzu and many more put into amplifying existing courage into the explorations of emptiness, all the abstractness that were so otherworldly and disturbing to think about (as human minds instinctively rejects uncertainties and look for comforts, pleasures, and certainties), offering an alternative to all-things-simplified gods and rituals in religions, the contemporary Korean ‘chassis approach’, like any other East Asian counterparts, seeks to eradicate that alternative to return to absolute certainties. Death and the nothingness that follows prove to be too big and intimidating an idea for it to savour as the chassis could not provide it enough courage to fuel the venture back into the point where a handful of explorations were done.
Coming to the point, such ‘chassis approach’, instead of earning the users more controls within the known domains of certainties, or certainties misinformationed as uncertainties to cover up that sense of sin in failing the ancestors, rather functions as a zombie hand that rises from underground, dragging their legs and shattering their capacity growth.
Parallel of similar reasoning behind such mentality could be drawn from a TV series adapted from Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle. In it, the antagonist John Smith believes that serving the Reich is only a pragmatic way to protect his family, a temporary compromise at the price of casting morality aside, which then slowly infiltrates his mind and transforms him into a person who no longer knows how to stop conducting atrocities, all without him knowing it.
The lack of recording technology could be one reason why ancient eastern philosophies with fleshes slowly distorted into its current chassis form throughout time, yet the will to not use temporary compromise as an excuse, retreating into doing what feels instinctively good, could have altered the course, and steered the societies back into exploring the unknown based on what little achievements were in place, as courage amplifier left to them by the ancestral predecessor philosophers.
3-2: East Asian societies are paying dearly for the dental treatment, dealing with high suicidal rates, family units failing to meet the criteria of the Playbook, potentially moving towards the edge of collapse, and overall long-term retreats into the comfortable certainties that make such compromises irreversible.
This has cost a considerable chunk of their original lifestyle, culture, philosophy, without them being aware of it. If one should die of irony for the second time, this is the time to violate rules of this universe, revive oneself, then die again.
As one dies, or undergoes near-death experience, it is only fair that an antidote be provided to possible deaths by irony. Since they are the partial elements of satire, which is a unique form of humour that triggers laughter, one would only have to tame that desire to overdose laughing.
And that’s it. Don’t laugh too much, but laugh enough to turn that lemon life gives us into a glass of Irony Torquila.
But before the final, final full-stop lands, be advised that all of the above simply are not ironies for the residents of the unique ecosystems leading happy, Utopian lives.
Also, as authenticity is eroding in our time, the only thing to be done is to pay respect to Daniil Kharms and quote ‘Today I wrote nothing.’.
All the texts that comes along the pics in this very post are nothingness, which should be treated every carefully, and not talked about