Friday, January 28, 2005


Self-proclaimed "failed" pop star Momus has penned a commentary on the Japan Today website today with the predictable title "Staying Foreign in Japan" in which he (judiciously) cites a myriad of influences: Kafka, Goethe, Paul Bowles, Barthes, Russian 'ostranenie', Orientalism, and 'Platonic-style metaphysics' amonth other things. If you have been following his blog, or the debates that have been going on over at Neomarxisme, all of this is by now old hat. The 'vox populi' comments of the JT readership are perhaps worth looking forward to...we'll see what transpires over the day.

I've chosen to refrain from commenting on directly on their webpage, but here I will take issue with the Momusian idea of 'user-friendly Orientalism' (my own coinage, but note that the idea is that the capital 'O' has been put back in 'orientalism'). In fact, I'd like to issue a special challenge to Momus himself. Nick, for a man of your disposition, this kind of regurgitational essay is a little easier than shooting fish in a barrel. (Errr...I should try to make a clever joke about 'kingyosukui' right now, but nothing comes to me).

So, why not open out that steel-trap mind of yours in a different direction? Of course what I am suggesting is merely a little game of turnabout, which, as they say, is fair play...child's play in fact for someone of your intellectual stature. You yourself have spent a considerable amount of time and energy over the past few years berating 'the West' - your own special way of "reaching, teaching and reforming" your own culture, I presume. And granted it was in need of a fair share of it, if not more, but all of this has, recently turned into the 'same song, second verse', hasn't it?

Therefore, I'd like to ask you to write a non-ironic essay on the following topic: 'Occidentalism is a virtue.' Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking you to say good things about Plato (gasp!) or anything so tastless. I'm just trying to find out what the 'good' things from the West are, if indeed there are any. Anyway, if that isn't your cup of tea, you could also fullfil this formal challenge by penning something on this topic: 'Occidentalism is a vice' (Please observe my capital 'O', ok?)

Looking forward to your reply, which will doubtless shatter the silence that speaks for you until then in a most compelling way.


R. K. Duckworth, Esq.

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