Amaterasu and Susano as Echo and Narcissus in a Textual Mirror-Oh My Goddess!

Oh My Goddess!
Oh My Goddess!

Amaterasu and Susano as Echo and Narcissus in a Textual Mirror
The part of the Kojiki (Japanese creation) myth that I will comment on this time is the following.

Susano-o meets Amaterasu by the Well of True Names . The Sun Goddess speaks first asking him, "Why do you come to my kingdom, do you meant to rob me of it?" "Not at all sister" he replies and proceeds to explain what happened. “My father came and finding me crying asked me ‘Why do you cry’. I said ‘I cry because I want to see my mother in the world of the dead,’ whereupon he said ‘go from here!’ and banished me from my kingdom."

The above seems pretty inconsequential. All the same, I managed to write a paper and give a presentation about it to a congress of Japanese psychotherapists at which Takeo Doi (Mr. Amae) and Kitayama Osamu (genius, poet, folk singer, and leading Japanese psychotherapist) were present at the congress. Bearing in mind the company, though alas I think that Doi had left the building, I was on fire:-) But alas, the learned members of the audience were pretty disinterested, even if they were in the room, as far as I know.

As mentioned previously, the Kojiki myth is very terse. Perhaps this is a characteristic of myth in general, it is certainly true of the Kojiki. There is very little repetition. There are repetitions of structural elements, mentioned in more than one episode of the myth, such as of a child that cries until he is advanced in years, or deities spitting or dripping, things, and symbols into water. There are also repetitions of some words, presumably for emphasis such as the aforementioned, “skinly-skinned” or “chewily-chewed.” But generally speaking the writer of the myth did not write the same thing twice. But in the above passage, the myth repeats itself, word for word, character for character, *almost*.
Here is the part that is being repeated:
[Izanagi said] "Why do you cry?" Susano-o replies, "I cry because I want to see my mother in the world of the dead". Hearing this Izanagi says "*If you want to do that*, then go from here!" and banished him[Susano-o] from his[Susano-o’] kingdom."
Compare the second version above:

[Izanagi said] ‘Why do you cry’. I said ‘I cry because I want to see my mother in the world of the dead,’ whereupon he said ‘go from here!’ and banished me from my kingdom."

The repetition is long in a book which has little repetition. The repetition is word for word. The exact same sequence of characters repeat themselves, with one very small change. The change is miniscule. In the Japanese text it is only one character, read “shikaraba”, which I have translated “If you want to do that.” If could be translated “If so.” What is significance of a missing single character written 1500 or so years ago?
1) The myth is a sacred text for those that wrote it. In the preface they state that they have taken great care. So why in one of the few places that the scripture repeats itself does the writer slip up, miss a character, unless the exclusion were deliberate?
2) The same type of omission occurs in at least one other place very clearly, and possibly in several other places (I list them in my paper). The Kojiki has a particularly regular structure. In at least two clearly, probably three, and more mistily in several other episodes, there is a sort of refrain – a winger repeats the words of another (or himself) in a (deliberately?) incorrect way.
3) In this case and in others, the misquotation serves to make the quoter out to be a victim. The quoter is allowing himself to “amaeru” or (my trans) “fawn” in an unhealthy way.

“amae” (the noun) amaeru (the verb) are, thanks to Takeo Doi, definitive of Japanese culture. Many books have been written, by Doi and others, attempting to define the term. Doi and others attempt to explain Amae/amaeru . They explain the prevalence of that which it describes in Japanese culture. but perhaps due to the non-linguisticness, of what the terms mean, the descriptions continue.

Amae is the *unspoken* demand to “love me!” that children beam, as it were, towards their mothers. It is “being cute,” it is being weak, it is avoiding the linguistic expression of ones desire, but behaving in such a way as to encourage the beamed, the recipient of the extra-linguistic message, to respond and fulfil the unspoken (but beamed) desire of the “fawner.”
And here Susano-o is engaging in a particularly excessive, pathological form of “fawning.” Susano-o’s father, Izanagi, came along, asked what was the matter, found out what was the matter, did not allow Susano-o to amae/fawn, but instead, said “If that is the case” go and do it. Izanagi presented a perfect linguistic mirror to his son. He was the shrink that the son seemed to have needed. But Susano-o, ignores the linguistic mirror that he was presented with. And when he meets his sister, by a minor modification of the words his father spoke, made himself out to be the poor, little, lovable victim. The readers of the Kojiki myth have just read of the fathers’ love, his sincerity, so they know what went down. But the son says, “There was I feeling lonely for my mother and our father came along and banished me from my kingdom.” Instead of showing the Son what he has to to do to fulfil his desire, the father becomes, in the misquotation, a bully.
The protagonist, Susano-o, takes a good linguistic copy of himself (“Well if you want to do that, then go and do it) and transforms it into vector for Japano-Narcissitic self love (“Oh, I am so weak and sad and put upon). Mirrors, be they linguistic or visual, can be deformed to suit our self love.

Narcissus, if he had been visually awake, would have seen in his reflection the image, movements, of a man engaged in self-love-sickness. Susano-o, had he been linguistically awake, would have seen in his linguistic reflection (provided by his father), the movements, or lack of movement of a man engaged in self-love-sickness.

Susano-o goes and stands above the Well-of-True-Names, and copies himself, in his self narration (that imperfect medium) presenting himself as linguistically lovable, and in the Well-of-True-Names, I argue a mirror, there is someone that loves him.

So, the structure of the myth of Amaterasu-Susano is (please compare with the previous post) as follows
1) Susano-o’s linguistic self-narrative, his linguistic-self-copying, is just a copy, but a bad copy, a deceptive copy. It is certainly not alive. It is a nothing, a chimera allowing gross and misplaced self love.
2) Amaterasu’ image is truthy. Though "it" is only a copy of what Susano appears to be, "it" is not an “it” at all but being, a tragic, supernatural being that loves, means, meaningfully loves the protagonist.
3) But even though it is the image that (in Japanese myth), as always, comes out the winner, the speech plays an essential part of the story. The speech is the scapegoat, the nub of jokes, that nasty deceptive bit to be derided. The fawning self speech of Susano-o is needed both for the suspension of unbelief, and for subsequent defamiliarization (Brecht) to take place.
3.1) If it were just a story about some "Mirror Goddess" loving some guy, no one would be able to see the Mirror Goddess as a person at all, let alone a tragic hero.
3.2) If it were not for the speech, then we would never be able to come back to the realisation that, "oh ****! The Mirror Goddess, is just a copy. She is not, we are not, really people at all!"
4)Amaterasu is Susano-o *queered*. Amaterasu is just Susano-O’s image, but she is also a woman.

The next part, the vows of Susano and Amaterasu, are both a trick, and explain the phenomenon of mirror reversal. I have already posted the analysis of this next part, in brief, to flickr.

Oh My Goddess!
Oh My Goddess!

Cool Toys Pic of the day – What to Do Without WhatTheHashtag?
WhatTheHashtag (a.k.a WTHashtag) was my #1 favorite Twitter tool,
followed closely by TwapperKeeper. I used both of them to capture
Twitter chats for archiving and blogging. WTHashtag I liked because it
took the conversations and put them in sequential chronological order,
however, it did not keep an archive for posterity, and it only tracked
when I asked. If I forget to go grab the tweets on time, I’d be out of
luck. TwapperKeeper did keep the archive, and better yet, it allowed
you to output them in CSV format for data analysis.

Unfortunately neither WTHashtag nor TwapperKeeper is particularly
useful to me anymore. Right now, WTHashtag is deader than dust, and
TwapperKeeper is alive but doesn’t give me CSV files anymore. Uh,
right. In both cases this is directly attributable to the new Twitter
Terms of Service and Twitter’s aggressive enforcement of them. Gee,
thanks, Twitter, you just made yourself an order of magnitude LESS
useful. Isn’t the point of an API to make your product MORE useful to
people, by piggybacking off the creativity of others?

How much do I care? Well, why is it that Twitter is useful to me at
all? Answer, the people, duh. People who share great, wonderful,
intelligent, inspiring, amusing, clever, creative snippets of
intellectual goodness in which I love to marinate my brain. There are,
however, other people, and other sources of intellectual goodness. For
other microblogging platforms, I am particularly fond of,
Plurk, and Yammer, each for different purposes and communities. With
Twitter’s recent shortsighted policies, my number one reaction is
let’s just take the best conversations and move them to I
could spend a lot of time talking about how superior is as a
functional platform in comparison to Twitter. I really really like the
Status.Net software, and I like it for its functionality, completely
aside from its being open source and having an active and responsive
developer community.

So, folks who are less than thrilled with Twitter’s policy changes,
guess what? YOU DON’T HAVE TO PUT UP WITH IT. There are really rich,
intricate, fascinating, intelligent communities in other spaces, and
some of those spaces actually do a better job than Twitter does of
managing conversations. I am particularly praying that the #hcsm
community might be brave enough to take a conversation or two to test
it out and see how they like it.

OK, so, in the meantime, what are folks doing to capture and track
tweet conversations, especially those oh, so very useful weekly and
monthly Twitter chats? For me, personally, my #1 most important
Twitter chat is #HCSM. Very important. Very. Important. The Grand
Goddess of #HCSM (@danamlewis) has been testing out whole bunches of
tools to collect, archive, and share the conversations we have.
Frankly, she has looked into this a lot more than I have. I was
perfectly happy with WTHashtag, and she wasn’t, so you know she is
pickier than I am, and was looking closer at what the various tools
captured and how they did it. Now that Twitter has killed off the most
useful tools, we are all scrambling to fill the gap with something,
anything, even if it isn’t quite what we loved using before. Here is
what she has chosen for the #HCSM archives for now.


My reaction? Eh, meh, better than nothing. It does grab the needed
content, but it doesn’t make it at all easy to get the content out
where I want it in a form that is useful to me. It is more work for
me, but I’m using it. I also am not completely thrilled that it
captures the content ONLY for the hour of the official chat, and not
the after-party that usually goes on, or the rambling snippets
throughout the week inbetween scheduled chats.

Other folk from #HCSM have mentioned they are using TweetChat. Indeed,
the Fox ePractice has set up a whole batch of pages for a selected
subset of regular health chats on Twitter.


FoxEPractice: #hcsm (TweetChat Archives)

This is much closer to what I’ve been getting from WTHashtag. It isn’t
as clean, but it works. Setting up a chat is a little trickier than
with WTHashtag, but not bad. I could probably adjust, and it looks
like I’ll have to.

Last but not least, TweetDoc, which seems to be the tool of choice for
the non-English speaking #HCSM communities. You can find archives in
TweetDoc for #HCSMEU (health care social media Europe) and #HCSMEUES
(health care social media Europe España) and #HCSMLA (health care
social media Latin America).


TweetDoc doesn’t save the archive as ASCII (my preference) but as PDF.
It is actually a fairly nice archive, prettier than most, and nicely
formatted. It has many of the same drawbacks as CoverItLive combined
with the web accessibility issues of depending on auto-generated PDFs.
I would use this as an "also-ran" tool to create documents for
managers, but would not want to depend on it for my own work.

From what I heard from our Great Goddess, I suspect that an
authoritative inventory of these tools would find that they are
dropping various tweets from their archives, and I haven’t looked
closely enough yet to figure out which / why / why. Do your own tests,

Oh My Goddess!

%d bloggers like this: