ARTHUR KOESTLER: JAPAN
Posted by mukikamu on March 2, 2008
I know there are some harsh, intolerant and definitely not politically correct observations about the Japanese in the second volume of The Lotus and the Robot, but I still liked it . Sometimes reading an honest, no-fuss book is a breather for the mind. I felt it summed up Japan in the eyes of a confident European intellectual quite well and I was relieved to get rid of all pathos. The Japanese amaze me constantly. I see them as a nation where you never know whether certain traditions will amuse or stun and embarrass you. I am mostly amused but as I am aware that the outcome of cross-cultural encounters with the Japanese is unpredictable, I understand that they can be truly maddening for a European who lives among them. They have no street signs and arts like ikebana and gardening are too much for a rational and practical mind. Irony, humor and a taste for the grotesque is therefore essential for survival. Koestler has interesting points about Japanese history, society and politics, but fails to enlighten the philosophy of zen without a mocking.
I must note that Arthur Koestler is not a simple fellow. His life and books hint a slightly deranged mind and make him an exciting author.