Notes: Mukokuseki Thanksgiving


Mukokuseki [in Japanese] means ‘no nationality’, stateless, “without ground”.  Prior to the Edo era there were no words for the 'national’ or the 'non-national’ because Japan was closed to world. Only when the ports opened in 1864 was the existence of other cultures given official recognition with a word of its own. The word for 'multinational’, takokuseki, didn’t enter the Japanese language until the Gulf War of 1990, with its 'multinational task force’.

The term ‘mukokuseki’, or “stateless”, has also been used by various commentators to describe lots of Japanese popular culture and I would extend popular culture in general.  As film scholar Susan Pointon points out that “it is impossible to ignore the constant cross-pollination and cultural borrowing that complicate and enrich anime texts.” Pointon goes on to propose that contemporary media cultures function as intersections where elements of different cultures collide, mutate, and merge. In her summary of anime From Akira to Princess Mononoke Susan J. Napier suggests that “Despite its indisputably Japanese origins, anime exists increasingly as a nexus point in global culture - [it inhabits] an amorphous new media territory that crosses and even intermingles national boundaries.” In this regard anime is perhaps the ideal aesthetic product for contemporary period, at the forefront of creating an alternative cultural discourse that goes beyond traditional categories of “native” or “international” to participate in what may well be a genuinely new form of global culture.

I have a feeling that I have always been too part of a mukokuseki diaspora, making Ramen in San Francisco, setting up a shop (Revolver) that is a cross between Maine, Hokkaido, and Chile, pushing towards a bastardized aesthetic that is a blend of everything without worry or care of its origins. I’m not unique at all in the scenario - most of my friends seems to blend between worlds, cross pollinating ideas from sources often forgotten. Who said you can’t surf before dim sum or watch french movies while eating a taco. 

Something to consider on Thanksgiving - itself a blend of worlds - the new and the old.

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