Friday, March 01, 2013
Richie on Relevance
There’s been a lot of talk in the media about Japan being rendered irrelevant on the global stage by its prolonged economic demise. What’s your view?
Japan is irrelevant if relevance consists of making wads of money and calling that life. The future relevance of Japan is to pick up where it left off before it became a bubble empire. The 10-year period of enormous wealth brought out the worst in the country. Everybody became nouveau riche, sprinkling gold leaf on their sushi.
Now, thankfully, that is over. Now they can go back to being Japanese. And to be Japanese is to be frugal, to be decently poor. Japanese traditionally didn’t have anything besides mud, so they made the best pottery going. They didn’t have any furniture because they were too poor, so they developed the whole science of space, called ma, to account for emptiness.
This is what the world needs from Japan. The country has shown how much can be made of little. The glutted, materialistic, philistine world can learn something from Japan. This has been Japan’s traditional role, and so now it can go back to it. And indeed it will go back to it because it has nothing else to go back to.
On the turntable: Beth Orton, "Pass in Time"