Monday, December 1, 2008

Concluding remarks (aka what Remains of our blog)...

In the Bibliography post, the last website link mentioned was the British Council, Contemporary Writers page for Kazuo Ishiguro. This website was helpful for an overall understanding of Ishiguro the author. It has categories such as Biography, Genres, Bibliography, Prizes and Awards, Critical Perspective, Further Reading, etc.

To inspire some closing remarks for our journey discussing civilisation exclusivity and many posts and comments about The Remains of the Day, Japanese concepts, and our own experiments with these ideas, I think that Ishiguro's Author Statement from the British Council is particularly relevant:

“I am a writer who wishes to write international novels. What is an 'international' novel? I believe it to be one, quite simply, that contains a vision of life that is of importance to people of varied backgrounds around the world. It may concern characters who jet across continents, but may just as easily be set firmly in one small locality.”

This quotation leads me to believe that Ishiguro was intending his novel to be a "bridge" across cultures, just as Dr. Nitobe envisioned. However, this is one quotation taken out of context from an interview. We cannot know what Ishiguro was intending, even if we ask him directly, because the novel takes on its own purpose as a work of art from a specific time - in other words, pre-Huntington and Fukuyama articles. It is our job (as students engaging these questions) to connect the concepts and texts together and emphasise the relevant information.

Personally, I consider our blog dialectic a pertinent method of contemplation. I don't need to decide whether or not I agree with Dr. Ogden's civilisation exclusivity thesis because I have made a conscious effort to understand both positions (and many in between) to satisfy my curiousity. Maybe one day - possibly after I visit Japan - I will stake a claim; but for now, I choose to remain as objective as possible while continuing to acknowledge my so-called Western bias.



skram said...

At the end of this exploration, I feel better positioned to argue a pro-civilization exclusivity stance. By experiencing this dilemma through direct experiential knowledge, as well as from an academic perspective, I am more willing to assert that my knowledge of Japan—or any civilization for that matter—is completely skewed by my Western upbringing and corresponding fundamental principles. This does not leave me with a feeling of hopelessness though. More than ever, I feel ready to delve into World Literature and History, armed with a newfound acknowledgment of the fraught implications of this endeavour. I now know I will never be able to think like a bat, but this will not stop me from trying to learn from as unbiased a position as possible.


skram said...

I too feel that trying to decide if i "agree" or "disagree" to the idea of Civilisation Exculsivity can be a bit midduld and murkey. Things people say can be taken so many different ways. In particular only Ishuguro knows exactly what he means "The Remains of The Day" to be. I feel that the most important part is keeping that dialectic open and really trying to understand both sides as best you can.

skram said...

I agree that this dialectic is imperative for developing our varying perspectives on cultural exclusivity, especially when you take into account cultural values that vary as significantly as Western and Japanese. I have found my exploration of cultural exclusivity throughout this project in my personal point of view to have been very useful in understanding my own culture better. Although it is possible for an individual to understand aspects of a contrasting culture I am more inclined to agree with the Huntington article featured at the beginning of the blog. For although there may be a basic understanding of parts of a culture you will never be able to fully experience what it is to be of a culture outside your own.


skram said...

P.S The second comment is from Sara

skram said...

While I came into this discussion feeling overwhelmed by my lack of knowledge on the civilization exclusivity question, I now feel that so many new aspects of the question have been opened that I can't begin to come to a conclusion on the subject. But I have found the whole discussion very interesting and look forward to continuing my exploration of the question!