Sunday, April 10, 2005

The wisdom of Omi-San

I have found thst there's often more truth to be found in works of fiction than what might be available in works that are supposed to be fact. Perhaps that's why I still haven't totally given up on the Bible, even if it is a pastiche of several different documents and has little support in the archeological eveidence for its main storyline.

In this post, we can see how a more recent work of popular fiction contains valuabkle nsights to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The work in question is Shogun, by James Clavell, published in 1975. This work is essentially a roman a clef about the life of Will Adams, the first Englishman to visit Japan.

We join the story at the point where Capatin John Blackthorne (Adams' alter ego) is totally at the mercy of the inscrubtable Omi-san, the samurai vassal of the sadistic Lord Yabu. The only other westerner is an evil Portugese Jesuit priest who would like nothing better than to turn the heretical Protestant Blackthorne over to the Inquisition for the usual treatment. Yabu and Omi hate the Catholics and the Portugese who they consider (proabably correctly) to be invaders, and they want to use these new "anti-Catholics" as pawns in their political s truggle. But they are disgusted at the "uncivilized" behavior of Blackthorne and his Dutch crew. Unfortunately for Blackthorne, he can only communicate with his Japanese captors through the services of the Portugese Jesuit:

Blackthorne: “What does he want me to do? What does it mean to’behave?’”

Jesuit: “Omi-san says it means to obey. To do what you are told. To eat dung, if need be.”

Blackthorne: “Tell Him to go to hell. Tell him I piss on him and his whole country – and his daimyo.”.

Jesuit “I recommend you agree to wh –“

Blackthorne “Tell him what I said, exactly, by God!”

Jesuit: “Very well, but I warn you, Pilot.”

Omi listened to the priest. The knuckles on his sword hand whitened. All his men shifted uneasily, their eyes knifing into Blackthorne.

Then Omi gave a quiet order.

Instantly, two samurai went down into the pit. And brought out Croocq the boy. They dragged him over to the cauldron, and trussed him while others brought firewood and water. They put the petrified boy into the brimming cauldron an ignited the wood.

. . .

Jesuit: “Omi san says lie down. Immediately.”

Blackthorne did as he was ordered.

Jesuit: “Omi-san says that he did not insult you personally, neither was there any cause for you to insult him. Because you are a barbarian and know not better yet, you will not be killed. But you will be taught manners. Do you understand?”

Blackthorne: “Yes.”

. ...

He [Blackthorne] saw Omi hitch up his kimono and ease his penis out of his loincloth. He had expected the man to piss him on his face. But Omi did not. He pissed on his back. By the Lord God, Blackthorne swore to himself, I will remember this day and somehow, somewhere, Omi will pay.

Jesuit: “Omi-san says it is bad manners to say you will piss on anyone. Very bad. It is bad manners and very stupid to say you will piss on anyone when you are unarmed. It is very bad manners and even more stupid to say you will piss on anyone when you are unarmed, powerless, and not prepared to let your friends, family or whomever to perish first."

-from Shogun, by James Clavell

This selection demonstrates the futility of blustering rhetoric as a way to force others to do what you want them to. Kind of like the Israeli ultra-nationalists who continue to build West Bank settlements and say "piss on the Goyim.." The only problem is that there are no more than 5.4 million Israeli Jews, but there are more than 6.4 billion goyim. The Israelis might be armed, but even with nukes, it's silly to offend the 6.4 billion goyim, especially when more than half of the Jews of the world live in the Diaspora, among the goyim. Unless, of course, these militant nationalists are so focused on their messianic aims that they're willing to let us galut Jews "perish first."


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