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Want to Learn Japanese History? Start with Sengoku

Hi Sebastian

Happy new year!

I am hoping you would share your resources for your reading on Japanese history. Book titles and/or urls would be very helpful.


I got that a week ago, and I kind of sat there staring at the email. Japanese history is some of the most confusing to start to learn, because different elements of Japanese history and culture all play on and influence each other. I could run you through the military history of Japan from The Battle of Okehazama to Sekigahara to the Boshin War, from there into Dai Nippon Tekoku Era, from there into defeat and the Occupation under McArthur, and then we could do a little post-war history.

Carlyle: The World As A Mystic Temple and Hall of Doom

From Carlyle's "Characteristics," 1837--

"For men, in whom the old perennial principle of Hunger (be it Hunger of the poor Day-drudge who stills it with eighteenpence a-day, or of the ambitious Placehunter who can nowise still it with so little) suffices to fill-up existence, the case is bad; but not the worst. These men have an aim, such as it is; and can steer towards it, with chagrin enough truly; yet, as their hands are kept full, without desperation. Unhappier are they to whom a higher instinct has been given; who struggle to be persons, not machines; to whom the Universe is not a warehouse, or at best a fancy-bazaar, but a mystic temple and hall of doom."

Carlyle puts forth that people who are "hungry" -- that want something -- are happier and feel less desperate than people who do not.

Hunger at a low level would mean seeing the world as a warehouse. You work, you move stuff around, and in turn you get food and clothing. Because "their hands are kept full" they don't feel desperation.

People who have their base needs met, but feel unsatisfied and want to keep climbing in the world -- they too have their hands kept full. For them, the world is less a warehouse, and more a bazaar -- a place for shopping. Again, gain currency and exchange it for luxuries and symbols of status and gain, and desperation is warded off.

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