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Eclectic Soul

Someone asked me the other day how I keep track of a number of conversations happening simlutaneous on six or eight blogs, or how I keep finding all these strange things on the net. The answer to the first is RSS/ATOM feeds, which mean that when something gets updated I'm normally notified in my inbox. But it's the other question that interests me more. It's the reason I was first drawn to blogging, the reason the internet has been such an obsession, and to a great degree the reason I started reading. I'm a sucker for the interconnections of knowledge.

In the last few hours, while I've been looking over Reg. State and reading CrimLaw, I've also had occasion to draw a connection between Chris Geidner's support for judicial activism, the American concept of balance of powers, and the massively different concept of power-balancing involved in the Tokugawa bakufu (government) from the 17th to 19th centuries. Indeed, in contrast to the 'dominant' image of Christianity many have today, I started thinking of the annihilation of the Christian religion in Japan by Iemitsu, best captured in George Elison's Deus Destroyed..

On the way back from the law school, I got to talking with a friend about The Kingdom, it's American remake, and then listened to her tell me a related story of Pharoah Psammeticus and his attempts to discover the oldest language on earth. and similar experiments by Akbar the Great and James V seeking to find the language of God. From there to the Mogul Empire, and via the Wikipedia, solidified my knowledge of Wiki, including the fact that it comes from the Hawaiian for 'fast' (wiki wiki). Which in turn strikes my interest in collective authoring and distributed knowledge. A few sips of coffee later, and I'm remembering that the strange Quizno's sub ad mentioned by Professor Bainbridge must have been done by the same guy who did the Laibach kittens.

The Web, RSS, Lexis-Nexis, Google... all of these are ways of collecting and sorting information. Some of the means are easier to use than others, while some of the data sources are of better quality or greater authority. The best part of my Moot Court project has been the excuse to wander for hours on Lexis, occasionally just meandering off onto non-productive but informative side-streets.

If the curse of university is never feeling like you have time to yourself, the joy of being in education is the access to knowledge, and the occasional moments when you can indulge in knowledge for its own sake. I wish I had more time to spend on my Perspectives course, time to not only put some critical thought into what the authors have to say, but to look at their historical and cultural backgrounds and contrast them with others I know. From what I can tell, Tokugawa Ieyasu might have been right at home with Thomas Hobbes, and I'd give good money for a dinner conversation between Hayashi Razan and Alexis de Tocqueville. Maybe later I can think about this more. But for all my griping recently, this law school thing really is a mind-altering experience, and mostly in a good way.


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The “closing” of Japan comes too late. The proper starting point for question of dominance / power in relation to Christianity and forms of government may well have come earlier in Japanese history. I’m talking about the divine wind that saved the Japanese from invasion by the debaucherous Mongols in 1281. Why analyze without first taking a kamikaze? On the rant, this reminds me of Pope’s maxim: O’er forms of government let fools contest, that which is best administered ‘s best. Of course, the Tokugawa bakufu under Ieyusa began the slaughter of the Christians before handing over power formally and then (de facto by his death) to Iemitsu. I’ve read estimates that the son killed about six thousand of the three-hundred thousand or so Christians. This all because of Christianity’s claimed “dominance” even then, namely the proffer of Judaism, Christianity and Islam that God’s law is above man’s. Thus, I’m not sure its self-understanding as dominant has really altered over time; only its emasculation has now become more evident. Nonetheless, absolutely nothing (including Iemitsu’s purge) frames the modern view of Christianity’s dominance more clearly than these two things: (1) a mere crowd chose Jesus to die rather than Barnabas; (2) that precious moment on the cross when Jesus stared into the abyss – “Father, why have you forsaken me.” I therefore grin more politely over these points.

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