Hall (1984). The East and The West. (The dance of life: The other dimension of time.)

Hall, E. T. (1984). The East and the West. In The dance of life: The other dimension of time (pp. 91–107). Garden City, NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday.

“I would also like to communicate some of the tremendous possibilities that lie ahead if the human race can be weaned from its fascination with technology and turn its attention once more to the study of the human spirit.” (p 91)

“However, there is one element lacking in the cross-cultural field, and that is the existence of adequate models to enable us to gain more insight into the processes going on inside people while they are thinking or communicating. We need to know more about how people think in different cultures, as well as [page break] how they organize and explain ideas. What is perceived and what is left out? What is an ‘idea’ or a ‘concept’ as defined by a Japanese compared to an American? What is important? How are ideas organized? According to what principles? How are the separate events that go to make up an idea organized? Some of the answers to such questions can be gleaned from ascertaining where a given culture is on the context scale. Is it high or low context? It is most important to learn how time is structured.” (p 91-92)

[MA = Japanese concept of time-space per appendix 2, p 208 …]

“It was not too surprising for me to discover that cultural time is one of the keys to understanding Japan. To begin with, Japanese time, Zen Buddhism, and the concept of MA are all intimately interrelated — relationships which are sometimes difficult for a Westerner to understand. … Remember, time as I have been using it is a core system in our lives around which we build our picture of the world. If the time systems of two cultures are different, everything else will be different.” (p 92)

“Both the Pueblo Indians and the Japanese are brought up and live much of their lives in close-knit, highly contexted situations. This is why there are no questions, no explanations, and there is great difficulty understanding and accepting outsiders. Yet once accepted, the outsider becomes an insider. If people take the trouble to learn how to work the inside system, it will work as well for them as for anyone else.” (p 95)

“The record is a spatial mechanical metaphor for the process and the transactions that must be accomplished in all parts and at all levels of an organization. The center of the disk where the needle comes to rest symbolizes that the _nemawashi_ process has reached the very top. The speed of the disk is not part of the metaphor.” (p 96)

“Since the early Greek scholars, we have made word pictures of reality in our heads, projected them on the world, and treated these pictures as real.” (p 98)

“MA, the second element of art, is a space-time concept and a meaningful pause, interval, or space. Silences in Japan shout the deepest feelings. With us, the silence stands for embarrassment, ‘dead air,’ a time in which nothing is going on.” (p 99)

“It is interesting to note that nowhere in Japanese thought do we find any mention of individual talent. The implication is that virtually anyone who applies himself can become a master in one of the arts and while there are acknowledged ‘greats’ who are given the status of ‘National Living Trea- [page break] sure,’ the assumption seems to be that the talent is in the cultural unconscious, rather than in the individual.” (p 100-101)

“M. Matsumoto,10 the Japanese author, interpreter, and translator, states that the Japanese act from three centers: mind, heart, and _hara_ (‘gut’ or ‘belly’). Because of the highly situational character of Japanese culture, it is important to know which of these three may dominate a given situation. Mind is for business, heart is for home and friends, while _hara_ is what one strives for in all things. … The heart you can depend on; the mind is always changing. It takes _hara_ to integrate the two.” (p 102)

“An extension of the above is that in the West we need to understand and appreciate three more things in order to function in Japan: _tatemae_ (sensitivity toward others, public self), _honne_ (sensitivity toward one’s own private self), and _suji_ (the situational significance of an event).” (p 102)

“Daily life in Japan is replete with ceremony — young women even bow to greet customers entering the Ginza department stores.” (p 103)

“While the Japanese expect to make a profit, their considerations in computing the ‘bottom line’ are much more inclusive than ours. Our ‘bottom line’ is restricted to dollars and cents, while theirs includes an evaluation of possible contributions to national welfare, relationships within the company, networks of people, and much more.” (p 105)

“Related to dependence is the Japanese concept of _giri_,12 obligations which you incur during a lifetime and which must be repaid.” (p 105)

Selected Notes

  • 10. M. Matsumoto, “Haragei” (ms.), 1981.
  • 12. Japan is a society of obligations, such as _on_, the obligation to the Emperor and one’s teachers or lords. On can never be repaid. Reciprocal obligations — _gimu_ and _giri_ — can be repaid but are different from one another. _Gimu_ has no time limit and no matter how much one repays a favor or a grant, the obligation will still remain in part. _Giri_, on the other hand, can be paid in full, and there are time limits. _Giri_ is a way of living and doing one’s job. See Ruth Benedict, The Chrysanthemum and the Sword, 1946.
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