Much has been made of kawaii when it comes to the types of images imported globally alleged to fetishize Japanese and Asian women as nubile objects for the Western male gaze. Or worse — that kawaii spreads the idea that the whole of Asia is infantile and imitative, made up of insufficiently masculine men who can’t even handle their tiny little women, thus needing big, hairy white guys to model for them the proper way to effectively rule the world.
Luckily, this is overstating the issue, but I think the ideological implications exist somewhere in at least a few Western minds. Apparently, Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is not too concerned with perpetuating this unfortunate doxa and has appointed (from left to right) Misako Aoki, Yu Kimura and Shizuka Fujioka as official state emissaries to represent the coolness of Japanese pop culture in the worlds of fashion and anime.
Well, I think they’re friggin’ adorable and I don’t mind admitting that I would find international diplomacy a lot more interesting if it involved a bit more otaku. It might just heal the world.
Okay, maybe not.
The image to the left is by Gordon Parks, called “Black Children with White Doll.”
The title of this post is “daddy-mommy-me” and is a quote taken from the introduction to Deleuze & Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia and is related to my cute theory of race. The baby subject feels loyalty to the primary [racialized] nuclear unit in a libidinal economy of desire. The cuteness of “daddy-mommy-me” is abject sentimentality in the most profound and fundamental sense. (This is something I’m not going to tease out in a few paragraphs — it’s Deleuze for crying out loud, people!) I have a year and a half before I have to trace this economy of family cuteness more fully.
Of course, there’s this lovely piece by Japanese theorist, Akira Asada “Infantile Capitalism and Japan’s Postmodernism: A Fairy Tale” that really has fun with notions of cute economy, infantile capitalism — to be specific, and is all Deleuzianed out with wild proclamations about software & play v. hardware & hardwork. Very fun.
And then today I played around with I-Ching to focus on the question of a fruitful 2011. After six coin tosses, I built the 37th hexagram or ䷤ The Family (the family, in this case is according to the standards of traditional Chinese gender and birth order norms). This notion of family, of course, operates from a particular logic of oikonomos quite different from the context of Western cultural site of oedipal exchange, but I believe there is a similarity. The Wilhelm and Baynes translation I use talks about the “family is society in embryo… the native soil on which performance of moral duty is made easy through natural affection… within in a small circle of moral practice… later widened to include human relationships in general” (144). Hmmmm. Now I’m not saying I’ll be citing or actively using the I-Ching in my diss (though I’m fascinated by Gregory Ulmer’s ideas about the system’s flash logic as an ancient hypertext), but it’s certainly possible for me to appreciate this reminder of my social situation while also objecting to the basis of it on philosophical grounds. The oracular reading connects quite verisimilitudinally to this subject of “cute” in my dissertation, though. Or it just might be that I’m seeing “cute” everywhere because I’m so immersed in my topic. Either way, it can’t be too bad of a thing; I’ll need all the imaginative energy I can muster these next 18 months. (For realers.)
The line in the first place is 9 and changes 37 to the 53rd hexagram or ䷴Development/Gradual Progress. The image of 53 involves the gradual progression of a sapling on the side of a mountain. Influence and weight develops over time. Need I say more?
I think this is an auspicious reading for a/cute growth