- Oct 6, 2001Greetings all!
Quoth James A Barrows:
"The best metaphor I have heard for Japan is that of a fishing village.
Somewhat apropos. If you are not part of the fishing village, you are
dangerous, because no fishing village in their right minds throws out
perfectly good people. Not to mention that perfectly good people are
busy helping to suppor their families and therefore their village.
As with all metaphors, this one is not iron clad.. but it does give a
feel for the loathing with which the Japanese would view strangers."
Sure, dangerous, feared, possibly loathed, alien, outside the system, but
"riff-raff?" Universally? Really?
>Again quoth James A Barrows:
> "A lone warrior in Japan is last I heard a ronin. In short, unemployed
> riff-raff. Not the knight errant of Western fantasy literature."
"Don't forget, that even after
killing their enemy, the survivors still followed their master into
death. They did not want to become ronin again."
I don't believe I said that anyone would want to become ronin, but that they
could achieve a measure of respect through their actions. Couldn't their
seppuku be seen as an expression of honor rather than of fear of being
Once more quoting James A Barrows:
"A good illustration would be the start of 7 Samurai. They were all what
we would call Knight Errants. They were still pretty scummy. Didn't
fit that picture at all. The fit what they were, well armed scum not
afraid to die. Well.. maybe not so much afraid to die, but so close to
it that it didn't really matter."
I think _Seven Samurai_ demonstrates my point pretty clearly. The level of
scumminess of the characters varies depending on their conduct. No, none of
them are pillars of society, but do you think knights errant would be viewed
that way? The point was that ronin held a similar place in society to the
_reality_ of a wandering European sword-slinger. Do you think that European
villagers flocked to welcome well-armed strangers riding through their
villages on the way to some tourney? Don't you think their feelings were
probably pretty similar to those of the fishing villagers in your post? I
don't want to romanticize ronin, but comparing real-life ronin to
romanticized knights errant doesn't make sense either.
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