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6240Re: Ronin

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  • Susan and Frank Downs
    Oct 6, 2001
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      Greetings 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?

      >
      > "A lone warrior in Japan is last I heard a ronin. In short, unemployed
      > riff-raff. Not the knight errant of Western fantasy literature."
      >

      Again quoth James A Barrows:

      "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
      ronin?

      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.
      --
      Takenoshita Naro
      Frank Downs
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