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C.uudian Review of American Studies/ Revue ca11adie1111e d'etudesameircames Volume 27, Number 3, 1997, pp. 145-1 S9 'Electric Reality,' Retribalization, and the Global Village: Japan's Econo-War with the United States Frank D. Zingrone 14S The more you create village conditions, the more discontinuity and division and diversity. The global village absolutely ensures maximal disagreement on all points. It never occurred to me that uniformity and tranquillity were the properties of the global. ... The tribal-global village is far more divisive-full of fighting-than any nationalism ever was. Village is fission, not fusion, in depth. (Marshall McLuhan, cited in Stearn 1968, 272) The dominant effect of life lived under electric conditions is retribalization. This process, a function of global media awareness, involves the recognition by people of their extreme loss through media transformations of their identity as individuals and as a people. The only solution to the juggernaut of global medi,1 takeover is to retrieve who you used to be and develop a second incarnation of that throwback identity as protection against having no identity at all. Witness the abongin,11 lawyer 111the Armani suit, ,Htache 146 Canad1.m Review of American Studies Revue canad1e1medi>tu.desamerzcames case, and Florsheim shoes reverting to traditional dress for his press conference . The retrieval of identity usually coincides with an outbreak of extreme violence. The political and ethnic need for special identity is often marked by desperate attempts to achieve such stability. Media make nobodies of us all and threaten to wipe out our subtlest and most unique characteristics as a people. The global-wide spread of technology usually means a concomitant spread of the English language. But this subliminal linguistic tyranny threatens to wipe out the most important differences between us, the distinctions that save us from bone-numbing cultural sameness. The computer represents a cultural assault on a grand scale, intolerable to many, but as unavoidable as global economics. Consider the crucial subtleties involved. The untranslatable core of any language, what the French call the "ethnie" ts a deep unconscious perceptual commitment to seeing reality a certain way. This perceptual bias is definitively the source of tribal pride and identity. For example: a nitpicker in English is a person with hyperfastidious concern for details. A nit is a body louse egg, a very small entity indeed. In Italian, a nitpicker is one who will "cercare il cape/lo nell'uotJo" (search for a hair in an egg). The French regard such a fellow as one who would "encouler /es mouches," (that is, bugger flies). Each language retains a unique perceptual facet of most metaphoric understandings. The English express an anxiety about cleanliness in their metaphor, the Italians are concerned with food and the French make a sexual matter of this as many other things. When technical English is apposed to the local language , deep resentments are stirred up. A profound convulsion occurs, from which it becomes dear that because of electric reality everyone's future involves embracing one of two dynamics: Either culture surrounds technology and local reality can be preserved in some form; or, technology surrounds culture and all folkways are buried under the weight of a global technopoly. The computer revolution has created a whole new structure of geopolitical power. With the fading usefulness of a monopoly on the means to violence (nuclear bombs, germ warfare, star wars), the two countries formerly among the most militaristic have now converted their conquering spirits to know!- FumkD. Zmg1011e I l47 edge-based strategics of world domination. Germany andJ apan, both not,1bly without armies of any consequence, have been conducting business wars ,lgainst the United States and her secondary allies. While this activity is now perceived for what it is in the highest political and economic circles, it is not considered politic to talk openly about these m.ittcrs. Koreans, for example, still will not openly discuss their profound resentment of their thirty-five-year captivity and enslavement by the Japanese even while they do business with them. Sometimes bitterness against Japan slips out, as when Edith Cresson, the prime minister of France said out loud, m 1991, "Japan is an adversary that doesn't play...


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