In the Middle East, along the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates, many
archaeologists are engaged in excavating what is thought to be 'the remains
of Eden'. They believe the clues can be found in some way or other. The
search for the ultimate society, throughout the hearts of all the peoples
of civilized countries. reflects the discontent felt towards our modern
Not the fact that we are going to starve or be stricken with poverty, but
that simply we cannot have our own ways is the principle reason for seeking
for utopia; we no longer dream of constructing a country paved with gold
sheet, but where the respect for diversification and individuality is put
an emphasis on.
The trouble is that Japanese society is definitely haeding for the other
way round. A former student of mine reported that he was going to be employed
by a firm dealing with buying and selling yen. The office is made up of
a large round table, each section of which is equipped with a sort of telephone
booth, where the staff is to make a dealing with other brokers abroad.
Surrounded with ten telephone sets, he has to sit there making phone calls
from 7:30 am to at no earlier than 5 or 6 pm.
I wonder what he would do if those telephones rang at once. In any case,
he will suffer great stresses from the job, which he said is very highly
paid. As a result he may become indulged in drinking or even quit. But
quitting does not offer any new way of life but lead only to different
kind of stressful job.
These suffocating social circumstances, where there seems to be found no
way out, pose a great difficulty on us. 40 years ago, when we were stricken
with poverty and desperate in getting the evening's meal, we would have
found out, or come upon, so many things to do; in other words, we had many
chances and opportunities to think about.
Even 20 years ago, when our society faced radical changes, so to speak,
we could have invented new ways of so reforming the whole system of government
and society as to make it more flexible.
But now, the social structure is rigidly interwoven, where no layman can
grasp the impersonally established, complicated mechanism. Pioneer spirit,
adventure, the unknown, exploration---those words are dying. Those who
are always seeking for something new despair of living in civilized countries,
leaving for developing countries, where at least not all the social blocks
have been cemented.
Of course, in the modern society, there are more problems than it can solve,
and they are so vast in number and so complicated that no one man can start
working on them. Even government and specialists sometimes find it difficult
to cope with these problems, let alone individuals.
Is it intrinsically wrong to go on constructing such a machine-dominated,
impersonal, mass-consumptive world? Is it exaggerated to say the ideal
of personal freedom, along with freedom of speech are on the blink of extinction?
If the society annihilates the fundamental rights of humanity, then it
ceases to be human, but rather looks like a bee hive or ant nest.
The only solution possible will be the loosening grip of social control.
But how? Is some big cities, like New York, London and Tokyo, thanks to
the overwhelming population and confusion, can be the haven for the new
initiatives? But the huge waves of gentrification in those cities are also
threatening the former haven for freaks and artists and other creative
Is there no way out? This situation is indeed a trade-off; if we get what
we want now, then the material affluence will enable some of us to enjoy
the high standard of living. Instead, to maintain such a society, we have
to accept complex system of social control.
We have already learning the TV and other excellent audio-visual instruments
do not merely bring us joy of life but boredom and emptiness from living
passively. Even remote control switch system for TV set has only made us
lazy and slowly deprived us of, if exaggerated, vividness of everyday life
without our knowing it.
Garden of Eden can by no means be found in a present-day technologically
advanced modern society. Nor can it be found in primitive societies. We
only hope that the 21st century is not too bad or too good but at least
tolerant, where any walk of life can be enjoyed, whether he is rich or
poor, straight or hip, normal or abnormal. The best society imagined is
the one where we can find many, many alternatives to the present one.
WRITTEN NOVEMBER 1987
REVISED SEPTEMBER 1999
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