Burch 2

Kana and kanji, from To the Distant Observer, by Noel Burch:

. . . the most important single consequence of this unique double practice is that the Japanese, during most of their ‘civilized’ history, had a continual, day-to-day experience of an absolutely critical linguistic difference which the peoples of Europe and China could grasp only ‘theoretically’ through the study of foreign systems. This difference is inscribed within their language, where it may not be too far-fetched to see it as a ‘functioning emblem’ of that difference.

As good as Burch is, he’s engaged in the perilous task of reading Japan, and like many other western theorists who engaged in that practice, he both apologizes for the endeavour and seeks to excuse himself from the sins of his colleagues.

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