Degrees of kitsch : Japanese and English intercultural understanding
Central to this thesis is a theory of intercultural understanding in terms of kitsch. The area under investigation spans a wide range of fields, including narrative (paintings, theatre, novels and films), business management theory, and leisure (social dancing). I investigate the phenomenon of intercultural understanding as between Japan and England and as illuminated by anthropological theory (in particular the work of Clifford Geertz). Testing if my three means of inquiry - the imaginative, the productive and the leisurely - could be made to overlap, I research on the marketing of cultural products across various borders in England and Japan. I identify the essentially "comic" process, as characterised by Kenneth Burke, as 'the maximum of forensic complexity' of intercultural understanding so much of which takes place under the signs of fragmentation and hoped-for reconciliation. While dealing with comic views of the Japanese and the British as 'emotionally charged' consumers, the thesis is also against categorising all cultural imitations as kitsch. This thesis tackles those initially distant aspects of Japan and England that the two countries have made near, assimilated into their culture. Viewing the Japanese and the British as actively engaged in an ongoing creative synthesis of the exotic with the familiar, the modern with the traditional, this thesis seeks for the lesson to be learned for achievement in cultural assimilation. This thesis explores some attempts to create the action which will embrace embodiment and emotional transposition. Naturally the thesis discusses hen-neneutics, and describes the cultural principles underlying practice in order to identify factors influencing intercultural understanding.