The way of bogs, mires and marshlands: myths, symbols and knowledge

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Journal Title
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Volume Title
J Muu elektroninen julkaisu
Date
2022
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Language
en
Pages
pages 126-142
Series
POPULAR INQUIRY: The Journal of the Aesthetics of Kitsch, Camp and Mass Culture, 6(2022):1
Abstract
Recent problems in environmentalism, globalization, and global warming reveal the interconnectedness of the various biomes and types of communities within and across them. Difficulties in respecting or understanding even one of these biomes/environments contributes to the perpetuation and exacerbation of problems, at the expense of solutions. Reinterpreting bogs in the light of philosophical approaches that acknowledge their advantages and benefits, such as those of the Japanese, therefore, may be profoundly useful. The social and political difficulties often encountered today in conserving and restoring bogs stem not merely from a lack of scientific knowledge, or the lag in the dissemination of scientific knowledge to the public and decision-makers, but arise primarily from two distinct but related problems arising in relation to bogs understood symbolically and philosophically: first, bogs are a symbol of what we fear and loathe, not merely because of their inherent characteristics and the ways we interact with them, but, more importantly, as a result of the cultural shaping of our understanding; second, bogs do not easily fit into the most prevalent pattern of thinking we have, namely dichotomous or binary thinking. This paper analyzes bogs and swamps, which are disparaged and dismissed in the West, as a culturally constructed symbol in Japan, where positive valuations contrast strongly with the widespread Western aversion. It explores the ways this symbolism, emerging largely from Yin-Yang theory, Daoism, and Buddhism, and reinforced in art and literature, both shapes and is shaped by the intersections of philosophical and customary ways of thinking.
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Keywords
Myths, Symbols, Knowledge, Japanese Art, Japanese Literature, Kojiki, Yatsuhashi / Eight-Plank Bridge, Tales of Ise, Dichotomies / Binary thinking, Yin-Yang, the Way, Daoism, Phenomenology of Bogs, Lotus Symbolism
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