However, in FAR MORE interesting news, it was concluded in my Japanese Religion & Ritual class today that we simply do not have a vocabulary to talk about religion that doesn't incorporate some component of belief - and that modern Japanese practices don't conform to the traditionalist definitions of religion. I was once again reminded that the entire damn intellectual discursive structure we use was created and is inherently and consistently informed by European/Western ideals of what it means to think, be an individual, etc. Sadly, at this point, there's also the problem that the Japanese have created words to accommodate monotheistic religions and when they talk about belief they're using those words... and those words don't relate to Shinto and Buddhist practices. So, basically, we acknowledged the problem with the course is that we can examine ritual practices, but we can't assume consistent beliefs (or, in some cases, belief at all) in those practices. So how then can we even talk about them? Oh, and our prof gave us hints for what kind of research has yet to be done in the field - I just wish I was more interested in ghosts because apparently no one's every really figured out what they are and aren't in Japan (at least not in scholarly academic circles).
I must say that I'm pleasantly surprised by this professor. I expected him to be kind of an ass sitting on a pedagogic throne, and even though he hijacks the conversation at every opportunity, he's great with distinctions and constantly points out that we simply cannot be relativist about most things... because it doesn't work. And he doesn't mind referencing Foucault (which, for some reason, I assumed he'd hate).
Sadly, I just hope I'm making enough of an impression that I can ask him for a reference. I hate this posturing crap.
This weekend was fabulous - we played pool on Friday night (which was totally fun, even though my energy level dropped completely at 3 am, when we were finishing our 'midnight' snack at the coffee shop), stained our entertainment center Sat & Sun, and watched the Oscars ... which was no more or less entertaining than any other year.