Becoming a Japanese Salaryman

Plunge Life Down Shitter? (Yes/No) : ___

(Random passed out salaryman getting poked in the cock with umbrella through pant pocket by two gaijins, July 10th, 2009)

When I was in Tokyo, these men were everywhere. I saw them sleeping on the train. I saw them drunk in public. I saw their vomit on the platform. I saw their exhausted bodies littered like refuse in the open street. They were like a barely-living form of human waste, and they scared they hell of out of me.

Why? Because what I feared most was graduating and facing the reality of having to become a salaried office worker. Even in North America, I saw taking Heidegger’s "plunge" into the inauthentic toilet of mundane office work as the unavoidable end of youth and the death of individual freedom. (Albeit, looking back now, my view may have been overly pessimistic).

For those who felt or feel likewise, the absurdity of this supposed situation lies in the fact that we are the creators of a system that seemingly enslaves (most of) us. We are thrown into the socio-economic blender as fresh young graduates, ground and drained of our idealism and vitality for thirty years and then spit out as hairless carcasses with lower back pain. This process, this surrender, has become so normal to us that we no longer question it or seek alternative routes. It no longer seems like we have choice.

I've realized that I desired to believe I had no choice but that this desire was in bad faith. We make our outlook dark and dreadful on purpose. We subconsciously want to give in to social pressure and forget that we have choice. In the face of this pressure imposed on us, accepting defeat seems easier than exercising our ability to change the conditions of our lives. We lie to ourselves. We want to view ourselves as slaves. We attempt to ignore this fundamental freedom so we can live without the guilt of knowing we failed to take control of our lives.

Although coercive forces may constrain our will, I believe that we all fundamentally possess the freedom to change the conditions of our lives. I only hope that the salarymen in Japan will serve as an unforgettable reminder for me to never forget that I have choice.

Minoru Kusoda, reflections on 2006

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