aline, 16, usa

i like sad tv shows, time travel plotlines, ancient history, and girl groups



please stop romanticizing skeleton hell

um… no?

Some rejected poster ideas for Azula

"Dear Diary, my teen-angst bullshit now has a body count."

Heathers (1988)


Xiao Wen Ju
Alexandre Vauthier Haute Couture FW14/15

Elizabeth I, The Phoenix Portrait (detail), Nicholas Hilliard, 1575



Speaking of the pen, one tactic of cultural genocide used by Europeans back in the day was to not only suggest that Europeans had trouble learning kanji, but that the original kanji-using peoples themselves could not use them. They assumed adult literacy in the Sinosphere to be low. Ironically, Japanese people to this day help keep perpetuating this myth. When you know kanji, Japanese people will tell you “wow, even I can’t write that”. This is called a compliment. They don’t mean it. They’re just being nice. They can write the durn kanji.

Don’t believe me? Neither did MacArthur, or “Biggie Mac”, as he was known to his friends. He believed the Japanese people to be inferior, at a developmental stage analogous to that of a child when compared to the adult, fully grown “West”. And, as supreme military ruler of all the Japans, following that little worldwide scuffle in the 1940s, he was going to tell those slant-eyed beelzebubs who was boss. Effen Japs. In (this is the real deal, folks), one of his many orders to his Occupation Government, he decided that:


Translation: “Change to Roman script you bloody wogs or I shall drop another nuclear bomb on you. Also China, you’re next, motherlovers!”

Of course, MacArthur was far too well-trained in hiding his true feelings to actually come out and say something so gauche. Instead, he couches his words in appeals to “international communication”, “breaking down barriers” and “sharing ideas”. This is a fundamental technique found in the brainwashing carried out by colonial powers: religion or no religion, always appeal to universal principles…as long as they’re our universal principles. Works every time. In fact, it’s so well phrased that I want my country to be invaded, occupied and reprogrammed right now!

Mac didn’t think these rice-eatin’, fish-lovin’ SOBs could read kanji — their own language — and he set out to prove it. He issued forth a national test/survey of literacy (「日本人の読み書き能力調査」) , aimed at, as I recall, adults of both genders and from all strata of society, throughout Japan.

Now, what MacArthur didn’t know is that Japan, thanks initially to the 寺子屋/”temple sideroom” system, has had near-universal literacy since medieval times. That’s right, in the Edo Period, when samurai walked the earth, Japan already had full literacy and a fully developed popular literature. Medieval pop lit, that’s how hardcore Japan was. Regular people, man, woman, rich, poor — reading. And this is back when Japan publicly made full use of two written standards — 漢文 (so-called “Classical” Chinese…although it’s actually easier to read than post-1912 “Modern Standard” Chinese) and 訓讀文 (Japanese written more or less as spoken, with Japanese grammar and word order).

In a sense, it’s telling that Biggie Mac was a completely illiterate man; in fact, he had gone his entire life unable to read — Japanese, that is. Of course he could neither see the meaning nor even the possibility of such a thing. And that’s fine. It’s just that he had no place making decisions about literacy.

So, anyway, they didn’t have trouble reading in Japan. And this was reflected in the results from MacArthur’s test. The test conclusively demonstrated that Japanese people could read. Their own freaking language. Very darn well, thank you very much. Both genders, all classes.

But by now there were enough puppets in the Japanese “government”, enough brainwashed people that wanted to wipe out kanji in Japan as had been done by France in Vietnam, that a compromise had to be reached. That compromise was the 當用(later 常用)漢字/”general use kanji” system, whereby forms were changed that didn’t need changing and some attempt was made to limit the number of characters used despite their not needing any limiting. Importantly, these changes were not made for the benefit of readers, writers or learners — they didn’t need them; they didn’t want them. They were made to placate then-powerful/well-backed groups who lobbied variously for anglicization/romanization/kana-ization. They also served, quite conveniently, to put an unnecessary hurdle between pre- and post-War Japanese literature, weakening people’s connection to their own history, which, as we know, works very well when you’re wanting to mold a nation into a new shape you’ve picked: see Communist China for further instructions.

Fortunately, the people of Japan love their kanji; names of people, places and organizations have remained quite unscathed (examples are everywhere); every change to the “approved kanji list” since the Occupation Era has been an addition, and there are more on the way.



Members of the Asian American community at UC Davis are taking a stand in solidarity with the people of Ferguson and their continued struggle for survival in the face of police brutality. All black lives matter.

Jessica Stam at John Galliano Autumn/Winter 2009

pleated skirt (NAVY)