Embodying Japan: Cultures of Sport, Beauty, and Medicine 2017

Biopower &Tech: Hikikomori extreme?

              If biopower has been around as long as nation-states have been around, why are the hikikomori the first to rebel in this manner? No, they are not individuals with high sensitivity or superpowers, but they are individuals born into a very specific technological epoch of human history. Technology is a medium that intensifies the ability to showcase the ideals of the nation-state, with wide-spread and physical impacts on all citizens. For this reason, it is no coincidence that the creation of the internet in the 1980s directly parallels the emergence of Hikikomori. Through the internet, a myriad of media can be instantaneously accessed and internalized. The resulting excessive circulation has caused citizens to overload on power, realize its effects are literally skin-deep, and try to escape the system through physical isolation. This isolation is a deliberate attempt to reinstate a sense of agency after consciously or subconsciously realizing, under Foucaldian principals, they have none. Technology exacerbates how intimately the process of biopower is felt, which results in this observable rebellion.
                Isolation from society is not as an extreme of an action as it may seem. The power cycle in Japanese society is so pervasive that it even encroaches on spaces as private as bathrooms. With knowing that toilets are grounds for the artistic expression of lacked privacy, the hikikomori’s lifestyle makes more sense. If a citizen cannot escape the society’s power dynamics in a restroom, where can they seek solace? No space is free of the nation-state’s influence. Furthermore, the concept of inextricable linkage between bodies and power, titled ‘Gattai’, is literally a part of Japanese culture. The relationship between bodies and power is culturally celebrated through culture as iconic as the Power Rangers. Culture is influenced by and further propagates the invasive power dynamics perpetuated by the nation-state. When analyzing such examples of Japanese society, the choice to deliberately isolate Japanese bodies from society is proven to be a significantly less radical notion. 

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