Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Blood Type

Something that will surprise some but not others is that Japan has a kind of horoscope industry around blood type (of course this is a tautology, but at least if I'm going circular, I'm going somewhere, right?). Actually, I've had a few discussions with my host family about it. Originally the question was posed to me by the child (there's one, he is 7, between a pseudonym and "the child", the latter will do for now) of the family. So I said I was type A, being somewhat familiar that this matters in Japan. I hope that's right, but I'm pretty sure I asked my mom some time ago and that's what she said (thanks mom!). The child's type is B, the same as his dad's, which I was told in this conversation means that they like to enjoy life and have fun. I, apparently, and I am not kidding, like to clean, even while I am talking on the phone. Yes, this may invalidate the entire industry for some who know me, but it's my blood type! It can't be helped! And the last blood type, homestay mom, is O, which means she likes to sleep, watch tv, and relax. And does not like to clean at all. They were actually surprised I knew my blood type, apparently I'm the first foreigner they've met who did know it (if I understood correctly).

Then the other day I came across this article which talks about blood type. Partly it is very interesting---I did not know about the link to Nazi's and fascism. Though maybe if I read more Jennifer Robertson, I would. Or maybe the link is actually just made up for this news article. Because really, I doubt such stringent adherence to verifiable evidence and scholarly detail are important for the intended audience and the effect. Which brings me to.

An anthropology-type rant, that if I read from another, I would probably think is just an example of that annoying tendency to be overly possessive when journalists or non-academics talk about "their" people. But anyway, I will continue. There is another part of this article that really gets me. It has the tone of a gee-whiz-look-at-what-those-odd-Japanese do--orientalism or whatever. Ok, that is a bit simplistic, seeing as how this article is seemingly written by a Japanese person (based on the name). But anyway the point is that why is there an AP article about blood type written in this way-- with a well placed "It doesn't stop there" for example-- that you wouldn't see about, say, astrology? I mean astrology is roughly the same thing. What's your sign? Hrmm, I wonder if astrology was insidiously spread by the Nazi's too. Even stuff like these something-briggs internet personality tests are almost as bad (though, I am pretty sure they were not invented by the Nazi's, though you never know I suppose). And chinese calendar (of which I am only familiar with because it is under the glass at the chinese restaurant and every time I go, I learn about what it means to be born in the year of the dog). In fact, thinking about how common these sort of categorizations are, maybe it has to do with cognitive essentialism (a comment which I have designed in order to appease and to provoke).

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