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611 ways Europeans and Japanese are contrary
a full translation, explication
and essay of Luis Frois's famous treatise (Tratado)
A full English translation of a 1585 treatise (in Portuguese) first revealed to the world in 1955 by Josef Franz Schutte, S.J., an evaluation of the correctness of Frois's contrasts at the time (1585) and their validity today (including discoveries that “solved” contrasts hitherto misunderstood), further expanded to include contrasts Frois left out (so the total is more like 1000, rather than 611!) and explicated so as to bring out the ideas and, dare I say, metaphysics which anyone who liked Barthes’ Empire of Signs, but wished for a bit more, will be love!
In 1585, Luis Frois, a 53 year old Jesuit who spent all of his adult life in Japan listed 611(!) ways Europeans and Japanese were contrary to one another. Robin D. Gill, a 53 year old writer who spent most of his adulthood in Japan, translates these topsy-turvy claims – we sniff the top of our melons to see if they are ripe / they sniff the bottom of theirs (10% of the book), examines their validity (20% of the book), and plays with them (70% of the book). Readers with the intellectual horsepower to enjoy ideas will be grateful for pages discussing things like the significance of black and white clothing or large eyes vs. small ones, while others who seek quirky facts will be delighted to find, say, that the women in Kyoto were known to urinate standing up, or Japanese horses had their stale gathered by long-handled ladles, etc., and serious students of history and comparative culture will gain a better understanding of the nature of radical difference (exotic, by definition) and its relationship with Valignano S.J.'s admirable new policy of Accommodation, the first official experiment in cultural relativity on the part of European Christians.
1. Comparative Culture – Europe vs. Japan
There are 14 chapters, following Frois’s original, a 50 pg Foreword on the History of Topsy-turvyism and a Midword on how China relates to this. No room remained for an index for 740 pages was the limit for my printer, but there is an item-by-item Table of Content supplement. Find a sample of just one chapter, Ch. XIV = Diverse Things that did not fit in the other chapters, below. (Sorry for the waste of space, the billgates' html insists on it unless i fix every damn line.)
NOTE: There is now a SHORT VERSION of Topsy-turvy 1585 available, too.
14-1 Flint, striking hand, r or l
14-2 Emotion vs. no emotion
14-3 Fire fighting
14-5 Killing people at home
14-6 Killing men vs. animals
14-7 Execution for stealing
14-8 Killing substitutes for killing
14-10 Punishment of servants
14-11 Prisons and punishment
14-12 Stolen goods
14-13 Fear of the dark
14-14 Fear of snakes
14-16 Coins vs. scrap by weight
14-17 Balances vs. Scales
14-17/18 Coins with holes
14-18 Coins, face-value vs. choice
14-19 Coins as gift
14-20 Honorifics by noun vs. verb
14-21 Washing hands for dogu
14-25 Counting by hand vs. abacus
14-26 Present-giving, number of.
14-27 Present, giving medicine?
14-28 Present, brought by guest
14-29 Present enjoyed by guest
14-31 Ball play, hand vs. foot
14-32 On wall or just ground?
14-33 Mills and horse-power
14-34 Socializing, town vs. house
14-36 Clear vs. ambiguous Lang.+
14-37 Wearing pelts
14-39 Board games
14-40 Hawk and falcon hoods
14-41 Turnip washing, hands/feet
14-42 Sack material
14-43 Warming hands in fire
14-44 Message giving posture
14-45 Posture while speaking
14-46 Towels for head & feet!
14-47 Nostril-cleaning fingers!
14-48 Courtesy-exchanging face
14-49 Wine keg storage=
14-50 Pelt coloring
14-51 Bamboo usages
14-52 Present package adornment
14-53 Rose-water vs. wine on face
14-54 Sweetmeat and drinks
14-55 Bouquet vs. single flowers
14-56 Incense quantity
14-57 Passionate vs. restrained
14-58 Treatment of woman in refuge
14-60 Hoe blades
14-62 Hair of Servants and Horses
14-63 Grapes and Figs
14-64 Visiting Servant’s Houses
14-65 Servants in Master’s clothing
All the Contents of the 740 page book are searchable at Amazon, though they may harass you for your name and password (why they do it sometimes and not always is beyond me!). Beware that the conversion software or optical scanning hardware Amazon used to display the book and make it searchable had problems with the small print of the notes causing many strange spellings ... rdg