Yamamoto Tsunetomo - Hagakure (2)
The more I learn about Japanese history, the more I wonder how it is possible that the European captains found anybody alive there at all when they arrived. They should have disembarked, a fearful expression on their faces, and waded in blood, among the guts and remains of the honorable dead, who slashed themselves open to maybe make amends for an ill chosen colour of off-white for the master's new lampshade, or some such. This makes for very fascinating reading, but it is indeed hard to understand how a society, in which disrespect leads to fights to the death, which in turn means seppuku for those who started them, could have functioned, Maybe, then, Yamamoto exaggerates wildly. This is somewhat more plausible for modern readers when they realize that some of his short texts read like they are the direct inspirations for Monty Python's suicide squad lead by Otto in The Life of Brian, and the Black Knight in the Holy Grail - now of course available as a plush doll, which probably would have horrified old Tsunetomo right into killing himself.