Review of “To Energize People, Towns and the Land” (1998)


Miyazaki Hayao (participant), Nakamura Yoshio (participant).

Read in 2021.

Read in Turning Point.

Ecology, urban renewal, the “Site of Reversible Destiny” in Yōrō Park (also mentioned in more detail in “What Is Important for Children”), and schemes to invigorate environmentalism with mysticisim and lateral thinking. Nakamura says, of a concept from the mythical Daoist author Zhuangzi:

When someone suggested that a tall tree standing in a field be cut down because it was worthless, the comment was, “Don’t cut it down, because there is something of worth in the worthless.” What is the worth of the worthless? I think it is the existence of a marveous intuitive physicality. That is, if use words to carve out things as having certain functions and certain uses to human beings, we overlook something very important.

Miyazaki is the mook here. His response to Nakamura’s remark on Zhuangzi is a bad theory on O157:H7, a type of E. coli. He muses that the type, which can cause diarrhea and kidney failure, is an indirect product of antibiotics (“a gap occurred, allowing that strain of bacteria to grow”), and that illness from it can be prevented by children doing “things like wallow around in the mud and get sprayed by the urine of the kid playing next to them”. This is unlikely. O157:H7 is somewhat resistant to antibiotics but is not a classic case of human-induced antibiotic resistance, nor does Miyazaki make that claim. His suggestion (“I’m not sure about this, but”) instead sounds a lot like the naturalistic fallacy and is potentially dangerous, since young children are most at risk from the germ.

In this, his Rudolf Steiner phase (cf. “Recalling the Days of My Youth”), Miyazaki again deprecates learning how to read early and proposes building a novel kindergarten where the younger kids climb the exterior of the building to enter it from the top. Cute.

References here: “House of Three Bears” (2007), Ponyo (2008), Turning Point: 1997–2008 (2008/2014).

text non-fiction Japanese production