Tokyo Phantasmagoria
Tokyo Phantasmagoria

As the sun set on the 20th century, a new age dawned in Japan, one that has ushered in not only technological innovation and economic prowess, but changing attitudes and values among Japanese young people. This transformation is not an uncommon or even new phenomenon, but simply the result of modernity, which has brought with it an ethics of materialism, the ever-increasing concern for the acquisition of wealth and commodity goods, sometimes at the expense of the concern for human life itself. Walter Benjamin (1892-1940) was a German-Jewish philosopher whose writings examined topics including, but not limited to, art, history, and politics. His lifes work on 19th-century Paris, published posthumously as The Arcades Project, foreshadows what is now occurring in 21st-century Tokyo, and Japan in general. Drawing from a selection of Benjamins writings including The Arcades Project, Tokyo Phantasmagoria explores the social consequences as well as the political implications of the rise of commodity capitalism in modern Japan, concluding with a discussion on how political action can re-humanize a citizenry that has been commodified by their materialistic desires.

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