On Don Herron’s Fritz Leiber Tour

Our Lady of Darkness by Fritz LeiberSaturday I had the pleasure to take Don Herron’s Fritz Leiber Tour. Like his more famous Dashiell Hammett Tour, Herron recreates through personal research, recollection, and local points-of-interest Leiber’s life story and the circumstances that led him to spending his last years in San Francisco.

My attendance in the tour was accidental. In October, while talking with Nicole Gluckstern after the conclusion of the Bikes to Books Tour, I mentioned what can only be called a minor parallel in my life with Fritz Leiber’s, and how I’d been meaning for years now to learn more about this prolific author. Nicole told me she was in talks with Don Herron to have him lead a one-off, by-invite-only Fritz Leiber Tour. I eagerly jumped when she asked if I wanted to attend.

Leiber’s life defies a summary in brief. The child of actor parents (his father appeared in a number of early Hollywood productions), Leiber developed an avid readership over a career of decades with his wide-ranging work—science fiction, fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, horror & the occult, and more. In addition to experience in theater and acting, Leiber was an amateur astronomer and one-time editor of Science Digest, making him the rare science fiction writer with an actual background in science.

Fritz Leiber as Dr. Arthur Waterman in Equinox: Journey into the Supernatural (1965 or 1966). Will Hart, (CC BY 2.0)

Fritz Leiber as Dr. Arthur Waterman in Equinox: Journey into the Supernatural (1965 or 1966). Still by Will Hart (CC BY 2.0)

As a child and young man, I was familiar with Leiber through his science-fiction short stories (although I don’t recall reading any of his novels). His stories were featured in “best of” collections and back issues of science fiction magazines I dug out of dusty cartons in Livermore’s public library.

Then, via Dungeons & Dragons, I learned of a swords-and-sorcery series featuring Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, a duo comprised of an oversized swordsman and a diminutive thief. When I saw this series was penned by someone named Fritz Leiber, I distinctly recall thinking, “What a coincidence—there’s a science-fiction writer with the same name.” No coincidence, it turns out. (According to Herron, Leiber coined the phrase “sword-and-sorcery.”)

A personal friend of Leiber and his second wife, Herron is a fount of history and insight into this prolific author. Much like his Hammett tour, Herron led us down and around Geary Street and the Tenderloin (names which might ring familiar to readers of Bridge Daughter). Then we boarded MUNI and trekked up to Corona Heights (and its stunning views of the city) in the Castro District. All locations have some connection to Leiber and his semi-autobiographical Our Lady of Darkness. It’s a Lovecraftian novel that takes place in 1970s San Francisco whose main character endures a battle with the bottle and grief over the death of his wife, just as Leiber was undergoing at the time.

I hope Herron considers permanently reviving the Fritz Leiber tour—but I suspect the only way that would happen is if there was a strong revival of interest in Leiber himself. Personally, I’ve already added Our Lady of Darkness to my reading list, and I plan on searching out more of his work.

About that parallel

When I earlier claimed a parallel with Leiber’s life, I should explain. I don’t mean some personal connection with the author or his work, only that Leiber wrote about an event in his life that rang similar to one of my own.

Eight years ago, after going through what can only be called a divorce immediately followed by a second relationship gone sour, my trials culminated with me busting up my shoulder in a bad accident. I severed all the tendons there, leaving me with a separated shoulder. (To this day it looks like I have “two” shoulder bones.)

I found myself bedridden for six weeks and unable to move my right arm. Day and night I consumed painkillers, delivery Chinese food, and—unwisely—whiskey. (I wrote about this episode for We Still Like‘s “Gravity” issue, a piece titled “Taylor & Redding”.) I spent my time in my apartment, alone, absorbed with Miles Davis and Cal Tjader. I spent my less stuporous hours reading whatever I could get my hands on. In particular, I located at the library a thick collection of Dashiell Hammett’s Continental Op stories, which I consumed cover-to-cover.

To keep from going stir-crazy, I took long walks up and down Nob Hill and through the Tenderloin, often at odd hours of night. Due to the painkillers, sleep was varied and sporadic. Some of these walks were as late as three in the morning, when the insomnia was too much to bear.

On these walks I discovered locations and buildings named in Hammett’s work, all mere blocks from my Geary Street apartment. The old part of San Francisco is rife with short streets and dead-end alleys, too insignificant to be incidentally included in a story for local flavor, yet Hammett would feature them prominently in his work. These names did not come off a map or phone directory, these were streets intimate to Hammett, a writer obsessed with specifics and verisimilitude. Some of the Continental Op’s stories are set in Chinatown. It got so I went out of my way to seek them out.

Humphrey Bogart and "the dingus." (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Humphrey Bogart and “the dingus.” (CC BY-SA 2.0)

This led me to reread Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon (which I’ve written about not just once but twice). There, in this single detective novel, I re-experienced in concentrate everything I’d experienced the prior weeks poring over the Continental Op stories. In The Maltese Falcon Sam Spade walks streets I walked every night, attends theaters down the block from my apartment, eats at restaurants still in operation. Sam Spade, living and breathing in San Francisco circa 2008. My front stoop was backdrop and stage for this classic of American literature.

It’s not merely the rush of casual literary association—similar to the rush of meeting a celebrity—that overwhelmed me. Details of the novel easily overlooked snapped into clear focus. That gunman Thursby is shacked up at Geary & Leavenworth suggests he’s residing on the hairy edge of the Tenderloin, an area rife with flophouses, while the supposedly-delicate Brigid O’Shaughnessy rooms on posh California Street. Sam Spade rides streetcars up and down Geary Street, a notion that defies imagination, as Geary in downtown San Francisco is narrower than the suburban lane I grew up riding my bike on. (The Geary streetcars were known as “Iron Monsters” and phased out in 1956 to make way for America’s love affair with automobiles.)

I’d been forced to move to Geary Street a few years earlier due to a bad break-up and the meager income I drew, living paycheck-to-paycheck tending bar. I wasn’t happy to reside a stone’s throw from the Tenderloin, infamous as San Francisco’s seediest neighborhood. It’s not—there’s a dignity in the TL easily overlooked—and Hammett’s work gave me a second sight, another way of reading my surroundings, and with it came another way to see my own circumstances. I say without qualification, Dashiell Hammett’s writings carried me through one of my lowest periods of my life.

Some time after my recovery—personal and monetary fortunes on the rise—I sat at the bar of John’s Grill in Union Square nursing a drink and waiting for my dinner to arrive. (“Jack LaLanne’s Favorite Salad”—a cold seafood salad with avocado slices, pure protein and fat.) On the back of the menu I found a newspaper article the restaurant had reprinted, “Stalking Sam Spade” written by one Fritz Leiber.

And I distinctly recall thinking, “That’s funny…there was a science fiction writer with that name.”

Stalking Sam Spade

Light reading while waiting for your steak medium-rare at John’s Grill.

After Leiber snapped out of the grief over his wife’s death and started drying up, he too rediscovered the city he lived in by reading it through Hammett’s lens. Geary Street, he wrote, is the “spine” of The Maltese Falcon, and he set out to locate its landmarks much as I’d attempted myself. Leiber was more organized about the project than I ever was, and “Stalking Sam Spade” does a much better job detailing his discoveries. Learning about San Francisco’s past through a detective novel led him to search for the history of the apartment house he lived in, culminating in his building becoming the nexus of Our Lady of Darkness.

Perhaps the allure of “rediscovering” a city through literature is not unique to San Francisco, but it’s certainly an active and avid pastime here. While some people move to San Francisco solely concerned about which address is currently beau chic or which nightspots are ripe for seeing-and-being-seen, I’ve encountered just as many who’ve found themselves ensnared in this game, the game I played those sleepless nights. It’s much as the Baker Street Irregulars “play the game” retracing Sherlock Holmes’ footprints as though he’d lived and breathed. With each step of the game comes the chill of revelation, the buzzing realization you’re walking the streets Hammett, Kerouac, Frank Norris, and others once trod daily. Each San Francisco writer is inspired in very different ways by the same city—a city that reinvents itself every generation, granting each artist who lands here a bed of fresh soil to sow and till. Some waste it, some fail to tend their seedlings. Others grow oak trees still standing today.

As Herron pointed out on our tour, Leiber got one fact wrong in “Stalking Sam Spade”: Spade’s apartment was most likely at Post & Hyde (not Geary & Hyde), the same location as Hammett’s apartment when he lived in San Francisco. A landmark plaque is on that building today, just as there is one at Burritt Alley—the location of the first murder in The Maltese Falcon—a plaque that did not exist when Leiber wrote his article.

Photo by Parker Higgins

Photo by Parker Higgins (CC0)

Another plaque that did not exist at that time is today placed on the Hotel Union at 811 Geary Street. It’s dedicated to Fritz Leiber and the book he wrote while drying up there, Our Lady of Darkness, a book inspired by his quest to re-walk the chapters of Hammett’s San Francisco and see the world anew.

Learn more about Don Herron’s tours and books at donherron.com

Gallery

The denouement did not happen here: Watchword’s Whole Story, “A Concordance of One’s Life”

On May 4th and 5th, 2007, Watchword Press held the second of their literary art shows “Whole Story”. Watchword’s goal was to join visual and performance artists with writers and create a unique collaborative event.

In this case, artists were invited to read and react to my story “A Concordance of One’s Life” (collected in my eponymous book). If some of the images make little sense, it helps to read the story first. (You can get a free copy by signing up for my mailing list.)

Photos

Pins handed out for everyone to proudly wear.

Pins handed out for everyone to proudly wear.

Fortune cookies made from pages of an index.

Fortune cookies made from pages of an index.

The family from Golden Dragon, live and in person.

The family from Golden Dragon, live and in person.

Some astounding works by George Pfau (left) and Alexandra Pratt (not pictured). That nameless guy on the right's just blocking good art.

Some astounding works by George Pfau (left) and Alexandra Pratt (not pictured). That nameless guy on the right’s just blocking good art.

A Concordance of One's Life: The Gold Anniversary Edition. Andrew Touhy jumps in the pool with his own humorous take on the story.

A Concordance of One’s Life: The Gold Anniversary Edition. Andrew Touhy jumps in the pool with his own humorous take on the story.

A panoramic view of the entire gallery. In the full view, I'm the one standing in the center wearing a hat and a tie and a blank look of disbelief.  Courtesy Jesse Clark Studios.

A panoramic view of the entire gallery. In the full view, I’m the one standing in the center wearing a hat and a tie and a blank look of disbelief. Courtesy Jesse Clark Studios.

The limp skeletal remains of Ken James and the Fellow Travelers Performance Group.

The limp skeletal remains of Ken James and the Fellow Travelers Performance Group.

"... and soon they're fucking their brains out like spring rabbits!"

“… and soon they’re fucking their brains out like spring rabbits!”

Arthur Lyman Buford: Person of the Year. Courtesy Carolyn Boyd.

Arthur Lyman Buford: Person of the Year.
Courtesy Carolyn Boyd.

Thu Tran sings Dylanesque odes to Arthur Lyman Buford & Company.  Thu would later adapt "A Concordance of One's Life" to a musical.

Thu Tran sings Dylanesque odes to Arthur Lyman Buford & Company. Thu would later adapt “A Concordance of One’s Life” to a musical.

Organizer Laurie Doyle imagines Chi-Tung's desk at home.

Organizer Laurie Doyle imagines Chi-Tung’s desk at home.

The silk-screened poster Watchword used to advertise the event.

The silk-screened poster Watchword used to advertise the event.

Gawker, meet Sid Hudgens: media mogul, slimeball, genius

Myron Fass' Hush-Hush News

Myron Fass’ Hush-Hush News

James Ellroy’s brilliant novel L.A. Confidential introduces readers to Sid Hudgens, one of Ellroy’s most colorful and enduring characters. Publisher of Hush-Hush magazine (“off the record, on the Q.T. and very hush-hush”), Hudgens gleefully reports on the secret lives of drag queens and lesbians, dishes the dirt on the famous (Robert Mitchum’s “Big Dope Bust of 1948”), and outs hunky actors whenever the whiff of non-heterosexual possibilities are sniffed out by him and his camera lens.

While Gawker Media weathered the storm this week over its outing of a Condé Nast executive embroiled in blackmail, I found myself revisiting Ellroy’s Sid Hudgens and all that Hudgens represents. I’m enjoying the Gawker circus immensely, delighted by each day’s revelations (Gawker “in a total meltdown”, “editors resign over flap”, Gawker to be “20% nicer”). Now this is my kind of tabloid journalism!

And I’m not the only one. I’ve noticed a preponderance of the word “schadenfreude” in accounts of Gawker’s self-induced implosion. (I even coined a neologism for the phenomena: gawkenfreude.)

I admit, I’m not entirely elated with Gawker Media’s and CEO Nick Denton’s funky little mess. I’m a fan of io9, a Gawker Media venture that avoids the lurid and sensational. In their place, io9 emphasizes reliable, thoughtful pieces for the science and science-fiction crowd. It’s also one of the few mainstream media sites to treat ebooks and self-publishing with the dignity they deserve. io9’s writing is remarkably free of the snark that Gawker churns out like dollar-mart peanut butter. (I should mention that I’ve socialized with io9 editor-in-chief Charlie Jane Anders in the distant past.) But io9’s good work isn’t enough to stop me from gawking at the Gawker pile-up.

Confidential magazine, November 1955

Confidential magazine, November 1955

With all the schadenfreude over the train wreck that is Gawker Media, maybe it’s time to acknowledge the immense debt Nick Denton & Co. owe to the Sid Hudgenses of the bygone tabloid era, 1940s and onward.

James Ellroy’s creation is most likely an amalgamation of two historical figures, Myron Fass and Robert Harrison. Media impresario Myron Fass revived the Eisenhower era Hush-Hush News in the late 1960s. In addition, he published “up to fifty titles a month, many of them one-offs, covering any subject matter he thought would sell, from soft-core pornography to professional wrestling, UFOs to punk rock, horror films to firearm magazines.”

Robert Harrison published Confidential magazine in the 1950s, whose editorial style was “laden with elaborate, pun-inflected alliteration and allowed stories to suggest, rather than state, the existence of scandal.” Those pun-laden alliterations became Sid Hudgen’s calling card in both L.A. Confidential and later stories featuring him. (You can hear Hudgens’ pleased hiss as he says “sinnnn-sational.”) When Hudgens narrates a story in this alliterative fashion, Ellroy’s prose becomes a thick, near-unreadable Finnegan’s Wake of double entendres, word mangling, linguistic winks and nudges, and postwar film references.

Myron Fass represents the more lurid of the two—his love of the grotesque, bizarre, and outlandish comes through in his wild covers. Harrison’s Confidential was more conservative in both subject matter and politics, taking the pose of a moral crusader exposing those in power and delivering the truth to a deserving public.

Danny DeVito as Sid Hudgens, L.A. Confidential

Danny DeVito as Sid Hudgens, L.A. Confidential

Curtis Hanson’s film adaptation of L.A. Confidential did a damn fine job boiling Ellroy’s tangled ride and entwined characters down to a focused, seasoned narrative. Screenwriter Brian Hegeland developed brilliant scenes that establish complicated characters onscreen in moments. Here’s Sid Hudgens (impeccably played by Danny DeVito) explaining his vision of…the future:

Jack Vincennes: It’s felony possession of marijuana.
Sid Hudgens: Actually, it’s circulation 36,000 and climbing. There’s no telling where this will go. Radio, television. Once you whet the public’s appetite for the truth, the sky’s the limit.

Compare Sid’s ambitions to Nick Denton’s pseudo-manifesto of Gawker’s values:

“We put truths on the internet.” That has been the longstanding position of Gawker journalists. … It is not enough for [stories] simply to be true. They have to reveal something meaningful. They have to be true and interesting.

I won’t quibble with “interesting” except to point out that this is the word choice of a one-time journalist and editor.

“True,” however, is worth pondering. Nick Denton is not invoking the philosophical notion of truth as handed down to us from Aristotle, Sartre, Kant, and so forth. This is a schoolyard notion of truth, or rather, The Truth. A bottled, constrained substance, the prim and scolding schoolchild feels entitled and duty-bound to uncork The Truth and dump it out into the sandbox and onto the heads of their peers, damn the consequences—to others, of course, never him or herself. “True and interesting,” as airtight and ironclad a journalistic ethic as any, Sid Hudgens might say.

While Gawker‘s writers talk up the First Amendment, firewalls between business and journalism staff, and the purity of The Truth they seek to release, it remains that the core of Gawker‘s pulled story lies an attempt to out a man as gay. In Gawker‘s 1950s worldview, homosexuality remains an accusation to deny or confess to. Even when Gawker’s writers insist staying in the closet is a form homophobia, their devotion to exposing “true and interesting” homosexuality rings as hollow as Sid Hudgens’. Gawker and Hudgens see it as their personal duty to pull back the curtain on private lives whose personal choices—right or wrong—have zero impact on the public.

And Gawker has been relentless in their crusade of outing public figures (never mind the question of whether the Condé Nast executive is a public figure). Look no further than their perverse, sordid, multi-year quest not only to out James Franco as gay, but as a gay rapist—a charge they determined by counting the yea and nay votes in their readers’ comment section. Outing gay men (accurately or inaccurately) is the staple crop of tabloid journalism’s output and the raison d’être for its existence. In other words, Gawker is not the innovator it presents itself as. Gawker has an unsavory, weathered provenance that goes all the way back to the days of Myron Fass and Robert Harrison.

Tabloid journalism does not engage. It shames, it derides, it scorns, it scolds. It’s the clucked tongue put to print. It’s the transcription of knuckles rapped in delight. By refusing to engage in the substance of a story, Gawker‘s revered snarkiness is revealed as nothing more than Sid Hudgens’ pit-bull taste for lasciviousness, but more hipster and less hepcat.

Still, I can’t help but feel Sid Hudgens won. He foresaw the future with more clarity than Arthur C. Clarke or Isaac Asimov. From four-color tattler rags to Walter Winchell’s radio gossip to checkout line National Enquirer to prime time’s A Current Affair to the O.J. Simpson trial circus to Gawker Media’s empire—Sid Hudgens, Myron Fass, and Robert Harrison built the future one rumor at a time. Whet the public’s appetite for The Truth, boy-o, and the sky’s the limit.

Rangaku, sakoku, and the Japanese cargo cult

A quote I came across while reading William Gibson’s Distrust That Particular Flavor, a collection of his essays and assorted nonfiction:

In 1854, with Commodore Perry’s second landing, gunboat diplomacy ended two hundred years of self-imposed isolation, a deliberate stretching out of the feudal dream-time. The Japanese knew that America, not to be denied, had come knocking with the future in its hip pocket. This was the quintessential cargo-cult moment for Japan: the arrival of alien tech…

Imagine the Roswell Incident as a trade mission, a successful one; imagine us buying all the Gray technology we could afford, no reverse engineering required. This was a cargo cult where the cargo actually did what it claimed to do. [Emphasis added.]

The book is filled with these spot-on observations and analogies, and it’s this intellectual microscope that propels William Gibson’s best fiction. Gibson connects technology as a cold untapped force with characters’ desires and failings. He understands that even the dullest human can become quite creative, even powerful, when a sufficiently complex piece of technology is at their disposal.

Distrust The Particular Flavor by William GibsonAnd certainly Gibson can write about the Japanese as well as any Westerner I’ve read. Neuromancer is practically a love letter to the Japanese circa 1983, their love of tech and costume and salaryman formalities framed within a culture that mindfully guards its feudal past. Who am I to question Gibson—he’s written more about Japan, and the Japan we otherwise would not have heard about, than any other Western fiction writer in the past forty years. But there’s an important proviso to his comparison of Japan emerging from its self-imposed shell and the plight of the South Pacific cargo cults.

When Commodore Perry forced Japan to open its doors, the country was not caught unaware by a flood of new technology and culture that poured in. In fact, the Japanese knew a lot more about the goings-on of the outside world than you might expect. The Japanese were doing what they could to keep up with Western technology and systems over those two hundred years of isolation, and doing it much better than other open countries in Asia and elsewhere who were suffering under the boot of European colonialism.

There’s two key words here. The first is sakoku, which Wikipedia translates as “locked country” (but I’ve also heard translated as “curtain”, as in “Iron Curtain”). Sakoku is the term aggregating a bundle of decrees and policies that led to Japan’s isolation. Unfortunately, “isolated country” suggests a backwards nation, no matter how politically correct you attempt to be; consider our common attitudes toward North Korea, which is currently going through its own sakoku. Now imagine North Korea as a world power and economic powerhouse twenty years from now. Sounds far-fetched, but it’s already happened once, and in a country not far off their coast.

Japan's first treatise on anatomy, copied from Western sources in 1774. (Wikipedia)

Japan’s first treatise on anatomy, copied from Western sources in 1774. (Wikipedia)

What’s less known outside of Japan (and even among the Japanese I’ve spoken with) is rangaku. The suffix -gaku means learning, while ran comes from Oranda, the Japanese pronunciation of “Holland”. Rangaku is the body of Western knowledge accumulated by the Japanese (via the Dutch) during sakoku.

The Japanese acquired rangaku two ways. They obtained it directly from the Dutch, the only Western traders allowed into Japan during sakoku, once the Portuguese and their meddling monks were banned. The Japanese also sent their best and brightest to Holland’s universities. That was the deal the Japanese emperor and shogunate cut with the Dutch: we’ll open one port to you (Nagasaki), and in return you give us access to your books and technology, as well as let our hand-picked students attend your universities. The Dutch probably thought they were getting the better end of this deal, right up to the 1930s.

A 1774 Japanese book, "Sayings of the Dutch", with a drawing of a microscope. (Wikipedia)

A 1774 Japanese book, “Sayings of the Dutch”, with a drawing of a microscope. (Wikipedia)

Through this lens, the Japanese no longer come off like hard-nosed traditionalists desperate to hold the clock hands of progress still. Rangaku is one of many explanations for how Japan emerged from its isolation and modernized in twenty-five years with remarkably little culture shock. The Japanese intelligentsia did not gape at the first steam locomotive, they’d already seen diagrams of it and were conversant with the principles that made it move. The Japanese even adopted a compulsory grade school education in the 1870s, forty years before the United States. Think how quickly our culture has adopted to the rise of the Internet and the rapid changes it’s bringing. That’s nothing compared to the Meiji-era Japanese transitioning from feudalism to modernity in one pre-planned, foreordained leap.

But it’s also easy to take the wonderment too far, to admire the Japanese for integrating the cargo perfectly and fluidly into their feudal culture. In a recent collection of Ryunosuke Akutagawa’s short stories, Haruki Murakami offers an oblique rebuttal to Gibson’s observation of the Japanese “buying all the Gray technology” they could afford. In the introduction, Murakami notes Akutagawa was

a child of the modern age. Western civilization and Western-style education were already things that could be taken for granted. … He wore Western suits, smoked cigars, drank coffee, ate beef, conversed now and then with foreigners, and appreciated opera. Such a Westernized lifestyle was, for him, entirely natural and entirely comfortable.

Rashomon by Ryunosuke AkutagawaIn other words, Akutagawa was accustomed to a way of life similar to the moveable feast the bohemian American ex-pats enjoyed after the First World War in Paris. It’s remarkable to me that such a writer would set modernistic and relativistic stories like “In the Grove” and “Rashomon” (and others) in feudal Japan. (Imagine Fitzgerald writing a Revolutionary War novel, or Hemingway writing a story about the Salem Witch Trials.) As a backdrop to Akutagawa’s stories, Feudal Japan appears to be constructed of the hard timber of clear-cut morality, duty, and honor—much like the mythologized Old West—and not the shaky plastic of “Rashomon”‘s moral and subjective ambiguities. Of course, perhaps that was Akutagawa’s point.

Murakami then speaks almost directly to Gibson. He notes that in Akutagawa’s adulthood

the most basic aspects of the life of the Japanese were still being governed by the old indigenous culture. … The Meiji government openly promoted a policy supporting precisely such a bifurcation, as represented by the slogan “Japanese spirit, Western technology”. They wanted to incorporate the technological progressiveness and efficiency of Western systems, but they also wanted the people to remain good, submissive Confucianists. … To some degree, the dregs of feudalism were left in place intentionally. [Emphasis added.]

In Europe, the leap from feudalism to modernism required a nasty and brutish slog through the Industrial Age and its factory child labor, black lung disease, and Marxist pot-stirring. Japan neatly sidestepped all that, cultivating the nineteenth century’s benefits, discarding its detritus, and in the process preserving the kind of feudal values that had been discarded as quaint and old-fashioned by Americans and Europeans. (For one example, see Mark Twain’s 1895 attack on Romanticism in “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses”.) Unfortunately Fascism loomed in Japan’s future, just as it did for the nations who’d persevered through the Industrial Age.

For better or worse, today we’ve implicitly agreed on a sink-or-swim policy for people to adjust to the Information Age we’re currently embroiled in. My grandmother still uses a corded phone and only recently installed cable television—but no Internet service, and she never will. There was no government edict for her to catch up with the Web, no compulsory service requiring her to join Twitter and enroll in Facebook. One hundred and fifty years ago, the Japanese explicitly decided on a negotiated course for their people, a compulsory upgrade of their society from Feudalism 1.0 to Modernity 2.0.