These are not the vampires I’m looking for
Saturday 3 December 2011, 11.00pm HKT
WHILE I’M ON THE SUBJECT of charm bracelets on another post, let’s take a little detour and have a look at what you’ve got in your veins.
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Interestingly, when it comes to charm bracelets, the Japanese often include a blood-type charm. This is not because their country is in constant danger from earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, which would make medical sense in having such charms.
It is because the Japanese believe in the insane theory that your blood says it all.
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Compartmentalise the entire planet
In Japan, whether someone is A, B, O or AB blood is a topic of everyday conversation. There is a widespread belief that blood type determines personality and temperament, with implications for life, work and love.
Blood-type personality theory (or blood-type humanics, as the Japanese sometimes like to call it) does much like what horoscopes do in Western culture.
In Japan (a.k.a. The Land That Gave Us Weird Since 1957), there is a frenzied obsession to know a person’s blood type. Celebrity profiles always have a blood-type label. Even anime character profiles are given their blood type. Buy an addressbook in Japan, and you’ll see spaces for blood-type entries. Job application forms ask for your blood type.
Even in everyday life in Japan and South Korea, you’ll notice the conversation somewhat revolves around blood type. People going on a date or meeting someone for the first time are liable to be asked, “What is your blood group?” You’ll notice the question cropping up quite a lot to kick-start smalltalk — as frequently as the question “What’s your nationality?” in Western culture.
“What’s your blood type?”
“The fluid type.”
(The author’s retort whilst living in Japan.)
Anyone from a schoolkid to a pensioner will never fail to ask about your blood type. Indeed, discussion of blood type is a key part of social interaction in Japan and South Korea.
The fact that three or four titles in the Top Ten list of bestselling books in Japan for any given year are about blood type will be enough for you to realise the level of this obsession.
Let’s compartmentalise the entire planet, shall we? Fall in line, and have a look at one of the more common interpretations:
Type O (‘The Warrior’)
Curious and generous, but stubborn.
You want to be a leader (or have leadership qualities). You keep striving until you achieve your goal. You are a trendsetter, loyal, passionate and self-confident, but you have a tendency to be too competitive.
Good traits: Confident, strong-willed, judgmental (i.e. good judgment), dedicated, self-deterministic.
Bad traits: Workaholic, insecure, emotional, stubborn, uncompromising, cold personality, over-confident, self-centred, vanity, jealousy.
Compatibility: O personalities are most compatible with other Os and ABs.
Famous Os: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Hurley.
Trivia: You’re the original blood type. In prehistory, all Cro-Magnon people (precursor to modern Man) who lived around 40,000 BC were type O.
Type A (‘The Farmer’)
Sensitive perfectionists but over-anxious.
You like harmony, peace and organisation. You work well with others. You are sensitive, patient and affectionate. But you are stubborn too, with an inability to relax. In love, you are a traditionalist.
Good traits: Obedient, careful, sympathetic, empathetic, self-sacrificing, polite, willing to compromise, honest, loyal.
Bad traits: Worrier, emotional, weak-willed, indecisive, introverted, antisocial, wishy-washy, nervous.
Compatibility: As are most compatible with As and ABs.
Famous As: Christina Applegate, George Bush Sr.
Trivia: As the Cro-Magnons evolved, they developed more society-building skills. That was when type A blood started appearing.
Type B (‘The Hunter’)
Cheerful but eccentric and selfish.
A rugged individualist who is straightforward, and like to do things your own way. You adapt easily to any situation because of your creativeness and flexibility. You enjoy being around people, and others love to be around you. With friends, you would rather listen first to all and then proffer up your opinion. However, you insist on being independent can be extreme sometimes and become a weakness.
Good traits: Cheerful, outgoing, optimistic, adventurous, active, sensitive, kind.
Bad traits: Forgetful, undecided, disorganised, noisy, spontaneous, prone to exaggeration.
Compatibility: Bs are most compatible with Bs and ABs.
Famous Bs: Paul McCartney, John F. Kennedy Jr.
Trivia: A high proportion of self-made people are Bs. Type B is traceable back to around 10,000 BC, the time when people began migrating.
Type AB (‘The Humanist’)
Arty but mysterious and unpredictable.
Cool and controlled, generally well-liked and always put people at ease, you are a natural entertainer. Being the most psychologically complex of all blood types, you can be technical and creative at the same time. Tactful and fair, and don’t need to be with others to be happy. Your weaknesses are being standoffish sometimes and having trouble making decisions, as well as being either too businesslike or too gushing in close relationships. It often seems as if you have one personality for the outsiders and another for the insiders.
Good traits: Sensitive, proud, diplomatic, discriminating, easygoing, sympathetic, efficient, learns quickly.
Bad traits: Short-tempered, complains, dependent, moody, brooding, selfish.
Compatibility: ABs are most compatible with ABs, Bs, As and Os (in that order).
Famous ABs: Thomas Edison, Marilyn Monroe, Jackie Chan.
Trivia: Fewer than 5% of the world population are ABs. Being the most recently evolved blood type, its history goes back to only around 1,000 years ago.
Most Japanese and Koreans have memorised this by heart. There are numerous permutations of the above according to astrological signs, climate at the time of birth, and various other brain-damaged parameters.
Interestingly, Japanese ABs do not admit to being ABs. It comes from a grotesque twist to the blood donor/receiver system: ABs can receive A, B, AB and O blood but can only donate to fellow ABs. Because of that, ABs are considered ‘selfish’ in Japanese society — giving nothing, taking everything.
This insane belief about personality through blood is not limited to Japan. It extends to the Koreans and, indeed, to the rest of Asia to a greater or lesser extent. Facebook in many Asian countries allows users to include blood type in their profile. But the obsession is strongest and most socially accepted in Japan.
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Abruptly refused sex
In Japan, it is very common for people (especially women) to ask what your blood type is, and you get surprised looks if you don’t know it. (Ninety percent of Japanese know their own blood type, as do 90% of Koreans).
And you’d be surprised how abruptly you are refused getting laid, whilst more than halfway through undressed, the moment your blood type is known.
We’ll let that thought swim in your head for a few minutes.
(It’s kind of the same spiel in Hong Kong, where you get asked quite frequently about your income instead, and get dirty looks if you can’t say it — and abruptly refused sex if your income level becomes known and doesn’t match your partner’s expectations. But at least income level is a more objective parameter than blood type, honestly speaking.)
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New and improved rubbish
The Japanese are really serious and stubborn in their belief that what you bleed is what you are. Never mind that this mumbo-jumbo crap is pure snake-oil sham science bollocks with a rovolting past. Never mind the scientific fact from 40 years’ worth of science research that blood proteins determine blood types and have zero connection with personality traits.
To cut a long story short, this insanity about blood-type personality originally started in the 1920s from Nazi theories about racial superiority, and the prewar militarist regime in Japan picked up on it for its own purposes. It got binned after the war, but came back like the walking dead in Japan in the 1970s when a Japanese lawyer-turned-TV-personality with zero medical background recycled the idea semi-seriously for entertainment purposes. People thought it was for real and never looked back.
See what I mean when I said Japan is ‘The Land That Gave Us Weird since 1957’?
The West hasn’t quite cottoned on to the idea that personality is linked to blood type. That hasn’t stopped the West from paying lip service to an equally absurb quackery — there is a growing belief that we should eat the diet that befits our particular blood type. That idea latches on to the objective fact that different blood types came about at different points in evolutionary time, and that prehistoric diets gave rise to those blood types (which is hogwash).
(Strange that we don’t hear about prehistoric lifestyle differences causing different blood types, no?)
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The real deal behind the spiel
For the Japanese, the appeal of this insane theory is in having one’s self-image confirmed: to read this blood type has that personality is easier on the brain. There are lots of books in Japan and South Korea that piles definitions upon definitions of personality types by blood groups.
The real reason for the popularity of this insane belief in Japan and Korea is that it gives an illusion of diversity. The Japanese (and to a lesser extent also Koreans and Chinese) is a racially homogeneous society, probably more so than any other on earth. The four blood groups are fairly evenly distributed in the Japanese population, as they are also in the Korean and Chinese populations.
‘Japanese/Korean/Chinese diversity’ — such a contradiction in terms there ever was.
Truth be told, even the 50 or so ethnic minorities in China (diverse as they seem to be) are actually near-carbon copies of the majority Hans, genetically, physically and culturally speaking. There is more diversity in Duluth, Wisconsin, on a summer weekend than in China, Japan or Korea.
Believing in this insanity soothes the soul that one is not alone in being a carbon copy of a photostat — a colourless, odourless, tasteless, unthinking, straitjacketed cog in the wheel of society.
Ultimately, though, the idea encourages us to judge others by a common denominator without trying to understand them as human beings. It’s what I call common daemonator — blood type being that convenient daemon to blame everything on. It’s just another way of saying racism, except that blood type sounds as if it has just enough science to back it up.
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This nonsense isn’t harmless fun. ‘What’s your type?’ often turn out to be all too important a question in landing a job, getting a date, getting a nudist camp membership, and everything else in between.
Perversely, it’s socially acceptable for Japanese politicians to blame their political shortcomings on their blood type.
Some kindergartens in Japan divide up children by blood type for classes. Schoolkids get bullied by reason of their blood type. Sportsmen sometimes get customised training based on their blood type. Some companies hire or assign job duties according to the blood type of employees, and even group entire workforce according it.
In many parts of Asia, people are hired according to their blood types!
It’s no joke. It’s blood-type harassment or discrimination, and ‘bura-hara’ is the pseudo-Japanese term for this. Japanese law expressly forbid these practices, but they go on regardless.
But the Japanese, as a First World country, is not totally brain-damaged. One Japanese blood-type manual says in its closing pages:
“Your type, after all, is what you decide you are.”
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Do you know your own blood type? Check out the chart below.
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So what has all this blood-analysis faggotry got to do with charm bracelets?
It’s just a cheeky writing technique sometimes known as constructive digression in which one fact (blood-type charms) is used to lash together two seemingly unconnected subjects (charms vs. blood type) into a single story where those subjects would otherwise not normally come together.
But many stories and writings are like that, in print and online, all over the place, down through history. If you don’t think so, you’re obviously not paying enough attention to your reads — or that you’re concentrating on something else. Either way, you’re not reading what’s in front of your eyeballs, okay?
I hope you like the cheekiness of it all.
© The Naked Listener’s Weblog, 2011.
Images: Blood-type charms via eBay ♥ Blood bag by Antonia Reeve at Science Photo Library ♥ ‘If there is no blood…’ via funz ♥ Sex Pistols button pin via eBay ♥ Cat sees lion in mirror via Let’s Think Big ♥ Carbon paper via Kishore Exports ♥ Blood-type cameras by Sushicam via Flickr ♥ Individuality demotivator via Drudge Report ♥ Blood frequency chart via InfoBarrel ♥ Thumbing nose from “Punch, or the London Charivari,” Volume 1, 17 July 1841 via Project Gutenberg.