New Japanese Photography

IN 1968, ROBERT JAY LIFTON wrote an article for Partisan Review called “Protean Man,” an excursus tracing certain cultural patterns of what Erik Erikson termed “identity diffusion” in modern life. The breakneck pace of “self-process” and accelerated shifts of ideological perspectives, often in pronounced contrast to each other, characterize what Lifton declared was a new protean personality. “I would stress,” he wrote,

two historical developments as having special importance for creating protean man. The first is the world-wide sense of what I have called historical (or psychohistorical) dislocation, the break in the sense of connection which men have long felt with the vital and nourishing symbols of their cultural tradition—symbols revolving around family, idea systems, religions, and the life cycle in general . . . The second large historical tendency is the flooding of imagery produced

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