Friday, March 17, 2006

August 6, 1945. The Feast of the Transfiguration. Hiroshima

Then a bright cloud appeared overhead, and a voice from the cloud proclaimed, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him."

Not many Japanese writers are willing to address the bomb directly. David's right - the bomb is a 20th century archetype. It has become a powerfully emotional image in the collective unconscious that, for the Japanese, is excessive to linguistic representation.

Ango Sakaguchi on the Tokyo air raids:
(more people died in repeated firebomb attacks in Tokyo than in the one bomb in Hiroshima.)

I truly detest the sight of blood. When I saw a traffic accident occur right before my eyes I immediately turned the other way and fled. But I loved the fantastic destruction that took place in Tokyo. Though I shuddered in fear as the bombs and incendiaries rained down, terrified and panic stricken as the destruction raged, at the same time I felt as though I had never loved or felt such longing for humanity as I did during the firebombing.

I held my ground there in Tokyo, refusing the kindness of a number of people who not only warned me to evacuate, but even tried to offer me places to stay in the countryside. I intended to make my final stand at the burned out air raid shelter of my friend Oi Hirosuke, but after we were separated when he was evacuated to Kyushu and I had lost my best friend in all of Tokyo, all I could do was try to conceal the sound of my breathing in that air raid shelter as I conjured up images of the Americans about to invade at any moment amid the heavy artillery shells exploding all around me. At the time I was calmly resigned to whatever fate awaited me. I thought that I might die, but I believed much more strongly that I would live. Yet to say that I had some kind of vision of how I would manage to come out of the ruins alive would be wrong. There were no thoughts in my mind beyond merely surviving. A miraculous return to life in a world so new and fresh it lay beyond all conception. That was the curious feeling I had; that my entire life would begin anew.

It was for that reason alone that I lived with my cowardly fear as the bombs fell all around me for two hours on the night of April 4, 1945. As tracers lit up the night sky overhead to the brightness of noon, my brother, who had just come to Tokyo, asked me from the air raid shelter if the light was coming from the incendiary bombs. I was so scared that it was all I could do just to tell him that the light was coming from the falling tracers.


David said...

Deathhead Angel: birth pangs of destruction and the onanistic thorns and thistles of transition. A giant ejaculation of blood and flame shuttershot in riotous grinning freeze-frame.

It is happening right now. You can see it if you wish, but don't rush. And please, whatever you do, keep your voices down; a new sun is playing its song, a lament burning through the horizon.

I am become death.

David said...

She has turned her face, more than once, to the Outer Radiance and simply seen nothing there. And so each time taken a little more of the Zero into herself. It comes down to courage, at worst an amount of self-deluding that's vanishingly small: he has to admire it, even if he can't accept her glassy wastes, her appeals to a day not of wrath but of final indifference. . . .
--Gravity's Rainbow, V150

But it is a curve each of them feels, unmistakably. It is the parabola. They must have guessed, once or twice -- guessed and refused to believe -- that everything, always, collectively, had been moving toward that purified shape latent in the sky, that shape of no surprise, no second chance, no return. Yet they do move forever under it, reserved for its own black-and-white bad news certainly as if it were the rainbow, and they its children. . . .
--Gravity's Rainbow, V209

But out at the horizon, out near the burnished edge of the world, who are these visitors standing . . . these robed figures -- perhaps, at this distance, hundreds of miles tall -- their faces, serene, unattached, like the Buddha's, bending over the sea, impassive, indeed, as the Angel that stood over Lübeck during the Palm Sunday raid, come that day neither to destroy nor to protect, but to bear witness to a game of seduction . . . What have the watchmen of the world's edge come tonight to look for? Deepening on now, monumental beings stoical, on toward slag, toward ash the colour the night will stabilize at, tonight . . . what is there grandiose enough to witness?
--Gravity's Rainbow, V214

Kekulé dreams the Great Serpent holding its own tail in its mouth, the dreaming Serpent which surrounds the World. But the meanness, the cynicism with which this dream is to be used. The Serpent that announces, "The World is a closed thing, cyclical, resonant, eternally-returning," is to be delivered into a system whose only aim is to violate the Cycle. Taking and not giving back, demanding that "productivity" and "earnings" keep on increasing with time, the System removing from the rest of the World these vast quantities of energy to keep its own tiny desperate fraction showing a profit: and not only most of humanity -- most of the World, animal, vegetable, and mineral, is laid waste in the process. The System may or may not understand that it's only buying time. And that time is an artificial resource to being with, of no value to anyone or anything but the System, which must sooner or later crash to its death, when its addiction to energy has become more than the rest of the World can supply, dragging with it innocent souls all along the chain of life.
--Gravity's Rainbow, V412

"Who has sent this new serpent into our ruinous garden, already too fouled, too crowded to qualify as any locus of innocence -- unless innocence be our age's neutral, our silent passing into the machineries of indifference -- something that Kekulé's Serpent had come to -- not to destroy, but to define to us the loss of . . . we had been given certain molecules, certain combinations and not others . . . we used what we found in Nature, unquestioning, shamefully perhaps -- but the Serpent whispered, 'They can be changed, and new molecules assembled from the debris of the given. . . . ' Can anyone tell me what else he whispered to us? Come -- who knows?"
--Gravity's Rainbow, V413

Jeremy said...


Jeremy said...

"Biology is destiny."

Fuck Freud.

David said...

Destiny but not destined?