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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

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Memorial to kamikaze pilots--Tokyo








[Yasukuni Shrine memorial to kamikaze pilots]



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4 comments:

Ian Keenan said...

I feel deeply honoured and privileged to have been chosen to become a member of the Army’s “Special Assault Unit,” which embodies the glory of Japan. Having read logic and philosophy through my somewhat extended student life, I am sure that, based upon the idea of reason, triumph of liberty is inevitable to me, although I might sound like a liberalist. As stated by Croce in Italy, it is a universal truth that it is absolutely impossible to exterminate freedom, which is a fundamental human nature, and it will eventually win even though it seems to be temporarily oppressed.

It is a clear fact that authoritarian and totalitarian regimes may sporadically prosper, but they ultimately will perish. We can see the truth of that in the Axis governments. As manifested by the defeat of Italy under Fascism, not to mention Germany under Nazism, authoritarian governments are disappearing one after the other, crumbling like buildings without a foundation.

I believe that the universality of truth will eternally and permanently prove the greatness of liberty as is now being verified by reality and just as history has shown in the past. I will be more than delighted to find that my belief has been proven right even though that turns out to be a disaster for our nation. The current struggle, whatever it is, stems from ideology; and the result of a struggle can readily be predicted by the belief systems upon which the struggle is fought.

The ambition of making my beloved Japan become as mighty an empire as Great Britain has faded away. If the leading positions in Japan had been held by those who truly love Japan, my country would not have been driven into the situation it faces today. I have been dreaming of the Japanese people proud of themselves no matter where one may be in the world.

What a friend of mine once said is true: a pilot of the Special Assault Unit is merely a machine. He just steers the apparatus. He is only a molecule within a magnet that sticks fast to an enemy aircraft carrier, possessing neither personality nor emotions.

If one thinks about it rationally, this act is incomprehensible and, to try to put it in a plain expression, these pilots are, as they say, simply suicidal. Since I am nothing more than a machine, I have no right to put my case forward. However, I only wish that the Japan that I dearly love will someday be made truly great by my fellow citizens.

In such an emotional state, my death may probably lead to nothing. Nonetheless, as I stated at the outset, I feel very honoured to have been chosen to be a member of the Special Assault Unit. It is true that, once inside an aircraft, I am mere hardware, but once disembarked, I do have emotions and passion as I am also a human. When the woman for whom I cared so dearly passed away, I emotionally died with her. The idea that she waits for me in Heaven, where we will be reunited, makes death not particularly frightening for me, since it happens only on my way to Heaven.

Tomorrow is the day of the assault. My idea is too highly extreme to be made public, but I just wanted to express the true feelings inside me, so please forgive me for my disoriented thoughts. Another liberalist will depart from this earth tomorrow. Although he may appear forlorn, he is in fact very content.

Once again, please forgive my selfish ranting.

- Ryōji Uehara, letter to his parents before his kamikaze mission

Linh Dinh said...

Yo Ian,

A remarkable letter, but it does boil down to, "My country, right or wrong," or am I mistaken?


Linh

mistah charley, ph.d. said...

yesterday i watched most of a tv film on hitler's youth - newsreel footage of rallies and battles was made more palatable for the 21st century viewer by colorization

i saw it on the cable but you can see it here - national geographic is now a branch of the murdoch media empire, by the way - and rupert himself was at the state dinner at the white house last night with his current wife, the mother of a minority of mick jagger's children -

https://www.fox.com/watch/302eb1f7ccacd9ce04378a67b6554bab/

and now i am reminded of something that amused me once reading the credits on a british film - the contrast in spelling of

Colour by Technicolor

3)yesterday i also watched another movie with a lot of originally black and white newsreel footage in it - this was left black and white, mostly, although interesting things were done with rotoscoped colored scenes, too - unlike the hitler's youth movie, i saw it on netflix - like the hitler's youth movie, it included retrospective interviews with people who had lived through episodes of mass murder - unlike the hitler's youth movie, it was mass murder on a much smaller scale, and closer to us in time and space - 96 minutes on the campus of the unversity of texas - i found it informative and inspiring, and would watch it again sometime

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tower_(2016_film)

Ian Keenan said...

He's saying that but saying that in this case the country's wrong. Reading Croce may be causing Orient/Occident confusions, but US servicemen that volunteer out of need and patriotism and then donate to the most anti-war candidates share something with Ryoji, the feeling that the country has been corrupted and with it, that act of sacrifice.

Found out about the letter because it's quoted in Chris Marker's Sans Soleil, which has a lot of Japan footage.

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About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), six of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007), Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009) and A Mere Rica (2017), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.