Yesterday was a charged day.
It is 60 years since USA sanctioned the bombing of Hiroshima.
Jungian Psychologist Gerhard Adler said in a lecture April 1946:
“Don’t we all still remember the one morning last year when we woke up and found the world changed with one word, “Hiroshima”? Don’t we all remember the shock, the giddy feeling as if the bottom had dropped out from underneath somebody’s feet, and each of us was this somebody just as much as the wretched men, women and children far away on an island in the Eastern hemisphere? Tragic and strange as it may be, isn’t it true to say that for the first time since endless days mankind had felt and rediscovered its common fate? Had felt and rediscovered the fact of communion, the fact of the Indian “Tat twam asi” – of the “This is you”? Alas! Our seat had become very hot indeed to make us jump!”
It’s such a long walk – from the trenches of The first world war, from the horrible inhumanities of the Holocaust; to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, to where you and I are today. Have we become more sensitive towards eachother and our common plight, as this thinker of the last century thought and hoped?
We have no reason to expect as much, only the closest catastrophe in the vicinity, only the most local atrocity – only the closest threat to our own lives, stirs us and awakes us, perpetually alienating us from the perceived “others”.
Quite recently, from a brief perspective of this very century – two airplanes were forced into collision with a high-rise skyscraper in New York, 9-11-2001, a date not a name, but everyone feel something quite conflicting and disturbing once it is brought up and really pondered. Then came wars,terror and a new darkening of the mind. Moral philosophers remind us again and again that there are no default difference between this flesh of mine and this flesh of yours, this kind and family of yours, and mine – and we nod, silently, for just the amount of time it takes for us to stack it away somewhere else.
But I was born into the decades of panic, of unsubstantiated horror, the aftermath of a great troubled time; the mushroom clouds of the Bikini Islands test bombing and the two Japanese cities reduced to dust in that fateful few days in August 1945 were a common symbol of imminent dissolution, we were told our own generation would not see itself succeeded. 1984, the Orwellian year, I joined the army of the damned and out, the kids who would shout back at the news reporters, the important know-it-alls of academia, the morally perturbed parents and relatives, who would smash anything, thrash anything and make as much noise they could – there’s no holding back when you know you have been cheated out of life, out of the privileges of all the former generations. My generation was already dead. I dressed the kind. We were heading for all-out televised Nuclear Holocaust. That’s what we were fed. Just Duck! The flimsy translated educational films they showed, there were air-raid drills every month – when I was in school. Old people felt sorry for us, and told us, but reminded us that nothing matched their horror of seeing the uniformed hordes marching on the main streets of our major cities at the German invasion of Norway, nothing matched the humiliation of eating pets and roots, nothing matched the fear of being ratted on by profiteering neighbours who wanted to mouth and lie themselves into the pockets of the German “overlords”..living in cellars.
I read dystopic science-fiction novels, kept for myself or at least to the little tribe of punks,hooligans and rebels and listed to anthems from the last decade, shouting “No Future!”.
But all that didn’t happen, what happened were that history opened up, didn’t it? What happened were that we gradually got used to this much shit and it kept going – genocides,civil wars,conflicts of every hue and colour, diplomatic idiocy, world leaders running around without their head on their shoulders -in the general populace the reaction was cynicism,crass materialism, pop culture going totally overboard – Punk Rock became trend and pop, the new guard wanted more thrills and trimmings, the grandaddies of the left wanted everyone to march the same direction. How I grew up to hate that scene. All the while, that iconic presence, that looming symbol of doom – the mushroom cloud, haunting me.
Now,I am 32. Yesterday I could not turn on the television.
On every second channel, a memorial in full cinematronic glory, recontructions,montages,scraps and fragments – a hundred mushroom clouds in slow motion, skin dangling from the terminally damaged bodies of the Hiroshimites who was smitten by the invoked Angel of Vengeance, children evaporating in the arms of their festering mothers… a slow, elaborate blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.
I know it is construed, at least intellectually, that every contemporary inhabitant of Western “civilization” needs to watch until their eyes bleed tears of blood the atrocities done in their name, but I could not bring myself to watch.