Transformation of Symbols

I was walking back at night to my dorm and slipped on ice because I thought the ice patch was water from the melted snow.

Unseen—
Melted snow reverts to ice
Slippery

Before I took this class, I have always wondered why the Japanese like the samurai and the suicide plane bombers seem to brave the death. Why do they seem to de-value life? As Inazō puts it, “the whole teaching of Bushido was thoroughly imbued with the spirit of self-sacrifice” (Inazō 136). In the Meiji period, every citizen is loyal to the emperor who is “a point of commonality” (Inouye 111) and the symbol of Japan (Lecture 3/6).  The loyalty and patriotism was to the point that “no sacrifice [was considered to be] too onerous” (Inouye 117).  I was surprised how such patriotic spirit can be fostered so quickly because to be patriotic requires a symbolic understanding of homeland. It made more sense to me to think that patriotism and nationalism were derived from the existing lyricism and animism (Inouye 122). In lyricism, the notion of the cherry blossom conveys the feeling of evanescence. But with change redefined as being along a linear vector, the expression of cherry blossom is, instead, a sentimental emblem of Japan and is able to “call forth the whole nation” (Inazō 153). Interesting transformation from “non-symbolic reading of symbols.” I think the combination of animism/lyricism and symbolism had a synergizing effect. Symbol represents an abstract concept, but with lyricism and animism, strong emotional and visual aspects are added on. The strong emotional appeal of the cherry blossom symbol strengthened one’s ever-lasting loyalty to Japan. No wonder the kamikaze missions existed. The country and loyalty are ever lasting, but life is evanescent. Perhaps, for the kamikaze pilots, dying for an honorable mission and the unchanging symbol of Japan is both empowering and beautiful as it embraces the evanescence of life and progress for the greater good.

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