8 Maman Philippe

Feet bound,

I stand –

At the top of the world.

week 8 image

What I found most interesting while reading about Nanking and the Oka bombers is nested in the saying by Kusunoki Masashige quoted in If Only We Might Fall. “Hi Ri Ho Ken Ten.” The concept of ‘Ho’, the idea that truth cannot conquer the law, a law which is layed down by the prevailing powers, which are in turn dictated by the Heavens. When the Japanese entered Nanking, the Chinese capital they entered with a goal of decimating the population there. This was laid down as their directive by the power in Japanese government who was in turn directed by a sense of divine propriety that had characterized Japanese culture for centuries.  Upon the end of the war, when the games devised for the massacre of the Chinese had ended and the Japanese had been subdued, the truth of the destruction in Nanking is still not denounced by some Japanese. They say the event was military in nature, directed by law at the time, and the massacre of innocents never occurred as a result. In other words, the fact that there was a cause the soldiers were there for and the fact that they carried out their duty justifies the terrible outcome of their actions. Heaven prevails over power, which can change the law, which supersedes truth and in turn dictates what is wrong and what is right according the Masashige. The form associated with this hierarchical must be the same form that motivates the Oka bombers. Falling at 230 miles per hour to their death, the only consolation must be that they are satisfying their objective, which serves those in power and in turn the heavens. To me, the objective becomes unimportant when your outlook is simply one of unquestioning servitude. The Japanese who advocate the events in Nanking might feel this same way. As long as the samurai returned having done what was asked to the best of their ability, nothing else matters. In short the belief that form prevails over meaning seems to lead us to some very unsettling places.




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