8 Traitz Lauren

Wk 8 picture REAL

Humanity appears most unrecognizable at war and yet there seems to be something about us that allows for the same behavior to be reproduced in countless tragedies – the Rape of Nanking, the Holocaust, the My Lai Massacre, etc. Any and all of these horrific events, however, should also be understood in their particular context, including the motivations and cultural background of the people involved. In the case of the Rape of Nanking, for example, it is probably impossible for us to discern the one reason something like this occurred. One possible explanation is that: “The space around them was no longer Japan, and so the well-practiced rules of correctly moving through space in order to prove and maintain one’s identity no longer applies” (Inouye, 132). Perhaps the rigid formalization of Japanese culture allowed for a dramatic unraveling once those individuals were no longer occupying the familiar space of Japan, much like how some young people become dangerous party animals in college if their parents restrained their behavior too much before that time. But this explanation seems to be overlooking something when you consider the real tales of horror: “The Japanese not only disemboweled, decapitated, and dismembered victims…Throughout the city they nailed prisoners to wood boards and ran over them with tanks, crucified them to trees and electrical posts, carved long strips of flesh from them, and used them for bayonet practice” (Chang, 87). There seems to be a genuine enjoyment, or at least curiosity, exposed by the extent and variety of the Japanese methods. This is not unfamiliar, however, if we reflect on gladiator entertainment, the techniques of the Inquisition and the fact that executions in America are still open to public viewing in many states. Perhaps such actions are not particularized to a certain culture, but reveal a dark side of human nature, a desire to rule death perhaps, or for the empowering experience of being so close to such things without being personally afflicted. This desire for mastery over death can perhaps also help us understand the motivations of kamikaze pilots. As Morris explains: “Death for these youthful volunteers would not come from the outside by chance or ill luck, but from within by a deliberate act of their own volition.” (Morris, 316). Is there not something appealing about this to us all?

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