empire of the sun

January 11, 2002 Friday - 22:43

i'm a creep, i'm a weirdo, i don't belong here...

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i was reading a book (Empire of the Sun by J G Ballard) that mentioned a kamikaze pilot (lit: kami divine kaze wind) taking off from an air field in China.

"He... listened to the drone of a Zero fighter warming up at the end of the runway. A single kamikaze plane was about to take off... The young pilot, barely older than [14], wore his ceremonial sashes, but the honour guard consisted only of a corporal and a junior private. Both turned away before the pilot had climbed into his cockpit, and walked back to their repair work…"

that made me sad.

what would he (the pilot) have been thinking? barely an adult, and already about to die. in a most violent, horrendous suicide. he embarks on his mission from a forgotten airfield-cum-internment camp in an unfamiliar land far from home. he is going to give his life for his country, but his country (rep. by the honour guard) cannot give much for him, "turn[ing] away" from him as he turns to it, in death.

he is very young, very lonely, very afraid. VERY afraid. terrified. he is about to climb into a powerful, monstrous bird of war, which will carry him further from his home, from his parents, from his sweetheart, to his duty.

what would he have seen, flying over a burning city? his village, perhaps? a quiet sparkling stream, or sun-drenched summer hills, or ordered streets of traditional japanese houses? or the tears of a girl trying to be happy for him, or the goodbye smiles of proud heartbroken parents?

he knows his battle is a tired one. and that he is losing. he knows that what he will do, will not have much impact. but still he will do it. "giri, ninjo." (duty vs desire) he is not too illusioned - "God willing, you will spend this day in paradise" - but he is hopeful, because he has only hope left.

all he can do is bite his lip and try not to cry, alone in the hostile cockpit. he draws his sleeve roughly over his eyes, the insignia of his special unit brushing over his cheek. reminding him of what is important.

he is ready to die.

he takes a deep breath.

he closes his eyes, as an image of the cherry blossoms in yasukuni flashes before him.

his sacrifice, it is in vain.

-

(yasukuni is a shrine honouring japanese who died for their country in war)(not just ww2)

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Death is sad. a life is extinguished. what was warm, and breathing, and alive, becomes - nothing.

and yet it is so beautiful. isn't it? the idea of death is darkly seductive. because it takes someone strong to face it with full knowledge of what it means to die. it is the negation of self. the end of life. what courage it takes, to willingly plunge into Death's cold, everlasting embrace. even though there is terror. even though there is fear. giri, ninjo. dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori. (it is sweet and decorous to die for one's country)

and it is all - all - so heart-breakingly pointless.


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