Saturday, November 18, 2017

GHOSTS OF THE TSUNAMI






This one -- ISBN 978-0374253974 -- qualifies as one of the most Discordian reads of 2017.  Nominally a document of the devastation of Miyagi Prefecture by the March, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, it's also a close study of the wavery line they maintain in Japan between Order and Chaos.  

The Japanese are -- understandably -- more tuned in to disaster preparedness than anyone else on earth.  They live on top of a chain of volcanoes situated along the infamous Ring Of Fire, where almost all the world's volcanic eruptions occur.  They're also surrounded by a fairly stormy body of seawater; the word "typhoon" comes to us from their neck of the Far East.  

But wait!  There's more!!!  Japan sits on the meeting point of, not two, but four tectonic plates.  Tokyo itself sits on top of the spot where three of the plates grind together, sometimes imperceptibly, sometimes violently.  Japan has about 1500 earthquakes every year.   So next time you see Godzilla striding ashore from Tokyo Bay and laying waste the Ginza, just remember where some of that symbolism comes from. 

The earthquake that led to the tsunami that led, in turn, to the creation of Parry's book, was the fourth-most-violent ever recorded, a 9.2 on the Richter scale.  (The scale only goes to 10.)  It lasted 6 minutes, and at the end of it Japan was 4 feet closer to the United States than it had been that morning.  Because of Japan's excellent anti-earthquake building codes, even the tallest, most fragile-looking buildings were left largely intact and just a handful of people died.  This is a great example of how the Japanese have imposed Order on their extremely Chaotic environment.  

He never goes into it very much, but the author says that he put on a radiation suit and visited the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant with its ruptured insides.  He also says that nobody at all has died as the result of the leaky, shattered reactor.  No doubt some people got sick, but nobody has died.  Why?  More Japanese know-how, is why.  They know more about the dangers of radiation, and the prevention and treatment of radiation sickness, than anyone else.  This is an even greater example of how they have imposed Order on Chaos in Japan.  Because, hey, what's scarier than a radiation leak?  This is another major source of the Godzilla archetype.

The tsunami that followed the earthquake had nothing to do with imposing Order on Chaos.  The wave was 33 feet tall and washed away 300 billion dollars in public buildings, people's homes, farms, personal belongings, family heirlooms, cars, trucks, boats, temples, and, of course, the people themselves. 18,500 of them were tumbled to death in a wave of mud, timber and twirling cars ground up by enormous stones.  The final death toll was over 22,000.  This included most of the students and all but one of the teachers in an elementary school that did not have any tsunami-evacuation plans in place, because no tsunami had hit there in so long that nobody thought it was really needed. 

This was where Chaos replied to the Japanese, "Try to impose Order, will you?  Watch this!"

The book explains that in the wake of this enormous disaster, ghosts started showing up in large numbers.  Yes, ghosts -- the lyric, phantsmal apparitions experienced by the guilty, the lonely, and the delusional.  The phenomenon that almost everyone -- including almost everyone in Japan -- dismisses as nonsense.  Some people started seeing and speaking with them; others were possessed by them and spoke in their voices, telling their stories.  Some of the spirit possession extended to animals, like the household pets lost in the disaster.  Some people saw one ghost, or had one ghost inside them; others had many, many more to deal with.  This started MONTHS after the cleanup was underway, when the homeless were staying safely in government-issued prefabs, and most of the dead had been found and given decent burials.  Apparently it's still going on today.

"Try to impose Order, will you?  Try this on for size!"


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