Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hamaleffa

This banner was used by fans during a soccer match between Japan and South Korea.

It reads "There is no future for a race oblivious to history."

It was meant to reference Japanese colonization and brutality in the Korean peninsula prior to and during World War II. Japan has struggled since World War II with its memory, often times opting to forget large chunks of their history in order to remake themselves and reimagine themselves and their history. Japan was once a nation of aggressors now it thinks of itself as a nation of victims. It was victimized by Western powers in the war, had two nuclear bombs dropped on it and today is forced to shoulder the humiliation of having so many US bases in their territory. This matrix of "humiliation" is helpful in keeping history at bay and preventing people from being reminded of it.

Japan is often pointed to as being somehow unique in terms of its "minaleffa." In some ways the 180 degree turn that Japan did after the war in terms of forgetting, reimagining and rebuilding was breathtaking. But in truth, all nations suffer from memory lapses and losses. Most nations and most people think that this is the only way to move on and to keep going. You must forget who you were and what you've done and replace it with something that you can smile upon and feel fantastic about. Nations, unfortunately perceive more vibrantly their future through their obliviousness. They feel like they can do anything the more oblivious to their history they are.

What that future is however is an entirely different story. While people may wish it to be bright and glorious, it may truly be one of decay, decadence, excess and paranoia. To imagine yourself without sin, means to imagine all others with sin. Anggen taiisao hao, siempre todu i otro gaiisao. The brightness of the future is fake and does not comfort. It instead fades and dulls everything that is washed in it. It seeps in and hollows out that which it touches. A better quote might have been that a race oblivious to history has no soul, but that sounds a bit too overdramatic.

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