I finished that crazy Consipiracy Theory book during my trip, and did you know that apparently what’s really happened is that on the 10th planet from the Sun, there’s a secret race that’s far more highly evolved than us who actually created the human species to serve as their slave race that couldn’t reproduce ourselves. We were used for mining minerals, since their only planet was lacking, but then as a result of a dispute between two of our masters we were given sexual reproduction. And from there, things just kept going. The facts are all there, apparently, to support this case. Evolution? Nope. Creationism? Not according to this author. A master alien race? The facts are in! And I’m supposed to take him seriously…?
In a turn to a more serious topic, I picked up a copy of Underground, by Haruki Murakami, one of my favorite Japanese authors. He interviewed a number of survivors from the Tokyo Gas attack and compiled them in to a fascinating book. Two passages in particular stand out, which I’ll quote here.
From Mitsuteru Izutsu:
The fact is, the very day of the gas attack I worked straight through at the office until 5:30. I didn’t feel weel enough to eat lunch, of course; had no appetite. I came out in a cold sweat, had chills, and everyone said I looked pale. If I’d actually collapsed I’d have packed it in and gone home, but since I wasn’t falling over or anything … Everyone was saying it’s probably hay fever. I’d just retunred from South America, so it could be some kind of allergic reaction, they said. But my eyes wouldn’t focus, my head ached.
I simply can’t imagine being exposed to Sarin gas, feeling as he did, and then putting in a full day of work…
And, from Toshiaki Toyodo:
I didn’t think I was going to die. I’ll bet even Takahaski [one of the two station attendants who initially cleaned up the Sarin gas] didn’t think he was going to die. After all, an ambulance was coming to take us to the hospital. I was more worried about my work, what I needed to do.
At this point, the speaker was foaming at the mouth, could barely breathe, was shaking uncontrollably, and couldn’t stand.
This all points to an aspect of the Japanese psyche I find incredible. The devotion that all these speakers feel to their work, such that, despite having been exposed to the Sarin, they were still more concerned with their work that they wouldn’t leave or that, even as they’re feeling extremely ill, it was foremost in their thoughts. I’m not all that sure that, had that happened here and I was in their place, I would feel the same set of concerns… This I actually find a fascinating example of the Japanese psyche.