Hypocenter – affect
October 21, 2008

I am fine, now. I went through the experience, felt extremely sad, shed some tears, fell silent for a couple of hours, and felt strangely well afterwards.

I caught a very early fast train in Tokyo, and travelled some 800 km in less than 5 hours. I slept most of the trip, and I got here feeling awkward. after such a great experience there, it wasn’t easy to leave Tokyo and to be once more completely alone. but I did, and got to Hiroshima, full of expectations and desires for some kind of intense spiritual experience. I was quite convinced (or hopeful) that the atmosphere in this city would be very special, introspective and profound… I wanted to get out of the train and breath the maturity that humanity must be gained for such an extreme historical event.

once more, expectations proved to be a curse, a strange trap, difficult to escape, deforming and limiting all subsequent experiences. so I got down of the train, and had an alienating little walk to the hostel in between game centers, shopping malls, pachinkos and plenty of just very normal busy people on the streets. Hiroshima ended up being somehow lively but in a strange undefined way, and I was surprised by some very posh areas and some big buidlings, though the city seems sort of small.

so I walked through the city, getting more alienated by very attractive shops – I felt pulled by the game centers, and guitar shops, and tea and coffee and tobacco stores, and by the collectibles shop, and handicrafts’, and many others. I felt that the whole A-bomb history was a fake, I couldn’t breath it, I couldn’t feel it’s reverberations. I wanted to be surrounded by some sort of Historical radiation in every street. I wanted Hiroshima to be the symbol for peace, until the moment I arrived to the Memorial Park Souvenir shop, where Hiroshima is that symbol, sold in t-shirts, mugs, flags, stickers, and more. I wanted the tourists to be more silent.

and then I got to the Museum, and the story changed quite a bit. I don’t know how good the Museum really is, but it felt like a theatrical experience and I was seriously moved by it. at some point I was reminded of the dance piece  ‘Revolver’, by Neuer Tanz/W. A. Wolff (which I saw in Rotterdam a couple of years ago). when I entered the museum, the first thing to see was a 4 minutes video clip accompanied by this ominous yet hopeful music, extremely dramatic, conventional and cheesy. and when I say ominous, I don’t mean only its atmosphere but also that it announced some serious cheesyness. but, what surprised me (and reminded me of Neuer Tanz), is that repetition and insistence transformed it. during my 90 minutes walk through the museum, I heard that 4 minutes piece of music over and over and over and over and over and over again. it penetrated my bones. and though it wasn’t the music that made me cry, it certainly started fitting after a while.

I also started noticing how the A-bomb images and the anti-bellic discourse seem to have permeated very deeply into Japanese literature (films, dances, books). yesterday, walking throuhg the A-bomb museum reminded me a lot of Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga and animé ‘Akira’, of some of Kurosawa’s ‘Dream’s, of some of the Butoh imagery… sorry if I’m being a bit of a superficial cultural analyst here, these are just some impressions. maybe it was the other way around, maybe the imagery of the museum was inspired by all that literature. or probably a less simple combination of things.

like I said before, by the end of my long visit to the Museum I had been transformed. when I went back into the city I felt very well, kind of healed…

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