Saturday, January 06, 2007

Dreaming of Godzilla

In life, it often so happens that the origins of things are concealed, even when they are important. The underlying reason is often psychological. However disheartening to the perceiving and the would-be-perceiving, this strange lack of sight is actually consistent with the general principles of life. We are happily oblivious of many things that eventually led to the "status quo" of life. We are not usually aware that we developed from a pair of sperm and egg. This misty idea about the origin of humanity is still not only theologically but also psychologically very true.

When I was a kid, I often dreamed of the Godzilla. It would suddenly emerge from the mountains, and would come, in that famous Godzilla manner, meters and meters closer to where I was hiding. The radio would be broadcasting news about the appearance of the monster, and I would try to conceal myself under a table or behind a chair, hoping the monster would leave me alone and go away. I was literally horrified in my dream, and I think the little me was sweating.

As a kid I enjoyed the Godzilla films, but was not aware of the origin of the monster. Even when it was mentioned in passing by the actors in the film, the preteen boy did not take it seriously, nor did he suspect that anything was concealed behind the monstrous figure.

As a matter of fact, of course, the monster was conceived in the shadow of the atomic age. I was born in 1962, and the cold war was on the full throttle. My home country experienced two atomic bombs in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, first such atrocities in human history and hopefully the last. The event that triggered the Godzilla creators' imagination directly was the Fukuryu-maru incident in 1954, when the radio-active material released from a U.S. atomic bomb experiment in the Marshall islands fell on the ship crew. All of them developed radiation sickness, resulting in one death.

As a kid, I was not aware that in the fictional story it was so conceived that Godzilla was born by a mutation through the radiation released from the atomic bomb. The immature child was not aware of the suffering of the people in the two atomized cities or the fear of the destruction of the entire globe lurking in people's heart under the shadow of the nuclear missiles directed to each other by the two superpowers, all these circumstances that fueled the creation of this famous monster.

Though I did not consciously recognize the origins of the Godzilla phenomenon, I think I might have been unconsciously affected by it, dreaming of the Godzilla attack and hiding myself behind the furniture in the greatest fear imaginable for a child, hoping the monster would somehow go away. Luck had it that I haven't experienced a war in my life time so far. But I think it is quite likely that in my childhood dreams the experiences of the war which had ended less than 20 years before my birth was somehow echoed. I did not actually realize this possibility until recently, when I was thinking about concealed origins while walking on a Tokyo street. In a sense, the origin of the Godzilla was collectively and unconsciously mirrored in my infancy. That is probably how cultural influence is propagated through the generations. The Godzilla phenomenon is still here and alive at the subconscious level.

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