Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Enola Gay

Sixty-eight years ago today, a bomber jet named Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb in Hiroshima, a city in west Japan. Can we imagine how the pilot of Enola Gay felt when his boss gave him the mission, when he departed the hatch, when his jet was approaching Hiroshima, and when he finally pressed the button to drop the bomb?

A piece of instrumental music composed by the Japanese musician Sugizo may have an answer. It's entitled "Enola Gay". It features heavy metal guitar riffs and melodies, evoking the military mission. Inserts of a female vocal are non-lyrical, representing the speechlessness of the pilot's family, friends, and himself. The interlude in mixed meters sounds like the pilot's mental struggle, being torn by the duty to accomplish the mission on one hand and the human conscience on the other hand. Throughout the tune, however, the electronic kick drum keeps recording the passing moments mercilessly. The Enola Gay just proceeds forward to Hiroshima to complete the mission. The last two beats of the tune are the sound of the bomb explosion.

Americans argue that the atomic bombs helped the Second World War end more quickly than otherwise. If you visit the Yushukan museum in Tokyo (a museum of Yasukuni Shrine, enshrining the war dead including those found guilty of war crimes in the Tokyo Trial in 1946), you will feel that Americans actually have a case. (I blogged about my own visit back in 2006.) The Japanese military government at that time prepared for fighting against the US on the main islands of Japan until the very last Japanese person dies. Without atomic bombs, Japan could have followed the path of Paraguayans in the late 1860s.

What Hiroshima tells us is not just about how nasty atomic bombs are (and so we should ban their use). It is also about the danger of having an autocratic government completely detached from the interest of citizens and unstoppable without such cruel means as nuclear weapons.

But this kind of messages is not fun to hear for the vast majority of people, including many politicians in the world. Those who earn a living from selling nuclear weapons never listen.

A piece of art and entertainment like "Enola Gay" by Sugizo is perhaps more effective and memorable and will eventually change the world. True, this particular piece of music is not everyone's cup of tea. If various kinds of artists produce this type of piece of art in various styles, each catering to different tastes of different people, piece may really come forward. Am I too naive to think this way?


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