The “real” lesson to be learnt from the Japanese earthquake

March 29, 2011

Throughout human history, apocalyptic events like the recent tsunami that deluged Japan have forced people to reflect on the metaphysical question: what is the meaning of life? – there are many levels of consciousness at work here –  as these climatic events brings about not only the crisis of dealing with loss, but it also frames the question of life in an existential context. To paraphrase, these calamities cast doubt on the prevailing system as to whether man is organizing his life in this planet in an intelligent way. When billions of people throughout the world tune into the triple whammy of the earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear crisis that played out in Japan. It’s bound to provoke a multitude of questions that challenges many of our assumptions – I am not saying nuclear power, beach front real estate are dead, but no one doubts they hardly seem as self confident as they used to be.

Against this backdrop of collective introspection, mankind suddenly finds himself naked as he struggles for the first time with the uncomfortable question about the fragility of his own mortality and how powerless he is when technology which once served him so dutifully suddenly turns into a multiple headed hydra. 

In the days of antiquity, earthquakes, floods, eclipses and volcanic eruptions were all easy streets usually attributable to divine forces. Indeed, since Biblical times, disasters have been experienced as key defining moments in human history. Events such as Noah’s Flood were interpreted in a similar fashion. In those days, it could be said, the rules were clearly splayed out and whole communities resigned their fate to the capricious wimps and fancies of some higher being –  our ancestors had the benefit of closure as such calamities could easily be explained away by elaborating on the tale of good versus evil to give some meaning to a catastrophe.

These days, those simple Simon narratives of lore have lost their mystique. Man now has a rudimentary working knowledge of plate teutonics and nuclear fission. Hence our ideas about what causes disasters have gone through a reformation of sorts – we no longer attribute these events to some malevolent or supernatural forces.

Along with the rise of secularism, this has led to an important shift in the way society now makes sense of calamities. The rise of science as the new source of knowledge has irrevocably altered people’s perception of disasters. There is now now no mystery to giant waves and erupting volcanoes. No Da Vinci code there. 

Consequently, In modern times, though man still frets about natural disasters, but increasingly his attention has shifted to look for someone to blame – why were those tsunami warnings ineffective? Who the fuck signed off on building a nuclear reactor along a fault line? As a result, the view that disasters are caused by acts of nature is gradually displaced by the idea that they are the outcome of greedy industrialist, bent politicians and bovine bureaucrats.

In the aftermath of natural disasters these days – be it the flood in New Orleans brought forth by Katrina to the busted wellhead off the gulf of Mexico the floods in Orchard Rd – the crooked finger of blame invariably points towards humans and not mother nature. 

These days that copper clad aphorism, act of God might as well be nothing more than a punctuation to the coda of the rest of the question: Who fucked it up?

In my view (depending on your vantage point) this may not be such a bad thing for people and planet. As this perceptive shift can only bring to rest so many eons of unjustly attributing calamities to some malevolent force. 

In this new age. Leaders will simply have to learn to come to terms with the naked truth: the devil is not furiously undermining good – a fuck up is just what it is, a fuck up, a bad management call just means someone didn’t bother to drill deeper to get the low down on the risk and opportunities – in short if it all goes wrong he (man) has no one to blame but himself. Neither does it pay for leaders to piggy bag on the Japanese tragedy of the quake, tsunami and the subsequent nuclear plant explosions to elicit the “right” attitude from it’s citizenry – while no one denies the Japanese have been courageous in the face of adversity.

There’s only one problem; this story misleads.

As only a fool par excellence would swallow hook, line and sinker the notion the only lesson worth gathering from the Japanese tragedy is the narrative of how once upon a time when evil descended upon a nation, its people bandied together to muster the sagacity to make the best of their miserable lot with that stiff upper lip spirit. This narrative misleads as its nothing more than a sobriquet tale of good trumping evil.

Once the dust settles, the dead laid to rest and the last cinder has cooled. I have no doubt (none whatsoever) the average Japanese will clamor for greater accountability and perhaps even demand a full revision of their nuclear energy program from their custodians of power. Its even conceivable heads will roll galore – perhaps that’s the real lesson that’s really worth emulating and not the sugary fairytale of a nation that can suck it all in and bear the unbearable stoically.
Darkness 2011

“There is no such thing as the Japanese spirit, resolve or will power. You stand a better chance of finding the lost city of Atlantis. That’s a myth spun by their leaders to sell that pie in the sky idea of nationhood along with that ridiculous idea there is nobility somewhere in suffering and death. Now you know why the Japs are into bondage and rough sex.Truth of the matter is all suffering is tautological – for years the japanese elite have sold their people bottled Himalayan air – in the Meiji era those crooks came out with the Samurai spirit, so you had really dumb guys who took their swords into their airplanes and happily crashed them into US carriers thinking that their Emperor was some divine being. You see the same con job being played out with the Jihadist – 71 virgins in paradise when you press the detonator, but what those losers don’t know didn’t is all of them are 70 year old vintage virgins from the order perpetual chastity, plus one peguin. These days when we watch the aftermath of the Japanese tragedy; they’re selling Ganbaru which is basically the same clap trap of king and country blah blah blah.

But I know the modern Japanese mind very well. 

Once the dust has settles. Many Japanese will begin asking their leaders many inconvenient questions – these questions may seem stupid to you and me, but to them, it’s very important, you need to understand the Japanese have a fetish for robots, that is why every year their Guilds do very little except beg for money to build robots that can slitter like a snake or dance around like Michael Jackson. Every year I have exercised my right to veto to shoot that idea down! I told Hiroshi  some 4 years ago to develop Atomic Monkey – this was a robot that could be used in the event of a reactor meltdown – But what did the confederation say? What did the Council of Wise say? – “Darkness is living in a fantasy land! He is still fixated with Chernobyl,” Fast forward to Fukushima today; if we had developed a robot that could just hold a hose and walk, we would all be sitting pretty and everyone from Westinghouse, Fanuc, Toshiba to Tepco would be knocking at our doors!

It’s the same thing with this invention that I have developed to process oil palm fruit bunches – I call it the mobile oil mill, it’s just a gloried Ghetsemane oil press that uses 5 bar of pressure to extract oil – and since it can be retrofitted on a three toner – I can go to any small holder instead of him going to the mill. But again, is the Confederation interested? 

No, oh…….they call me a mad man instead – worst, they say I am running around in the jungle spending their money as if it grows on trees and I am living a life of dissipation by refusing to go back to Singapore – so there you have it! But it doesn’t matter to me, I have 3 customers today, tomorrow I will have 30, then hopefully we will find sanity somewhere in this place called Absurdistan.”  

Darkness 2011       


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