December 7th. In any year, in the United States, it is memorialized.
Just what is memorialized?
Memory. . . . . . What is it? Memory of What? For what?
Of course. We mourn. the loss.
Veterans of the U.S. military who were alive at the time, who experienced it, must remember it, perhaps simply to honor their friends and fellow military friends who perished, or whose lives were maimed.—But . . . . . . .
Do you know where the word bikini comes from? Yes: the bikini swim suit.
It was the name given by an engineer, Louis Réard, in 1946, two weeks after the nuclear tests on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, to his more “risque” version of the two-piece swimsuits introduced earlier by fashion designer Jacques Heim, with a different name.
Because the bikini was more revealing, it was slow to catch on as a design and was made illegal in many places, before it became intensely popular leading into the late 1950s and 60s.
Kenji Chienshu Liu‘s latest book of poetry: Map of an Onion, (published by Inlandia Institute 2016), a recent winner of the U.S. national Hillary Gravendyk Prize, is an exquisite blend of intimacy, heart, colonial history’s effects, war, displacements and identity. Grief, loss, and rage are not locked into rational categories displaced in a western psychological malaise, but are instead interwoven and particularized in textures of belonging, memory and uncovering, through the vast emptiness of fullness-in-difference, of history and intimately personal worlds, evoked between words and from words.
I highly recommend this for anyone who loves poetry in contexts of understanding and owning the multiple histories through which our personal lives are woven; intricately with others, of the present and times past, and the future.
Vimeo Visual Poems accompanying the Book, at Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/album/3840355
Leah Silvieus‘s review of Kenji’s book at Hyphen Magazine: http://hyphenmagazine.com/blog/2016/03/“i’ll-look-behind-you-you-arrive”-kenji-c-liu’s-map-onion
One of the most interesting and revealing pieces of art and history, as well as what I think to be among the most “valuable” from the U.S.-Allied Occupation of Japan, is Bill Hume’s cartoon book: Babysan: A Private Look at the Japanese Occupation.
A great review of this book can be found at the Japan Society, written by Kim Brandt:
This book gives a great glimpse into how American soldiers viewed their stay in Japan, as Occupiers, as boys who have left home, as military personnel, who were largely becoming intimate with a “Japan” through their relationships with their own ideas about “Oriental” women and Japanese women themselves. In my own work, I focus much on the more intense violent interactions in order to make points related to uneven relations, nation-building, and the tactics and thinking that create the will, desire, and the unspoken aspects of military occupation and empire-building in our world, whether past or present, and most likely the same building blocks that will be re-created in structural procedures and people’s minds in the future. Babysan looks at these these things in the intimate everyday, through their loneliness, need for affection and sex, and their position as conquerors, as male.
Currently, there are many articles regarding the passing down of trauma in DNA. I am particularly focusing on trauma as a result of war, genocide, mass violence, and social oppression leading to refugee-making and exile, as well as such things as domestic violence. Inter-generational trauma is real. I did not need a scientific research paper to tell me this. However, as usual, I find that this kind of research, and these kinds of articles, have contradictory effects, like mostly everything in public life. Especially, if it has to do with oppression. Thinking about my own life, and the trajectories from what I know of my father’s life and mother’s life, and their parents’ and the conditions through which they survived and thrive, I see many issues. For now, I want to discuss five (5) distinct ones first, in relation to this “thing” we are beginning to mainstream: intergenerational trauma, the internal scars passed through time. The five I want to mention here are:
With an education system that teaches us to memorize certain facts, but not to analyze and think, and with a failing structure that deserts ethics and life itself, one does not have to be blind to see that there are incredible changes going on now that are disturbing our sense of peace and security. For most of the world, there has not ever been “peace” and “security.” The global cognitive dissonance is real. For Europeans, South and Central Americans, indigenous cultures, Asian nations, and almost everywhere, a rise in anger, confusion, and disillusionment is going on. It speaks, from my point of view, at various levels of the success that the state (wherever and whichever) has had, in blinding people to the truths of history, culture, and certain factors of life. In fact, there are many who will die with an understanding that war, victory, and narcissism are normal and perennial.
Through Killing, Peaceful nations are formed. The Intimacy between Killing and National peace is simultaneous in our world. This is why we must unpack histories: To learn how things and ideas and identities have been formed and forged in power relations and false-unifications. To react in resentment and rage will bring more. Not doing anything will bring more.