March 19, 2011

Observations on the Japanese earthquakes of March,2011

An American visiting England can't help but notice that, by and large, the English go in for solid constructions: walls, furniture, brick and stone buildings, embankments, vehicles like the Rolls Royce, large double-decker buses, massive postal boxes. It is not uncommon to find in public buildings that even the stalls in the bathrooms are secured with 8-foot high solid hardwood doors!Nor is it accidental that the chronometer, the very paradigm of the stable measuring instrument, was invented by an Englishman, John Harrison. Nor that an Isaac Newton first proclaimed the stable functioning of the solar system.

This must have something to do with the fact that England is an island projecting out into the Atlantic, buffeted by strong ocean waves and recurrent storms.Even as long ago as the Roman occupation it must have been a tight little island with a fortress mentality. This may also explain why the English have a pathological fear of invasion, although the only invasion it has known since 1066 was the fairly benign Dutch occupation under William of Orange in 1689. By the inevitable complementarity, England itself has invaded almost (I can't think of any exceptions) every country on earth, including of course the ones it's created.

Curious, is it not, that Japan, another embattled, over-populated,"tight little island" has gone in the opposite direction? Japanese houses are made of paper!: paper constructions, silken fabrics, frail haiku poems, minimalist rock gardens, delicate, sensitive calligraphy, meticulously crafted works of art,ritual ceremonies, the list goes on. This must certainly be true, to a large extent, because the islands of Japan are eternally at the mercy of major natural disasters. If one is lucky enough to see the explosion of Fujiyama coming in time, one simply leaves the paper house and lets it burn.

Strong geological stability in the home countries was crucial to the conquest and control of the colonial empires of Western Europe. England, France, Holland, Spain, Belgium, Portugal are not vulnerable to recurring earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis in the way that Japan, or Indonesia, or Italy are. One wonders what would have happened to Japan's colonial empire, if we were in the 1930's, and there'd been an earthquake of the stature of those starting on March 9th, 2011?

Even as England is prey to water, so Japan is prey to fire.

And the United States?


Maybe:tornados,hurricanes, air pollution, and the hot air of political rhetoric!

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