Texts Relating To The Period After The Bomb Freshwater Senior Campus, Year 12 Essay

1263 words - 6 pages

“Texts relating to the period After the Bomb represent aspects of life that challenged or destroyed comfortable ways of thinking. To what extent has your study of texts shown this to be true?”
The zeitgeist of the post-war era was an expansion of the modernist concepts of progress and change. The predominant discourse of power, known as the Cold War, embraced the fundamental ideological conflict between Capitalistic America and the Communist Soviet Union. This discourse also had the effect of unifying capitalist ideology against the threat of the Soviet Union and Communism. The dominance of this discourse began to be questioned with the development of an alternative western-influenced youth culture, which challenged bureaucracy, militarism and capitalism. The emerging counterculture proposed alternatives to the fear of nuclear destruction that provided the impetus to the notion of a Cold War. This upheaval in thinking was naturally reflected in the output of composers of the period, whose works reflected the shifting scientific, religious, economic and philosophical paradigms, as Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel An Artist of the Floating World, Samuel Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 represent how comfortable ways of thinking could be challenged or destroyed through a sense of existentialism and capitalism.
 Permeated by a climate of Cold War anxiety and set in Japan under American occupation, Ishiguro’s An Artist of the Floating World (1986) confronts us with a society of shifting values; polite formalities, undeserved pride and humility and morally inconsistent memories which challenged the socio-political values of post-war Japan. Ishiguro provides a window into the reactionary mind-sets which drove the Japanese recovery through imagery "After the war, Mr Naguchi thought his songs had been - well- sort of a mistake". Ishiguro simultaneously challenges and/or destroys comfortable ways of thinking which were the product of Imperialistic ideologies and a culture of nationalism - "I was achieving good for my fellow countrymen", filial obedience - "I'm afraid our son here is far from being such a person", and obligation - "Our President clearly felt responsible". Ishiguro espouses the ideological disillusionment which grew later in the period through the juxtaposition of cultural values within Ono’s narrative - “My grandson’s become a cowboy” to “only a few years ago, Ichiro wouldn’t have been allowed to see such a thing as a cowboy”, which reflects the gap between the generation that sent Japan to war and those who actually fought it. On another level, Ichiro’s obsession with cowboys represents the expanding impact of mass media on iconography and the subsequent shifting economic paradigms of militarism to a type of ‘Americanisation of Japan’ as cultural and economic imperatives drove links with America. The Americanisation of Japanese culture reflects the political and personal implications for these two groups, leaving them...

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