PERSONA_PARTS_1.1 — by Eric Selland

[from A Certain Distance, 2 (August 15, 1945)]

On the day of the broadcast I was asleep. I slept a lot in those days. For one thing there was the sheer exhaustion from lack of food, and then the general mood of apathy which had taken hold in those final weeks. Just before noon I was awoken by the landlady running excitedly up and down the halls of the boarding house exhorting us all to come down to the common room. The Emperor himself was to address his people over the radio at noon.

During those days I boarded in a ramshackle house not far outside the city. “Don’t bother coming back to work” is all we were told. Not much else was necessary. We all knew what was going to happen. Already most of the capital was laid to waste and only essential government functions remained near the palace. Most people stayed with relatives in the country, but people like myself, a middle-aged bachelor without those kind of family connections, had to go a different route. So I came to this little town out west of Tokyo.

Some people call me a cynic. Maybe they’re right. Or maybe it’s something else, a disease unknown till now, one that lacks a name or even a diagnosis – a malady of the times.

Nietzsche said the most monstrous thing is human society itself, and that a person can attain freedom only insofar as they can transcend their social conditioning. Since I had always been an outsider, standing at somewhat of a distance from the society around me, including even my own family, these words of Nietzsche seemed only natural to me.

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