- “The Floor” from 6 Songs by Sex Church by Sex Church (2010)
Just 16 and recently released from a naval academy, Kenji Ekuan witnessed Hiroshima’s devastation from the train taking him home. “Faced with that nothingness, I felt a great nostalgia for human culture,” he recalled from the offices of G. K. Design, the firm he co-founded in Tokyo in 1952. “I needed something to touch, to look at,” he added. “Right then I decided to be a maker of things.”
One of the most enduring objects in his 60-year design career — which includes the Akita bullet train and Yamaha motorbikes — is the Kikkoman soy-sauce dispenser. Introduced in 1961, it has been in continuous production ever since. Traditional in its grace yet modern in its materials, the bottle’s design drew on Ekuan’s experiences at war’s end. The atomic blast killed his younger sister, and his father, a Buddhist priest, died of radiation-related illness a year later, prompting Ekuan to train briefly as a Buddhist monk in Kyoto.
–From a New York Times Magazine piece on how the ubiquitous soy sauce bottle came about.
So in Europe, you have a bunch of people who recoil in horror from WWI and say “LET US START A BAUHAUS IN WHICH WE WILL DISTRUST THE ARC OF HUMAN STORIES AND TAKE REFUGE IN THE PRECISION OF CUBES AND SPHERES”, but this guy in post-nuclear assault Japan feels “a great nostalgia for human culture”. “Nostalgia.”
I wonder if there’s anything systematic here. If you have the outbreak of mechanized industrial warfare that lays waste to almost everything and everyone you’ve ever known or cared about, you distrust the narratives that led you there. However, you go a notch or two farther and completely annihilate any trace of human civilization and reduce the surrounding Earth to a post-apocalyptic wasteland who’s only parallels are Biblical, you feel some nostalgia, you miss old humanity.