Apocalypse in Contemporary Japanese Science Fiction by Motoko Tanaka (auth.)

By Motoko Tanaka (auth.)

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The modern apocalypse always requires us to cope with the crisis of facing one final end. The postmodern apocalypse makes this question invalid; the The Trajectory of Apocalyptic Discourse 23 historicity of an event is no longer singular, and there will be no major end or goal to reach. If a historic event were given an absolutely unique value and meaning, it would be impossible to survive the burdens of historicity; yet suppose that the event has relative value and is approached with ­multiple expedients, and this may bring multiple interpretations and ­re-evaluation of the event.

First, apocalypse encompasses opposing values such as birth and death, beginning and end, c­ reation and destruction, cycle and line, beauty and ugliness, joy and sadness, eternity and temporality, dominance and subjugation, and decadence and morality. This does not mean that all apocalyptic narratives construct a binary system and always take either one side or function dualistically. Rather, apocalyptic stories and ideology narrate the relationship between two opposing values, and by examining this opposition, it becomes clear what is at stake.

Nichiren’s teachings and performance in particular can be considered millenarian, for he longed for social reform and the establishment of an ideal nation according to religious doctrine. His post-apocalyptic vision is clearer and more concrete than that of the Heian period: the fulfillment of the ideal Buddhist nation in this world. 6 The essay Hōjōki, written by Kamono Chōmei and completed in 1212, is a representative Kamakura literary work with apocalyptic themes. The ideas of transience and mappō thought are persistent throughout the essay.

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