EN385D Post-Colonial Literature: Travel Literature
Dr. Juniper Ellis
January 25, 2015
Truth Travel: Wendt’s Black Rainbow, Jesuit Education, and Elesa’s Truth
The Black Rainbow’s Tribunal government monopolizes truth through altering histories. The Tribunal tests the protagonist and grants him power as a truth seeking propelling him on a journey throughout Neo-New Zealand. The document they give him is based to grant him political privileges based on his truthfulness. The document states, “He [the protagonist] has undergone and survived with A’s the prescribed process of Dehistorying. He submitted his soul, his history, to us, with total admission, honesty and frankness” (Wendt 33). According to the Tribunal, loss of one’s history seems to be essential to achieving pure honesty. This “dehistorying” appears to be the purging of evil or anti-societal information. If a person’s negative history is ousted out, then all the history that is left is positive. In the words of the Tribunal, what is left is “honesty and frankness” (33). The protagonist’s innocent ignorance makes him more eligible to seek out the truth. The document also states, “We, the Supreme Tribunal, Guardians of All Truth, assume total responsibility for his history and the crimes and sins of the past” (33). The Tribunal believes they not only hoard truth from all of its citizens but also guard all truth as well. They wish to assume all responsibility for protagonist’s history, both good and evil. The idea that history is merely facts and it is a singular all encompassing Truth is illogical. Human storytellers not artificial recorders of facts tell history. The concept that there can be many different stories of same important history is easily overlooked or ignored. This document also links purging the mind of history as a way of freeing oneself from past, guilt, and sins. The Tribunal that, “assumes all responsibility for his history”, believes seeking one’s truth or history can overall leads to one’s sins. By dehistorying, this government believes it is absolving the protagonist of all lies and pain, but that is misleading lie. Seeking the truth means accepting the reality of all stories not editing and deleting ones that do not agree with your own opinions.
In spring of my sophomore year of high school, I found a disturbing truth that caused me to question whether of not to store it as truth or disregard it as burden. The historical text by Iris Chang was entitled, Rape of Nanking. As an East Asian enthusiast of China and Japan, I energetically opened the book. Gory heads on top of fence posts with cigarettes decoratively placed in their mouths, dismembered limbs of a women who was brutally ganged raped tied to a chair, teenagers dismantling a dead pregnant woman’s baby with a katana, and happy smiling Japanese youth holding the Chinese men’s heads they slashed off while in the background corpses are piled up like toothpicks. My world of Japan as the land of samurai, anime, manga, and beauty was slashed to piece with the flip of a few pages and photographs. My Japan was a myth, freed from its past and sins, through the deliberate “dehistorying” of these atrocities. (Wendt 33). Later I found out that this book had been banned in all of modern Japan and there has been no apology made for these war crimes of mass murder and mass rape committed in Manchuria. From December 13, 1937 – January 1938, Japanese forces killed 300,000 people, but this has been omitted from Japanese history books (Chang).
Regardless of scrutinizing whether the Chinese or Japanese tells the history, both truths are present. I had a dilemma sheltering myself from one horrible truth and live in innocence or accept the atrocity as one of many histories meant to be remembering. I carried that disgusting truth till I came to the realization that to avoid or omit the truth is to lie. In Commitment to Justice in Jesuit Higher Education, the role of Jesuit educator and student is defined. The book states, “Their mission is tirelessly to seek the truth and to form each student into a whole person of solidarity, who will take responsibility for the real world (35-36). This principle instructs Jesuit students who seek the truth and see the whole personhood of humanity with its prior sins, and take responsible for his or her actions. In context of the real world, truth travellers accept the reality of their world’s full of histories’ good and evil. On the other, Black Rainbow’s Tribunal will, “assume responsibility for history and the crimes and sins of that past” (Wendt 33). The Tribunal takes the protagonist’s responsibility as well as ability to seek truth initially. According to the Jesuits, to seek the truth is to seek the responsibility of accepting the eclectic histories of many storytellers. To dismiss the past of the protagonist is a disservice to his individual development into a whole person and an injustice to the global, real world in which he is contributing member. Similarly, for me to disregard the Rape of Nanking as a historical event would be both disgraceful to myself as Jesuit student of East Asia and an inhuman insult to the ones who were massacred and unwitting consent to the Japanese youth who committed those atrocities. The Tribunal, who believe they are Guardians of Truth, perverts the truth. The Tribunal and its “dehistorying”, is sheltering everyone from truth and artificially causes everyone to live their lives as giant, omitted lies (33). To seek truth is to accept the multiple histories of all; thus, seeking truth is actively travelling through consciousness. This craving for whole truth regardless of the positive or negative results is what makes the Black Rainbow’s protagonist and myself truth travellers.
Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II. New York. Penguin Books, 1997. Print.
Kolvenbach, Peter-Hans. “The Service of Faith and the Promotion of Justice in American Jesuit Higher Education” Commitment to Justice. Baltimore, Maryland. Apprentice House, 2000.
Wendt, Albert. Black Rainbow. Honolulu: University of Hawaii, 1992. Print.