October 1, 2001
7:29 PM   Subscribe

with all the discussion about chemical or biological warfare, i can't help but be reminded of the sarin attack on tokyo subways in 1995. many of the people directly affected by the attack acted strangely. (more inside...)
posted by sugarfish (8 comments total)
haruki murakami wrote a book called "underground," in which he interviewed japanese people victimized by members of the aum shinrikyo cult who carried packets of sarin onto trains and pierced them with umbrella tips. most of the interviewees reported that they felt weird, but went into work anyway, despite burning eyes and difficulty breathing. that struck me as very odd. maybe it's just because i have quite the low work ethic, but i think if i found i'd gone mostly blind, especially after fellow train passengers panicked, i would head on over to my local hospital, rather than go to work. i don't want to seem like i'm stereotyping, but is that typical of the japanese character? was anyone actually in japan at that time? and what would you do if you felt like you'd been a victim of a chemical or biological attack?
posted by sugarfish at 7:31 PM on October 1, 2001

Portions of Underground were read on the Sept. 21 edition of This American Life. Here is a real audio stream of the program; the reading is ~28 minutes in.
posted by brantstrand at 7:36 PM on October 1, 2001

This American Life

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:38 PM on October 1, 2001

If that happened to me, I would probably be in denial. "Oh probably just allergies making my eyes itchy". I hope I would have enough sense to know go see a doctor. Reminds me a story of a woman who had her fingers chopped off from WTC debris and didn't know it till someone fainted.

geoff's verdict: Denial and Japan's unusually high work ethic contributed to this.
posted by geoff. at 7:48 PM on October 1, 2001

This American Life

posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:17 PM on October 1, 2001

After probably the worst accident I've had on a bike, I ended up temporarily blind (concussion) and pretty cut up, so was taking to hospital (by a very nice passing motorist). After being patched up (by a very nice doctor who checked my sense of smell by asking if I could detect her perfume :-) I went to work, despite having one arm heavily bandaged and various cuts and brusies on my face (vision had returned by then) and elsewhere.

People at work told me to go home, but there would have been no-one there and nothing to do. Work has people who care and things to keep you occupied. I suspect the idea that going home is a good thing comes at least partly from childhood, where home meant mummy looking after you...
posted by andrew cooke at 1:54 AM on October 2, 2001

PS I'm not Japanese
posted by andrew cooke at 1:55 AM on October 2, 2001

I finished reading "Underground" on September 9th, so as I attempted to go to work on the morning of Sept 11th, despite the burning inferno in the sky and the ash and paper falling around me in Brooklyn, the book was fresh in my mind. I kept thinking to myself -- don't make the mistake those people did -- don't act like this is nothing. But I was already in a state of shock, and in some kind of instinct I just kept going on, business as usual, and (amazingly/stupidly) kept trying to go into Manhattan to work even after the towers had fallen down! I now understand that the Japanese commuters reacted that way not because they were willing to suffer through work to save face, but because of their deep-seated disbelief at what was happening around them.
posted by edamame at 5:55 AM on October 2, 2001

« Older salon starts charging for "staff-written copy."   |   A reporter dons the Islamic hijaab Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments