The Story of the Two Yellowing Sheets of Paper.
September 17, 2012 10:26 PM   Subscribe

Two old sheets of paper tell a story. Scroll down to the last big paragraph of the blog post, just above the photo of the two yellowed sheets of paper. (h/t Jane H.)
posted by brianstorms (10 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
That is wonderful, thank you for posting it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:38 PM on September 17, 2012

A glimmer of humanity in an otherwise horrific theatre of war. Thanks for sharing!
posted by Harald74 at 11:14 PM on September 17, 2012

A glimmer of the better side of humanity, perhaps.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:18 PM on September 17, 2012

Katsuma Dan, the Japanese scientist who posted the note.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:17 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

A glimmer of humanity

Sorry. That note sounded bossy and indignant and entitled. He didn't even manage to put a please in anywhere.

Moments like this, when a shared value of the peaceful pursuit of knowledge links people in a way that cuts through their fear and hostility, these moments give me some hope for humanity.

That would seem to be the Hallmark Card version. I imagine it was only "saved" as it would have been of potential military value. Recall that in addition to dropping two atomic bombs on them, the Americans displayed a stunning lack of empathy with the Japanese people and were bombing the hell out of the Japanese civilian population for months. I have a hard time imaging out of this context any warm feeling of "peaceful pursuit of knowledge" would have motivated any American naval officer, who trained as a scientist stumbled across this laboratory during America's subsequent military occupation of Japan.
posted by three blind mice at 3:46 AM on September 18, 2012

Katsuma Dan explains here to an American friend the circumstances of the note, which were somewhat less urgent than what one would think, as he had discussed the matter with an American officer before posting the note. Dan seems to have had a nice sense of humor. In any case, the note was published some time later in Time Magazine so it was remarkably efficient.
posted by elgilito at 4:30 AM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

> Sorry.

You are not.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:40 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Katsuma's version of how that note came to be written: They yelled at one another, the interpretor making more or less disconnected translations, but nobody was listening.

The note exemplifies the curious notion that not everyone was consumed by violence, hatred, or suspicion. That's a good thing to know. Lots of our histories forget to mention it.
posted by mule98J at 12:07 PM on September 18, 2012

Later-in-life photo of Katsuma Dan, from the site elgilito links. The international language of Nerd T-shirt.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:36 PM on September 18, 2012

Thank you for sharing this wonderful information!
posted by Galadhwen at 7:16 PM on September 19, 2012

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