||“Hikari” (short story) by Tensei Kono
First published in Shukan Shosetsu (May 3, 1976)
Currently available from Kurodahan Press’s Speculative Japan (2007)
|Original: Japanese, 1976
Translated by Dana Lewis, 2007
Synopsis: Along the railway line, another city of lights sends its spectral beacon into the defused sky. As one man wonders of the oddity of its alienness, another man tells his tale of its becoming while others hang on his every word. One day, his family became placid and content—brightness blazed behind their eyes. They were left oblivious to emotion and maintained a clean godliness to the city. When confronted with the errant ways of the flesh, enlightenment came.
Analysis: Inspiration strikes some in unseen yet life-changing ways; sometimes, a dream will shift your perspective on reality or a single instance can flip your paradigm. These epiphanies elevate the human experience, embracing individual experience for the better—in essence, these enlightenments help us become better, more positive people. However, this change is purely internal and does not actually change the world around us… unless it’s collective.
In “Hikari”, this enlightenment (if I must use a play on words—the people of light do experience a sort of transcendence) benefits those touched by its simplicity. They are objective in every approach, even to family matters; they see cleanliness and godliness, like the wholeness of white light; and they actually care for the errant humans in their community. The ones not touched by the otherwise shared objectiveness, are the errant ones, the ones attached to vice. Their anger boils over as they feel belittled by the perfect emotionless of the touched. Though the touched cause no direct injury or harm, the errant ones channel their internal anger externally toward the touched—a move which, itself, transcends the boundaries between the two kinds of people. As an individual epiphany can change the world very little, a collective epiphany can radiate the light of righteousness.