The Fortean Times has been a guilty pleasure of mine for some time, although during my Masters I stopped reading magazines and concentrated on my security reading. As a result, since I finished my course I’ve been playing catch up.
While reading about the links between conspiracy theories and Fortean thinking (FT223), or rather the epistemological considerations of appreciating conspiracy theories, I came across the following passage that made me stop and think:
Conspiracy thinking is mythological (or ‘magical’) thinking. Martin S Day has observed that “scientifically, [a myth] cannot be proved” and neither can it be “properly reconciled with phenomenological facts”, elaborating on Hans Georg Gadamer’s judgement that “the only good definition of myth is that myth neither requires nor includes any possible verification outside of itself”.
This struck a minor chord with my own research.
I have always considered the Japanese response to the abduction issue, in its 2004-6 form (at the height of the Yokota Megumi story), to be somewhat irrational, emotionally governed, and to some extent dogmatic.
During the course of my research, I came to see the Yokota Megumi story as a national narrative. Every nation has such stories to some extent. I daresay that the Madeline McCann story in my own country, plus the Soham murders among others, are such a narrative. They appear to bind the nation together in condemnation of a state or group, taking over the headlines: bad news coming good. Indeed, 9/11 ultimately falls into this category.
However, with the Yokota story, we are unlikely to find her alive, or find her real remains (if indeed the tests performed on the ashes provided by North Korea are correct). The story is unlikely to be resolved.
I am beginning to believe that the abduction issue might be penetrating Japanese national mythology, much like how the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is now an inherent part of the Japanese nation, or how constant victimisation figures in Korean and Chinese self-image.
This current mode of thought suggests to me that an effective way of studying the abduction issue would be to examine it as a narrative. This is something that I wish to do but cannot at this moment as a result of a lack of language skills and opportunity. However, it is a thought that I will ruminate on.