The Cultural History of Godzilla – Pt 40


「ゴジラの精神史」The Cultural History of Godzilla 1954 by Shuntaro Ono (2014)
「ゴジラの精神史」The Cultural History of Godzilla 1954 by Shuntaro Ono (2014)

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Dinosaurs and two million years ago


The fact that the primitive monster Godzilla’s rampage moved from the sea in the first half of the movie to the land in the second half not only changed the active area of amphibious creatures, but also the classic story of the evolutionary theory of life from the sea to the land. It seems to be tracing the As a creature that has been delayed for two million years, the setting where sleeping Godzilla wakes up was not simply based on “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.”


The reason why Godzilla had to be a dinosaur is that dinosaurs, along with ammonites, have become visual symbols of evolution and selection by natural selection among many fossils. The giant dinosaurs that once prospered have perished and are no longer on this earth. It may have remained in cultural memory as a dragon or a dragon, but all that remains in this world are fossils. Just as we reproduce the rise and fall of civilizations from relics such as pottery, stone tools, and bones, we can only imagine the majestic appearance of prehistoric dinosaurs from fossils. What’s more, not all paleontological creatures that existed in the past are fossilized, and the lack of ecological information about everyday life from fossils has led to ever-changing views on what dinosaurs looked like. A reconstruction of the current Tyrannosaurus has feathers. Recreating everyday life in history is difficult regardless of whether the subject is a human being or a living creature.


We loosely refer to giant creatures as “dinosaurs,” but modern paleontological classification refers to the upright walking on land of the “archosaurs.”

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Pterosaurs like Pteranodon and sea creatures are not called dinosaurs. But the cultural imagination calls a wide range of giant creatures “dinosaurs.” In Japan, the word “terrible” has given a strong impression, and the original Latin word “terrifyingly big” has been misread and regarded as having a terrifying meaning. From the aesthetics of feeling “sublime” in things that are too big to be grasped by one’s own vision and senses, it is natural to feel awe of such larger-than-human opponents. Dinosaurs are popular because they feel sublime in giant objects.


The reason why Godzilla was set at a height of 50 meters, which is enough to look up, is because it is impossible for a standing human to see everything at once. The point is emphasized from the moment the movie title is presented. Godzilla walks upright and moves horizontally, but even when he first appeared on Odo Island, the fact that only part of the house was knocked down gave the audience fear and anticipation. Just as we guess the whole from partial fossils such as teeth and bones, we guess the whole Godzilla from some images. It’s the basis of horror movies, but in that sense Godzilla was a scary dragon or dinosaur.


Matajiro Yokoyama, who is considered the father of Japanese paleontology, is credited with adopting and establishing the term “dinosaur,” which we use casually. Hiroshi Tamura, a jazz pianist and dinosaur-related collector, speculated that his “Textbook of Fossil Sciences” (1894) was the first to appear. Today, Yokoyama’s major works are open to the public in the Modern Digital Library on the Internet of the National Diet Library, and anyone can refer to them.


To make it easier to read, the definition of dinosaurs in the “Textbook of Fossil Sciences” is introduced as follows: “Dinosaurs are reptiles that live on land and in swamps in the middle generation, have long jaws and long tails, and have hind limbs that are longer than the forelimbs. It was able to stand upright like a kangaroo by its tail.”

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Paleontologists now have differing opinions as to whether the tail was even on the ground rather than helping it stand upright. However, “Godzilla” accepts Yokoyama’s definition of a dinosaur, analogizing the function of a tail from a kangaroo. It is from this perspective that you can see Godzilla leaving footprints and tail marks on Odo Island when looking down from Mt. Hachiman.


According to Hiroshi Takeuchi, the author of Godzilla, Shigeru Kayama, loved to read Yokoyama’s “Foreworld History” (1918) when he was a boy (“Kaiju Godzilla” commentary). The term “prehistoric” refers to the “prehistoric period,” or the period before human history. Based on Takeuchi’s point, Hiromi Murakami wrote in an essay titled “Shigeru Kayama and Matajiro Yokoyama” that Dr. Yamane’s expression “Bifrocatas layer” is found in “Zensekaishi,” and “Godzilla” is based on Yokoyama’s paleontology. It is based on the world view of (WEB booklet Teiyudou Journal). Invited by that point, when I flipped through “Pre-World History,” many illustrations were pleasing to the eye, and I could certainly confirm the description of the “Bifrocatas Formation.”


However, what is more important is the description in the third section, “Length of the previous world,” in Chapter 1, “Introduction,” of “Semi-World History.” Yokoyama then said, “A layperson may ask how many years ago this era in the previous world was, but the answer can be 100,000 years, 100,000, or 10,000,000 years. While arranging various theories about the birth of the Earth, starting with the Kant-Laplace theory, which is the nebula theory, he makes the surprising assertion that there are various theories about the age, so it does not matter which one is adopted.

The Kant-Laplace nebular hypothesis. Kant’s central idea was that the solar system began as a cloud of dispersed particles. He assumed that the mutual gravitational attractions of the particles caused them to start moving and colliding, at which point chemical forces kept them bonded together. (Source: Google)


Even so, 100,000 years and 10,000,000 years are two digits different, which seems irresponsible as a scholar’s opinion.