Tag Archives: Japan

Idles of perversity

The phonetic “idle” is an interesting homophone.  Each word has a different meaning, but the implications are similar.  You can read an idyll, romanticize it, and idolize the things you imagine it to represent.  For those in search of a concrete oasis, you can travel abroad to experience a truly idyllic moment, or define your own and dream forever of finding it. In Japan, they have these “A.I. Dolls”, incredibly lifelike love dolls you can rent for sex.  (Clever play on words, isn’t it?  That’s one, two, three, four, five meanings referenced.)  Idle hands are said to be the Devil’s playground.  Cars may idle, but you, as a person, should not.  There are religious idols: the golden calf, the wooden cross; things that only lend more complexity to a jumble of beliefs.  Then there are your own personal idols, those people you worship who never manage to live up to your vision of them.  Maybe you know this, but most likely you don’t.  Taken singularly, they all seem to have their respective meanings and places. But all suggest an overwhelming ability to fantastically delude ourselves.

Be careful, warrior.


The (sur)real world

Cool thing of the day: Man, Woman, and the Wall.

Movie poster with Sora Aoi (right) and Keita Ono (left).

Netflix was good enough to suggest this flick, based on my preference for creepy, cerebral movies, of which there are lots. I’ve seen so many, I’m kind of burnt out on the genre. This one was Japanese, though, so I had to watch it. Yeah, I’m a Japanophile otaku geek, but I’m also awesome, so it’s OK.

Before I  begin, dear readers, a small (but important) disclaimer. Stalking is bad. Stalking is bad. Stalking is bad. But for some reason, it’s really entertaining to watch.

Reporter Ryo moves to a new apartment with very thin walls. His neighbor to the right is a young woman named Satsuki. He hears her all the time: in the shower, on the phone, having sex with her boyfriend. Ryo quickly starts to fantasize about her; he even buys equipment to better eavesdrop on her life.  But Ryo soon finds that he isn’t alone in his voyeurism.

This is an awesome movie for lots of reasons. The plot was solid, the characters well drawn, and there was a lot of detail to the set designs. I wasn’t too crazy about the cinematography or editing, but nothing’s perfect, right? I know very little Japanese, but I understood enough to judge the actors (mostly) competent in their roles.

I love movies that are both realistic and believable. I love flawed characters. Archetypes are fun to play with, but I like the complexity of real people. I think a lot of writers are scared to have truly fucked up protagonists–drug dealers, sadists, murderers, despots, etc–but those characters are the most interesting to create. I may loathe their actions and ideologies, but it’s fun to try to work them out. Some people may say that creating bad characters is bad, too, but, then again, those are the same people who claim that violent video games make children violent.  *snorts*  As if the parents have nothing to do with it.

So, in conclusion, Man, Woman, and the Wall was a mixed bag of awesomeness.  For reals.


On the spot with J.U.L

Last month, the Just-Us League, a collection of local artists who create live art at live events, held a fundraiser for the earthquake/tsunami victims in Japan.  I wasn’t involved with the fundraiser at all.  I came in at the tail-end of the night, looking around at the art left (donations from locals, and a couple of famous people), carefully not bidding on anything because I didn’t have any money.  As usual, there was a large canvas for everyone to add their art, this time extended to all the event volunteers, as well as the attendees. In the spirit of the J.U.L.’s live art vibe, this, too was an on-the-spot creation.  I penned this at the last possible moment, Jerod patiently waiting for me to finish, as he was trying to pack up everything. It’s a little off–muddied, cluttered with repetition, in dire need of a good edit–but it’s there.  Also, please excuse the crappy-ness of the pic itself, as I only had my woefully inadequate 2.0 MP camera phone on me, and I absolutely suck at photo editing.

I also drew a few leaf/branch things right above it, but I didn’t think to get a picture of that.  This banner is currently in the possession of the Japan-America Society of DFW; maybe I’ll go by there one day and get one.


It begins

“Man,” I cried, “how ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom!”

 – Mary Shelley, Frankenstein


Replica of Maschinenmensch Maria from Fritz Lange's iconic film Metropolis. On display at the Museum Tinguely.

Today’s cool thing of the day is definitely cool, but scary, too. It’s the genesis of a scenario we’ve seen played out in countless sci-fi novels and films, has been the subject of international symposiums, and spawned a life’s age worth of individual–and societal–anxiety.  I’m speaking, of course, of artificial intelligence. That’s right, guys.  Think Terminator, think the Matrix. Hell, think Isaac Asimov and Ray Bradbury, Philip K. Dick and Frank Herbert.  The advent of artificial intelligence has been around for centuries (both Frankenstein and Pygmalion dealt with sentient, man-made beings), but I don’t think it ever seemed as close as right now.

http://www.cyberdyne.jp/english/robotsuithal/

You think I’m being an alarmist?  ‘Cause I don’t. Peep that name, ya’ll; these people are not playing.

Though I’ve only read a few of his short stories, I really do think that Isaac Asimov best described the struggle between humans and robots.  Movies only focus on the strife between the two; they fail to address the causes of the problem.  What humans have to ask each other–what they’ve never asked each other–is: are robots people?  No matter that they are man-made.  If AI is intelligent, sentient, and able to reason, doesn’t that mean that they are, in fact, people deserving of rights?  Doesn’t the mere fact that we created them mean that we must take pains to bestow, and, indeed, allow such rights?

History reminds us time and again that man is phenomenally bad at sharing.  That being said, it may be best that we quit while we’re ahead.