lain wired ghost


The ubiquitous still shots of a nude Lain in fetal position surrounded by computer wires and components suggest her total takeover by the machine (Figure 6.2). Of course if Lain is only “software,” then it doesn’t matter whether she ever existed. This may be the reason why her father tells her that she needn’t wear the bear suit anymore, a cute signifier of contemporary Japanese girlhood. The “machine” (program) of the Wired has finally stopped for her, and she is now liberated to take tea in an imaginary space, without any pretense of reality at all.
Mention of tea may evoke memories of the Mad Hatter’s tea party, since Japanese viewers are also familiar with Alice’s Adventures in Wonder- land (1865) and Through the Looking-Glass (1871). Indeed, in many ways Lain can be seen as a retelling or even a reversal of the Alice stories. Like Alice, Lain—and Shinji as well, to a lesser extent—descends into a world in which nothing is what it seems and in which identity constantly fluc- tuates. As with Alice, she has godlike powers, since she is the “software” hat creates her own world, the Wired, just as Alice dreams up Wonder- land and Looking Glass Country. Also like Alice, she ultimately confronts the reigning deity within her made-up world and triumphs over it. Here we have a reversal, however. In Alice’s case she recognizes the Red Queen’s and the others’ true forms as simply “a pack of cards” (trite, material ob- jects) while Lain recognizes that it is the immaterial that is the Achilles’ heel of her enemy, since without a body, he simply disappears.
Both Lain and Shinji are desperately concerned about their own in- cipient immateriality, the fact that their subjectivity is verging on “termi- nal identity” because of their dependence on the machine. Lain fears to be left alone in the world of the Wired but knows that she has nowhere else to go, while Shinji fears that without the EVA he is nothing. The fact that these are children makes their vulnerability particularly disturbing, suggesting extratextual aspects of a social malaise in which young people seem less and less connected, not only with other people but also with themselves.30 In many ways the emotionally empty Lain seems spiritually linked with Rei who, while a clone of Shinji’s mother, is visually presented as a young girl who wants only to “return to nothing.” The fact that Lain begins with the suicide of a young girl is even more disturbing, suggesting “terminal identity” in its most concrete form. In today’s Japanese anime, in contrast to the elderly ghosts who haunt the Yamato, it is the children— the future—who seem to have become “phantasmagoria,” unhappy ghosts or stick figures lingering on the edges of consciousness.
Lewis Carroll’s Alice, who may be considered a nineteenth-century form of sh ̄ojo, is also afraid of losing her identity, as her tearful insistence that “I am real” attests. As it turns out, however, she has no need to worry. Alice is the dreamer and the Red King is simply a figment of her dream, although she is astute enough to wonder, on waking, whose dream/reality it really is. After all, “he was a part of my dream of course but then I was a part of his dream too.”31 For Alice, this is an amusing conundrum. For the children in Evangelion and Lain, bound to a world in which technol- ogy rather than the human imagination increasingly seems to dominate, the question is one with terrifying implications.
Carroll’s nineteenth-century text privileges the imagination. Forster’s modernist work highlights the need for “real” human intercourse unmedi- ated by technology. The two late-twentieth-century anime works suggest that the imagination, the real, and technology are bound together in in- creasingly complex ways, and they hint that reality may ultimately be simply a creation of the mind. While this is a powerful, even liberating notion, it is also one that, for many of these narratives at least, can lead to alienation and despair. At the turn of the twenty-first century, when the machines stop, can the human imagination transcend the ruins and cre- ate a new reality no longer tied to technology? Both Evangelion and Lain explore this question, but, given the enigmatic quality of their conclusions, it is hard to say whether the answers they offer are positive or negative.
— Robot ghosts and wired dreams, 6. When The Machine Stops: Fantasy, reality and terminal identity in Neon Genesis Evangelion and Serial Experiments Lain. // Susan J. Napier

« A fragment of Japan’s ‘Ghosts’ washed up 14 years later, on Tricky’s first single, ‘Aftermath’. Here it wasn’t sampled, but cited, by Tricky’s mentor, fellow Bristolian Mark Stewart. In the background of the track’s loping-shanty rhythms, you can hear Stewart speak-sing the lines ‘just when I thought I was winning, just when I thought I could not be stopped…‘ The use of the Japan reference and the presence of Stewart – a major figure in Bristol postpunk since his time with The Pop Group in the 1970s – were already powerful clues that Tricky’s positioning as a ‘trip-hop’ artist was reductive and misleading. Too often, the label trip-hop would be applied to what was in effect a black music with the ‘blackness’ muted or excised (hip-hop without rap).  »

« On the face of it, Tricky’s ra(s)p could be heard as the British answer to hip-hop, but, on a more subterranean level, what he was also taking up and renewing were strands in postpunk and art pop. Tricky counts postpunk acts like Blondie, The Banshees, The Cure (‘the last great pop band, I think’, he says) as his precursors. It’s not as simple as opposing this lineage to the soul, funk and dub references which were so obvious in Tricky’s earliest music. Postpunk and art pop had already drawn substantially upon funk and dub. ‘I grew up in a white ghetto,’ Tricky said when I interviewed him in 2008. ‘My Dad’s Jamaican, my grandmother is white. When I was growing up, till I was about 16, everything was normal. When I moved to an ethnic ghetto, I had friends there and my friends would say, “Why do you hang out with those skinhead guys, the white guys?” and my skinhead friends were like, “Why you hanging out with those black guys?” I couldn’t get it, I couldn’t understand it. I could always go to both worlds, I could go to a reggae club and then a white club and not even notice it because my family is all different colours, different shades. So at Christmas, you got a white person, black person, African looking person, Asian looking person…we didn’t notice it, my family are colour blind. But all of a sudden things started moving around, learning bad habits, people whispering to you, like, “Why you hanging around with those white guys?” These are kids I grew up with since five years old, the guys I grew up with saying “why you hanging out with those black guys?” Then I see The Specials on TV, these white and black guys getting together.»

« When Maxinquaye was released in 1995, Tricky was immediately anointed as the voice of a mute, depoliticised generation, the wounded prophet who absorbed and transmitted a decade’s psychic pollution. The extent of this adulation can be gauged by the origin of the name Nearly God: a German journalist had asked him ‘what’s it like to be God? Well, nearly God?’ Instead of taking up his assigned role as the imp of the perverse in 90s mainstream pop, though, Tricky sidled off into the sidelines, a half-forgotten figure. »

« On Maxinquaye,’ Ian Penman wrote in his landmark March 1995 essay for The Wire magazine, ‘Tricky sounds like ghosts from another solar system’. The spectrality of Tricky’s music, the way it refused to step up or represent, the way it slurred between lucidity and inarticulacy, made for a sharp contrast with the multicoloured brashness of what Penman called ‘the Face- cover/Talkin Loud/Jazzie B nexus of groovy One World vibery’. What’s so significant about the version of multiculturalism that Tricky and Goldie proffered was its refusal of earnestness and worthiness. Theirs was not a music that petitioned for inclusion in any kind of ordinariness. Instead, it revelled in its otherworld- liness, its science-fictional glamour. Like art pop’s first pioneer, Bowie, it was about identification with the alien, where the alien stood in for the technologically new and the cognitively strange – and ultimately for forms of social relations that were as yet only faintly imaginable. Bowie was by no means the first to make this identification: loving the alien was a gesture that self-mytholo-gizing black magi – Kodwo Eshun’s ‘sonic fictional’ canon of Lee Perry, George Clinton, Sun Ra – had made long before Bowie first did it. Identifying with the alien – not so much speaking for the alien as letting the alien speak through you – was what gave 20th century popular music much of its political charge. Identification with the alien meant the possibility of an escape from identity, into other subjectivities, other worlds.
There was also identification with the android. ‘Aftermath’ includes a sample of dialogue from Blade Runner: ‘I’ll tell you about my mother’, the anti-Oedipal taunt that the replicant Leon throws at his interrogator-tormentor before killing him. ‘Is it merely coincidence that the Sylvian quote and the Blade Runner lift converge in the same song?’, Penman asks. »

« Ghosts’…Replicants? Electricity has made us all angels. Technology (from psycho-analysis to surveillance) has made us all ghosts. The replicant (‘YOUR EYES RESEMBLE MINE…‘) is a speaking void. The scary thing about ‘Aftermath’ is that it suggests that nowadays WE ALL ARE. Speaking voids, made up only of scraps and citations… contaminated by other people’s memories…adrift… »

« When I met Tricky in 2008, he referred unbidden to the line from ‘Aftermath’ that Penman picks up on here. ’My first lyric ever on a song was ‘your eyes resemble mine, you’ll see as no others can’. I never had any kids then, so what am I talking about? Who am I talking about? [My daughter] Maisie wasn’t born. My mother used to write poetry but in her time she couldn’t have done anything with that, there wasn’t any opportunity. It’s almost like she killed herself to give me the opportunity, my lyrics, I can never understand why I write as a female; I think I’ve got my Mum’s talent, I’m her vehicle. So I need a woman to sing that. »

« When I first heard Burial a decade later, I would immediately reach for Tricky’s first album Maxinquaye as a point of comparison. It wasn’t only the use of vinyl crackle, so much a signature of both Maxinquaye and Burial, that suggested the affinity. It was also the prevailing mood, the way suffocating sadness and mumbling melancholy bled into lovelorn eroticism and dreamspeech. Both records feel like emotional states transformed into landscapes, but where Burial’s music conjures urban scenes under Blade Runner perma-drizzle, Maxinquaye feels as if it is taking place in a desert as delirial and Daliesque as the initiatory space that the characters pass through in Nic Roeg’s Walkabout: the land is scorched, cracked and barren, but there are occasional bursts of verdant lushness (on the queasily erotic ‘Abbaon Fat Tracks’, for instance, we could have strayed into the ruined pastoral of Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden). »

« Your eyes resemble mine…’ From the very beginning, speaking in his dead mother’s voice, a semi-benign Norman Bates, Tricky was conscious of his (dis)possession by female spectres. With his predilection for cosmetics and cross-dressing, he looked like one of the last vestiges of the glam impulse in British pop: his gender ambivalence a welcome antidote to Britpop’s lumpen laddishness. It’s clear that gender indeterminacy is no pantomime mummery for him, but something that goes right to the core of his music. Saying that Tricky ‘writes from a female point of view’ fails to capture the uncanniness of what he does, since he also induces women to sing from what seems to be a male perspective. »

« I like putting women in a male role, to have the woman play the strength and the man be the weak. I was brought up, one of my uncles was in jail for 30 years and the other for 15 years. I didn’t see my dad, I was brought up by my grandmother and my auntie so I’ve seen my grandmother fight in the street. I’ve seen my auntie and my grandmother have fistfights, I’ve seen my grandmother grab my auntie’s arm and close it in the door and break her arm fighting over meat. So I see women as tough. They fed me, they clothed me, my grandmother taught me to steal, my auntie taught me to fight, she sent me to boxing when I was 15. If men go to war, you stand in one field, I stand in another, we shoot each other, but what’s the hardest is when you are at home and you gotta listen to kids cry and you gotta feed ‘em. That’s tough, I’ve seen no men around, I’ve seen my uncle go jail for seven years, then ten years, my other uncle; my Dad never rang. Women keep it together, keep the food on the table, defend us, defend the children, like if anyone fucked with us they would be down the school. I’ve never seen men do that for me, I’ve never seen men there for me like that. All I know is women. »

« Gender doesn’t dissolve here into some bland unisex mush; instead it resolves into an unstable space in which subjectivity is continually sliding from male to female voice. It is an art of splitting which is also an art of doubling. Through the women who sing for/as him, Tricky becomes less than one, a split subject that can never be restored to wholeness. Yet their voicing of his incompleteness also makes him more than one, a double in search of a lost other half it will never recover. Either way, what Tricky unsettles – both as a vocalist and as a writer/ producer who coaxes singing from an Other – is the idea of the voice as a rock solid guarantor of presence and identity. His own weakened, recessed voice, all those croaks, mumbles and murmurs, has always suggested a presence that was barely there, something supplementary rather than centred. But the main – usually female – voice on his songs also sounds absented and abstracted. What the voices of his female singers – flat, drained, destitute of ordinary affective cadences – most resemble is the sound of a medium, a voice being spoken by something else. »

[My gawd, i’m almost quoting the whole chapter (not nearly), stoping there…]

— Fisher, Mark. « Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures. »

[Too lazy to quote several pages for now… / might be updated later.]

« But perhaps it was only with the arrival of digital communicative capitalism that this reached terminal crisis point. Naturally, the besieging of attention described by Berardi applies to producers as much as consumers. Producing the new depends upon certain kinds of withdrawal – from, for instance, sociality as much as from pre-existing cultural forms – but the currently dominant form of socially networked cyberspace, with its endless opportunities for micro-contact and its deluge of YouTube links, has made withdrawal more difficult than ever before. Or, as Simon Reynolds so pithily put it, in recent years, everyday life has sped up, but culture has slowed down.
No matter what the causes for this temporal pathology are, it is clear that no area of Western culture is immune from them. The former redoubts of futurism, such as electronic music, no longer offer escape from formal nostalgia. Music culture is in many ways paradigmatic of the fate of culture under post-Fordist capitalism. At the level of form, music is locked into pastiche and repetition. »

Fisher, Mark. « Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures. » / 00: Lost Futures / “The Slow Cancellation of the Future”

« A cette époque, lorsqu’il s’asseyait à l’arrière de la Pontiac, Travis était préoccupé par la distance qui le séparait des manifestations de l’existence qu’il avait acceptée depuis longtemps. Sa femme, les malades de l’hôpital (agents de la résistance au cours d’une Guerre Mondiale qu’il espérait bien parvenir à déclencher), sa liaison encore embryonnaire avec Catherine Austin — tout cela devenait aussi fragmentaire que les images d’Elizabeth Taylor et de Sigmund Freud sur les panneaux publicitaires, tout aussi irréel que la guerre que les compagnies cinématographiques ont recommencée au Viêtnam. A mesure qu’il s’enfonçait dans sa psychose, découverte au cours de l’année passée à l’hôpital, il accueillait complaisamment ce voyage en terre familière dans des zones crépusculaires. /A l’aube, ayant roulé toute la nuit, ils atteignirent les faubourgs de l’Enfer. Les pâles torchères des usines pétrochimiques illuminaient les pavés mouillés. Personne ne les trouverait là./ Ses deux compagnons, le pilote du bombardier qui avait pris le volant, vêtu d’une combinaison de vol délavée, et la belle jeune femme brûlée par les radiations atomiques ne lui parlaient jamais. Par intermittence, la jeune femme lui souriait faiblement de sa bouche déformée. Délibérement, Travis ne répondait pas à ses avances, il hésitait à se soumettre à elle. Qui étaient donc ces étranges jumeaux, hérauts de son propre inconscient? Durant des heures ils roulèrent à travers les faubourgs de cette ville interminable. Les panneaux d’affichage se multipliaient autour d’eux, reproduisant les images géantes de bombardement au Viêtnam, les morts répétées d’Elizabeth Taylor et Marilyn Monroe reproduites en dégradés sur toile de fond de Dien Bien Phu et de Delta du Mekong. »

(J.G. Ballard, La foire aux atrocités / 1. La foire aux atrocités, “Morts en série.”)