“In the novel, a reader professes:

 

If a book truly interests me, I cannot follow it for more than a few lines before my mind, having seized on a thought that the text suggests to it, or a feeling, or a question, or an image, goes off on a tangent and springs from thought to thought, from image to image, in an itinerary of reasonings and fantasies that I feel the need to pursue to the end, moving away from the book until I have lost sight of it.

 

“I understand you perfectly,” another reader answers, explaining that

 

reading is a discontinuous and fragmentary operation. Or, rather, the object of reading is a punctiform and pulviscular material. In the spreading expanse of the writing, the reader’s attention isolates some minimal segments, juxtapositions of words, metaphors, syntactic nexuses, logical passages, lexical peculiarities that prove to possess an extremely concentrated density of meaning. They are like elemental particles making up the work’s nucleus, around which all the rest revolves. Or else like the void at the bottom of a vortex which sucks in and swallows currents. It is through these apertures that, in barely perceptible flashes, the truth the book may bear is revealed, its ultimate substance.

(The “novel” is: If on a winter’s night a traveler / Italo Calvino.)

[src.]

Californium

I want more video games like Philip K. Dick‘s inspired Californium. More games inspired _directly_ by PKD wouldn’t be bad, and more games with graphics like those of Californium either. I don’t mean literaly copiying by the art style, but the whole experience / narrative / story progression (for a lack of better word for now) was interesting to me, so… The same kind of experimentation.

The game wasn’t greatly optimized (which was a shame) and i know a lot of people couldn’t stand its gameplay but i was fine with it (once i could actually ran it, as it took me a few hours) and the gameplay was only rarely tricky and not “annoying” (as i heard) for me.

So: more of that kind of thing please.

PS: I should repost my old screenshots of it. (Perhaps later.)

We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week

“Some day the load we’re carrying with us may help someone. But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them. We went right on insulting the dead. We went right on spitting in the graves of all the poor ones who died before us. We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing, you can say, ‘We’re remembering’. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run. And some day we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest goddamn steam-shovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up. Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror-factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them.”

― Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
/via someone some time ago.

 

“Through neglect, ignorance, or inability, the new intellectual Borgias cram hairballs down our throats and refuse us the convulsion that could make us well. They have forgotten, if they ever knew, the ancient knowledge that only by being truly sick can one regain health. Even beasts know when it is good and proper to throw up. Teach me how to be sick then, in the right time and place, so that I may again walk in the fields and with the wise and smiling dogs know enough to chew sweet grass.”

― Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity

 

// J’ai commencé à lire il y a pas si longtemps  la récente traduction des essaies mais voulu repousser à un peu plus tard ma lecture…

Anna Kava, Ice / Neige

via kavan.land — “a semantic and fictional archive designed out of a collection of data related to the British novelist Anna Kavan (1901–1968).”

Partial ‘reblog’ from everythingisnice (text & quotes by them / only the old pointless/boring pics are mine):

I had come back to investigate rumours of a mysterious impending emergency in this part of the world. But as soon as I got here she became an obsession, I could think only of her, felt I must she her immediately, nothing else mattered. Of course I knew it was utterly irrational. And so was my present uneasiness: no harm was likely to come to me in my own country; and yet I was becoming more and more anxious as I drove. (p. 6)

From the outset it is obvious that Ice is a novel about obsession but it rapidly becomes clear that it is overwhelmingly about illness. Our nameless narrator has returned to this country from business overseas and is involved with this brewing civil emergency but it is not clear what this is or what his role in it is. Government? Military? He is somehow an insider yet he seems to fear the police. It is a defining feature of the novel that the narrator is both victim and agent of authority.

It is unseasonably cold and the man at the petrol station warns him of ice as he sets off up the country lanes to visit the girl. Ethereal, blonde to the point of translucency, she is never named either. They knew each other when they were younger but she married another man:

This was past history. But the consequences of the traumatic experience were still evident in the insomnia and headaches from which I suffered. The drugs prescribed for me produced horrible dreams, in which she always appeared as a helpless victim, her fragile body broken and bruised. These dreams were not confined to sleep only, and a deplorable side effect was the way I had come to enjoy them. (p. 8-9)

So he is traumatised, hallucinating and addicted. The waking dream occurs again and again; it is always the same: she becomes trapped, entombed, in ice. “Motionless, she kept her eyes fixed on the walls moving slowly towards her, a glassy, glittering circle of solid ice, of which she was the centre.” (p. 7) Early on, the imagery recurs again and again – “Great ice-cliffs were closing in on all sides.” (p. 13); “The masses of dense foliage all round became prison walls, impassable circular green ice-walls, surging towards her.” (p. 19) – culminate in an extraordinarily intense evocation:

 “Despairingly she looked all round. She was completely encircled by the tremendous ice walls, which were made fluid by explosions of blinding light, so that they moved and changed with a continuous liquid motion, advancing in torrents of ice, avalanches as big as oceans, flooding everywhere over the doomed world. Wherever she looked, she saw the same fearful encirclement, soaring battlements of ice, an over-hanging ring of frigid, fiery, colossal waves about to collapse upon her. Frozen by the deathly cold emanating from the ice, dazzled by the blaze of crystalline ice-light, she felt herself becoming part of the polar vision, her structure becoming one with the ice and snow. As her fate, she accepted the world of ice, shining, shimmering, dead; she resigned herself to the triumph of glaciers and the death of her world.” (p. 21)

[…]

In his introduction, Priest says: “To work as allegory there has to be an exactness that the reader can grasp. In Ice the symbols are elusive, mysterious, captivating. It ends as it begins, with nothing that is practical or concluded.” If it is not an allegory, perhaps Ice is simply a wound; a raw insight into Kavan’s illness.

Continue reading “Anna Kava, Ice / Neige”

L’aventure d’un photographe / The writing of light

”Il rassemblait les photos dans un album : on y voyait des cendriers pleins de mégots, un lit défait, une tache d’humidité au mur. Il lui vint l’idée de composer un catalogue de tout ce qui existe dans le monde de réfractaire à la photographie, ce qui est laissé systématiquement hors du champs visuel non seulement des appareils photo, mais de l’humanité. Sur chaque sujet il passait des journées, épuisant des rouleaux entiers, à quelques heures d’intervalle, de façon à suivre les changements de la lumière et des ombres. Il se fixa un jour sur un coin de la chambre complètement vide, où il n’y avait rien d’autre que le tuyau du radiateur : il eut la tentation de continuer à photographier cet endroit et seulement celui-là jusqu’à la fin de ses jours.”

— Italo Calvino, L’aventure d’un photographe.

***

Pour faire entrer tout cela dans une photographie, il fallait acquérir une habileté technique extraordinaire, mais alors seulement Antonino pourrait s’arrêter de photographier. Toutes les possibilités ayant été épuisées, au moment où le cercle se refermait sur lui-même, Antonino comprit que photographier des photographies était la seule voie qui lui restait, et même la vrai voie qu’il avait obscurément cherchée jusqu’alors.

— Italo Calvino, L’aventure d’un photographe.

***

… Because once you’ve begun, there is no reason why you should stop. The line between the reality that is photographed because it seems beautiful to us and the reality that seems beautiful because it has been photographed is very narrow.   The minute you start saying something, ‘Ah, how beautiful! We must photograph it!’ you are already close to the view of the person who thinks that everything that is not photographed is lost, as if it had never existed, and that therefore, in order really to live, you must photograph as much as you can, and to photograph as much as you can you must either live in the most photographable way possible, or else consider photographable every moment of your life. The first course leads to stupidity; the second to madness.

— The Adventure of a Photographer by Italo Calvino, from Difficult Loves

Perhaps true, total photography, he thought, is a pile of fragments of private images, against the creased background of massacres and coronations.

***

In photography, we see nothing. Only the lens “sees” things. But the lens is hidden. It is not the Other 5 which catches the photographer’s eye, but rather what’s left of the Other when the photographer is absent (quand lui n’est pas la). We are never in the real presence of the object. Between reality and its image, there is an impossible exchange. At best, one finds a figurative correlation between reality and the image. “Pure” reality – if there can be such a thing – is a question without an answer. Photography also questions “pure reality.” It asks questions to the Other. But it does not expect an answer. Thus, in his short-story “The Adventure of a Photographer,”6 Italo Calvino writes: “To catch Bice in the street when she didn’t not know he was watching her, to keep her in the range of hidden lenses, to photograph her not only without letting himself be seen but without seeing her, to surprise her as if she was in the absence of his gaze, of any gaze…It was an invisible Bice that he wanted to possess, a Bice absolutely alone, a Bice whose presence presupposed the absence of him and everyone else.”7 Later, Calvino’s photographer only takes pictures of the studio walls by which she once stood. But Bice has completely disappeared. And the photographer too has disappeared. We always speak in terms of the disappearance of the object in photography. It once was; it no longer is. There is indeed a symbolic murder that is part of the photographic act. But it is not simply the murder of the object. On the other side of the lens, the subject too is made to disappear.

Jean Baudrillard – excerpt from Photography, Or The Writing Of Light
Translated, CTheory, 2000.

Shutting out the sun

Since 1999, Yuichi Hattori, a baby-cheeked counselor who studied at California State University, Northridge, has treated more than thirty hikikomori patients in the modest office attached to his house in the Tokyo suburb of Sayama, just a few minutes’ walk from a sprawling Honda auto factory. While Satoru Saito believes that involving the whole family in therapy is critical in treating hikikomori, and while Tamaki Saito often relies on drugs, Hattori believes his patients need to burst through the internal barriers that suppress their /honne/, or true feelings. Usually that means separating the patient completely from the family.

“The main cause of this problem comes from the suppression of individuality,” Hattori told me the first time we met at his clinic. “This culture does not permit you to express your individual feelings or thoughts, so you must hide them.”

All of Hattori’s patients come from middle- and upper-class households, and more than two-thirds are men. He describes his patients as emotionally starved. “They often don’t understand their own situation. Hikikomori are often like three-year-olds who wander lost in the woods,” he said. By his estimate, 60 percents of his clients have attacked one or both of their parents.

Hattori’s patients have all struggled to become model “good boys and girls” in hopes of gaining the affection of parents who not only have difficulty communicating or expressing love to each other, but who live in a society where open expressions of affection are almost never encouraged. (The psychiatrist Kawai once confided that if he ever told his wife he loved her, she would look at him as if he was crazy.)

Hattori believes hikikomori are at war with their insides, their authentic personality constantly struggling against the personality they think they must create in order to gain love. Having abandoned their own will and innate emotions, his patients suppress their natural identities. Hattori calls this adopted persona the “front personality”, and said young Japanese create this “false front” at an early age ouf of fear of abandonment should their true selves become visible. “The front personality can’t have intimate relations with others’, he explained. This front personality avoids confrontation and suppresses the patient’s authentic, individual personality, hindering a patient’s healthy emotional development. Because these children fear rejection if they let their real or “back” personalities emerge, they create false personalities in an attempt to capture parent’s attention.

Yet the patient’s core, or original, personality doesn’t completely disappear. It is actively suppressed by the front personality, which denies the conscience, critical judgement, and decision-making skills of the core self. With one personality suspended but not eliminated, the two personalities continue in constant struggle. Eventually, Hattori says, most of his patients “burn out”, emotionally exhausted from the struggle taking place whithin them. Ultimately, they become defeated, emontionless zombies.

In Hattori’s analysis, I recognized Kenji, the whispy thirty-four-year-old baseball fan whose inability to master the skill of /tatemae/ had, as he told me, kept im from engaging with others. As a teenager he remembered attending parties and laughing at jokes he didn’t think were funny, just to become an accepted part of the group. “It was another kind of bullying,” he said, “being forced to fit in… It was so tiring to keep up the pretense and to pretend to be like the others that eventually…. I just burned out.”

Hattory argues that it is natural for the conflict between “front” and “back” personalities to emerge among adolescents—especially in the stressful social environment of the school setting. Successfully developing a “false front,” or front personality, is essential for young children if they hope to survive within the rigid Japanese education system. After all, he says, look at Japanese school were children each day study from the same page of the same book as their peer in other, nearly identical classrooms, where children are usually required to wear identical, military-style uniforms; and where teachers follow a detailed set of exacting, intrusive regulations prepared by the Education Ministry and are asked to emphasize rote learning over the development of critical thinking skills. In such a system, there is little room for the deviant, someone who might “cause trouble” by expressing his own creative flair. (This thought often came to me in the grocery store, where the only cucumbers for sale in the vegetable bin were stick-straight. Where did they ship the curvy ones?) Those who can’t navigate the contradictions, who can’t develop the proper “good boy” front personality in order to fit in, who can’t keep their /honne/ under wraps, often find themselves bullied.

Hattori uses a curious procedure to draw out the “inner” self, or /honne/. Often, he takes off his oversized, rectangular glasses and rolls his office chair to within inches of the young man, staring directly into his eyes, talking to him softly, calmly, as if cooing to a pet bird. It’s Hattori’s belief that this direct gaze—a look Japanese seldom experience in daily life— can so unsettle his patient as to eventually force his hidden personality to emerge. Invariably, on the half-dozen occasions when I watched Hattori use this technique—sometimes in person, sometimes on videotape—a dramatic change in the patient’s bearing was clearly visible.

Hattory belives few Japanese therapists undestand the sort of therapy he uses, or even the nature of the syndrome, because they do not appreciate how deeply hikikomori is associated with post-traumatic stress. Hattori also believes that his patients are likely to open up and become more communicative with a Westener than with a fellow Japanese, so he invited me to attend some of his counseling sessions, after securing the patient’s approval.

During one three-hour visit to his clinic, I watched quietly from the side while Hattori worked with Mariko, a twenty-two-year-old woman who suffered from a mild form of Hikikomori. A graduate of a junior college, she could hold down the occasional odd job and had attended about one-third of her university classes. Nonetheless, she was frequently immobilized, could not form normal emotional relationships, and said any form of social conversation made her utterly exhausted. She usually stayed closeted in her bedroom.

Now, sprawled on the red cloth couch in Hattori’s office, this intelligent adult transformed herself into what seemed to me to be a whimpering five-year-old, peevishly kicking her legs out in an obvious bid for attention. Sometimes, she seemed torpid and tranquil, a needy child in search of love. At other moments, she lashed out, saying she wanted to kill her father.

“He’s a coward, he’s not respectable,” Mariko said, spitting out her anger. “I can never undestand what he’s thinking.” Later, in a distant, trancelike state, she described his emotional absence. “He never played with me. I don’t want to become like him.” Prompted by Hattori, she vividly recalled the time when she was a small child, and her father put ugly cicada bugs on her arms, frightening her as she watched television. During those three hours, Mariko often wriggled her shoulderes, hunched up her back, narrowed her gaze, and turned into a grade-school student, her face flushed, describing how she tried to fit into a group without being bullied. “I wasn’t allowed to make mistakes,” she whined.

“I wanted to express myself, but I couldn’t. I played a role so I wouldn’t be bullied by others, but I got very tired trying to keep up appearances.

“When kids get bullied the parents should understand, but they don’t,” she whimpered. “They yell at their kids and tell them to fit in. I only wanted to be regarded as a normal person.”

During this therapy session, Mariko told Hattori that she worried about what others thought of her. “I don’t want to be an adult, I want to be a spoiled child, I want to be indulged,” she said to the therapist dreamily, as if under hypnosis. “I wanted to commit suicide, but couldn’t go through with it.”

— Michael Zielenziger, Shutting out the sun, how Japan created its own lost generation

 

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shuttingout-3

Tokyo Cyberpunk; Kairo, Avalon

tokyo-cp1

tokyo-cp2

 

 

As Carl Gustav Horn has pointed out, in sharp contrast to The Matrix, which offers the “Gnostic revelation of a life revealed to be a dream, to be escaped into reality,” for Oshii “there is no difference between dreams and reality, and escape is a concept without referent; a wish that is a waste of time, for… there is no outside.” Indeed, Oshii has gone out of his way to distinguish Avalon from Hollywood films about virtual reality, such as The Matrix, which always reinstate the metaphysics of reality in the end: “Hollywood films about reality always end with a return to the real world. However, because those real worlds exist inside film, they themselves are lies. Reality is a questionable thing. I didn’t want to do a movie where the characters returned to reality. The reality we experience is an illusion inside the heart of each individual…. For me personally, Ash’s imaginary world is not really any different from what i conceive as my real world. I don’t make any clear distinction.“

— Tokyo Cyberpunk, Consensual hallucinations and the phantoms of electronic presence, “Welcome to Class Real”

 

When Kawashima returns to the computer lab to consult Harue further, she shows him a computer-generated model of social interaction. Harue advices Kawashima not to stare it too long, explaining that if two dots get too close to one another, they die, but if they get too far apart, they are drawn closer. Back at Kawashima’s apartment, Harue sugests that, like the computer simulation, humans may try to connect, but they do not really connect, living separately: “Each of us is living in a disconnected manner [Hitori hitori barabara ni ikiteiru].”
Later, in her apartement, Harue continues this line of conversation, offering strong social commentary on the disintegration of the Japanese familly structure, by telling Kawashima that she feels “no connection [kankei nai]” since she is always alone. The fact that we barely see any traces of familly in the entire film (the only exception being a brief scene involving Michi’s mother who scolds her for making no attempt to contact her father, despite living in the same city) underscores the lack of connection felt by the characters. In this scene, framing and composition are used to good effect to underscore the gulf that seperates Harue from Kawashima. As is the case in many of his films, Kurosawa uses doorframes and window frames to differentiate the spaces inhabited by his characters and to emphasize “the isolation of his characters, their distance from one another.” Harue continues her reflections on the death of the social by telling Kawashima that she fears one might be all alone in death, just as one is essentially alone in life. The possibility that nothing changes in death, that one is always alone, wether in life or death, Harue finds the most terrifying ideal of all. Harue Wonders if the eternal now of loneliness—this incessant isolation and sollipsism in life and death—is what it means to be a ghost. […] Harue points to all the solitary Internet users appearing like digital monads via Webcam on the array of computers monitors situated around her apartement and asks how they are different from ghosts: “Are they really alive?” she asks. She concludes that people and ghosts are the same, whether dead or alive. In her view, the plethora of aimless, isolated Internet users demonstrates that ghosts are not just a metaphor for the dead, they are also a metaphor for the loss of human connection, for the desperate attempt to make contact but the eternal impossibility of fully doing so. When Harue looks at the ghostlike, solitary individuals who appear like empty shells via Webcam on the “Would you like to see meet a ghost?“ Web site, it is clear that she also sees herself reflected on the screen.

In interviews, the director has suggested that, in addition to their lack of connection, ghosts are also distinguished by their lack of emotion: “i’ve never seen a ghost [yurei] first-hand, but i don’t believe that ghosts are full of hatred or resentement or anger. They’re commonly portrayed to be filled with emotion, but i think that ghosts are beings that lack human emotion and personality. They’re human-like, but all the emotional elements of a normal person are missing. They’re empty shells. That’s what scares me when it comes to ghosts.” In this way, Kurosawa offers of conception of “yurei” (ghosts, specters, apparitions, or phantoms) that is worlds away from the representation of ghosts as “evil spirits” purveyed in Hollywood.
Harue does not believe that ghosts are setting out to kill people  because they would simply create more ghosts. Instead she suggests that ghosts may be trying to make peple immortal “by quietly trapping them in their own loneliness.” The fact that Harue later commits suicide in the film right before Kawashima’s eyes underscores the nihilistic feelings of isolation and lack of connectin that she expresses in this scene.
[…]
The electronic circuit (kairo) is not only a metaphor in the film for the technological means by which ghosts pass into the world of the living but also an allegory for our loss of connection with one another in an increasingly technological world. However, rather than simply offering a retread of Nakata Hideo’s Ringu (1998), Kurosawa raises techno-horror to another level by underscoring its sociological subtexts, situating the narrative of Kairo in terms of a social disorder known as hikikomori (literally, a combination of “pull away” and “seclude onself”) that is plaguing contemporary Japanese society.

[…]
Those affecter by the disorder often cut off communication not only with the outside world but also with familly members, even going so far as to eat meals alone in their darkened rooms. When Harue tells Kawashima that she feels no connection to her familly and that she is “living in a disconnected manner [barabara ni iketeiru],” broken apart from others, she uses the language and expressions of a hikikomori.
[….]
And Japanese novelist Murakami Ryu, who has written a novel and numerous essays about the problem of hikikomori, agrees:

So maybe Japan’s socially withdrawn kids are a harbinger of a new way of life, one forged by the vast changes in the country has undergone in recent years. Japanese society is caught in a paradox: it is concerned with the increase of socially withdrawn kids, while at thte same time it applauds the gizmos like the new Sony PlayStation, which comes equipped with an internet terminal and a DVD player. Technology like that has made it possible to produce animated movies and graphics, as well as conduct commercial transactions, without ever stepping outside the house. It inevitably fixes people in their individual space. In this information society, none of us can be free from being somewhat socially withdrawn…. “Socially withdrawn” people find it extremely painful to communicate with the outside world, and thus they turn to the tools that bring virtual reality in their closed rooms.
Although it is too simplistic to suggest that technology alone is to blame for the current plight of the hikikomori, there is no question that the “the TV’s and computers and videogames that hikimori rely on to fill out the tedious hours” are serious enablers of their self-imposed seclusion.
[…]
Hikikomori experts have speculated that modern Japanese society has sown the seeds of its own social disorders in many ways, due to a compounding of multiple factors. First, Japanese working conditions have effectively cut off a father from inteacting with his child, thereby creating the conditions for codependency with the mother (know as amae). Second, Japanese society puts extreme pressure on young people to succeed academically and perpetuate the status quoi. Third, the recession that has plagued the Japanese economy since the 1990s has undercut the expectations of lifetime employment most commonly associated with postindustrial ideals of Japan’s status quoi. Whatever its causes, the silent epidemic of social withdrawal is wreaking havoc on the social fabric of Japanese society and creating a “lost generation” of shut-ins that will place enormous stress on Japan’s health and welfare systems in the years ahead.

— Tokyo Cyberpunk, Consensual Hallucinations and the Phantoms of Electronic Presence in Kairo and Avalon, Letting In Ghosts, Shutting Out The Sun

 

Anaïs Nin, Anna Kavan

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“I have always admired Anna Kavan among the few writers who dared to explore the nocturnal world of our dreams, fantasies, and imagination. It takes courage and great skill in expression. As the events of the world prove the constancy of irrationalism, it becomes absurd to treat such events with rational logic. But people prefer to accept the notion of the absurd rather than to search for the meaning, the symbolic act which is quite clear in whoever is willing to decipher the unconscious. R.D. Laing writes in The Politics of Experience: ‘We all live in hope that authentic meetings between human beings can still occur. Psychotherapy consists in the paring away of all that stands between us, the props, masks, roles, lies, defenses, anxieties, projections ,and introjections, in short, all the carry-over from the past. Transference and countertransference that we use by habit and collusion, wittingly or unwittingly, as our currency for relationship.’

The writer who follows the designs and patterns of the unconscious achieves the same revelation. From the very first Anna Kavan went into this realm with The House of Sleep (a significant beginning) then with a classic equal to the works of Kafka titled Asylum Piece, in which the non-rational human beings caught in a web of unreality still struggle to maintain a dialogue with those who cannot understand them. In later books the waking dreamers no longer try, they simply tell of their adventures. They live in isolation with their shadows, hallucinations, prophesies. We admire the deep sea divers exploring the depths of the sea. We do not admire enough those who are able to describe their nocturnal experiences. Those who demonstrate that the surface does not contain a key to authentic experience, that the truth lies in what we feel and not what we see, or how we see it. Familiarity with inner landscapes would in the end illume the mysteries of the human mind. The scientist can report psychological findings but the writer has been there. His is a first hand report. And this is not a personal, unique voyage to the antipodes of the mind—the unconscious is a universal ocean in which all of us have roots.”

— Anaïs Nin, from The Novel of the Future amended to serve as an Introduction to Ice (not used so far) /via housesofsleep.tumblr.com

 

Illustration:

Ice-inspired illustration: a halucinatory half-frozen diorama, built and photographed by Kris Hofmann. The scene was built inside a kind of huge aquarium, filled with water, and photographed from every side as it slowly froze solid.