I finally got around to listening to Japandroids’s “Celebration Rock.” Maybe it was because it was 3 in the morning, or maybe it was because of a general feeling of lostness (which is, contrary to my expectations, a real word), but something about the tunes, especially the opener “The Nights of Wine and Roses,” struck a chord with me.
The song’s an ode to those wound-away hours, to a nostalgia for a present that’s still recent enough to not have been registered as past. Which is an absurd thing to write, because anything that’s not the immediate present has to be the past, at least if you’re going to be correct about it.
… I’m reminded of a debate I recently had with my friends about the nature of time travel, and of the construction of the universe itself. We weren’t approaching it from a theoretical physics analysis because ha, none of us can truly wrap our heads around that stuff. It was more about the philosophical implications of such-and-such ideas concerning time travel, the ending of the world, and other dinner-worthy topics.
I’m pretty sure we freaked out the diners at the table next to us. Sorry not sorry. These are the kinds of things to which I wish more people gave thought. If everybody thought about im/mortality more often, the expectations placed on life, on living, would be so different.
I like having these sorts of conversations with my friends; this past Sunday, while scarfing down chicken and waffles at Roscoe’s, we got into a discussion as to the varied overlapping natures of the Seven Deadly Sins (a conversation in which my friend Daniella gently chided my overbearing fascination with words not in relation to each other but as vessels of meaning in themselves — “Lily Min Breaks Down Arcane Language”). I contended that any Deadly Sin was simply an overextension of a particular line of sin, e.g. Sloth is too much complacency, Lust is too much physical pleasure.
Funnily enough, even though we went over them in class, I cannot for the life of me remember any of the Four Cardinal Virtues except Temperance. Whoops.
… I’m reading over what I’ve written so far, and I sound like Izzy from Digimon Gen. 1. How clinical of me.
Speaking of Digimon, ohhhh man. Daniella and I are watching the Digimon animated series from the beginning at least through to Gen./Series 3, and as someone who doesn’t remember much of her original go at the show, everything that’s happening is messing with my mind. To be crass but truthful, that shit is deep, and there are moments that I wish many adult shows would take the same leap of faith that Digimon and other comparable kids’ shows (“Adventure Time,” anyone) do and just run with it.
Like, I don’t want to see a bunch of (largely) pretty white people get into romantic entanglements and do illegal things. Take me somewhere new; show me something that I’ve never seen before, and couldn’t have imagined on my own.
Tangent over. I always like to compare fictional characters to real-life people, so I’ve been trying to glean my Digimon self from the Gen. 1 cast. I personally feel a kinship to Sora, because, among other things, she’s pretty level-headed but is prone to bouts of self-doubt and panic. And while she’s always longed for a boundless freedom (in particular, from her mother’s gendered expectations), now that she has that freedom (to an extent), she’s grappling with the responsibilities that come along with it.
Another part of the reason I dig Sora: ‘sup, Boy.
But the thing that gets me about all of the characters and all of the characterizations going on in the show is just how real shit gets. Like, all of Izzy’s stuff with his parents? And the way that Matt shoulders all of the traditionally parental responsibility over TK, even though he’s just a kid himself? And god, the way that tensions run like fissures within the group, and the lightning spark reactions that ignite ignorant tempers and force the kids to confront their personal failures and fears…
This is fucking good storytelling, that’s what’s up. Yeah yeah, hate on the show all you want (“Pokemon is better!!!”), but the interplay between the real world and the digital world is something that was waaaaay ahead of its time. These days, so many people are plugged into the Internet, and create and use identities that are outside of their own selves. We live different lives online—this is a concept that Digimon touches upon due in part to its implicit premise (the digital world exists in parallel to but always within the real world) and to its increasingly dire narrative arcs.
I used to read a lot of manga and watch a lot of anime back in middle and high school. A lot of people dismiss animation as children’s play, but I dare anyone to watch “Cowboy Bebop” or “Fullmetal Alchemist” or hell, even “Adventure Time” and dismiss it as something just for children.
In the case of anime, a lot of these shows start off as manga, and the mangas that I like in particular are of the shonen kind, which are ostensibly targeted to a young male audience… whoops. Anyway, these manga often start out as humorous stories built on exotic or absurd premises, like magic-wielding ninjas in Naruto or whatever the hell Gintama started out as.
But then, shit starts to get serious. I call those sudden narrative twists into seriousness “Soul Society Arcs,” named after a storyline from the manga Bleach. This is the moment when suddenly, all the fun and games are out. In Naruto, this is when the gang goes to save Sasuke. In Soul Eater, this is the emergence of Arachne and Asura. In Fullmetal Alchemist… “Papa.”
“Just for children,” my ass. But even when I was a child, my mama used to scold me for indulging too heavily in these fictional universes. To be fair though, she had that mindset about all fiction, not just anime and manga—she once caught me reading “Fight Club” instead of doing homework, and because Brad Pitt as Tyler Durden was on the cover of the book, she thought I was reading some gossip trash and yelled at me for not caring about school (which was a totally unfair judgment, because while I’ve sometimes been a bad student, I’ve never actively impeded my learning… just neglected certain subjects) (oh man, pre-calc and chem).
But I’ve always been a voracious reader, and I’ve always had a special affinity for stories that mirror our current state of affairs, without explicitly tracing them. It’s the interactions between people, the pushes and pulls of morality and sin, the complex traditions and subversions that exist within society and culture… these are the things that make the unreal alive, even as the so-called “real world” keeps spinning on.
Once upon a time, my 7th grade French teacher (what up, Ms. VanHouten) noticed that I wasn’t paying attention in class. The cause of my distraction: a copy of Stephen King’s “It,” which I was trying to surreptitiously read while holding the novel inside the cubby hole of my desk. Before she saw what book it was, she chewed me out in front of the class. Then, when I turned over the novel in question, she did a double take, and told me to carry on.
(Image: Untitled by Mary Jane Ansell)