Monday, June 29, 2015

漫画 Running Scared Back Cover

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Let me know if you'd like a paper copy of this comic book!
Fait-moi savoir si vous veuilliez une copie de cette bande-dessinée en papier.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

模倣子 The Short-Circuiting of Female Power

It occurs to me that two great expressions of women's oppression are "slut shaming" and "the cult of childbearing".

Men are hunters, which means they have to constantly wait for opportunity and prepare for the unknown as best they can. This effectively means that men have little power to act absent said opportunity.  In the sexual realm, men are not "sexual warriors" as has been vapidly said, but more like "sexual ladies-in-waiting".

Women have the power to create new human beings, and those new children are automatically loyal to their mother. Women can create this love and family and community around them through their own volition, as an act of their own will. Men have no such power. Further, women can access the sexual attention of men anytime they choose. Again, men lack this power. Women can offer (or withhold) their love and nurturance, e.g., their breasts, etc., to their children, and sexual access to themselves to their lovers, and this gives them unique power that they may exercise of their own free will.

Women take for granted that they have this power, that their children and men crave this closeness with them as a biological imperative, but this may be another discussion.

A Japanese coworker once mentioned to me that he was going on a SCUBA trip with his ex-wife. Of course, I found this intriguing and asked why he still had this contact. He explained that he was infertile, that his wife wanted to have children, so she divorced him (amicably) and got another man, and that they were still friends and kept doing the things that they did before the divorce, e.g., going on SCUBA holidays together and so forth.

As usual, the Japanese show themselves to be the great pragmatists, and this story is probably not unusual in Japan. As it happens, I looked into sperm donation in Japan, and it is rather more involved than in the US. A woman must be married to be eligible, and she must receive a "cocktail" of sperm, i.e., not just the sperm of a single man.

American women, of course, can get whatever sperm they like from a sperm bank with no real legal constraints, nowadays, at least. Failing that, any random man will suffice, of course.

So women who are married to an infertile man, or who are otherwise in love with one, or with one who is otherwise genetically  "unfit" are still free to exercise their natural female powers of fertility.  There is no male equivalent to this. A man who is for whatever reason, usually the absence of a woman who will have him, may become a sperm donor, but is not guaranteed that he will be able to pass on his genes to children -- it is still women who have the absolute power of decision in this matter -- and he will almost certainly never even see these children, or even know that they exist. In other words, men have no power to guarantee that they will not always be completely alone.

We could also touch on how women have tremendous power, even in US society, to forge friendship bonds with other women, including lesbian ones, and of course with men, largely free of the homophobia which is mainly (certainly when it comes to violence) directed at men. Women are not in competition with one another in the way that men are. There is no such thing as cuckolding a woman. Women can effectively share a man or multiple men in terms of fertility, certainly, and so do not compete with one another in this regard, while for a man, dedicating himself to a woman (or women) who gets pregnant by another man is complete reproductive disaster. By the same token, for the other man (or men), it's a reproductive bonanza. In other words, men are in competition with one another in a way that is beyond the ken of women.

This brings us to the twin oppressions of "slut shaming" and "the cult of fertility". Women's two main biological, nature-given powers of avoiding loneliness and garnering power for themselves, namely, creating their own little army of children and grandchildren, and the natural power they have over all men, are undermined by these twin notions that having children is the highest and greatest thing a woman can and should do, and that a woman who exercises the powers of her own sexuality is the worst sort of woman, i.e., a "slut".

Men don't care about either of these things, by the way. Men crave the society of women, so a woman who is accessible is prized. Of course, the issue of being cuckolded eventually rears its head, but for the most part, "slut shaming" comes from other women, not from men. Indeed, a woman who is by contrast, "virtuous", i.e., only sees one man and withholds sensuality, engenders frustration, jealousy, and rivalry in men, while a "slut" does the exact opposite, and yet she is shamed and attacked. By the same token, a woman who is infertile, or who simply doesn't want to have children, is subject to oppression from other women, shaming, exclusion, ostracization, judgement, unfavorable comparison.  There are men who seek women who want to have children, and men who don't. As long as woman is not pursuing a man who is of the opposite inclination to her own, there are plenty of men of either type for her to choose from. Lesbians are also free to make this choice, where gay men are not -- as always, they have to depend upon women for their own sexual self-expression, even as homosexuals.

Men also suffer from "slut-shaming" and the worship of the "cult of fertility".  Men like "sluts" and are shamed for this, as well as for associating with them. Men can't have babies and so, like women who are infertile by choice, or, like men, by biology, are tarred with the same brush and excluded from the "club" with equal callousness and cruelty.

And so, once again, we see how women are hoist on their own twin petards of "slut-shaming" and "worship of fertility", which are almost exclusively internalized oppression, i.e., promulgated by women themselves and not from any outside group. These two behaviors splinter women as a group politically, undermining their power both as individuals and to act together, and alienate men, who would otherwise be willing allies, indeed, they engender distrust and even hatred of women among men. Women are just as smart and capable as men, and yet we hear post nauseam about how some group of women just recently found this out in some specific area, e.g., military training, engineering, etc. It's truly tragic the lies our society tells women about what they can and cannot do. One of the greatest examples of this is that women's "sexual superpowers", e.g., having babies, nurturance, and seduction, are touted as the be-all and end-all of womanhood, rather than the building of a personality, skills, and experience, which is the standard to which men are held.

If everything is taken away from them, women still have their ability to be mothers. Men, of course, have nothing, but that's another issue. The fact that "slut-shaming" and "the cult of fertility" are still so much in the forefront of the public mind leads me to worry that women are still backed pretty far into the corner. One hears rhetoric about the evils of "slut-shaming" (but little about the "worship of fertility") and I fail to see that so-called "Feminists" and self-described women's liberationists are making much headway, or even paying much attention. They focus too much on men, even where men are arguably not the problem, and indeed would probably be of no small help in solving it.

漫画 Yoko Tsuno & Valerian

A French buddy of mine had a stack of Yoko Tsuno bandes-dessinées in his childhood room when I stayed there.  Like me, he ended up marrying a Japanese woman and getting a Japanese son off her.  Maybe this was his inspiration (I don't know what mine was...yet).

I would like to get the complete collection (in French) of this series.

And it seems that Luc Besson is going to make a movie based on another famous French sci-fi comic, Valérian.  I'd like to get that series as well.

Funny how French comics (and Japanese even moreso) have a lot of well-developed, three-dimensional female heroïnes. Rather like the comics on this page, I guess. Funny, that. I wonder what it means?

Friday, June 26, 2015

More Female Privilege...

Okay, so the gals get nice flowers next to their bathroom (as usual), and the guys get told not to smoke -- because you know that if you don't tell guys not to do some stupid, anti-social thing, they're going to do it for sure -- that's just the way guys are (they're assholes, right?).

Mushrooms Around Moscow

Japanese Class

Still translating the manga, this time the Monty Python sketch in there. Yes, we are translating Monty Python into Japanese!

 Using the bubble diagram to re-assemble the long British sentences back into long Japanese sentences.

 Conversational Japanese -- not direct translations this time.
Again, start with translations of phrases, link them together with bubble diagrams...and transcribe!!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

模倣子 You can't take back what wasn't yours

Memetic Index

Poet and author Tiffany Midge recently wrote a critique of racist iconography which offers a light-shedding look at two subtly different forms of racist icons, i.e., coöpted icons and constructed icons. Her critique questions the validity of "Taking Back Tigerlily" as an activist direction for Native American liberation.

"Rehabilitation" means "to return to a state of being useful". Midge argues that the concept of "rehabilitating" the icon of the Indian Princess Tiger Lily and the other racist images, e.g, Little Black Sambo, Aunt Jemimah, et al, is fundamentally absurd since these icons were originally invented from whole cloth for the express purpose of neatly anchoring racist stereotypes for easy consumption by [ethnic North-Western European] members of the mainstream majority. Hence, by definition, "rehabilitation" or "taking back" such images can only mean something vaguely like returning them to their original function of ensconcing and promulgating racism.

Some images are best forgotten...perhaps.

Slavoj Žižek discusses the practical notion of "liberating" iconography from [racist] ideological frameworks, in particular the mostly Christian and military imagery coöpted by the Nazis. By "enjoying" these icons as pure, minimal, "atomic" elements, we can return them to their pre-ideological state and thereby fight Naziïsm. 

If you want to take back the swastika as a Christian and Buddhist symbol, Žižek points out a way to do it. However, you may want to leave it as a reminder of the atrocities committed by the Nazis. The images of the concentration camps can never be liberated precisely because they were invented for the horrid purpose they served, not coöpted from positive preëxisting popular iconography to paper over and legitimize the racist radicalism of the Nazi movement. It's something of a digression but nonetheless telling to point out that when asked where they got the ideas for their concentration camps and gulags and how to run them efficiently, the Nazis and the Soviets replied that they looked to the American Reservation and Boarding School system for inspiration. However, this cannot be seen as an iconic imitation, but a purely functional one, adapted to the requirements of the two régimes.

Going back to racist iconography, I see the crux of Midge's dialectic as being that Princess Tiger Lily has no pre-ideological state, hence she cannot be liberated in the Žižekian sense. She is an ideologically constructed icon. There is no Princess Tiger Lily free of racist ideology, hence there is no place to take her "back to" -- the whole notion is fundamentally absurd.

Midge makes her case. I would take one step further and suggest that rather than the nonsensical "taking back" proposal, some kind of "transformation of Tiger Lily" might be attempted. Although not absurd, it may nonetheless be just as much a fool's errand, since when we omit the muteness, the stereotypical costume, the passivity, the simplicity, etc., New Tiger Lily ceases to resonate with mainstream culture, i.e., she is no longer an anchor for racist stereotypes around Natives and no longer says "I am an Indian" to the majority. Why not just invent a new, positive Indian Woman icon from whole cloth (as the racist designers of Tiger Lily did) rather than try to tinker and fiddle with the language and tools of the oppressor to make them less offensive? It is a losing game, since as soon as you engage in the discussion you are sucked into the ideological framework in which racism and oppression are the norm.

I see this as the failing of many liberation movements, and I think Midge hits the nail on the head by pointing out that while, yes, you can liberate iconography as Žižek points out, the idea of liberating icons constructed by the oppressor, as opposed to coöpted by him, is fundamentally absurd, and so we must choose our icons carefully before we decide how and whether to attack them. The "Take Back Tiger Lily" crowd do not get down to specifics as to how, and if they did they might immediately see that they have chosen their target badly.

漫画 Throwdown Saves the Project from Carl

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Friday, June 19, 2015

模倣子 TOOL 映画Until The Light Takes Us

The first time I watched the film, Until the Light Takes Us, I found it rather rambling, perhaps self-indulgent, even vapid, but on my second viewing I had a very different opinion. Still, I found myself wanting more illumination of the music itself -- I felt that it was only briefly covered in terms of chording and make-up and iconoclastic "bad" production techniques, e.g., bad amps, using headphones as microphone, using dictaphone to record rifs, "necro-sound", and so forth. Also the lyrics were not covered.
The scenes where Gylve "Fenris" Nagell was walking around the exhibit by Bjarne Melgarde were sort of boring, I think, because there was no explanation of the context of the images and Fenris didn't really say much at all.  Could've had more content and been more tightly edited.  It seemed like the film was going to center around the development of this exhibit, but it didn't, it was like a sideline, where it could've been an anchor.  This may have contributed to my initial impression that the film was disorganized.
I was, however, very interested in the coverage of the relationships between the individuals and the details of their lives.  The coverage of the fellow, Per Yngue "Dead" Ohlin, who developed, I believe, the "corpse paint" and who would be carried on stage in a coffin, and blew his brains out, quite literally, with a shotgun. It was an interesting digression of the film from what I saw as the main theme, i.e., protest and dissidence from the invasion of Norway by Christianity, or as was termed, the "Middle East Plague".
I thought a lot about the political nature of burning churches. It's such an interesting way of attacking what could be perceived as the "core values" of a society without actually hurting anybody or by impacting the economic life of the society. Varg mentioned how it's hard to know how to oppose something, and how dissident voices are not tolerated.
As a sideline, I wondered about women in Metal, and come to that, it was of course presupposed that young men would be the only participants in the church burnings, for one. Monika Kruze in the German Techno scene for a long time. But that was the only mention of women in this kind of musical scene during the Fenris interview. Are there women in Metal? Why or why not? Why are we always shocked when women take part in social protest, even when the subject is only their own liberation? Women are perhaps just always assumed to be perfectly happy all the time, regardless of the reality of their situation. This is probably a very fraught and deep subject, and not touched on during the film, which may be telling, but I digress...
In the Middle East, and also in Europe of the mid-eighties, and the terror attacks in the nineties in the US, the terror attacks tend to be more nihilistic, although the Norwegian church burnings were perhaps characterized as so even though they are arguably the opposite. It's interesting how well Christianity, as opposed to American Capitalism, defends itself against such physical and ideological attacks. How did Christianity defend itself? As Varg "Count Grishnackt" Vikerner put it, they wanted us to be Satanists.  Satan is a ready-made catch-all for badness which must be absolutely and unquestionably opposed, so attaching it to anybody who is a dissident is a handy, low-cost way of immediately and totally marginalizing these undesirable persons.  Drug and sex crimes perform a similar function in secular society and jurisprudence. Characterizing the opposition and "on the side of Satan" automatically kicks in the Christian ideological immune system, so to speak. American Capitalism no doubt has similar icons (MIAOs) but that's a side issue, again, to the film itself, although it did mention the invasion of American Capitalism as something they opposed.
Karl van Wolferen's The Enigma of Japanese Power puts forward the idea that Japan may only be characterized in terms of a gigantic formless monolithic "system" which includes everything except the Communist Party and the Teacher's Union, having assimilated, for example, the Women's Consumer League back in the early seventies. Everything must be assimilated, Borg-like, their values considered and integrated into the whole in exchange for peaceful coöperation.
In the West, we make this contrast with the East and see this analysis as strange, though I would say it's wholly accurate, and that our power structures are different, more "sensible" (whatever that means), more easily subject to analysis, more logical, more "fair" (again, whatever that means). We see the adversariality of Western political and judicial and economic life as a positive quality, evidence of our respect for the search for truth and the right to free speech. As in Hamlet, we perhaps "protest too much" and if you have to mention something over and over again, it is probably strong evidence that the opposite of what you're saying is true. The adversariality of the Western exercise of power may be so much dross and window-dressing, giving the illusion of fairness and choice, but then again, the West arguably lacks the lengthy history of tradition and so is more "fearful" of non-conformatism, ironically, since it vaunts its love for individuality, the British and the Americans particularly.
Back to the church burnings and the contrast between nihilistic terrorism and this new kind of terrorism, a purely demonstrative terrorism. It's interesting, because the Black Metal church burnings can almost be compared to the opposite of a neutron bomb, which kills all the people but leaves the buildings standing, in that it destroys the building, the symbol, but leaves the people, their children, and their economic livelihoods standing. It provides a great shock, in that people might feel the ground cut away beneath them, but in fact it harms no one.
Israël has been attacked by terrorists who shot up their schools, killing children.  The Israëli response, of course, was to arm the teaches and the attacks stopped overnight. Attacks in the US like Columbine and Newtown and elsewhere are also nihilistic in that they provide maximal shock value and harm people in such a way, killing and putting their children at extreme risk such that they have to react, but they do so without reflection. It's hard for Americans to look at the September 11 attacks and say "Oh, this is so shocking, we should really look at our colonial policies and change them that it not happen again" or when somebody goes crazy or whatever and shoots up a school, the reaction is, reasonably, "we have to stop this immediately and make sure it never happens again" instead of "we should look at the wrong things that caused this and work to change them".
I am not a big fan of the concept of intention.  It's a bad thing to burn a church, carry out a terrorist attack, or shoot up a school, or such. The intention of the shooter or the arsonist does not matter. It's still bad, no matter what. All that matters is the impact that the action has, usually on the population, or perhaps the government. Typical terrorist attacks are a kind of political sledgehammer, and produce clumsy reactions in the targeted populations. Unless Osama bin Laden or others intend (whatever that means) to cause the West to wage all-out war on the Middle East, on Islam, and to thereby exhaust themselves and destroy what is left of their claim to moral character and the so-called "democratic values" which make their societies worthwhile. The point is that such acts of terrorism hit the victim where he lives, and he has to react strongly to defend himself, so it is just like regular war, maybe one step below a guerrilla.
The church burnings are different. Nobody gets hurt. Nobody comes to his storefront on Monday morning to find it burned out so that he can't make his living. There are no family members to rush to the hospital or to mourn over. Even the government is not hurt since churches don't pay taxes and such. It's a dramatic and destructive gesture against the mainstream society, but in the end everybody can just shrug and they don't have to rebuild since it doesn't make any difference, unlike when you must rebuild if your home or business is destroyed, or if your family or friends are killed and you must seek justice or revenge. Even if only the schools themselves are burned down, the children must still be looked after, so the impact on society is huge.
Even if you applaud the actions of the hacker group Anonymous, they still attack businesses and governments, so there are victims and the need to rebuild afterwards, even if they take the political message to heart when they do so. With a church, there really is no real impact to anybody.
It's interesting commentary that such things like church burnings don't happen more often, that we should see this Norwegian experience as such a strange thing. It says interesting things about the nature of Christianity and the power it has in our society.
I initially thought that Varg's comment about their focus on the idea that in order to build something new you have to destroy the old was facile and cliché, but after my second viewing of the film, I came to see that the ugliness of the Black Metal aesthetic was not really about the idea that everybody has to worship death and cut themselves and listen to extreme and ugly music and worship Satan (which was a mischaracterization anyway), but more about portraying some kind of a contrast and counterpoint to mainstream modern Christianity and also an unmasking of the ugliness beneath the pious surface, and that this counterpoint was put forward as a transitional state, a stepping stone, to some other place which could not be clearly identified since it cannot be defined in terms of comparison and contrast to the current norm, since such a comparison would ultimately limit and distort and pollute it.
Even if the counterpoint is "sloppily" constructed, i.e., it is not based of any sort of thorough and well-considered deconstruction of Christianity per se, anything that is perceived as being "against" Christianity will serve that purpose, however nihilistic or slapdash it may be.
But the system continues to defend itself. Gylve pointed out that the sales of black lipstick skyrocketed after the church burnings started, and he lamented the coöption of Black Metal by posers. "People like dress-up" as he said.  Assimilation of the superficial trappings eviserates the basic message. So, much like the Women's Consumer's League of Japan, Black Metal, or a facsimile indistinguishable by the uninitiated, becomes part of the mainstream society. However, unlike the adventure of the Japanese Women's Consumer League, in assimilating them Japanese industry did take their ideas and truths to heart, and mercury-poisoned babies missing limbs and eyes stopped being born.  Western children may yet have to wait for their system to admit truth and soften heart.

Another recent famous Norwegian domestic terrorist attack was the Anders Behring Breivik incident in 2011 and his 1,500-page manifesto that went along with it.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

漫画 覚え方は模倣子を運ぶ

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Monday, June 15, 2015

"I am the bread of life..."

"...none cometh to salvation but through me..."

This is a loaf of bread perched right on the bumper of the car in front of me on the Moscow-Pullman Highway.  I figured it was probably a message from God.

I had this epiphany:
Message from higher power: hey, if I can pull off random shit like this, don't you think I can take care of your stupid little problems? By the way, bread (as in the loaf sitting on the bumper) is le pain in French. If you stop holding onto your pain, it will fall away like a loaf of bread on the back bumper of an SUV doing 70 on the Moscow-Pullman highway (for example). In other words,wake up and let go and let God, dumbass! What more do you want? A fleece that's wet with morning dew on one side and dry on the other?

I had other thoughts, like, that this was the universe trying to get my attention.  Maybe that in itself is a measure of how wrapped around the axels I've been lately, i.e., that if the universe has to try this hard to get my attention, then just how far out in the weeds am I?  I've always been a mystic, so these kinds of moments of direct communion are always magical.

Maybe that's it. Just trying to get my attention. The surreal imposed on top of the real to shake me out of my preöccupation.

The other message I perceived from my higher power is that maybe the answer to all of my problems and worries over the past few months is not that the couple of jerk-wad, truly evil people who've been messing up my life during this time, causing my headaches and neck pain and other sicknesses, be sentenced to death and crucified or beheaded on the steps of City Hall in front of God and everyone and me with my jumbo popcorn front row center to enjoy the show.  No, maybe the answer looks more like a loaf of bread sitting on the bumper of a car going 70 miles per hour, and that it happens to be there right at the same time as me, so that I can see it, and maybe it's special and somehow means something that I noticed, and maybe nobody else this morning did.  Maybe nobody but me.

I have these arguments with my higher power. One of the benefits of being in a state of passive-aggressive, control-freaky, paranoid, delusional, narcissistic denial is that I can lose these arguments, admit that I'm wrong, but then turn around and keep doing the same thing, i.e., fretting and worrying and stewing about things over which I have no control.

Giving up these fantasies is a way to let the loaf of bread happen.  At least I was open-minded enough to notice it, to entertain the possibility.

My higher power can do stuff. One lesson is that she can make things happen, and that they may be totally random things that seem meaningless at the time but which resolve things, and which I would never have thought of or have been able to bring about. I had to take a picture this morning (I wish it were in better focus -- the video was blurry as well) to remind me, and that's why I'm writing about it now, too.  I don't want to forget, because I think it's important, or at least something I can meditate on for a while.  Some people say "Well, if you forgot it, then it must not have been so important".  I say they're wrong. Life-changing epiphanies are what they are because they are novel, they don't happen every day, and because we don't expect them, they are hard to remember and hard to hold onto, and we have to make an effort to remember them, to write them down. If it were so clear to us what we needed to change our lives, then we would've changed them already. That's why we need to make an effort to hang onto these special moments of clarity.

"Don't work at serenity, loaf  at serenity."

Star Trek Joke

Q: How many members of the U.S.S. Enterprise does it take to change a light bulb?

A: Seven. Scotty has to report to Captain Kirk that the light bulb in the Engineering Section is getting dim, at which point Kirk will send Bones to pronounce the bulb dead (although he'll immediately claim that he's a doctor, not an electrician).

Scotty, after checking around, realizes that they have no more new light bulbs, and complains that he "canna" see in the dark. Kirk will make an emergency stop at  the next uncharted planet, Alpha Regula IV, to procure a light bulb  from the natives, who, are friendly, but seem to be hiding something.

Kirk, Spock, Bones, Yeoman Rand and two red shirt security officers beam down to the planet, where the two  security officers are promply killed by the natives, and the rest of the landing party is captured.

As something begins to develop between the Captain and Yeoman Rand,  Scotty, back in orbit, is attacked by a  Klingon destroyer and must warp out of orbit. Although badly outgunned, he cripples the Klingon and races back to the planet in order to rescue Kirk et. al. who have just saved the natives' from an awful fate and, as a reward, been given all light bulbs they can carry.

The new bulb is then inserted and the Enterprise continues on its five year mission.

Japanese Class

Translation of a Monty Python sketch from The Meaning of Life with the really complicated explanation of what to do in Public School. Check out the English and Japanese (coming soon) versions of the comic!

漫画 Configuring Zero Propagation Delay

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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Mushrooms Around Moscow

Here are some just as they are bursting up through the soil. Unlike seedlings, they burst up with the caps already fully open, it appears.

Again, these just erupted up. Still have earth on top of them.