To the Amalfi Coast and back again, pt. I [chronicles of Dis/Infection]

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What the interval between the date of the first entry in the diary and the present date makes abundantly clear is that I must have and in fact absolutely did violate one of those… axioms guiding the production of passable journals/diaries. Either the entries were too lengthy or they were too abstract, too far removed from the daily, awkward business of being myself. I suppose I did violence unto both at once. At any rate, here I type, ready to redeem myself accompanied by the clanging of the worst church clocks known to humankind (that of Albori, Costa Amalfitana, exclusive to Sunday’s one would hope).

 

For the glorious summer of 2018 we decided to visit the Amalfi Coast. As good a decision as that is turning out to be (don’t count your hatched chicks b4 vacation’s end) I am still at a loss to reconstruct it retrospectively. The initial destination was Southern China. But eventually we caved in to the realization that we wouldn’t be able to handle the heat. Which makes me wonder how exactly we imagined a destination south of Napoli to be more clement at the same time of year (which by the way, thus far, improbably, it is). At any rate, we quickly agreed that it had to be Southern Europe. Given our mild penchant for sustainability, the requirement was a location decently attainable by train, leaving in our blinkered view, Spain, Southern France and Italy. The google pics of the Eastern two-thirds of the Iberian Peninsula couldn’t get either of our juices flowing, it’s as if we could see through the thin veneer and right into the black heart of EU austerity. As for the Côte d’Azzure, I’d only just visited it the other year.

 

So Italy. Personally, having read the first installment of Ferrante’s tetralogy, I was chomping at the bite to check out the environs of Naples. Which looking back again was not the brightest thinking: the combination of summer heat and big city might is a good predictor of infernal temperatures. Thus we ping-ponged around different cities in the vicinity, trying to find a consensus and finally struck mutual-acceptability gold on the Amalfi Coast. It’s funny how compromises can turn out to be such great solutions after the fact.

 

Friday we geared up with a vengeance or rather with a sense of apt minimalism; travelling light is often made out to be some kind of deal but it is only the opposite, travelling heavy, which is a big deal. In terms of nuisance value, in terms of belly-aching about what one might have forgotten, in the sense that about two hundred meters after exiting your appartment stage right, you, as well as your sore shoulder, start berating your former self about eternally repeating the same mistake, namely lugging along half the household – it turns out, they have certain stuff at the destination too. But that far from the home and with the departure time of the train/plane hollering at you from afar it’s too late for turning back. Next time, surely.

 

 

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Anyway, however light I decided to travel, an outlandish idea did for some reason occur to me. The siren call of the Mediterranean heavily suggests one should get one’s behind in the water (though nowadays a terrible trivializing aura of western pamperedness hovers over drifting in that particular sea for no particular life-or-death reason) and while, on many previous occasions I’ve let weaseled out of the sea’s magnetic pull, I have yet again decided to do better this summer. But why should venturing into the watery depths be “doing better”? It so happens that the grandiose vista of the endless water inspires in me a profound sense of dread and inadequacy and imminent drowning. What can one body of water amount to in the face of all that vastness? What idea was I referring to at the start of this paragraph? Bringing along my lifejacket, which is voluminous and retina-ending orange and which can only reasonably and also lunatically be transported by wearing it. Fortunately for everyone involved, I didn’t go through with it. Not only did I anticipate a most uncomfortable train trip but also, again, in this age, baselessly wearing a lifesuit is in supremely bad taste.

 

Early Saturday we jackknifed out of bed, eager for Southern Italy, wine, sun, unlimited, mouth-watering pasta. That’s another good thing about summer, it makes it so damn effortless to get up unreasonably early in the morning: A) the accursed heat makes you wake up in the early morning hours anyway B) It’s bright around 5:30 and if you happen to have to go to the toilet around that time you usually catch such a fist of photons to the head that sleep is far-fetched for the next hour or more. C) it’s summer, you’re supposed to squeeze the last drop of pulp out of every living minute because, as in Westeros too, Winter is on our f###ing asses and closing in fast. Curse these lines in mid-October, why don’t you.

 

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Along came the first big coincidence. There at the far end of the train platform, sure enough, stood my aunt and her boyfriend, two olks in their early sixties to early seventies as eager for the world and its mysteries as a person can ever be. The way I remember it my aunt was literally hopping up and down when she saw us. I wasn’t exactly in a people mood; mornings i prefer refering to myself only, easing into the day and the strangeness of living in linear time. Then as we boarded the train my cousin, his wife and their two young daughters (around 5 and 9ish, the latter effervesenctly precocious, the former somehow fitting my mental image of an adorable raggamuffin, such a strange word). Though all headed for Milano on the same train, we only shared the compartment for little more than an ebullient half-an-hour. Certain kids combine a cleverness and zest for life, so unadulturated, that you get sucked right into that same mood as though just around the corner lay another one of the world’s fantastic gems. And you can find it together, by talking, by laughing, by thinking about the way things are and the way they might be. Which is exactly what we did. Don’t torture me with a topic, life was our topic. Though, to make the account perfectly frank, I thought the wife got slightly annoyed with having a seven-year-old-thirtynine-year-old plunked down next to her on such an early hour in the morning. Also, you probably romanticize children a lot less after you have spent years and years in their immediate, chaotic, sleep-depriving vicinity. Such is not yet my/our lot; though we’ll be opening the factory gates in about a week to see if we can make a splash in the progeny-manufacturing business. A turn of phrase, this industrial analogy, that hardly ever fails to cheer people up. Maybe because it foreshadows the hard work that lays ahead if the pilot model is a success.

 

Somewhere along the rails in Ticino we started a game of chess with our new set. Hand manufactured in Germany, fabulous knights looking precisely equestrian and highly-defined queens where you can see the goddamn tins [in a fork, yes but what might be the word for this in a crown?] the tin-like regal protrusions in the crown, a board of no loose parts, not a rickety joint, unseamly seam or whatnot, just bonafide Teutonic woodwork perfection; invisible magnets too somewhere in all that smoothly honed wood. It makes a difference, it does. The figures draw your attention and thereby rope you into the game. You don’t want to loose one, they’re simply too nice. And you know exactly where everything is; it seems like suddenly only “mate” in three is possible, not two, you would see two coming from a long way off between all those lovingly manufactured pieces. In Germany. Who exactly in Germany? I imagine a pot-bellied man behind a mustachio, or a nimble spinster, laboring away late nights in an old woodshop in Nuremberg, untroubled by the city’s ghosts of the past. His or her only duty being the absolute perfection of whatever piece he/she is working on at that exact instant. A skill deep inside the hands, centuries old, time-sanded.

 

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We played and it was probably the longest game we’ve played. Neither was willing to give up so much as a pawn.

After arriving in Milano we chilled out on one of the platforms, keeping our distance from the frenzied crowd. You have to pass through a security, airport type gate to get to the cooler cafes and we didn’t fancy risking our connection to Naples.

 

Have you ever been on a FrecciaRossa? These trains are pure public transport loveliness. They have fine gradations of class which I won’t claim to understand but they appear to be on par with the subtleties of the English social class system. At any rate, Business Special features wide, thick, automatically adjustable leather seats that suggest you ride the Freccia to the tip of the boot and then back into the Piedmont. Back and forth, without cease, in that magnificent cradle of leather. To subtract from the perfection, a group of US boyscouts immediately plunked themselves down across from us. It is shameful but my mind seems to have really hard time dividing out the madness and animus I feel bestir me every time I watch a piece of news on the United States of Trump and Police Brutality, from the actual people. This is in itself utterly crazy but I swear I can sense the afterimages of the Carrot-in-Chief mess with my emotional center as I encounter entirely blamefree, perfectly nice and jovial citizens from the land of severely limited opportunities. And it takes about five minutes or so to sort the mess out and get back into beginner’s mind modus, sociopsychologically speaking.

 

These were some fascinating scouts I tell you. First thing they wanted to do, withouth having seen our set, was play chess. I associate the boyscouts with strictly practical, outdoorsy pursuits and imagine a little pack of boys that couldn’t be bored more to deathly than by the confinement a train ride imposes. Leather lavishments or no. Instead, the two sitting opposite us immediately took out their books (Ready Player 1, HH’s Guide 2 the Galaxy) and set about reading like two literary fiends, like their very salvation depended on a reading rate of about 20 pages an hour or more. It felt like they were trying actively to demolish all hoary cliches about their allegedly smartphone addicted generation in one cataclysmic bout of hyper-reading. Also, just to cement an old-school notion of boyscouts, they were supernaturally polite, firing off rounds of“Thank you”s and “I do ever so humbly apologize”s the way other kids in their demographic parentheses might shoot off “like”s, “lit”s and “woke”s and whatever other bumfokked empty signifiers might presently be en vogue. They were so nice, they were literally compensating for centuries of humankind’s evil-doing, revoking the ills of the two WWs just by being decent little troopers on their very most oustandingly excellent behavior. It was life-affirming.

 

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ahhh, so this is the badge you are enobled with for early-stage literamania

 

And here’s the other thing though. The train trip from Milano Centrale to Naples is maybe five or six hours and the two kids just kept at it till Rome and beyond. At least three hours of solid, I-couldn’t-care-less-where-the-bathroom-is reading. Boyscouts. It eventually eventuated that they are Swiss-American, explaining why one of the patches of the littler boy simply read “Deutsch”, which I took to mean that he mastered the survivalist skill of this forest tribe’s tongue. Indeed, both spoke Swiss-German, and whatever initial air the blonde, lanky kid had at first exuded was instantly annihilated under a carpet-bombardment of good manners.

 

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Again, I think these were slightly strange boyscouts. There was none of those older, father-figureish, what-the-devils-are-you-up-to-now-Franz figures within admonishing shot? Just those two paragons of civility and readerly enthusiasm and seated somewhere behind them, their chess-playing pack comrades. Plus –  don’t wait for it – their mother! Fawning over them like newborn pups. It was too strange to even really get a handle on: A) Why were these two entirely unalike looking guys brothers? B) Why was a mother, an ultra-protective and smooch-engulfing one, accompanying these little lads who where supposed to be part of a mildly paramilitary organization, highly specifically established and designed to inculcate in young souls and appreciation of the parent-free wilderness and their ability to survive within it in the absence of the societally sanctioned authority figures. The mother, cooing and kissing, was the antithesis of what this should all have been about, the grand trip to a camp in Naples (imagine!) as one of their kiddie-fist-sized patches (a spewing volcano w the name of the city beneath) proclaimed. At one point, yours truly defecates you not, the mother bent down towards the smaller, sterner of the guys, Seahawks-totem cap pulled down low who squirmed away – whereas she kept relentlessly approaching, puckered mouth outstretched before her like some space-station docking device and the young lad continued his evasive maneouvers, eyes bolted to the pages of his sci-fi novel. To hilarious, comical effect. The boy’s head was eventually solidly pressed against the lower edge of the chair’s arm and, with nowhere else to left to move, the maternal mouth approaching, he launched the ultimate weapon remaining in his arsenal: a wordless, sideways death-stare at the Moms. Who went in for the kill regardless. What a scene! Had I been socialized 15years later, I might have recorded the whole thing on my smartphone.    

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Inficted [chronicles of Dis/Infection, Apr2018]

 

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It’s all about baby steps and trying to figure out how to slowly, elegantly become an adult. – Selena Gomez

I have a certain thick, cubic quantum of respect for people who go about the business of living seriously and straightforward. It awes me to behold these special specimen of the human species who do not care to resort to irony or fiction because, whatever it is they are doing, it is serious enough to hold their attention, to hold its own weight. No bullshit that needs rhetorical or emotional camouflage.

These people are magnificiently rare – I think.

It doesn’t meant they have to operate in this mode (serious, fiction-free) all the time. But that is their main – what is it – momentum, vector of impulse….brunt. I want to say brunt. Their lives are interesting to them, what other people tell them matters deeply, going to the cafe on the corner, drinking a Cappuccino or even a tea and watching the crowd, all of this no netflix series can compete with in a million million years. Never mind cellphones. People with two sets of names, one before and one behind the camera? These serious, adult-grade peeps don’t care. There is no conceivable need for the satirical remark, the imaginary lives, the complex cosm of make-believe, what happens daily to these stern hominids and their significant others is all that matters. Just come home and think about what happened today and what they should do the next day. Like: The taste of life is in the living.

I wish to be more like that, less subservient to fiction, to “I didn’t really mean it”.

Someone on the other end of the world, on the other end of time, scribbles a few pages and here I am, reality-jaded, reading it. Like it’s the most important bloody thing – friends and relatives somewhere on the backburner.

Come on! Get out! Converse!

Because how many times can you be sitting in a living room peering into another living room without getting stuck in the middle? Whatever that means.

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Ferrante选择 [chronicles of disinfection/消毒编年史 2018]

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There is a glaring, elementary and demotivating difficulty, I think, in writing non-fiction. That is, to pick a subject one truly has something to write about and with which one wishes to engage with at, at least, a subcutaneous level. Posed like this, the problematic issue appears to be nearly identical with any self-motivated writing, fiction or science, poem or diary. The page is white in the beginning, open to billions & billions of topics, formats, narratives, metaphors, ideas and sequences of arranging the alphabet’s letters, spaces and punctuation marks – no pressure, one is doing this under one’s own volition. You can, at any moment, bugger off and do something else. Netflix’s Ozark and Crash Course (CC Philosophy, but I’m considering that series on movies) seem particularly germane, not to mention that pile of books out of which the silent letters Bolano and Barthes and Brandon mock one’s every attempt to even string together half a paragraph. A Google Drive’s Untitled document, no stress, comrade. Or maybe all the 压力/pressure in the world taking the innocent guise of a white page asking a primordial question to the soi-se-pensant/考虑一下自己 writer: Is anybody home, cognitively speaking? And if so: Got anything interesting to say?

So why would non-fiction make the original problem of choice any more difficult (in my equivocating opinion)? Because it implies that you get to choose from (see title!) two fundamentally different but totally interconnected topics to write about: yourself or the world, subject or object, 精神或世界, consciousness or matter, becoming or being. In good old post-Kantian Western epistemology these are, of course, as mutually exclusive as it gets. Though I hasten to say that Speculative Realism and OOO have taught us that there exist entirely different philosophical approaches to reality than that poor old Königsbergian dichotomy.

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Still, being only the layest of philosophers and my dire little brain being  overtaxed by the idea of what the being-like-somethingness of a neutrino or table might be like, I go back to the initial bifurcation: world or self.

Dispatches from the realm of the latter, to me, are shaded in  many hues of egocentrism, hedonism, navel-gazing and all those other unpleasant activities stereotypically associated with the selfie-generation so that, as best as yours truly can, one might try to steer clear of it. Even if all the “I”s in a text show what a hash one/I has/have made of it. To be honest, there is another option, the entirely acceptable diary form [significant sequential daily events combined with brief contemplations] but I have never been able to muster enough discipline to put down the words that matter every day.

Ahhhh, lovely diaries, dear diarists…. For some idiosyncratic, fuzzy reason, I can’t diss/count diaries as strictly automaniac; there’s too much of the historian and serious self-psychoanalyst in them to be purely a hedonic project.

So what remains is only the world/世界, which is, as we’ve known for quite a while not enough. Wordplay aside, it is in considerable excess of enough. Still, the same might be said of ideas for a story that can pop into one’s head in the course of a week….how is this non-fic global affairs situation any different? Why would choosing in this case be any more challenging? Exactly because of that, “affairs“, the natural-seeming importance of the bread-and-butter reality, grand everybody-afflicting shenanigans of the 21st century…. as soon as I start thinking about these matters….. hmmmm…… the exterior state of affairs, the world at large, I come under the pressure-cooker impression that there is something at stake. It matters, flying f###s are generously dispensed. What? It’s not a matter of  lives, nor even government funds or nuclear warfare, nothing as realpolitikaly dramatic, but quite simply relevance itself. There is, in me, a normative perception that I should, if at all possible, try to select something of contemporary relevance. This criterium of writing about issues that matter, topics close to the heart is not so as to lure an unsuspecting reader with clickbait, nor to demonstrate that I am fashionably coxa [i.e. hip ….anatomical, haha] but so as to connect, in a meaningful way, with what I believe to be sorta relevant….out there.

The implied risk is that I choose incorrectly; but this notions is in itself absurd because the act of choosing to write, putting pen to paper, digit to key, is already a decision. A decision that one will write what one chooses to write, which the reader can only refute by being a not-reader. The free choice of writing follows George W. Bush‘s timeless dictum “…but I’m the decider. And I decide what’s best…”

Even if I happen to scribble about something that might strike a zeitgeist’s nerve or is in tune with my pyramid of writerly needs then the next obligation is that the text being created, apart from its speculative passages and flights of hypothetical fancy, aligns factually with what is in fact out there. I don’t believe we are in the post-factual era at all; perhaps falsehoods and badly researched texts have become easier to spread and are, in certain circles, more readily accepted but there exist perfectly intact scientific and journalistic standards for what constitutes facts, theory, plausibility. The fact that they are provisional, as is everything else, does not mean they cannot be put to serious scrutiny by experts. And this necessity for truthfulness is quite scary. Wikipedia or no, the idea of adhering closely to facts and truths in my writing spooks me; not simply because I’m not any good at in-depth research but also because my mind, as best as I can tell, heavily favors confabulation, fantasy, the fastest possible flight from reality, as soon as it sets down on these here empty pages. Digression too, evidently. Following a trajectory is hard.

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So then, given the, i think, patent, basic and demotivating difficulty of non-fic, I was very surprised when I began reading the Ferrante  Guardian blog this weekend and saw how easily this luminary of the written word handles the matter. As far as I can tell, she is a fiendish genius when it comes to mixing the “real” of personal biography with fictionalized stories into a blend in which one cannot be arsed to parse out one from the other (if there were even the slightest benefit in that; unless, of course, you’re an Oral Historian [dude, don’t look at me, that’s what they bloody call them] of 20th century Napoli). However, the blog texts are anchored solidly in the conventionally real – Ferrante recalls personal episodes and then contemplates their relevance in terms of fiction, language and, at times, philosophy. She makes her arguments dance like those elaborate Bali shadow puppets, telling the story of the point within the space of four or five paragraphs. And even while she is animating her argument by means of the laser-cut, baroque, long-limbed, supple figures, she manages to splice in her hallmark lyricism. (It rises from the page like a hot day on the dusty alleys of Naples, dreaming up a new design for a pair of leather shoes.) Seemingly effortless. To describe it without quoting Ferrante is a helpless undertaking….but her concise, elegant strides across a topic are captivating indeed.

 

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2018一月/frag02

Bildergebnis für nuclear button

 

Your unclear button is bigger than mine. And more paradoxical.

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2018一月/frag001

Bildergebnis für nature, smartphone

 

Once upon a time, nature was the smartphone.

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NoNoNoNovember [chronicles of Dis/Infection nov2017]

In October, a maple tree before your window lights up your room like a great lamp. Even on cloudy days, its presence helps to dispel the gloom. John Burroughs

So many topics in the headlines lately have been howling at me like wolves out of the wilderness, or singing like whales from the bathypelagic zones, tempting one to write about them, to get worked up and spew tightly or loosely argued invective. The tricks of the political sphere, the popcultural sublayer, the sports gulag, the self-defeating misadventures of the local grapevine, you probably know them, how they pull you in, make you lose your energies on empty circles that begin where they end: a caustic remark about last night’s victory (or loss), an equally stale observation concerning Gagagugu (I think this name would be even more befitting), a wordplain admixing The Paradise Papers and bumf. A 1.3 terra load on the loaded, all the dirt in one enormous pile. And if you’re honestly wondering how we got here, you can certainly read it up on Wiki.  

Not this time though, I’m thinking, not these times.

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Let me instead describe the early November light outside my window, the aqueous quality with which it slithers from the sky and the lurking suspicion that it comes down specifically for me, to slosh away all that good mood that was so easy to store up on in suntastic October. Especially for an October child. What’s that saying? All men were created equal but the best were born in October. I think Roger Federer said that, or if not him (he doesn’t go in for that kind of off the cuff megalomania; whatever scandalous humdinger RF has in the cards, he’s saving it for his late sixties or seventies, e.g. Mirka telepathically controlled my body during every Grand Slam Final, technically it still was me but I, my mind I mean, was just sort-of leaning back, watching the show. I f###ing love her, I do. etc.)….if not the great FedEx then some other celebrity born in October (P-Diddy, now gaka Love immediately elbows his way to mind; g equals grudgingly), some other not-particularly-super-not-particularly-star with no lack of self-confidence and a clod-hopping notion of wit. If I were famous I would’ve probably been the first to say it, quite frankly. But I am not so I didn’t. Then again, hey, look here, little me, all out of fame and yet coming up with this gem of a saying. The kind of bon mot that makes me almost, almost but not actually, forget, the sneaky, deprogenic ways of November drizzle.

Novemba. Typical of this bastard month who obviously is struggling with some issues being stuck between beloved, cozy, economy-invigorating December and the point-blank genius of October, couldn’t even give you straight rain, instead this gelid, too early in the morning, thinned out version of proper showers. And fog and clouds like that were the new thing: myspace, facebook, instagramm, november mist. Fog is the new black.   

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    I am at least trying to fool myself because: How can one resist the wolf-call of the headlines, the pack in pursuit of philosophical prey, resist writing about the intellectual travesty parading around as cultural appropriation?

People with a low melanin count should not wear dreadlocks (a hairstyle in which the hair is washed but not combed and twisted while wet into tight braids or ringlets hanging down on all sides). Is that really the standpoint, the new top-flight theoretical brainchild of crypto-multiculturalism? Postcolonialism turnt and gone toxically sour? Some woke post-ebonic mutant of good ol’ Rassenlehre? Because what exact racial criteria would one have to fulfill to be permitted entry into the hallowed ethnic fields of Dreadlockistan? And could one ever even add a more nefarious twist to that first half of the term designating that particular hairstyle?

I for one, though born in October, sure couldn’t. It’s not that the term per se does not designate a valid concern but that, applied to both Willy and Nilly, it stops making any coherent, politically weaponizable sense. For instance: some fuck-up Parisian designer using West-African clothes and designs without even acknowledging that legacy is clearly flubbed up and beyond condonation. But to try to apply the same logic to a hairdo, the right to determine certain basic configurations of one’s physique, is to defenestrate the elephant with the tubwater. It’s absurd, it’s bonkers, it makes a hash out of valid concerns. The same way that november fog mocks my octoberese will to cheerfulness.

 

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鬼 in the Lilly-Blanc Shell [编年史 of Dis/Infection, 九月 2017]

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If you read some of the recent literature, you’ll realize there really is no such thing as whiteness, but we kind of made that up. … Because you were born white, you have advantages that are systemically, culturally, psychologically there. And they have been built up and cemented for hundreds of years, but many people can’t look at it. It’s too difficult. – G. Popovich

Ok, so this one time I’ve fallen into the trap of racialized thinking. And I’m gonna do this whole bit like it makes perfect sense. But what you need to realize though is that all these concepts of whiteness, brownness, blackness and whateverness are at the very beginning of what keeps us locked into our old, unproductive, discriminating patterns of thought. Just saying. – tm

 

 

Without being a Frankfurt style pessimist, I do often get this feeling of cultural exhaustion when it comes to video games [which i don’t care about] and, what-to-call-them?, major motion pictures. The other day I watched Ghost in the Shell and the sense of boredom, of repetition was near-infinite. Even without being a diehard aficionado of the original anime, it is very hard to see past the lackluster, pro forma recycling of sci-fi tropes plus the regular, horrid genre conventions: cyborg identity crisis [played with numbing absence of sentiment by SJ], whitewashing of protagonists [for, as always, ostensibly commercial reasons], the evil exploitative corporation [true but bereft of any original take], gun fights [they should be illegalized, i no longer have the stamina to watch one]…. and… I cannot recall, I couldn’t watch this mess to the end, all images unpeeled with cyborg-shell slickness, every other scene was as if I had seen it a million million times before.

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Whereas the one thing that did, predictably, stick out, were the stunning neon visuals, the genius of the digital metropolitan aesthetics. The whole city was livid and animated with skyscraper-sized, three-dimensional advertising characters. Also watching Madame Johansson jump and run through this incandescent, candy-colored, hyperkinetic metropole, cloaked in [near-]invisibility was  non-cognitive bliss.

So, not quite true what I stated about the degree of boredom, let me reverse. To one scene in particular. When it was finally revealed that the protagonist’s original mother, the biological mama of the daughter whose brain was used for the ghost in the shell, was an elderly Chinese lady, the floodgates of post-/neo-colonial theory were flung wide open. There was a bittersweet moment of recognition in this twist of futuristic neo-colonial neuro-exploitation: even in the centuries ahead the tricontinents are only a source of labour and replacement part providers. Not what you hope for in progressive sci-fi but unfortunately the maximum imaginative range of the folks behind this GitS rehash.

 

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Here, nothing much of tradition is contested or modified. The cultural artifacts in this movie seem inert, functional parts in the unspooling of a 22nd century techno-thriller, cogs in the narrative machinery. And so the 32-bit howl of cyborg identity crisis has been reduced to Scarlett Johansson’s inert mien but it doesn’t matter because she ultimately finds her [romantic] partner, meaning that the prospect of some cybernetic, white, virtual nuclear family might yet be in the offing. A meta-title for the movie might then be Shell minus the Ghost.

 

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