Monday, July 26, 2010

Record of Times I Have Been Totally Obsessed With _Angel Sanctuary_

1) November, 2001
2) June, 2002 (7 months)
3) December, 2004 (30 months)
4) September, 2006 (21 months)
5) January, 2009 (28 months)
6) July, 2010 (18 months)

This is the second time it's this Acey Dearest's fault, too. I discovered that she's published three Angel Sanctuary fanfics since I read "Cast it to Dogs" - all of them are Kira/Kato, but, like I said before, I don't mind Kira/Kato, and I actually really like the way Acey Dearest does it; it doesn't go against my interpretation of canon at all, and, in fact, really reinforces it. I don't actually have time to write about this, but I can't help but at least write a bit about it - "No Answer" is the least interesting to me, personally, since Kira doesn't actually appear in it at all - it's entirely Kato's reflections on Kira. "Mainsprings" is quite good, although, if I'm interpreting the ending correctly, it's really extremely bleak - but it's not necessarily good in a way that I particularly associate with Angel Sanctuary.

I think "Light Pollution" is an excellent fanfic because not only is it good, but it strikes me as good for more or less the same reasons that draw me to Angel Sanctuary, similarly to "Cast it to Dogs." "Light Pollution" is also a genderswitch AU - Kira and Kato are both female, and Kato is a closeted lesbian - which, to be honest, appeals strongly to me as I've been wanting a story about a female Kira for a long time, for. . . ummm. . . personal reasons - but I think that the story also really works on its own merits. I really wish I had more time to talk about this - but I love the way that it is entirely a story from Kato's point of view, and it does a compelling and interesting job of presenting Kato sympathetically and making the story about Kato and her concerns, but at the same time having Kato's story intersect with Kira's hidden story, which is only clear to us because we've read the manga - and certainly isn't clear to Kato! The genderswitch is effective (a genderswitch of Setsuna might have worked, also, although I think the genderswitch of Kira and Kato is ultimately more effective) because it means that Kato looks at Kira and sees a girl who has not only a father who loves her but also a potential perfectly normal heterosexual relationship, in contrast with Kato and her father who hates her and her internalized homophobia - Kato's story is all about the complexity of her feelings about Kira and the way she's incomprehensibly screwing up her life - whereas, of course, we know exactly why Kira does what she does and why her life is already screwed up. And of course we know that what concerns Kato is ultimately completely insignificant to Kira - Kato is convinced that Kira would be disgusted if she realized that Kato is a lesbian and attracted to her and imagines their relationship as impossible because of the homophobia, whereas one assumes that Kira could care less (I think there's plenty of evidence in canon that Nanatsusaya isn't particularly hung up on gender - in terms of sexual attraction, Nanatsusaya is obviously not disgusted by the possibility of sleeping with a female; it's not just in the story but in canon that Nanatsusaya is perfectly happy to possess a female body; when Kira teases Arachne in Volume 1, he knows all about who she is before he even gets into it but goes ahead with it anyway; and it's hardly as though he's likely to have any hangups about morality) - but I think what makes the story even more effective is that, since it is Kato and Kira who are genderswitched, not Setsuna, Kira's ambiguous gender comes up in the story - Kira alludes to herself as Rhett Butler (I had to look up this quotation, though - actually, encountering that quotation in that context actually made me want to read or watch Gone with the Wind, not an experience I've ever had before), not a woman chasing a man, and calls Setsuna a girl - but Kato, though she notices, doesn't pick up on the importance - Kato is left wondering about Kira but simply couldn't have the frame of reference to understand what's going on and interprets it entirely in terms of her own perspective. Like the moment when she notices Kira's bloodstain, but the bloodstain comes up entirely in the context of Kato knowing she will never have the chance to see it in full - picking up on the detail entirely from her own perspective. But of course Kato can never have Kira anyway, but not at all for the reasons she thinks.

It's a very effective story because of the story going on behind the obvious story, and because of the way the story behind the story is the motivating factor for the story we read, but, at the same time, only breaking through at moments into the story we read, and I think it fits so well with Angel Sanctuary's methods - it's like, IIRC, Katan. Katan is this hugely important character with a tragic story that runs throughout nearly all of the manga, which has a large effect on Setsuna and his life, but, again IIRC, Katan shows up towards the end and dies and Setsuna has only the vaguest idea of who he is - because their stories just haven't intersected enough for Setsuna to know, despite Katan being a major force behind Setsuna's entire story arc. The thing that's so GREAT about Angel Sanctuary is this messiness - although it's technically Setsuna's story, and it's obvious Setsuna is the hero, it's everyone else's story too, and everyone else's story often never becomes entirely clear to anyone else, so that it's all these people who don't fully understand each other always hurting each other inadvertently (well, obviously not all the hurt is inadvertent, but, with the exception of God, we mostly get everyone's motives) - and I think this messiness is really what makes Angel Sanctuary effectively Gnostic - Gnosticism works, in literature, because it's not just about the idea that the God that created the physical world is evil, it's also about the idea that the physical world is evil - and the physical world is evil because it separates us, divides us up into these beings that can't touch and careen about and hurt each other - "Why a tender curb upon the youthful burning boy, why a little curtain of flesh on the bed of our desire?" - or the point of Evangelion (although Eva is obviously a rather cynical take on the idea) - and this idea really explains a lot of the seeming craziness of the story and ties it together - perfect androgynous beings and gender being a division, wacky Freudian pregnancy issues with rampaging fetuses, Rosiel getting people to eat him so that he can possess them (see, it's not just a Eucharist joke, even if Eucharist jokes are the best jokes) - I realize I'm not making any sense but I really have to just say this - and I think it's that same sense - the separateness of people but the way we hurt each other anyway - that comes across so well in both "Cast it to Dogs" and "Light Pollution." So yay.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Oh! Oh! Oh!

Over at Steepholm's LiveJournal, he happens to start off a comment with: "I do not know much about dragons."

Inexplicably, the comment does not then continue with a Spirited Away-themed filk of "The Dry Salvages."

I mean, there is even a train in Spirited Away!

I will concede that is perhaps unhealthy to see "The Dry Salvages" every single time I see a river god and trains. But then I have to admit that I have long thought that Miyazaki was a far better match for Spellcoats than he was for Howl's Moving Castle. I think I would actually be pretty excited if Miyazaki made a Spellcoats movie. So maybe I am really on to something here ;-).

Monday, July 12, 2010

I Write Like. . .

This time, yhlee links to "I Write Like. . .". Apparently my posts on this blog are like Dan Brown. I should be offended, but at least in terms of content, it's kind of credible, from what I understand of Dan Brown's topics.

But when I put in my paper on 1984, I was told I write like. . .

George Orwell!

It's not just laughable because it's a paper on 1984, it's also laughable because one assumes George Orwell would loathe my writing style. . . .

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oh, Also

Jenna Moran just posted up stats for Martin and Jane as if they were characters in her tabletop RPG, Nobilis. I know nothing about Nobilis, but TSOR suggests that what she has written strongly supports my contention that Martin is extremely creepy. So I am feeling kind of justified in that one, even if I think we're not meant to take it entirely literally.

Also - when it says that Jane is an angel, is that purely a Nobilis term? Because. . . it's a thought-provoking word choice.

I wish you would all read Hitherby so that you could comment on this!

ETA: Aww, the people who actually read Hitherby went and commented on it and answered my question in such a boring way that it no longer says that Jane is an angel! Oh, well. Nothing about Martin's creepiness has changed. It is difficult to imagine any circumstance in which Martin's creepiness will change.

Don't Want To Really Get To Know It Better

One of the few bands that I actually pay attention to and try to buy CDs by, when they come out, is an extremely obscure British indie group that I discovered through some form of Internet radio - I can no longer recall if it was Pandora or Live 365. As it happens, about a year and a half ago this group (which is not the point of the entry) actually played a show in the city where I was living, at an indie festival. Naturally, I had to go. I am kind of obsessive about standing near the front at concerts (it wound up being well-worth the obsession at this particular concert), so I was there for all of the bands even though the band I'd come to see was the last to play.

Rather early on in the festival proceedings was a performance by Janelle Monáe. This made an impression on me, for several reasons. First of all, I was surprised to see a black woman performing at an indie festival - one thinks of indie as fairly white and male. Secondly, lots of people came specifically to see her performance, talked about past shows of hers they'd seen, and generally hyped her. Finally, she was undeniably an interesting performer - she comes off a bit cold for my tastes, but she definitely has style.

I wasn't really expecting Janelle Monáe to turn up in my life again, but she's popped up more and more often since that first performance. For one thing, although I'd first seen Janelle perform in a context completely unrelated to of Montreal, I wound up seeing her perform two more times (three in total), because she and Kevin Barnes have become quite good friends, and she often served as an opening act for of Montreal. Kevin talks about her all the time and even recorded a song for her new album - "Make the Bus." Meanwhile, Coffeeandink, whose blog, as I've mentioned in the past, I quite enjoy, has started posting about her quite a bit. I suppose this isn't really surprising, as Janelle is a black woman who writes science fiction, and that's generally what Coffeeandink likes anyway, but it's still interesting in that it's a context completely unrelated to either Kevin Barnes or the indie band I originally mentioned.

So, the thing is, I don't particularly like Janelle Monáe's music. I realize that I've mostly only heard it live, and I rarely like music I hear live, but I still feel like having seen her stage show three times does qualify me to have a sense for whether or not I'm eager to hear more, and I wouldn't say I am, particularly. I barely remember her songs despite having seen the show so many times; they didn't make much of an impression on me. And yet, despite this, I feel as though I kind of have to buy her album. I wasn't going to - after all, all these coincidences aside, it didn't interest me - but I've been listening to "Make the Bus" so much - and I like it! It mentions Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - that I feel I really ought to own it legally, and somehow that's pushed me over the edge. It's a kind of weird situation - everything I've read online makes it quite clear that "Make the Bus" is an of Montreal song with only minor participation by Janelle Monáe, and that it's really out of place on the album, and everyone who loves the album doesn't particularly feel that it fits in. So I really should just purchase the single track "Make the Bus" and let it go. But the fact that I like this song so much - much better than "Coquet Coquette", the first song released from of Montreal's upcoming False Priset - makes me feel like, given the preponderant weight of coincidence on the side of the album, I might as well go the whole hog. I feel as though I am fated to buy this album, taste aside.