Krissy on the Shore, preferring to rather continuously hit his head on the sand than read another Murakami book

August 3, 2010 at 12:36 am | Posted in Criticism | 17 Comments

Okay, after the first half, Kafka on the Shore began being a total bore, a pretentiously metaphysical, sloppy bore.

Perhaps, behind that muddled mess of a book, there is really something he’s trying to convey to the readers. But I don’t see it. I’m not stupid, or at least I’d like to think that I’m not that foolish to fall into the manipulative traps of the author. I read somewhere that Murakami just writes everything along the way, and you can obviously see where the underlying problem of the whole thing is, not that I’m saying that that kind of writing style is not ideal but it can certainly be seen as a fault or a flaw in this case. Now I’m having doubts and wondering whether I shall still give his other works a try or not.

I have constantly suspended my disbelief for any kind of sci-fi/fantasy works I have come across but, here, I think there should be a limit on what you’re willing to overlook. The magical realist elements of the films don’t seem quite blended into the novel’s spatial environment; it seems more like they are out-of-place, have been forced to be included just for the sake of amazing or amusing the readers. Leeches and fish falling from the sky? A boy named Crow inside Kafka’s head? Collecting cats’ souls to create an otherworldly flute? Err, yeah. I don’t need an explanation to these phenomenons but are they really necessary in this tale about Kafka’s Oedipal journey and Nakata’s need to fulfill a number of tasks? At least in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, the gypsies’ flying carpet, a murdered family member’s blood flowing and making its way towards the matriarch’s location, and Remedios’ sudden ascension towards the sky are made to seem as if they’re quite natural, little things that the reader is supposed to believe is possible and likely given the situation. The magical realist elements in Kafka on the Shore seem to be there just for show, a theatrical gesture from a demigod, a fireworks display in an otherwise mediocre novel where a lot of ideas from great historical and literary figures are thrown in with a bunch of other mumbo-jumbo.

All the characters are stuck with the idea that they have no control on their decisions, fate and so on. Not that I completely disagree but one would feel completely hopeless with Murakami’s way of toying around with his characters. Kafka leaves home to escape his father and the curse his father has put upon him, only to end up fulfilling what he was cursed to do. To explain why does he continue to eat cats and collect their souls in order to create a magic flute, “Johnny Walker” uses the excuse that this is his purpose in life, this is what he is supposed to do and he can’t escape it. Miss Saeki has accepted the way things are. She stubbornly refuses to be lively and of this world, the way she was back when her lover was still alive and breathing, and merely waits for death. Nakata seems to be following orders in his head or predictions or something like that (it is never fully explained where he gets these bizzare ideas from) and to believe that it is his task to open this entrance stone. This is his responsibility, his job, his purpose in life, what he was born for, and, if he’s taking too long to fulfill this task, a being who will take a form of anything such as a capitalist icon like Colonel Sanders will help along the way to make sure everything goes the way it is supposed to be. Hoshino seems to think that it was his decision to stay with Nakata but it seems, more or less, like he was fated to assist Nakata and do the tasks that Nakata is not physically and mentally capable of doing.

If I were you, I wouldn’t try so hard to analyze everything beneath the novel’s glossy surface. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the author self-indulgent but I won’t try bothering to pick up the fragmented pieces he dropped and, voila, just made into a novel and try to make something out of it.

Now, I shall forget about all that typical stuff about how I should cherish memories (it is no coincidence that most Japanese anime seem to have the similar premises, all about how memories are very important) and prepare myself for another novel, perhaps continuing The Cement Garden, which fortunately bears no striking similarities to Kafka on the Shore other than that both protagonists do have incestuous feelings towards their sister. Oh, boy.

The Philippine dream(?)

May 12, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Posted in Criticism | 11 Comments

So, my cousin and her husband are arriving here in Canada this coming Tuesday. And they’re planning to stay here for good. They have been wanting to get here ever since her brother, my other cousin obviously, got here and probably told her how great it is here. I dunno about you, but I never found out what’s so great about living in a country alien to you, having been born in another foreign country myself. Great, another big caplitalist city. Great, another overcrowded, fool-infested mall.

Trust me, living in another country isn’t as great as you think it is. It’s all a myth, probably due to our people’s inexplicable fascination with foreigners especially Americans and created by people who migrated elsewhere trying to convince their peers and relatives to do the same, with the usual exaggerations and none of the forewarnings.

What you might have studied in the Philippines whether it is in a university or a community college may not be up to their standards. And this must mean that you might have to do some extra courses or go back to university/college. Or else, you’ll just fall to the option of working in a factory, a fast-food restaurant or whatever. And I’ve been acquainted with some people who do two part-time jobs just to make ends meet, and even this is not enough for them.

And even though other people may not say or do it right in front of you, some of them can be condescending or patronizing, especially if you just immigrated and are new to the foreign nation. They do, after all, have a name for us new immigrants, what they call F.O.B.s (fresh off the boat), which they usually use to call people with broken English and any other kind of stereotypically foreign behaviour. And please don’t tell me that Filipinos are innocent of making any kind of racist, misogynistic or homophobic remark because even my parents and my friends are guilty of such things. They’d usually say something like, oh, this kind of people is prone to crimes and ill behaviour, oh, thank god you’re not like the other gays (What? Are we divided into two factions!?), and, oh, I wouldn’t be caught dead dating a person of such race (Please, you’re not that hot yourself.). If that’s not offensive, then I don’t know what is.

We’re a bunch of sheep, I tell you, just going with the flow, never going against it.

And what’s up with a lot of Filipinos aspiring to be nurses? Herd mentality, much? If not that, they’d want to be accountants (I’ve been guilty myself), and older ones would just settle for less and become caregivers instead. Caregiver, a euphemism, a fancy term, for yaya, maid, domestic servant, babysitter, nanny. Oh no, the blacks are now thinking for themselves, let’s go oppress the Filipinos and Hispanics instead. I can’t help but roll my eyes whenever I see Filipino women taking care of a bunch of white kids. Folks, this is how much we adore the foreigners, that we’re willing enough to live in their homes and clean their toilets or kids’ butts ourselves. Do we take joy at serving other people, scrubbing other people’s backs and butts? Are we already contented at having less? Why can’t we aspire to be something greater instead? They already reached the stars, and what have we done, other than assisting other people who think less of us, taking care of others who are of no relation to us? Is this more or less the Philippine dream, if there is one? Either to serve others or to follow the American dream?

Some of us try to pass off as of a different race, ashamed of our “inferior” identities. Some take advantage of the fact that they have grown up abroad and know the ABCs of English to go back to the Philippines and pursue a career there, usually an acting career. If they’ve gone to America, can speak a bit of Tagalog, can switch back and forth from Tagalog to English with ease, and look “presentable” enough for the spotlight, they’re already overqualified. Any acting experience or capability must be beside the point. If that isn’t bad enough, even the foreigners know that we just can’t get enough of them that they even decide to live in our country. It’s not that the living conditions are terrible in their homeland and that there’s a promise of better living in the Philippines. No, it’s that living in the Philippines is relatively less costly than it is in their home country. They know they’re better off there; they narcissistically like to be adored and worshipped. They don’t plan to liberate us, to get us off our third-world situation. They just want to take advantage of the situation. Cheap wages, higher profits. Globalization galore. Call centres, sweatshops, you name it.

So, this must be our version of the American dream, since we do tend to dearly imitate everything American, the ultimate Philippine dream: to be subjected or to freely choose to serve the ones who in the past have invaded our country and have oppressed our ancestors and who in the present still have a subtle imperialistic control on our government. Now, reveal those whips, leather, ropes and handcuffs you have hiding in your closet, you masochistic perverts, and I myself will do the whipping for you.

The Japanese creep me out.

April 30, 2010 at 11:13 am | Posted in Criticism | 29 Comments

This is not a racist statement. This is merely an observation, a criticism of the Japanese culture. And as usual, this is also just a generalization. It doesn’t apply to all of them.

I just can’t help but notice that most of the Japanese are a bunch of sick sad fucks. You’ll soon see my point.

Fantasizing of women being raped by monsters with tentacles? Women in nurse and maid outfits? Women in student uniforms? Grown women acting like little children? Women being groped by creeps in crowded subway trains? Women pretending to be raped or not to like sex? Sex with prepubescent girls (or boys)? Incest, bestiality and human bondage? That’s not sexual exploration. That’s just warped, my friends. Did anyone teach them passionate and intimate sex? When they told us we can spice things up in bed, they didn’t literally mean that it had to involve beasts, torture, underage children and rapists-cum-maniacs. The fuckos. And wait, there’s more. The men also seem to have strange fetishes for panties, sniffing and collecting them. Pathetic.

No wonder the Japanese men have no decent or good social relations and interactions with women there. It’s no wonder that misogyny is typical of their culture. It’s no wonder the Japanese are one of the least sexually active people in the world. They’re afraid of the actual thing itself. The actual sex doesn’t feel as sexually gratifying as their perverted sexual fantasies, and real women don’t live up to their unrealistic perceptions of them anymore.

Seriously, there must be a high rate of rape, murder, and pedophile cases in Japan. Of course, they can get away with featuring incest and pedophilia in their porn because they only show it in hentai (animation porn) and not actually using actual children or actual blood relatives. Does this make the fantasy less immoral and less indecent? Hell no. If the Japanese were to analyze and explain these countless criminal cases in their country, I wonder if they can even pinpoint it to the fact that it is due to those sick male fantasies and that this is somehow already ingrained in the Japanese mainstream (and possibly even its underground) culture. Prostitution is prevalent in their society. Their society is all about the women trying to please the men, serving them and fulfilling any of their fancies or whims. That’s what the geishas were also for back then, entertainment purposes for the wealthy males.

Of course, I’m not saying that the Japanese are only the perverted ones. Others are as well. Any sexual practice that involves real or simulated torture and debasing/degrading someone is perverse. But it’s just more evident in the Japanese culture, or at least we’re more exposed to American and Japanese culture and that’s what most of us tend to notice. I mean, duh, most adult women in Japan talk as if they haven’t even gone through puberty yet and act all innocent-like. It’s horrifying.

How do I know all this? 7-8 years of anime and hentai consumption. Yes, I know, I’ve been exposed to hentai myself but it’s obviously an unhealthy and nasty practice. And I’m just glad that I have almost entirely gotten rid of my anime obsession.

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