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"Messy Writing Corner" , posted Fri 14 Jul 06:09post reply

To keep it apart from the endless tangents of the Random Thread, this is a thread about writing. Leave notes here! Write about things you have read recently, and how their form or execution was interesting! Maybe even talk about their content, too, if you think that the content is inextricable from its execution! Leave down snippets of writing of your own that you thought were interesting, and then bemoan how it is far too much like your least favourite 19th century author while still being stereotypically post-modern! Harangue others for not having read clearly the great <<nationality> <writing format>>, or tell them about just how AWFUL Flavorless Tasteless Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki is (PAGING MAOU!).

It doesn't matter how amateurish you are or think you are, dish it out here so that we can sniff at it elegantly over cups of coffee/tea/yogurt/???.






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"<elegant handwritten invitation for Maou>" , posted Fri 14 Jul 06:10post reply

-Spoon







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"Re(1):<elegant handwritten invitation for Mao" , posted Fri 14 Jul 09:07post reply

quote:
-Spoon



I am kind of uncomfortable sharing my story ideas...because I wanna finish them and it will set me free from the loop. So I dream...

But I had this idea for starting a story though I feel it doesn't go anywhere so here it is.

" After hundred years of succesfull operation of preserving each and every art pieces, books and statues by de-materializing them and recreating them in a digitized reality that we can freely visit, the unthinkable happens. Attack of a forgotten virus from 2020's wipes out all the art from the world."

What happens next?







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"Re(1):<elegant handwritten invitation for Mao" , posted Fri 14 Jul 12:35post reply

quote:
-Spoon

Jolly good, my fine fellow. The perfect invitation for a perfect chat over virtual MMC coffee. Per earlier e-mails with Spoon that occasioned this post, it's interesting reading a lot of one author to see how their style both defines and limits them. In the noir-ish context of the Cafe and Wish Room/Last Window, this points towards Murakami Haruki, whose early work is great, and whose recent works, the wretched Colorless Tazaki Tsukuru included, seem like pale, warmed-over versions of his own distinct voice and themes.

Tazaki Tsukuru also has the distinction of the worst dialogue I've seen in a Murakami work or anywhere in years. The written equivalent of how a shounen manga character will babble on for three panels in an action sequence about what techniques are being used in a fight he's watching. This is to say, expository dialogue is not how real people talk, and this book brought it home for me!

On the more positive end of things, and still speaking of noir, I recently read the original Dashiell Hammett novel version of The Maltese Falcon from 1929. Even without the joy of hearing Bogart on the screen, it's such a treat reading foundational noir. I was struck in reading it how closely focused Hammett was on describing the outfits and physical builds of various characters in great detail, and letting readers draw their images and conclusions on each character from these. Sometimes, this was harder to do because clothes from 90 years ago are not always the same and thus are difficult to visualize! This reminds me of how I've wanted to read my copy of Kawabata's Asakusa Kurenai-dan, the Crimson Gangs of Asakusa, for years, but the first few pages were full of the most technical descriptions of kimonos or something that I'd ever seen, and I dropped it instantly. Whether it's description or dialogue, it's amazing how these seemingly vital tools for immersion can also be such debilitating roadblocks for the reader if used poorly.
quote:
What happens next?
Ooo, finally I can engage in (safe-for-work) Oguz fanfiction by writing about your proposal! Maybe it's all the Nier I've played this spring, but I think what follows is a secret replacement of all the art so that mankind doesn't know it's gone and lose all hope, except some of the replacements are quite good and the master planner is surprised that his placeholder had meaning for people.





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"Re(2):<elegant handwritten invitation for Mao" , posted Fri 14 Jul 16:57:post reply

quote:
-Spoon


I am kind of uncomfortable sharing my story ideas...because I wanna finish them and it will set me free from the loop. So I dream...

But I had this idea for starting a story though I feel it doesn't go anywhere so here it is.

" After hundred years of succesfull operation of preserving each and every art pieces, books and statues by de-materializing them and recreating them in a digitized reality that we can freely visit, the unthinkable happens. Attack of a forgotten virus from 2020's wipes out all the art from the world."

What happens next?



This is a good one!

So I'd go with a slightly tragicomic tack that would have these underpinnings:
- people are already used to not memorizing things and offloading that cognitive burden to computers, how extreme can we take that?
- art history is highly undervalued even now, and by that point in the future, due to the false assumption that perfect preservation is equivalent to perfect understanding in the public mind, as an academic field it is all but extinct.
- as a result of living in human culture, there exist some cultural/artistic things that are so pervasive they simply don't get forgotten easily; everybody has a vague idea about "Asian art" or "Classical music" or "tribal dancing", no matter how incomplete and fallacy-riddled
- new art can ALWAYS be made
- people can always be misled, and are often happy to be misled

So what ensues is that in order to prevent the widespread panic that would ensue from the knowing that the entirety of the world's art had been lost, a whole bunch of technicians and internet historians quickly start cobbling together AIs and grabbing what artists they can to create the most ambitious swindle ever in the history of humanity: conning all of humanity about what art there was by generating it right now. They scribble out comics, have all the most memorable bars of music such as the opening bars of Beethoven's 3rd or the William Tell Overture that their crack team of mostly pop musicians still remember, and have the AIs generate countless pieces of work based on those stereotypes. Under the guise of "The Library of Alexandria is undergoing maintenance!" they repopulate the entire Library of Alexandria with at-best 3rd-hand knockoffs that manage to contain all the key ingredients that the cultural memory associates with that art.

The vast majority of people, who had never even seen or heard most of it in the first place, don't notice at all.

Some people notice, but it is written off as an internet conspiracy, like the "Berenstain/Berenstein Bears" alternate universe.

Meanwhile, the people that worked hard on the project look forward to listening and reading to an entire human history's worth of new art and music, even if they are all just insane caricatures of the originals.





[this message was edited by Spoon on Fri 14 Jul 16:59]



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"Re(2):<elegant handwritten invitation for Mao" , posted Fri 14 Jul 22:37post reply

quote:
" After hundred years of succesfull operation of preserving each and every art pieces, books and statues by de-materializing them and recreating them in a digitized reality that we can freely visit, the unthinkable happens. Attack of a forgotten virus from 2020's wipes out all the art from the world."



I love Spoon's take on this. I can't help but think that on the more narrative side of things, there's be a push on the power structure side of things to move focus away from trying to restore works that go counter to certain convenient concepts.

For example, while I'm not familiar with the finer points of polytheistic religions and how their actual practitioners past and present actually regard the corresponding divinities, I get the impression that that's a healthier mindset with which to approach the complexities of life and its many aspects where different people people can provide important perspectives and guidance on different domains - a monotheistic outlook feels unhealthy in comparison, since it primes people to look for a sole leader/father figure with all the perfect answers about everything, something that's proven dangerous across history time and time again.

Anyway, the concept of a "culturecide" could be an interesting way to explore a couple of notions dear to me

* the "cultural duty" to pass along things you remember that you don't see anyone else acknowledging; how do you choose what to pass along and how to preserve it out of a whole life of half-remembered things? Only the things you saw in your family and nowhere else (for example, an extension to the Portuguese version of the "happy birthday" song that I only ever hear my mother using); something that inspired you specifically enough to drive some important initiatives in your life? The stuff that make you cry? Something with a significant ratio of historical context to help make sure something important about the collective past isn't forgotten?

* creation/consumption ratio - consuming art is an important part of creating some of your own, only consuming risks being inconsequent outside of one's private sphere and culturally stagnant in the grand scheme of things, creating without learning a thing from what came before sounds like a recipe to botch potentially good ideas - so if all past art is gone and some restoration efforts from memory begin, it'd be important to partake in what's reconstructed out of what was thought lost, but at the same time it's be necessary to move beyond that... so I wonder at a wide enough scale, what'd be an ideal ratio for every individual, in time management if nothing else, of spending time catching up with the past and also trying to make something that hasn't existed yet in quite the way you wish it did...





...!!
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"Re(2):<elegant handwritten invitation for Mao" , posted Sat 15 Jul 06:53post reply

quote:
-Spoon


I am kind of uncomfortable sharing my story ideas...because I wanna finish them and it will set me free from the loop. So I dream...

But I had this idea for starting a story though I feel it doesn't go anywhere so here it is.

" After hundred years of succesfull operation of preserving each and every art pieces, books and statues by de-materializing them and recreating them in a digitized reality that we can freely visit, the unthinkable happens. Attack of a forgotten virus from 2020's wipes out all the art from the world."

What happens next?



So, I assume that videogames are okay, right?

I know the original post doesn't mention music, but some following posts do. I just wanted to mention that Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata will live on through Earthworm Jim.





/ / /


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"Re(3):<elegant handwritten invitation for Mao" , posted Sat 15 Jul 07:53post reply

quote:
So, I assume that videogames are okay, right?

I know the original post doesn't mention music, but some following posts do. I just wanted to mention that Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata will live on through Earthworm Jim.


Wow, honestly I wasn't expecting this many answers and quality discussion you guys put out based on this simple idea.

Mosquiton, I consider videogames as art so no, they're also gone. (Digital only, PT makes this actually not a far fetched future).

I was thinking in broader sense, the first wall drawings frome stone age to the any other artfully carved stands or drawers.

Now I start to wonder if we were to forget any kind of art and we only see things as functions rather than the potential of being an artpiece alongside of their functions.

Do we naturally start over to find the art in the everyday things and it expends to its own thing again?

Also i wonder how villains(politicians) would abuse this?

I really like the idea of insane caricatures of the originals. Just Mr. Bean version of everything. :D







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"Re(1):Messy Writing Corner" , posted Sat 15 Jul 10:44post reply

quote:
To keep it apart from the endless tangents of the Random Thread, this is a thread about writing. Leave notes here! Write about things you have read recently, and how their form or execution was interesting! Maybe even talk about their content, too, if you think that the content is inextricable from its execution! Leave down snippets of writing of your own that you thought were interesting, and then bemoan how it is far too much like your least favourite 19th century author while still being stereotypically post-modern! Harangue others for not having read clearly the great <<nationality> <writing format>>, or tell them about just how AWFUL Flavorless Tasteless Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki is (PAGING MAOU!).

It doesn't matter how amateurish you are or think you are, dish it out here so that we can sniff at it elegantly over cups of coffee/tea/yogurt/???.



I've been typing an underground light novel for a few years. I have ideas. I just don't have time.

It answers the question of "What does being an anime/manga/game/light novel character feel like?" to a point. The original plan was to do it from the view of a random person, but Neo Ryu thought that it'd be better if I were the hero. I end up being part of an elite group that's along the lines of the Avengers fusing with a S.W.A.T. team (this is how I get paid in the story) called the Magical Items and Tactics squad or M.I.T. The obvious difference is that while the Avengers and S.W.A.T. teams are way better when it comes to physical combat and fire arms, we're better with magic.

I bought an electronic book on a guy that beated cancer. I should get going on reading that. I'll take it easy with the book.







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"Hotel Spoon" , posted Sat 15 Jul 11:48post reply

Sometimes simple is best.

It was around 6:30 when Spoon finally rolled into the Hotel Onsy. "Dusty old place," he thought. But then, they all were. What was Ishmael doing running Red Crown like this, sending him off to tired old flophouses when he was on duty, he wondered. "Checking in, mate? Nice weather today," chirped the strangely bulldog-faced hotel owner from behind the counter. His accent struck Spoon as more British than French. "Cool it, pops, I'm just here to hit the hay between cases, don't need any small talk," Spoon growled. If he could just figure out where that dame Ms. P had disappeared to, he was sure she'd spill the beans on where his missing partner Bradley had been seen last. Unfortunately, everyone on his hallway seemed to have some logic puzzle they wanted solved. "Buncha simps and glamor queens, but guess I was asking for it, coming to a joint like this." But why was the annoyingly cheerful owner so insistent that he avoid Room 102, which he kept calling the "yogurt room?"





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"Re(1):Hotel Spoon" , posted Sat 15 Jul 12:10post reply

quote:
Sometimes simple is best.

It was around 6:30 when Spoon finally rolled into the Hotel Onsy. "Dusty old place," he thought. But then, they all were. What was Ishmael doing running Red Crown like this, sending him off to tired old flophouses when he was on duty, he wondered. "Checking in, mate? Nice weather today," chirped the strangely bulldog-faced hotel owner from behind the counter. His accent struck Spoon as more British than French. "Cool it, pops, I'm just here to hit the hay between cases, don't need any small talk," Spoon growled. If he could just figure out where that dame Ms. P had disappeared to, he was sure she'd spill the beans on where his missing partner Bradley had been seen last. Unfortunately, everyone on his hallway seemed to have some logic puzzle they wanted solved. "Buncha simps and glamor queens, but guess I was asking for it, coming to a joint like this." But why was the annoyingly cheerful owner so insistent that he avoid Room 102, which he kept calling the "yogurt room?"



That was GREAT :O






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"Re(2):Messy Writing Corner" , posted Sun 16 Jul 11:21post reply

quote:
I've been typing an underground light novel for a few years. I have ideas. I just don't have time.

It answers the question of "What does being an anime/manga/game/light novel character feel like?" to a point. The original plan was to do it from the view of a random person, but Neo Ryu thought that it'd be better if I were the hero.


Have you watched Re:Creators? The show is still running (episode 15 of 22 played today), and goes a fair bit into both fictional existences (several of the characters are pulled from light novels, comics, shows and games into the real world) and the creative process, as many of their respective creators are also involved. And the characters pulled aren't just protagonists, but also supporting roles and antagonists, which helps shake things up a little when it comes to the existential questions derived from their predicaments. There's a decent overview of the qualities and themes of its early episodes here.





...!!


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"Re(1):Last Maou" , posted Mon 17 Jul 04:52post reply

quote:
Sometimes simple is best.

It was around 6:30 when Spoon finally rolled into the Hotel Onsy. "Dusty old place," he thought. But then, they all were. What was Ishmael doing running Red Crown like this, sending him off to tired old flophouses when he was on duty, he wondered. "Checking in, mate? Nice weather today," chirped the strangely bulldog-faced hotel owner from behind the counter. His accent struck Spoon as more British than French. "Cool it, pops, I'm just here to hit the hay between cases, don't need any small talk," Spoon growled. If he could just figure out where that dame Ms. P had disappeared to, he was sure she'd spill the beans on where his missing partner Bradley had been seen last. Unfortunately, everyone on his hallway seemed to have some logic puzzle they wanted solved. "Buncha simps and glamor queens, but guess I was asking for it, coming to a joint like this." But why was the annoyingly cheerful owner so insistent that he avoid Room 102, which he kept calling the "yogurt room?"



Maou wasn't going anywhere, but the elevator music kept playing anyway. That's just the kind of place Hotel Cafe M was, between the moping old men and the expats, a place where nothing seemed to move. But Maou liked that. A man needs rocks, and this grand mouldering lady was the hardest there was in the windy old port city of San Francisco.

The impish Thai man was sitting at the lounge bar, playing with his beer again. He had a named that would cramp your hand to write and would make your tongue whirl to say, so everybody called him the one thing he wasn't: "Rich". He didn't mind. A real product of the land of smiles, that guy.

"Maou! Nihao!"

For a Thai guy, he spoke a lot of Chinese. Weird Chinese, though: not the Chinese you hear in Chinatown.

Maou brushed the dust off his hat and sat down next to Rich. The dust of Tenderloin doesn't come off of anybody who lives there, but some manners must be observed.

"Professor, give me something cold", Maou said.

Nobody knows why the barkeep and owner of the Cafe M is called "Professor", he certainly wasn't a man of books, let alone a man of God. Still, the drinks that needed to be cold he kept cold, and that counted. The Professor nodded, and poured out something cheap. He'd always pour cheap ones for the people that he already knew couldn't afford the good ones, but he did it as far below the counter as he could so nobody would see. Nobody questioned your drinks here, though the Professor's service was something else, and that counted, too.

Maou's tab was as restless as he was, but a drink would help him settle down, at least for a while.

"You eating, Rich?", Maou asked.
"I'm eating rich!", the Thai man beamed.









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"Re(2):Last Nobi" , posted Tue 18 Jul 10:10post reply

quote:
"You eating, Rich?", Maou asked.
"I'm eating rich!", the Thai man beamed.
How I wish I was still posted in SF when you both were there, if only so we could have reenacted this perfect MMC fanfiction. I did drink whisky with Karasu in a hotel bar in Tokyo one time!

Connecting back to the subject of writing and this very Hotel Dusk-like image, I'm going to return to the subject of impactful writing and tie it to games, specifically Wish Room/Last Window. I don't mean good writing in games as in "good direction," of which there is a great deal, but of good text, of which there is very little. Kyle Hyde and his crowd have it in both Japanese and English, and very likely in Spanish too (ask Maese about this sometime for a story). It's a rare case when I both noticed the writing because it was so good, and didn't notice it because it was so natural.

Most text in games works for some simple dialogue and emotional attachment, but not much deeper than Hollywood stuff, and often overwrought fantasy junk or purely utilitarian. There's some high-end stuff now and again, like the conversion from the perfectly ordinary Japanese scripts of Matsuno's Ivalice Final Fantasy games into apparently Shakespearean stuff abroad, though that's a rare case.

FFVI's writing sticks with me based on the economy of its very high impact language. Few later games say so much about its characters with ten times the text; these are among the most efficiently and convincingly written characters I have ever seen. Oddly enough, the same is true in the original Woolsey translation, though he didn't have a choice given character limits.

Working Designs used to get some flack for giving some random townspeople goofy lines in their translations, but I happened to play their version of Lunar~Eternal Blue first, which not only taught me to swear in English, it also showed me some very powerful phrasing in the text and lyrics, many lines of which stick with me years later. The English lyrics to Rondo of Light and Shadow are astounding work.





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"Re(3):Last Nobi" , posted Tue 18 Jul 22:27post reply

quote:
FFVI's writing sticks with me based on the economy of its very high impact language. Few later games say so much about its characters with ten times the text; these are among the most efficiently and convincingly written characters I have ever seen. Oddly enough, the same is true in the original Woolsey translation, though he didn't have a choice given character limits.
I would hate to sound like if I was part of some insane monomaniac SaGa cult that sacrifices virgins and feed their blood to Enterbrain in order to re-publish the strategy guide of U:SaGa (which I am not, as I already told the police on countless occasions), but you should really have a go at RS2, 3, Minstrel Song or Scarlet Grace. The amount of interaction, personality, and dramatic intensity conveyed by characters who often only have 3 or 4 lines of dialogue in the entire game is staggering.
Kawazu really understand the power of tropes and uses them at their fullest: a lot of situations are knowingly cliché to get the stakes across in the minimum of time and text, while often abruptly cutting the conclusion short to surprise the player, or balancing the gendered undertones of the tropes.

Also, did you play Dai Gyakuten Saiban or Ghost Trick in Japanese? Economy is not the mode here, but good and subtle writing is Takushû's strongest quality.

Finally, I quite enjoy the last episode of this thread and look forward for the next twist. Amuse me, talented people!







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"Re(2):Last Maou" , posted Wed 19 Jul 13:29post reply

quote:
Sometimes simple is best.

It was around 6:30 when Spoon finally rolled into the Hotel Onsy. "Dusty old place," he thought. But then, they all were. What was Ishmael doing running Red Crown like this, sending him off to tired old flophouses when he was on duty, he wondered. "Checking in, mate? Nice weather today," chirped the strangely bulldog-faced hotel owner from behind the counter. His accent struck Spoon as more British than French. "Cool it, pops, I'm just here to hit the hay between cases, don't need any small talk," Spoon growled. If he could just figure out where that dame Ms. P had disappeared to, he was sure she'd spill the beans on where his missing partner Bradley had been seen last. Unfortunately, everyone on his hallway seemed to have some logic puzzle they wanted solved. "Buncha simps and glamor queens, but guess I was asking for it, coming to a joint like this." But why was the annoyingly cheerful owner so insistent that he avoid Room 102, which he kept calling the "yogurt room?"


Maou wasn't going anywhere, but the elevator music kept playing anyway. That's just the kind of place Hotel Cafe M was, between the moping old men and the expats, a place where nothing seemed to move. But Maou liked that. A man needs rocks, and this grand mouldering lady was the hardest there was in the windy old port city of San Francisco.

The impish Thai man was sitting at the lounge bar, playing with his beer again. He had a named tha

-- Message too long, Autoquote has been Snipped --



The kitchen bell rang out sharply, and the Professor received and delivered a massive plate of food to Rich with a leisurely smoothness that entirely concealed how quickly he did it.

Laid before Rich was a thick steak, crispier than chips on the outside and smoky enough to be smelled through the pall of tobacco that hung in the lounge. He cut into it with relish, and his plate soon had the look of a Chinatown butcher's block as deep red juices flowed across it. A woody aroma of yeast emerged as he noisily broke the crust of a roll and sopped up the tinted stream. The moist, pink crumb of the roll was soon capped by a daffodil-yellow smear of butter, and Rich's face filled with satisfaction as he ate it. Men of power and wealth have known less happiness than him at that moment. Rich was, without a doubt, eating richly.

Breaking from his ecstasy, Rich turned his attention to Maou.

"You can see, I am eating", Rich said, paying special attention to the last word.
"I can see that", Maou replied, unable to garnish his own words with that same degree of attention.

"There is nothing more universal and more sacred than eating. Every man, woman, child, and animal on every place on Earth eats. Whether they believe in God or not, whether they have studied or not, whether they have sinned or not, every man has rituals and taboos about food and eating. These rituals and taboos are called table manners, and breaking them is deeply repugnant: you can see how people recoil, how their gazes change, how they whisper, when a guest breaks them. How carefully they must step around the taboo! How difficult it is to explain the offence to the offender! How steeped they are in the mystery, the religion of eating!" Rich relayed this wisdom to Maou with a mouth full of food, stopping only to clear his mouth with a great swallow of beer.

Maou opened a menu. His work, if it could be called that, had left him tired, and the spectacle of Rich's eating provoked his appetite even moreso than the food itself. Maou turned his head to beckon the Professor, but the gesture was hardly needed: the Professor arrived to hear his order exactly as Maou was ready to speak it.

"Just a burger", Maou said.
"Just a burger", the Professor politely confirmed.









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"Re(3):Last Maou" , posted Wed 19 Jul 18:44post reply

quote:



Night has fallen, and lack of moon in the sky left this recently alive dining room in a tranquilly silent state resembling of a ghost town cemetery. Only things that illuminate the night were some lost fireflies. Dark clouds acted as blinders, not even letting the joy of starlights bless the soil.
The staff left the hotel as soon as the clock hit the number 8. They thought all life surrounding here had preffered to leave here before than they did.

What a contrast it was in this hotel's atmosphere. The dinner was served at six, kitchen closed at six-thirty and all of them rushed to go home before eight. A lively day and dead silent night.
A young man who wanted spend the summer working in a restaurant rather than a football camp where some of his friends went and never to be heard of.
He look behind from the back seat and he could have sworn there were no windows for this little hotel that was beside a lake in the middle of the forest. Maybe it was the lights of the car blocking his sight but it was mystery for him how this old building didn't let any light to sneak out the garden eventhough it was well lit inside before they left. Then he wished eagerly to be lost on his everyday life thoughts and didn't wanna waste anymore time thinking about this old building. Let this weirdos discuss how that "a white painted god killer was in fact an emo guy with one-dimensional angsty, fan servicing every dudebros back in the day". He even remembered his dad was saying how the hotel get criticized by the tabloids for its elitist and niche discussions and it was suggested to strip away a star from hotel's ratio. His dad had a chuckle and continued; "Instead they gain one more star in the deep circles and attract more crazy and cult." He turned his head watching the path that will lead them home. None of these things about this god forsaken hotel will matter when he will be watching tv in an hour and sipping his coke.

When night welcome the new day in its darkest form, yawning already started to replace last words of the discussion. "Skeletons are so 2000s" one uttered, another room was echoing that the "wonderland exists in repetation and swapping heads". In one room endless brackets were designed. Everything from absurdly giants to possessed littl girls were discussed. Even Nightmarish Crime Lords who are ambitious to take away corporations from parallel universes that produces genes of unholy or polished Unholy figures trying fill God's fetus with superheroes not knowing he is a puppet/bait of the unholiest trying to fill gold coins to its vault by trying to absorb hearts off mortals worshipping the stalkers of darkness, with minimum effort. Nohing was spared from discussion.
But then all was tired and in strange unity sand man visited all of them at once. Owner recently checked everything before he call it a day. He was still tired from fixing the plumbing. You can call him magician almost. This rusty pipes were still functioning eveb though just recently there was a little pond of words coming from leaking pipes. The pond looked bigger than it should be, some suspected badly used links of the pipes causing that leakage. But it was somehow fixed.

Finally just after midnight the hotel made them all asleep. Even the lost fireflies decided to be gone. All surrender to the darkness except one.
Even if you would be very close, you couldn't hear this one soul's intentionally slow heartbeats. He carrefully tried to paint the sound of his breath with the non-existent light breeze. The basement door slightly opened, if there was any for of light you could've see it was a naked man who has dark mossy green hair with a wet look coming out. He was so pale that he would've reflect moonlight like a diamond if there was a moon in the sky.

He reached the keys of the front door in reception. His heartbeats became even more slower while he was trying to reach the keys over the bulldog faced receptionist sleeping on his chair; his favourite watchmen spot. He succesfully grab the key and then head to the front door. It felt like forever to unlock the door.
He didn't dare to close to the door fully. He couldn't dare running yet, either. He was finally close to the freedom. It was the sound of the step that wakes the bulldog. That treasonous noise; the grass and the soft soil caused by the leakage decided to snitch and shout "He is running!" top of their imaginative lungs when they meet his wet feet. The bulldog called out in the front yard "Who's there!"
He was hiding behind the tree and he didn't even turn his head slightest. He understood that it was time to run deep into the forest there was no room for hesitating as he sees the blood red reflections on the trees facing the hotel. The calling has started and bright red ancients letters of circles getting bigger. He couldn't afford to be close if he wanted his freedom. Then he forced his weak muscles to get out of the lost woods. His eyes were burning as he was whispering softly to himself "Sorry P!".









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"Re(4):Last Oguz" , posted Thu 20 Jul 09:36:post reply

quote:
Dark clouds acted as blinders, not even letting the joy of starlights bless the soil.

there was a little pond of words coming from leaking pipes.

In addition to the unfolding story itself, one of my favorite things so far about the accidental MMC Fanfic Thread is the opportunity to see beautiful and unexpected turns of phrase from various non-native but fluent speakers from around the world.

I recall reading an article a decade ago by/about (?) Levy Hideo, a rare non-native novelist writing in Japanese, about the special word choices and styles that are opened up to him in another language that might not occur to natives. (Bizarrely, one of his books was translated into English...by someone else.)

On a higher level, Nabokov's first novels were Russian before he switched to English and later gave the Cafe the important linguistic genesis of our Gothic Lolita Londonians.

Jhumpa Lahiri, who writes very well about the Indian-American experience, has written on the madness and joy of purposefully toiling to write in Italian, a language she only recently learned.
quote:

insane monomaniac SaGa cult that sacrifices virgins and feed their blood to Enterbrain

the religion of eating!

football camp

"Instead they gain one more star in the deep circles and attract more crazy and cult."

Also I am also pleased by how the story and non-story posts here are linking together.





人間はいつも私を驚かせてくれる。不思議なものだな、人間という存在は...

[this message was edited by Maou on Thu 20 Jul 12:16]



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"Re(5):Last Oguz" , posted Fri 21 Jul 02:54:post reply

quote:
there was a little pond of words coming from leaking pipes.


This was also my favourite turn of phrase in Kofoguz's passage! Such a vivid, tactile, and yet surreal phrase, while also cleverly invoking our familiar problems linking URLs! Good stuff!

Perhaps it was Nabokov, but I remember a Russian author who had fluency in English before Russian, and how that affected his sense of words and writing. Not only that, his fluency with both led to him translating his own work between the two languages! I can imagine that for a language that has a rich literary history steeped in a particular culture, the sense of "common sense" and "expected knowledge" or typical structure must be challenging to convey with brevity in the unusually cosmopolitan English.

Which brings me to another point: I have familiarity with a few languages like French and Japanese, but the only two that I can speak with real fluency are Cantonese and English. There are a number of grammatical tics in Cantonese that resemble the grammar of English, but the sensation of subject omission in sentences which feels very natural in Cantonese becomes clipped and terse in English. I don't think it's an abnormal thing that people have trouble "thinking" in a language that they are not fluent in (for instance, I cannot think in Japanese except for a few extremely simple thoughts; I think in Cantonese or English and then translate those thoughts to Japanese), but even then, there is "resonance" with words that simply isn't there in spite of my exposure and familiarity with them. The best example of this for me is that the "-kun" suffix in Japanese which can denote a small male thing and can be used as a term of endearment/affection/awww-its-so-cute has a 100% perfect analogue in Chinese. However, the sensation I get when hearing the Chinese one is visceral and delightful, while hearing the Japanese one is not; I've heard the Japanese one enough to be able to understand it instantly without thinking, and having seen it used in a zillion manga/anime/games/movies/whatevers I should have enormous amounts of exposure to it in emotional contexts, but still I do not feel anything from it. I intellectually understand it should map to the Chinese one exactly, but I cannot feel the way I do with the Chinese one without simply saying the Chinese one in my head. I suppose I could in a Pavlovian fashion build the association internally that way, but that feels like brainwashing myself.

It makes me wonder if it will ever possible to have a native language "feeling" with a language learned much later in life. Is the wiring of our brains and thinking so profoundly influenced by our initial languages that it becomes impossible for us to feel in other languages without building the association in terms of the languages we have already been wired in?

I have another theory about learning languages which is that learning proficiency with a language is easier for children due to social/environmental things as opposed to merely mental plasticity, but when it comes to developing emotional resonance with a language, I wonder if adults can learn it viscerally the way children can, or if it must come through the act of mapping.





[this message was edited by Spoon on Fri 21 Jul 02:58]



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"Re(6):Last Oguz" , posted Fri 21 Jul 13:46post reply

quote:
Spoon-kun

It makes me wonder if it will ever possible to have a native language "feeling" with a language learned much later in life.
I think the two parts of your post tie together to answer this: much of language learning is experiencial. In other words, "-kun" will probably mean a bit less to you because you presumably haven't often been addressed that way in real life by your teachers, friends, and bosses. It becomes hard to "feel" this word because there is no immediate personal association with the situation or the counterpart who you could imagine/remember addressing you this way.

Language as directed at you and thus experienced by you no doubt makes it part of you, including the ability to think in said language. It could well be that it's harder to learn a new language when older because it's rarer to have an immersive cultural/life experience from the ground up at that point: knowing how kids talk, or vocabulary specific to primary education, for instance, will always be something of an abstraction if you come in as an adult without having gone through that phase in the other language, to say nothing of cultural specificities and references that are tied to language.

All of the above could also be tied to writing in another language, hence the creative agonies described by Lahiri, but also some of the interesting and rewarding joys of perservering.





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"Re(4):Last Maou" , posted Sat 22 Jul 13:48post reply

quote:




The Hotel had a way of keeping people, though many of the reasons were not as savory as the vittles of the Cafe M. Maou was one of these people, and he in turn found himself keeping many things for reasons that were not all tasteful, either.

The faithful of the Cafe M each lived in their own time zones, even as they were all gathered under its smoke-soaked roof. Deep into the night, there were the strangely wakeful taking their afternoon tea in the Hotel. Who knew what had swept them onto the shores of the Bay, but for all of the city that now clung to them, they had not acquired its time.

Tonight, though, the guests had all cleared out by the evening. A wet front had rolled in, and the old men were lured to sleep by the mist.

Maou, too, retired to his room. He had long since stopped smoking, but the desire for smoke had never truly left him. In his room were a few small boxes containing bits of wood: hickory in one, maple in another, mesquite in a third, and so on. He took a pinch of hickory, put it into the room’s ashtray, and lit it. The scent was warm and dark, and brought him the comfort of the scotch he couldn’t afford. Men would always seek fire, even if the only place they can find it is in a cheap glass bottle.

Maou laid back on his bed, letting the faint smell of the smouldering hickory drift over him. His room was full of all manner of dead and transformed wood. Some were mementos, like the piece from time of the Rangers’ burning. Some he didn’t know why he still kept, like the overly-long piece from Norway, or the bone-white colorless one which seemed awful from every angle.

The fragment of hickory popped and crackled. Maou let his thinking slow. He was in no mood for reading tonight, and just stared at an old poster of a beautiful, long-haired Asian woman in a deep crimson turtleneck sweater. She had always written in her spare time, and even in that picture she held a pen and a black folder.

The orange glow of the hickory grew brighter. Maou could feel his eyelids grow heavy, and his mind submerging. Today’s job had gone smoothly, as smoothly as such jobs can go, but he felt as tired as if he had done an honest day’s work. He tried recalling the events of the day, but his mind sank ever further below where it could reach his memories of the day.

The hickory gave out its last light. Maou no longer had the strength to do anything but fall asleep on top of his bed. He thought about the white jacket she wasn’t wearing in that poster, and the long chain that bound the arms of her glasses that she’d loop over her collarbone like a necklace.

As Maou fell asleep, he tried to forget about her.









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"Re(5):Last Madman" , posted Tue 25 Jul 11:10post reply

quote:
She had always written in her spare time, and even in that picture she held a pen and a black folder.
The only thing more noir than pining for one's lost love is lamenting that one was born a decade too late to grow up concurrently with one's destined true love.

...I also forgot another comment on the rarity of good game scripts: the one reason that Lost Odyssey ever grabbed my attention is that a legit Japanese author wrote the text for the memory segments. The internet tells me that they sought out a special translator just for these segments (though ironically, it was the less impressive translator of Murakami that abovementioned English-speaking friend did not enjoy, rather than Birnbaum, ah well).

But who among the patrons of Cafe M will add their writing/observations next?





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"Re(7):Last Madman" , posted Mon 31 Jul 10:50post reply

quote:
But who among the patrons of Cafe M will add their writing/observations next?


*space reserved*





(exciting!)







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"And now for something much less exciting" , posted Tue 1 Aug 09:14post reply

quote:
As Maou fell asleep, he tried to forget about her.


But sleep is a facetious god, and rarely gives what one expects from it. Or maybe it is so that the dreamer really is a different person from the one that is awake, and these two alien souls only temporarily share a mind as if by accident.
So while Maou was trying to drift away from her memory, the steady stream of dreams brought her closer to his grasp, closer than she would ever be, before ravishing her again, like a cruel child.

There he was, climbing through metallic stairs that stretched around and through a gargantuan iron structure cast over the sky. Smells of freshly cut grass. Songs of birds. Fresh breath of the winds of late spring. Rancid smell of urine. Loud humming of countless cars. Occasional colourful swearword tearing through the noise, all the way up these unnatural heights. Far below, a narrow river, draining itself half-asleep between rows of old-fashion buildings.
Ah, Paris.
The stairs reached a large observation platform, surprisingly empty of a single tourist. “If I didn’t already know it was a dream, I would know now”, he thought to himself, and started to climb down the stairs, hoping they would lead him back to his bed. But then, of course, there she was, and of course he stopped.
She was leaning against the railing, a sublime shape of white, black and sharp angles, her back defiantly turned at him. He knew it was her, with that natural certainty that dreams give freely and lucid hours stubbornly refuse. And so he walked up to her, like a robot to his maker, like an inmate to the electric chair, like any man would have jumped down a cliff if she simply sighted, he walked, and his hand fell on that glowingly white jacket of hers.
She turned. And then it wasn’t her any more.

“You’re late”, said a joyful baritone voice coming out inexplicably from the grotesque head that stood above her shoulders. Two globulous eyes, humid and dumb, were staring down into his own. White and black short hair covered its skin. The apparition tried to lick Maou face-to-toe with the huge, obscenely pink tongue hanging down from its gaping maw, but a quick invincible backdash allowed him to narrowly escape a colossal dry cleaning bill. The smell of rotten meat and coffee filled the air. “Now, where was I. Ah, yes! We were discussing farce in Japanese and western narratives, weren’t we?”.

“Don’t do that face. You know, we were talking about burlesque moments in MGS, RGG or One Punch Man, and then I wondered why we so often separate “fun for the sake of fun” and “serious and drab fun”. Why is, more often than not, the later regarded more highly than the former? Why are Shakespeare’s tragedies considered better than his comedies (or at least have been until recently), or, on the other side of the spectrum, why are some people obsessed with grittily rebooting everything? Then you wondered whether that could be a cultural difference. For example there could be something in Japanese culture that doesn’t view silly fun as inferior to self-righteous fun.

Of course, Japan didn’t wait for Tezuka Osamu to have fun. Court entertainment during the Heian period was plentiful, though courtly intrigues could turn the most harmless joke into the most poisonous dagger. At a time when most European nobles didn’t know how to read and whose idea of a fun afternoon was limited to hunting, heavy drinking, and hitting each other to death, the Heian court had refined poetry and introspective diary to an unprecedented level, and it would be over a millennia until any European would write a novel that could equal the Tale of the Genji’s psychological depth. Poetry was at the same time a form of expression of self, celebration of complex emotions, and a way to advance your career. Countless festivals were the occasion to show your fashion taste, or risk shame and lose your career if you chose an undertone colour that would clash with the tone of the person immediately above you. If you were bored, you could listen to monks chanting sutras you likely didn’t understand with their mesmerizing voices. The best thing that could happen to you would be to suddenly lose all your wealth and friends, so you could create the most beautiful poetry about being awoken in the middle of the night by the moonlight coming through the whole in the roof. Of course, that had to be temporary and you would somewhat come back in power and sentence your enemies to eternal unfashionable-ness, lest someone else would make a poem about you being romantically poor, and that would really be the end of it all.
So, at first glance, Heian nobles seem as fun as the cold-blooded covers of Vogue magazine. Interestingly, some diaries of more minor nobles paint a much different picture, of people making jokes that are still good a thousand years later, people with flaws and likeable characteristics, but it doesn’t seem to be the values the court put forward in their entertainment nor in their public life.

It’s very difficult to know what the other 99% living in Japan used as entertainment during that period. We do know of troupes of prostitutes that were performing music, acrobatics, dances and crude theatre during public festivals and other celebrations. In many ways, it was probably very similar to our circus. Of course, nobles would sometimes come and spy on them incognito, and sometimes even invite them to perform to their friends (or “perform”). As more nobles became patrons of this exotic art, dances and music became more and more refined, and it is now impossible to know what the non-high-brow version of these performances looked like.
After the Heian court got burned to the ground a couple of times and several powerful and illiterate warlords invaded the place, the first thing they did was to imitate the elegant tastes of the fallen elite. Being of a more rustic background and having the necessity to live and die by the sword instead of to live and die by the colour of their inner kimono's embroidery, the entertainment evolved.
All these popular performances had been codified into something called Kyôgen (crazy speech), a form of short comedy with stock characters similar to commedia dell’arte, as well as what we know today as Nô theatre. If you’re not familiar, Nô is a combination of dance, music, and tragic one-man-show.
During the Ashikaga period, Nô became the finest art available to the highest elites. A typical representation of Nô lasted one full day, and contained 5 Nô plays, each of 5 rigidly defined categories. The first play would be about a god visiting the mortals, with barely any dramaturgy. It’d be mostly an auspicious way to start the day. The second would be a tragic tale of a heroic warrior fallen in battle, and whose spirit fails to leave his regrets behind. The third would be the female version of that, a tragic tale of a woman abandoned by her lover for example. The fourth play was less strictly defined than the others: they are roughly “tales of the real world”, without much supernatural, but still quite tragic (insanity because of the death of a child, or because of jealousy, or a noble losing his title and being cast away from the court). The final play would be more rhythmical than the others, about some evil monster being fought and slain by some hero, with energetic dance and music to signal the end of the day and wake up whoever would have fallen asleep after all the drama prior.
What is interesting is that a silly Kyôgen would always be played between each Nô. So a day of performance would have 5 plays of intense elegance and 4 short breaks of mundane, coarse silliness. However, as the Ashikaga family became more and more dazzled with their own cultural power, Nô evolved. Actors who were skilled in all parts focused on the most aesthetically pleasing elements, the “Flower of the art” (I believe mostly the dance at the end of the third type, the “woman’s ghost driven insane by grief” plays). The dramatic moments got longer, the dances got insufferably slower, and more aesthetically challenging. The shows got shortened to two plays and a Kyôgen. I believe ultimately the Kyôgen disappeared? Maybe after Nobunaga kicked the Ashikaga off the throne? Either way, after Wakamoto’s best role put some order into that madness, no one really cared about Nô anymore. The Tokugawa were still watching Nô because they hated fun, but the art had lost all cultural significance.

In the meantime, the merchants at Ôsaka had exploded into a real bourgeois middle-class, and had their own entertainment form, again coming from prostitutes dancing and singing as ways to attract customers. This art became Kabuki, which is much closer to our idea of theatre: multiple characters, a succession of scenes, an action that has a beginning, a middle and a crescendo to the end… It also had less conventional elements: a mixture of tearjerking scenes and coarse humour moments within the same play, or interactions with the audience that were between the ones in Shakespeare’s time and the rehearsed chorus and choreography of the idols for creepy paedophiles in modern day Japan.
Kabuki and Nô share a similar origin, as well as business models: both were used as advertisers for their actresses’ other activities, and, once the women were banned from performing, men took their roles both as actors and prostitutes, and were touted to be better than women at being women on stage and in the bed sheets.
Yet, as far as stage performances and narrative devices, Kabuki and Nô couldn’t be more different. And while Kabuki evolved during the almost 3 centuries when it was the prevalent performing art, and all the elites were coming to the performances incognito because that’s where the fun really was, it never got picked up officially by the ruling class or the aesthetes. It remained alive and vulgar; it adapted classic tales, made heroes out of bandits with a heart of gold, even had trite gossips "inspired by a true story" plays, for example when they wrote plays after plays about young lovers choosing suicide over accepting their role in the neo-Confucian Tokugawa society.

Where am I getting at, you ask. Is it where I finally go full circle and draw a line all the way up to Kiryû staring at a chicken in RGG or Snake asking Paramedic whether that vulture was edible? Unfortunately no. If Kabuki didn’t get drawn to the drab aestheticism dead-end that killed Nô, it is because the ruling class already had Nô fulfilling that role for them. Moreover, that distinction between the high-art where nobody laughs and popular art where the real life is is something that all modern societies know, at least the European and western ones. Moving forward to the contemporary landscape, it is difficult to guess which, between South Park and Terrence Malick, will be dissected by scholars in 200 years for example.
In other words, I do not believe the weird quirkiness of modern Japanese narrative has anything to do with long-held cultural difference with the West. If there were one thing that could be framed as a cultural narrative specifically Japanese, in literature, Nô, Kabuki, poetry and almost everything else, it’s their almost millennia-old love for sad endings. As far as history is concerned, Japan might be the only country where the winners don’t write history: only the losers are remembered, as long as they lost with panache.

Then where do we go from now? How do we solve the initial problem? I wonder whether class warfare and capitalism might not be a better device to answer the question. We’ve seen the elite were the main driving force with drawing out the life out of Nô and countless other forms of art. They were the ones pushing for the birth of tragedy in classic France, for example. In the XIXth century, the French masses fell in love with Verdi., Puccini or even Bizet while the elites preferred the insufferable Wagner. I would like to understand why the ruling classes seem to generally consider a smile the most hideous expression a face can take, or why museums are filled with paintings of pouting rich people while the only people smiling are fairies and fools.
Capitalism can be another explanation. Properly labelled stories and performances are easier to sell to the masses, and maybe market research did allow them to distil emotions to their very essence. Teenagers being the group most susceptible of paying for entertainment, catering to them means catering to their view of the world, a view that rejects anything joyful and colourful as “kiddie” and “not cool because I’m a grown up, I’m 14 now”.
I wouldn’t be surprised if, like with every other concept they take from abroad, Japanese people misunderstood the modern attire of capitalism, allowed it to mix with existing ideas instead of replacing them, and thus gave birth to the beautifully grotesque entertainment industry we can see now, an industry that, like Nô and Kabuki, still caters first and foremost to wealthy adults with a passion for very young prostitutes."


The whole lecture was delivered in one breath. The creature, panting, stopped for a second.
- What? You don’t like my conclusion? Don’t complain, at least I managed to cut the part about Aristotle and Roman theatre.
Suddenly, it took a long stare at Maou’s face. The massive eye-globules narrowed sharply, and the flow of time thickened like molasses.
- Wait a sec… You’re not Spoon, are you?
- I…
- Damn, wrong dream. I should have known! Sorry for that. Please go back to your moppy little remembrance about the sad state of your love life, or whatever that was.
The creature stared down its own body, as it noticed its female curves for the first time.
- Ah, of course! Nice fashion sense, I must admit. Very… Ah, how do you say? You know, that designer from… Eh, non important. Bye, pretty lady. And you…”, he said, turning back its face to Maou, “have a whatever day, I guess.

Abruptly, everything went black, as if someone had cut the sun’s power.
Maou opened his eyes. He was back on his bed, and the morning light was starting to drip through the curtains. 5AM, maybe 6. He pulled himself out to the bathroom and energetically rubbed his face in the shower, like he could scrub the dream away. But the monstrous dog head was stubbornly hanging on to his mind, refusing to fade away, taunting him mockingly, suddenly wearing Urien's underwears for no good reason. Suddenly, Maou remembered the day of the week.
“Saturday! It’s Saturday! But of course. It makes sense now. That was a typical Saturday dream. Quite good by Saturday standards, actually”.

The repetition of al things, even the gruesome and the grotesque, has always been reassuring. Almost happy, he got dressed, picked the least bad shirt from his luggage, and started thinking about breakfast. At the back of his mind, the dog face tried to express disappointment, but only managed to make itself even more wrinkly and small, until it looked like a dried prune and exploded in a puff of whatever the dreams are made of.
A new day had started. It was time to solve it all.







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"Re(1):And now for something much less excitin" , posted Wed 2 Aug 13:33post reply

quote:



That was as insightful as it was entertaining! Thank you enormously for that!

Actually Iggy, since you've spent a whole life around writing and words, do you actually ever do any reading for pleasure these days? Or are you so saturated with words just from work and from the remnants of academia that you'd rather not have any more?







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"tale of the four madmen" , posted Wed 2 Aug 14:06:post reply

quote:
-He knew it was her, with that natural certainty that dreams give freely and lucid hours stubbornly refuse.
-a quick invincible backdash allowed him to narrowly escape a colossal dry cleaning bill.

This ability to mix the flawlessly beautiful with the hilarious is underrated in the Western canon. (Is this also the defining feature of the Madman’s Cafe?!) Anyhow, this is a towering achievement on the lines of Toxico’s World Heroes thread. I know he would have approved.

Noh has always been the currency of stubborn old men, irritating right-wingers, and insecure people who are vaguely ashamed about their need to “know more about their own culture.” Naturally, none of these people understand a word of it without the accompanying booklet or audio tape. Noh’s self-proclaimed guardians kept it so thoroughly frozen in time, self-serious, and inflexible that it is destined to die out for lack of practitioners because no one actually understands or enjoys it (people will tell you they do (these people are lying (to themselves, if not to you))), whereas the amiable jackassery of Kyougen is still entertaining today. If that isn’t a lesson for the writing and style thread, I don’t know what is.
quote:
-come back in power and sentence your enemies to eternal unfashionable-ness
-after Wakamoto’s best role put some order into that madness, no one really cared about Nô anymore.
-only the losers are remembered, as long as they lost with panache.
-the beautifully grotesque entertainment industry we can see now, an industry that, like Nô and Kabuki, still caters first and foremost to wealthy adults with a passion for very young prostitutes.
I also had a vision of this profound wisdom being delivered atop the Eiffel Tower not by Iggy-Kyoko, but by the guy in Chrono Trigger who you find on a mountaintop with Spekkio’s sprite and who says, “Mountains sure are nice!”
quote:
Or are you so saturated with words just from work and from the remnants of academia that you'd rather not have any more?
In his youth, Yi-gi had always dreamed of passing the national civil service examination, bringing honor to his family and taking him from remote Yunnan province to the capital as a scholar-administrator. Truly, there was value in being in the central hub of the middle kingdom. It was only with age, however, that Yi-gi began to question the ways of the academy. Maybe it was one too many changes in the interpretations of the four elements. More likely it was that reading Li Yu's Carnal Prayer Mat made everything else seem asinine and boring. So began his life as a mountain hermit, away from both the academy and the capital. Passers-by assumed he was another lonely old eccentric, but the laugher that wafted down from his mountain den at night suggested a different story...





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[this message was edited by Maou on Thu 3 Aug 09:14]



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"Re(1):tale of the four madmen" , posted Tue 8 Aug 07:22:post reply

quote:
Li Yu's Carnal Prayer Mat



Hahahaha

It does leave me wondering, though, about the preservation of art and the evolution of art. I imagine that fashion tends to be driven by the dual forces of practical need and whatever-it-is-the-elite-have. Some things the elite would never have to contend with, and so never have had to devise clothing for, whereas other elements from the high-fashion of the elite driven by their resources and desire to fund designers to create novel things for them eventually become designs that the less elite crave, and that more consumer-oriented fabricators will borrow from.

In the case of performance art, there is art that is too crude for the elites, but has the prospect of continually evolving in the muck partly as a result of the ferocity of competition that occurs in this market that is so much more accessible to both creators and audiences. Some forms that would be considered high art gain that have gained prestige out of their association with the elite and through a long history wind up preferring to not change, because the establishment of tradition creates a sense of value that stands uniquely against the ever-mutating low art.

But as you have pointed out, sometimes this stoicism chokes the life out of the art form, eventually leaving it either derelict or some kind of institution with highly limited appeal (which might be highly desirable for elites!).

I don't know where I'm going with this.

quote:



The cool morning wind heralded the sunrise once again in San Francisco, and once again, countless thousands in the city were too much of too many things to appreciate its glory.

But for once, Maou awoke in his own bed, and that was miracle enough for him.

He dumped the spent hickory ashes from last night into a nearby spitoon, and then did his morning ritual: finding a mirror and making sure first that his face was still there, and then that all the rest of him was still there. Once satisfied that he was fully intact, he filled a kettle with water from the bathroom tap. The Cafe M had coffee sourced from places unknown, and every month a heavy bag of green coffee beans from the docks in Oakland would find its way to the Cafe's front door. The denizens of the Cafe M had as many opinions about coffee as they did countries of origin, but the one thing they could agree on was that the Cafe M had decent coffee.

This morning, though, Maou wanted tea. He opened a boxy, green-colored tin but found that no more than the aroma of the tea remained. The morning chill of the Bay wind would not be dispelled with just a whiff, so Maou got up and headed out the door, towards the cafe.

Immediately, Maou made sure that his door was firmly locked behind him. There were happier places further North where people smilingly left the doors to their houses unlocked, places you needed only a car to reach. Was there a purer American Dream than happiness and peace being just a tank of gas away? But here, Maou walked down the stairs of the Hotel, descending through tar-smelling clouds of tobacco fumes. Maou needed tea.

A Chinese man reading a book was seated at the only table that had a vacant chair, and with a tilt of his hand indicated to Maou that it was available. Maou nodded, and sat down at the table. The Cafe M, packed as it was, meant that the Professor was far too busy to be able to observe all the regular pleasantries of waiting orders. Instead, he merely brought everyone what he already knew that they wanted. They didn't complain. It wasn't long before a steaming pot of tea slid in front of Maou, and he didn't even have time to acknowledge its arrival before the Professor was back at the counter preparing coffee.

The man with the book was tall by any standard even without his hat, but that made him especially tall for a Chinese man. His dark suit wasn't unremarkable as so much as it was entirely indistinct. Maou rubbed his eyes to be sure, but there it was: he couldn't tell if it was messy and wrinkled, or merely a little large and draped; in one angle in the light it was herringbone, and in another, but at another angle pinstripes glinted; it had a roughness and heaviness that seemed like wool, but it mangled the shadows like velvet. The one clearly distinct feature of his suit was a round metal object in his breast pocket that poked out like an eye. The metal was finely polished and showed not the slightest scratch, allowing Maou to see a clear reflection of the entire cafe behind him as he looked into it. Maou didn't even notice when the man at the table received his drink until he was already sipping it.

"Have you had this before?”, the man said with a faint and hard-to-place accent while gesturing at his drink. “It's a Yinyeung!" He spoke the name of the drink enthusiastically in Chinatown Chinese.

Maou shook his head.

"It's a drink from Hong Kong, probably invented by poor people who have only bad coffee and cheap tea. But... "

Pausing his speech, the tall man took the metal "eye" from his breast pocket. Drawing it out and turning it over, it was actually a tiny metal bowl attached to a slender bone rod. He filled the little bowl with sugar, poured the sugar into his tea, then returned his tool to his breast pocket, where it resumed gazing out at the cafe. Taking another sip, he concluded:

"... it is delicious."

Maou sipped his tea. The Professor served good tea, fine tea, even. Maou suspected that the "Russian Caravan" tea the Professor had on hand was just whatever had sat in a high cupboard for too long, and had breathed in too much of the lounge's smoke. The only evidence he had for this was that that tea tasted more like a cigar than a campfire.

After a few more sips, the vague-suited man put his drink down, stared at it for a moment, then lifted his head and spoke again in his slightly tilted English:
"It's a strange name for a drink. This drink is supposed to be named for the ducks that symbolize conjugal love. A pairing of two unlike things, the gaudy male duck and the plain female duck. But this drink is a mixture of coffee and tea. One dark thing set against an even darker thing. The tea might already have been mixed with milk making it look paler, but black tea is black tea no matter how it disguises itself. Knowing how things were in Hong Kong, it was probably filled milk, at that."

“In all likelihood, the first person to name it that wanted it to sound exotic, yet familiar. The foreign coffee, the familiar milk tea. The pairing that is unusual, but harmonious. Perhaps.” the Chinese man mused after another swallow of his drink.

Maou disliked coffee, which always struck him as strange for how drawn he had forever been to the smells and tastes of smoke and ash.

“Perhaps,” Maou started after another swallow of his tea, “he mixed something he hated with something he liked. He did it by accident or because it was all he had. He named it as a joke or out of spite. But it sold, and the name stuck.”

“An oddly-matched couple, however they came together” the Chinese man said with amusement.

“But a successful couple, in the end” Maou replied.

After finishing their teas, Maou exited the Cafe M and headed towards towards the West, while his tablemate stayed behind and resumed reading.







[this message was edited by Spoon on Tue 8 Aug 07:38]

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"Re(1):And now for something much less excitin" , posted Thu 10 Aug 04:10post reply

quote:
As Maou fell asleep, he tried to forget about her.

But sleep is a facetious god, and rarely gives what one expects from it. Or maybe it is so that the dreamer really is a different person from the one that is awake, and these two alien souls only temporarily share a mind as if by accident.
So while Maou was trying to drift away from her memory, the steady stream of dreams brought her closer to his grasp, closer than she would ever be, before ravishing her again, like a cruel child.

There he was, climbing through metallic stairs that stretched around and through a gargantuan iron structure cast over the sky. Smells of freshly cut grass. Songs of birds. Fresh breath of the winds of late spring. Rancid smell of urine. Loud humming of countless cars. Occasional colourful swearword tearing through the noise, all the way up these unnatural heights. Far below, a narrow river, draining itself half-asleep between rows of old-fashion buildings.
Ah, Paris.
The stairs reached a large observation platform, surprisingly empty of a single tourist. “If I didn’t already know it was a dream, I would know now”, he thought to himself, and started to climb down the stairs, hoping they would lead him back to his bed. But then, of course, there she was, and of course he stopped.
She was leaning against the railing, a sublime shape of white, black and sharp angles, her back defiantly turned at him. He knew it was her, with that natural certainty that dreams give freely and lucid h

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That was beautiful! And hilarious! And educational! And insightful!

quote:

“An oddly-matched couple, however they came together” the Chinese man said with amusement.

“But a successful couple, in the end” Maou replied.


That was also beautiful! And educational! And insightful!

Thanks for the great read you mad men!






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"50/50 mixups" , posted Mon 14 Aug 14:39post reply

As much as I am enjoying dishing out this MMC fanfiction for nobi and Maou (and I do have more installments already!), I'm going to take a break from clogging up the thread with my own words and plug some short reads that I very much enjoyed from the previous year!

Alyssa Wong writes short stories that are horror-tinted, and they have a terrific visceral quality to them. They aren't always outright horror stories, but there's always a dark tone in them. As opposed to the dry tone that Murakami's work has in English (and which I've liberally stolen from for my MMC fanfic), her writing is full of passion and physicality.
"Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers" is award-winning, and will strongly appeal to the cafe-goer who demands the choicest vittles.

Another award winner from last year with a much lighter tone and a much less intense style, Cat Pictures Please is one of the more delightful pieces of science-fiction which is set in RIGHT NOW and could possibly actually be happening right now!
Cat Pictures Please

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned both of these before, but I'm reiterating them simply because they are quite excellent, and quite dramatically different from each other (and from what's been posted here!) in style.







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"Re(1):hungry ghosts" , posted Thu 17 Aug 14:23post reply

quote:
Alyssa Wong
her writing is full of passion and physicality.
"Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers" is award-winning, and will strongly appeal to the cafe-goer who demands the choicest vittles.
I can't tell if it's a series of dark city/emotional/romantic/drug metaphors or a terrifying hungry-ghost-meets-doppelganger moment, or both! Visceral and interesting. This is why I'm afraid of a lot of written fiction. I can tell when a film or a game is going to be unnerving, but there's never any telling where a written work is going to go...

Speaking of which, I await all future MMC fanfics and gaidens from all comers!





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"Re(2):hungry ghosts" , posted Sat 26 Aug 08:03post reply

quote:

I can't tell if it's a series of dark city/emotional/romantic/drug metaphors or a terrifying hungry-ghost-meets-doppelganger moment, or both! Visceral and interesting. This is why I'm afraid of a lot of written fiction. I can tell when a film or a game is going to be unnerving, but there's never any telling where a written work is going to go...



It's quite something, isn't it? Certainly check out the other stories of hers linked on that page!

To be honest, though, such a powerful style of writing would probably be unpleasant to read in a novel-length treatment: I think it'd be like drinking an entire bottle of fish sauce. I love the stuff, but that's just too much, and it'd be too strong. I think part of the appeal of a slightly drier style aside from its novelty is that it's easier to drink a larger quantity of, as well as being easier to consume in a variety of moods/settings.

Anyway, I've been sitting on the next installment for awhile now, so it's time to post it!

quote:



The streetcars grumbled along in a perpetual state of displeasure: displeasure at the tracks they were made to run at, displeasure at the loads of passengers they had to carry, displeasure at the stops and starts they had to make. They expressed their plight with the honesty that only machines possess, in utterances that could make them known even to children.

Maou appreciated that about the streetcars, their genuineness, even as he suffered their grievances, whether the screech that cried of rust and poor lubrication, or the too-sharp bounce that told of the suspension’s neglect. Nobody was a straighter shooter than the Market Street trolleys, even if they only spoke for themselves.

Even in the morning, Market Street was bustling: some five lanes of cars shuffled along shoulder-to-shoulder. All the gaudiness afforded by new technology, from the massive bulk needed for V-8 engines to the smooth unibody chassis that had become popular, strutted alongside more traditional looking vehicles that didn’t have seatbelts. Reaching the end of the line, Maou began the climb up Twin Peaks. The morning was cool, making the walk bearable. He’d walk along the roads laid down for the cars, but with how little traffic went through there, that was of no concern. Maou had great sympathy for this monument of chaparral that quietly watched the urban city.

Surveyors were scattered around Twin Peaks along with construction workers, a small army of khaki-wearing men measuring and grading the twin hills with all manner of instruments in hand and on poles. They were marking the hills in preparation for them to be cut like diamonds, each face worth a fortune in real estate. Somewhere among these workers, Maou would find his new assignment.

The staff were spread all over the vast slopes, but this wouldn’t be a problem for Maou. Indeed, this was exactly why Maou would be hired for these jobs. He was neither some kind of bloodhound nor a trained tracker, but with the trace of of his contact provided by his host, he knew he’d be drawn to the place or the person he needed. He could no more blind himself to the pull of that direction than he could deafen himself to the sound of his own pulse.

Maou let his feet take him to where he needed to be. His path wound around both hills, cresting each hill in turn. His feet had decided that the path would not be a direct one, and soon the cool morning air bowed to the midday sun, its heat bearing down upon Maou oppressively. Still, he persisted, tracing a path that crossed over itself again and again around the scrub of the hills. In time, the sun grew weary of its place in the sky, and Maou was relieved by its retiring. It was evening when Maou found himself before a surveyor who stood facing the West, in a spot that would surely become prime real estate.

Maou knew immediately that this was the man he was supposed to meet. The agents of his clients were universally bland-looking men and women: not ugly, not beautiful, not outstanding or interesting in the slightest. Maou could be staring them in the face and talking with them, and within moments of looking away, he’d be unable to recall what they looked like. They all spoke with a milk voice that seemed the same even when it sounded different, and they could no more be pointed out specifically than one could point out a drop of water in an ocean. Their blandness, their forgettableness, was not normal. A single ant in an entire colony had more presence than one of them.

To an onlooker, Maou seemed like an ordinary man having a casual conversation with a surveyor, perhaps getting directions, or hearing about what was to come for this land. The interaction would seem utterly mundane, and would be utterly forgettable. The onlooker would not think it strange that they couldn’t remember the face of the surveyor, and they would not manage to notice the manila envelope that the surveyor handed to Maou. They would remember the beautiful view of San Francisco, the light of the sun, the gust of the wind, and the sound of the workers. They would probably not even remember Maou; just another detail that didn’t matter of a moment that was not worth remembering.

Descending, Maou considered stopping at the grandiose Castro Theater that sat near the end of Market Street, to see a movie on his way back to the Cafe M. Meeting with the bland people always left a chalky-tasting spot in his mind, and the vivid reality of cinema usually helped clear that away. But the envelope today felt a little heavy, and that suggested a more involved job. He’d have to get started right away. The worlds that laid within that Castro basilica would have to wait.







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"Re(3):hungry ghosts" , posted Thu 7 Sep 13:37post reply

quote:

I can't tell if it's a series of dark city/emotional/romantic/drug metaphors or a terrifying hungry-ghost-meets-doppelganger moment, or both! Visceral and interesting. This is why I'm afraid of a lot of written fiction. I can tell when a film or a game is going to be unnerving, but there's never any telling where a written work is going to go...


It's quite something, isn't it? Certainly check out the other stories of hers linked on that page!

To be honest, though, such a powerful style of writing would probably be unpleasant to read in a novel-length treatment: I think it'd be like drinking an entire bottle of fish sauce. I love the stuff, but that's just too much, and it'd be too strong. I think part of the appeal of a slightly drier style aside from its novelty is that it's easier to drink a larger quantity of, as well as being easier to consume in a variety of moods/settings.

Anyway, I've been sitting on the next installment for awhile now, so it's time to post it!



The streetcars grumbled along in a perpetual state of displeasure: displeasure at the tracks they were made to run at, displeasure at the loads of passengers they had to carry, displeasure at the stops and starts they had to make. They expressed their plight with the honesty that only machines possess, in utterances that could make them known even to children.

Maou appreciated that about the streetcars, their genuineness, even as he suffered

-- Message too long, Autoquote has been Snipped --


Thanks for another beautiful entry. I spent some of the best years of my life living in the misty hills of Silent Hi--I mean Twin Peaks. Your vivid writing, with it's painterly strokes of just the right details really brought me back to that place. Many days it was like living in a cloud. I wouldn't know what the weather was like in the rest of the city till I took a 20 minute walk down the hills. To this day, the most beautiful sunrise I've seen anywhere in the world has been in Twin Peaks San Francisco.

Come to think of it, one time I hiked up real early to catch the sunrise and be at peace with my thoughts and then I discovered a really interesting scene. Empty wine bottles, a planned parenthood brochure and a polaroid of a petite woman with glasses urinating. Feel free to fold this into your story!






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"Re(4):panty ghosts" , posted Tue 19 Sep 12:43post reply

On the fine details of Murakami's diction