< Piro >
Tuesday - February 25, 2003
Back in December, after mentioning my obsession with Yoshitoshi Abe's latest work Haibane Renmei (Charcoal Feather Federation), I received quite a few emails telling me to check out a book by Haruki Murakami called "Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World." Without question, they said, this book had influenced the story and the world woven together in the Haibane Renmei story. Since this particular anime (and it's related works) had grabbed my attention far more than any anime story in years, I was actually curious to delve a little deeper and see if this unusual sounding book could shed further light on some of the threads that run deeper than a passive viewer could follow into Abe's story.
So, like any guy who's significant other works in a Library, I sent Seraphim some info on the book to see if she could dig it up. I was quite surprised at christmas to find that this book ended up being one of my christmas gifts.
Inspiration is a funny thing. I doubt that there is much of anything out there that doesn't have some sort of inspiration behind it. Inspiration can be something that does nothing more than start a thought process that ends up in totally unexpected places - places you might find it impossible to find your way back from, or it might be as simple as placing your inspiration right smack dab in the middle of your own works. There are many examples of such inspiration types in Megatokyo, from transparent parodies to threads that only I really know the origins of. Various types of inspiration are the building blocks that people use to make their own works. I would also argue that the extends far beyond just works that we might create for others to see, we build our lives using bits and pieces of the things that inspire us or effect us in some way. Works like Megatokyo, and maybe even Haibane Renmei, are also peeks into private worlds made of of similar parts.
In reading Murakami's book, I found that in the end the book has almost as much to say about my own work as it did about the possible connections to be found with Abe's story. I won't mention too many details here, because such readings are experiential, really. I can say that there is this oddly familiar construct of a city surrounded by a wall that only birds can cross. There is a library. There is a clock tower. But there are no girls with wings. There are unicorns. And most interesting of all was this unusual duality of worlds.
Hmm. Dual parallel worlds, things happening at the same time. Sounds kinda familiar.
One interesting flavor of the book oddly enough is the part that is essentially cyberpunk in vein. It reminds me eerily of William Gibson's work. Not all of it, mind you, but specifically my favorite Gibson novel, the one that I read a dozen times till i gave it back to the friend who loaned it to me, another book i was having trouble tracking down... and the other book that seraphim got me for christmas, "Idoru".
Believe it or not, "Idoru" is one of the biggest silent untraceable influences on Megatokyo. I'm aware that it's not considered Gibson's best work, but I don't care - this is the book that effected me the most. It's not the big things in the book that get me thinking, it's the little things. the in between things. A lot of gibsonesque stuff could be considered cliche, i suppose, but much of that is from overexposure, not the material itself. There are so many little things i find when i read it...
Does this mean that Kimiko is nothing more than a holographic construct and Piro has some sort of brain fault that allows him to see powerful emotive nodal patterns in raw, untranslated anime footage? Hardly. Tho it would be fun to give Yuki a Sandbenders...
It's funny, but sometimes when you talk about inspirations, especially the kind where its hard to follow the threads of that inspiration, i'ts easy to start talking in apparent nonsense. For Haibane Renmei, i see Abe's work as almost an insertion into not only some of the physical constructs of the world contained in 'Wonderland', but in some of the harder to see, invisible threads of metaphor and subtleness. I can only guess, but something in the book effected Abe in a way that stirred something in him to create a subset that expanded and became it's own thing, with only fragmented formative bits and pieces left to connect it with it's inspiration. Maybe he never read the book. Who knows. Only he really does.
You get odd parallels in real life too. I'm looking forward to reading Gibson's latest novel, "Pattern Recognition" not just because i'll read it anyway, but because of something I read in a review of the book in the February 2003 issue of WIRED magazine. Referring to the random, homeless, snippets of video have been gaining huge popularity on the net (much to the chagrin of commercial interests that would kill for that kind of following), the comment reads "The Web makes it possible for an independent artist to gain a global following for no commercial purpose whatsoever."
What an interesting comment. An early goal for Megatokyo itself, really. I dunno - maybe it still is. Of course, i still need to feed the cats and pay off my new mac G4 purchase... maybe that too is one of those odd dualities that i have to deal with, and maybe it's in the balance that it really does work in some quirky way...