And now, for something that doesn’t go on forever about Genshiken.
Many of you are aware that the Ghost in the Shell franchise is getting a new lease on life with the double barrelled ARISE prequel, a series of OAV anime and a manga that deal with the early days of Motoko Kusanagi , Section 9, Batou and the rest of the fun gang. Coincidental to this, there are a few Ghost In the Shell “impression” pieces in Mechademia 6, and I’ve stumbled across more than a few other crit-world treatments of it, and Mamoru Oshii lately.
Now while it is really kewl to learn that Hans Bellmer’s Dolls are referenced in the opening segment of GIS (deploy theory word uncanny, LOS!) I would respect these little excursions if they would only tip their hats a bit towards the influences at work, at the time that GIS made its initial commotion. Ok, lets all say Harraway together, but really, the whole post-human thing is all so 1995, right? By now we are well into the post-post-human, aren’t we?
Being a long-term netizen is a lot like being a long-term academic: What is really surprising is what you can’t find mention of. So in the interest of future crit-heads going on about GIS and not sounding like they missed something, let me suggest that:
1) Some of the more popular USA type sci-fi does make it over to Japan in translation, and
2) It does not get “imitated”, Japanese creators merely join a “conversation” that has been a large part of the speculative fiction/ scientific romance genre since it first crawled out of Mary Shelly’s book (or Cyrano’s or Lucian’s)
With this in mind here are two words every critical appraisal of Ghost in the Shell should remember to at least include in the footnotes:
And just in case they weren’t paying attention:
Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market Winter Market
Or, as the Major said so eloquently:
And ya know that it is a real crying shame that the CBC radio production of it is nowhere to be found on the net, or even in the CBC archives.
Here’s a timeline:
The story was commissioned in 1985 by Vancouver Magazine
a synopsis: http://workingtropes.lmc.gatech.edu/wiki/index.php/The_Winter_Market
1986: included in the anthology BURNING CHROME
Also published separately in Stardate Magazine No. 11 March/April 1986
1989: Ghost in the shell Manga
1995: Oshii’s film
To be fair, Gibson’s little cyberpunk tale was not the first to posit transcendence through merging with the netmind/ AI / global network/ yadda yadda yadda, (or the last – I always liked Marc Stiegler’s Gentle Seduction (1989) better) Here is a page that started a USA-sci-fi bibliography on it, and there are plenty more. Myself I am holding out for snagging an e-copy of Stone’s The War of Desire and Technology at the Close of the Mechanical Age (and it ain’t only gendered identity that she deals with, despite the one review) but so far all I can find are inexpensive used dead tree versions which take up valuable space, are a pig to search and block-quote, and don’t get read and cited as much as they should by the laity.
Expect a review in a few months, I will have to break down and Amazon it sooner or later. A .99cent drm-free ebook download would make it IMMORTAL! but what do I know of the realities of academic publishing?
Back to GIS_A: It is Quite Good! The new Major is just as brooding as she always was, but I like her younger lean look. The overdone cheesecake cyborg body of the first movie and the ’89 era manga/ SAC mullet was always jarring, but I suppose it had its uses. The plotting is all gummint conspiracy upon gummint conspiracy, upon etc, but that’s fine, as it serves to set up a curious echo of Gibson’s original “waste” sub-theme. Then again, the disposable soldier / cannon fodder is hardly a new thing either. The soundtrack is good too, even without Yoko Kanno. So I await the next installment of the ARISE OAV’s and the subsequent manga chapters. I just hope they don’t go sacrificing the Tachikoma(s) again – it is a cheap plot trick on par with killing off Old Yeller, and I have a soft spot for the little beasties.
I just wanted to get my 2 words in. You heard it here first; no Gibson footnote = the crit-speak rumination on GIS is shoddy. Half points only for the word cyberpunk. Would all academic reviewing be so easy peasy.
Next time: Vocaloids, the Khôra/ Chora and the odd things one could do with a Pentium-1, 133 MHZ on a kitchen table some 14 years ago… or something else.
To defend academics (somewhat), you have to keep in mind that a scholarly article about anything is a very limited affair, generally involving the positing of one conceptual framework onto one text or a narrow range of texts (typically 3). You could compose an entire laundry list of influences that remain uncovered (both philosophical and pop/literary), but I don’t think that would get you very far. I know some of these people both personally and professionally, and I can say with a fair degree of certainty, that part of the problem with not identifying these influences is the simple fact that they aren’t really SF fans or even knowledgeable interlopers. If you put passages of Gibson, Lem, and Asimov in front of them, they likely wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. Thus, what you get, is a kind of academic criticism intended for other like minded critics, meaning people who aren’t necessarily familiar with SF either nationally or internationally.
I’ve been pleased to see that the GITS afterlives have been so good; both series of SAC, for instance, blow the Oshii films out of the water.
Many thanks for dropping by! I understand the limited scope of academic papers, as I was there oh so long ago. But in certain areas of the crit theory patch, the influences they miss testify for the need for a widening of the field of view -as you have argued so often. I try not to “easter egg hunt” for its own sake when I call them out. I am however curious as to how the fashion of the day moved on from “post-human” to “so yesterday we are now all so post-post human”. The interwebs were supposed to open things up and instead things feel more restricted and narrow.
Part of what chafes you, if I had to guess, is the illusion of generational progress in academic discourses. I think those who stay in the ivory tower really need to believe that every time they say something problematizes or challenges some existing theoretical framework, it really moves the intellectual football forward. However, there are those such as myself that think intellectual progress is actually pretty rare, and the challenge posed by, say, a Nietzsche or Heidegger has yet to be truly answered. So, instead of confronting those challenges, academics just ignore them. The sad result is that instead of a sequence of ideas that are truly qualitatively distinct (i.e. A->B->C->D and so forth), what you end up with is a kind of vacillation that gives the appearance of progress (i.e. A->B->A’->B’) where the critique of, say, the anti-Cartesianism of the early 20th century is itself Cartesian. Or, as Whitehead put it, everything ends up looking like a footnote to Plato, meaning that very old philosophical challenge has yet to be answered in the same way Plato responded to the Sophists. Yet, academic reputations are predicated on being novel or at least not simply repeating what a previous generation of academics had to say. Thankfully, most “smart people” are so woefully ignorant of the shifts in academic discourses, that you can get away with pretty much anything.