Wednesday, April 29, 2015

WEEK 8 assignment : N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms reminded me of a collection of novels I read back in middle school called ‘Last Fantasy’. This reading also led me to an awareness of a genre Mythic fiction and Contemporary urban Fantasy which I’ve had experiences with but never able to explain why there was a certain eccentric charm that divide it distinctively from High Fantasy. 

There are several similarities I’ve found in HTK and Last Fantasy. Although both were products of authors who came from completely different cultures the spirit of this genre inhabited in their works are strangely alike. In comparison to High fantasy, Contemporary urban fantasy that I’ve experienced reading resonated much less mythological feeling and much more political and tragedy feeling. However, there is a certain kind of magical tone to them that’s more tragic, bitter, cinematic and adventurous. Sometimes I get a similar feeling reading works in this genre and playing role playing games that mostly based on fantasy stories by contemporary writers. It doesn’t transport me as an audience to another ethereal world like Tolkien’s works but it provided a different kind of escape and we tend to get more sympathized with characters’ dramatic mentality.

Both High Fantasy world and Urban Fantasy world are full of elaborated details at every corners. Although, lives in Urban Fantasy seems to express more intimate backstory in an individual level. I can think of a lot of Urban Fantasy works that has a similar characteristic in Anime culture. Some of them might be Fullmetal Alchemist and Bounen no Xamdou. Although, they seems to have a stronger Mechanical theme (that somehow managed to co-exist with magical stuffs).

This topic raised questions about urban/contemporary fantasy writers. From the experience reading The Hobbits I found several uses of terminology that’s odd for fantasy but appropriate for Tolkien’s time such as gunpowder and other things that gave audiences idea of scale by comparing to contemporary objects. Time might be a big factor that separate characteristic essence of each Fantasy works. It’s possibly impossible for contemporary authors to write mythology that has the same tone as Tolkien as different generation inhabited different perspective of the world. Although, unique tone in habited in individual works also record the spirit of it’s era and that alone make them attractive. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

WEEK 15 assignment : Final Evaluation

Attending literature classes has been one of the most important milestone for my art & design education. Because ultimately my true passion is to tell stories. Crafts are just medium that allow it to physically happen. My perspective toward learning about genre is the same as anything else I’ve learned here, I want to understand them throughly, take something from them and pursue something new. Learning about varieties of traditions also allow me to understand my value deeper and find ways to integrate it to my works. 

I’ve learned that Genres are deeply related to target audiences’ expectation and needs. Sometimes it could tied to range of demographics, but in the end it should deliver the spirit there intended audiences expect. Fantasy for example, almost always need to function with spirit of escapism. 

Stories in most genre can be told successfully when there are clear visions of their world and people who live in it. There are always a strong relationship between how characters think and characteristic of environment in each world. They co-exists and reflects each others. Cyberpunk characters functioned best in a world where the sense of mother nature is faded and the industrialize landscape shape their state of mind. Genre can be viewed as shared spaces appeared as different realities which valued by different kinds of people. 

Although, one important thing that has come to my awareness is the importance of life-span of each genres, cultures and traditions. Spirit of genre is organic and change through time. Authors should not simply replicate what they created before if it’s not necessarily and pursuing for ways that allow that spirit to live on in equilibrium with the present. This is my current answer to the struggle with the view of culture in my country where it’s been valued in a fossilized way. The role for new generation creator is to re analyze that spirit and allow it to live in the new world in an appropriate way even if it means to let it change or inhabit in new forms. 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

WEEK 11 assignment : Bruce Sterling, Cyberpunk in the Ninetieth.

I love natural world and folklore and I don’t want to live in a cyberpunk world or be part of the culture by all means. Although, somehow I found this genre totally attractive. I think it’s the cleverness in the worldview and deep thoughts given to human being that gives cyberpunk a distinctive charm. It stands out for itself very well and stay very true and passionate to it’s idea.

I read Bruce Sterling, Cyberpunk in the Ninetieth and fascinated with many explanation he had for this genre. Not only Cyberpunk remains true to it’s worldview, I think it’s also communicate the way things are at it’s moment so honestly without concern of mythological past or limitation of the future. It might be quite a sorrowful world with an absence of reasoning to why things appear as they are or what divine forces determined it. Although that is in itself is a great food for thought about what can we do with the present, which can lead us to many directions and some could be pretty dark. As Sterling said ‘There is ecstasy, but there is also dread. 

However, I don’t find Cyberpunk completely Nihilistic. By freeing our mind from the limitation made from sacred rule we could possibly learn more from what we create in the process of destroying. To me Cyberpunk is extremely philosophical, paradoxical and reflective because we are able to learn from looking directly and into that dreadful kind of world. In the end, people in Cyberpunk universe might be quite wise with decision making and know how to live good with choices they committed to. 

WEEK 14 assignment : Not (necessarily) the Future

I don’t think of the future as an establish reality all of us are heading toward. There are way too many possibilities that can emerge from things that happens along the way. I simply focus on the future in an individual level, a kind of future I’m able to create more than milestones of humanity that measured by advancement in technologies or societal progress. Although they’re vital to the world we live in, I think uncertainty is inevitable so as the nature of things.

If human has been wiped out by some forces it won’t be the end of everything, we just won’t be there. If you look at it other way, there’s a chance than human being is merely just a concept when all have been disassemble into quantum that belongs to nobody and perceivable or non perceivable matters that continues as chains of phenomenon. These are all in the end my personal worldview that can’t defy the uncertainty. While I’m passionate about it I found myself strangely detached from it. 

Many(like Stephen Hawking) said the future of humanity is on other planet. It’s an exciting idea but I doubt how much we can make of it if we’re still or may be eternally struggling to be in harmony with this earth we emerged from. If I’m to create a modern hero I’d make that person an arch antagonist with his or her self and put all the deepest wisdom into that antagonist and may be all other exterior antagonistic forces.

Perhaps I’m able to say all of this because I’m not so concern nor paranoid about the future as much as I used to anymore. It may sounds extremely cliche but I’ve come to realize or believe that to understand the way to create the future is to understand that ourselves and anything else are in a relationship that one affect another. This means that we are part of what’s make the future and to carry on to good one is to learn to make peace with things that exist in the present physically or mentally. 

WEEK 13 assignment : Italo Calvino, Cosmiccomics, The Distance of The Moon.

I very much enjoyed reading The Distance of The Moon because of it’s imaginative concept, emotion centric characters and narrative elements that filled with animism. I said before on the week four blog (weird and new weird) that I’ve wrote short stories similar to these and on the process of writing more. 

Speculative literacy fascinated and inspired me as a writer who’s interested in the essence and philosophy than in genre. I’m willing to use whichever genre as tools to convey the essential state of mind inhibited in myself. This related to my personal value that originally emerged from outside the culture of western genre. As an artist and storyteller that stand on the crossing point of diverse inspirations and cultures I think The Distance of The Moon is a great reference for a characteristic of work I wish to create. The meeting between scientific logic and heartfelt folklore emotions is one of the most fascinating aspects of all. 

Although, speculative literacy might be outside the main genre but it can be categorized other ways. In Asia especially Japan there is a literacy movement called Light Novel which consist varieties of mixture of genre and traditional value. I think that most Light Novels can be considered as speculative but more established in term of characters and brands. One story can be categorized in many ways. Some could be labelled as Sci-fi, Romance and Thriller at the same time, but they’re all commonly intended for teenagers and young adults and inspired by Anime culture.

I found approaches reflects in speculative literature very charming and would adapt it to my body of work, in which any genre’s trophy can be use as long as it express the essence of the author idea, able to educate audience, elevate traditional culture to the new value and can be adapt to other media.

WEEK 12 assignment : Octavia E. Butler, Bloodchild.

I found this story quite disturbing and that fact in itself make it quite real. I would like to add from a statement I made in class why I think survival are always intense and how does it reflects in this story. 

To me, Bloodchild is just a reflection of the world where supportive and destructive forces are inevitable. I personally think there are causes that make different beings and things exist and somehow we need to find the way to live in harmony and keep conflicts minimal. To achieve that we should be aware of organic relationship between things and find the best way to work with it. Sometimes we’ll come to a certain consciousness that there are things we simply need to let go and focus on what’s matter to one self to be truly content. 

I said in class that the story of Bloodchild indicated that survival is always intense no matter which perspective we look through, except those perspective that we don’t care to look at. We are constantly living upon suffering and death of others and ourselves just like how Terran need human as host of reproduction and human need other animals for food(not the case mentioned in this story). Forgivable or unforgivable, respect, compassion and gratitude toward things that allow us to survive are significant in cultivating the flow. The bond of family in the story is a kind of gratitude that tolerate both kinds of survivor. I obviously don’t want this scenario to happen to the earth or myself but if we investigate it carefully it’s quite similar to what’s already happening. 

It’s probably impossible to free all beings from suffering but in the individual level there are choices we can make to become a better microcosm of the totality which is complex and transformative.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

WEEK 10 assignment : J. G. Ballard, The Drowned Giant.

The Drowned Giant is quite an inspiring reading. While the main element of the story is totally out of place(the dead giant) the reaction by other characters is totally nothing dramatic and nothing out of ordinary. This non-drama yet unexpected and easing mood of the story is the main body of this story which I really enjoy for some reason and I would definitely like to adapt it to my work in the future.

This work make me realize further that I enjoy stories that are quiet, reflective and atmospheric. Perhaps it has to do with my introvert personality. It made me think of a possibility to create works that can speak directly to these specific audiences or at least works that contain elements or characters that represents anti-drama yet reflective personality. 

Other works I know that contain similar idea are mostly in Anime and Manga culture where the theme depicted can be totally fabulous yet the reaction to it is very mundane. Some of the example would be slices of life genre and some independent manga such as After School Earth. I accidentally stumbled upon the work and didn’t find it that amazing but the approach sure is interesting. The story was basically about a young man and three other girls who live a relaxing and peaceful life after all other human were disappeared by the force of unknown alien. There was no violence nor other explanation. The story is simply about a group of kids enjoying their lives in a quiet world with a little bit of hope that other human being will return. There are several other manga I’ve read that started off with dramatic theme such as post apocalypse and space colony but turned out to be just a guilty pleasure for slow-life dreamer and I found these stuff totally wonderful.