:: 3:AM Asia

The Necrology Interview published 30/09/2011

necrologyWhoever concocted the world did so under the influence of monsters, incarnations sired from states of self-reflexive revulsion. Reality is horror – it eats people like a carnivorous fog – a construct so diabolical that man has been unwittingly cajoled into adorning the effervescence of his dreams and his fantasies with costumes of malleable terror: ghouls, hybrid creatures, fused entities, seditious organs and limbs, malignant slimes, mythic decapitations, supernatural possession, psychotropic pestilence, brains worm-eaten with paranoia (insanities of truth)… myriad extremities of man’s dull fug.

David F. Hoenigman interviews Gary J. Shipley, Kenji Siratori & Reza Negarestani.

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Darkness at Noon published 19/08/2011

aiweiwei2From one art opening to the next, it is suddenly enough for us to witness an uprising for a link to appear. Directions that seemed contradictory cease to be so. Of course, it is easy to be disheartened by the recent wave of mindless looting and violence in London’s streets. But don’t you go believing, reader, that art institutions can once again retreat into the background. Comrades, let us continue on this path we have stumbled upon earlier this year. If the Ayatollah’s call to murder a novelist was a hinge moment for a previous generation, the Chinese government’s kidnapping of a visual artist is our hinge moment. Ai Weiwei’s release is merely the beginning.

Maxi Kim reflects on Ai Weiwei.

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Japanamerica: Blind at home, beloved overseas published 09/07/2011

jeye2The pressure on U.S. distributors of manga, anime and other J-pop products has proved unbearable in recent cases. TokyoPop, a trailblazing distributor and publishers of manga and anime in the United States, responsible for global versions of the Sailor Moon series, closed its manga publishing division for good three months ago. “I’m laying down my guns,” wrote founder Stu Levy, who built his company from scratch in 1997. “Some of it worked. Some of it didn’t.” Levy is a friend of mine. His passion for manga and anime is palpable. If he’s quitting the biz, it’s a good bet that the biz is battered.

By Roland Kelts.

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Japanamerica: Fantasy, art & the real Japan published 24/05/2011

monkeybusinessThis month, I had the good fortune to participate in an evening that gracefully wedded both. Amid a series of events in New York City to launch Monkey Business: New Voices from Japan, the first English-language edition of a Japanese literary magazine by University of Tokyo scholar and literary translator Motoyuki Shibata and York University scholar and translator Ted Goossen, I shared the stage with Shibata, American novelist Steve Erickson and Japanese novelist Hideo Furukawa to talk about storytelling. We focused on the visual elements of all narratives – fiction, manga, film, woodblock prints and scroll painting. Miraculously, it all made sense.

By Roland Kelts.

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Notes From a Neo-Geisha: People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman published 19/04/2011

rlpReading People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman, unearthed a cache of buried memories, mostly comic and surreally vivid, I’d kept from my own time in late-nineties/millennial Tokyo. Lucie and I had drunk at all the same off-duty-hostesses-and-the-guys-who-adore-them bars. She’d worked in a club just meters from my own. [The club where I hostessed gets a mention in the book as having employed much prettier girls than did Casablanca, where Lucie worked, and indeed, when we were contemporaries, I was prettier than Lucie. Now, however, that I’m in my thirties and she is still twenty-one, Lucie is much prettier than I.]

By Hillary Raphael.

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When Cyborg Daughters Become Giant Octopus Mothers published 02/03/2011

janiceleeI know I wanted to do something about the lack of an archetype for the “daughter” figure. We seem to have many archetypes in mythology and psychology for fathers, mothers, sons, but not really for daughters. I don’t count Freud’s because it seems like sort of a cop-out, carbon-copy of the son’s dilemma, in reverse. I also knew I wanted to investigate the identity crisis a god might have, and in some way, I wrote this novel partially backwards. I knew where it would end, and I sort of knew where it would begin, a daughter wandering in the desert finding the body of a giant octopus, which becomes the body of a dead god.

Maxi Kim interviews Los Angeles-based writer and curator Janice Lee.

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Japanamerica: Why Fry Got Fried published 14/02/2011

jeye2The footage didn’t play well in Japan. And in this age of instantaneous visual language, all subtlety was lost, especially on reactionary right-wing Japanese folks keen to kick up a fight. In response to a formal complaint from the Japanese Embassy, the BBC issued a formal apology on behalf of [Stephen] Fry and cohorts. Last week, after being informed of where I would meet the crew, host and director for lunch, I was told the entire shoot would need to be canceled. Threats against Fry’s welfare were dutifully recorded and conveyed by the embassies. Not a good time for him to visit Japan.

By Roland Kelts.

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Japanamerica: Rebellion & dissent published 24/01/2011

idiotsguideThe stakes in the battle of the anime industry versus the Tokyo metropolitan government over Bill 156 have risen conspicuously over the past few weeks, and cooler heads are hard to find. The bill does nothing to address the production or possession of live-action depictions of rape or child pornography. After failing to pass it last summer, Ishihara and his ilk rushed the vote in December without once asking industry leaders or artists to discuss or compromise on the issue. In the wake of Bill 156’s passage, the decision by 10 of the nation’s top manga publishers to boycott this year’s Tokyo International Anime Fair came as something of a surprise.

By Roland Kelts.

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Stray Cats and Samurai published 06/01/2011

Layout 1The bigger influence in terms of current writing is undoubtedly my experiences in Japan, mostly because I have quite a natural affinity for the place as well as having very close friends there who are like family. Japan is a place full of wild contradictions and, for me, was a liberating space to be in. Without the overarching influences of Christianity, Freud and Descartes, it was an enormously stimulating experience and this feeds into my sense of creativity. It helped me chuck out a lot of Western influences that I sometimes find quite stifling.

Jayne Joso interviewed by Kerry Ryan.

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Japanamerica: A Cautionary Tale published 18/12/2010

shintaro-ishihara_pikachu_astro“They did their best to not raise publicity. And they did their best not to [let anyone] examine [the legislation]. I think it’s disingenuous, since it’s something that could possibly have a lot of impact. The publishers and artists had little to no input, and the bill was rushed into law to ensure that. That’s why the industry is so angry. What’s more, this is not a bill about pornography at all. It’s about enforcing morality, some vague notion that has nothing to do with the real protection of real children.”

Roland Kelts on Japan’s “non-existent youth” bill.

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