:: 3:AM Asia archive

A Genuine Enslavement of the Attention published 08/07/2009

The fliers proudly state, “a night of pushing the envelope of music, literature and dance.” So music is a big focus. Especially experimental music. I like the term “experimental” because it has such a broad meaning. I like bands and musicians who push themselves beyond what is classifiable into areas of chaos and of-thyself type honesty. Any genre is fine as long as the artists convey a willingness to drive the school bus off a cliff. Dangerously tottering solo sets are good, massive swarms of clang are good, visual gimmickry is good, sexy is good, freak folk is good, death metal, candypop noise, costume changes, avant-garde stylings, makeshift instruments, a certain aura, uncertainty, bravery, fear, etc.

David F. Hoenigman explains PYT.

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The Worst Of All Possible Worlds published 04/07/2009

tipThere’s no internet access and what news or history that seeps through the cracks is doctored and distorted by the country’s one propaganda channel. Everyone is watched and everyone is afraid. The slightest deviation from the national script can lead to execution or years in a labour camp. Christopher Hitchens, on his visit to North Korea, remarked: ‘[T]he state was founded actually I think the year that 1984 was published and it’s as if they sort of took the book and thought I wonder if we could make this work?’ On his schooling, Hyok Kang recalls: ‘In Lesson 8 we are told, with a straight face, that ‘one plus one equals one.”

Max Dunbar on Hyok Kang’s This is Paradise! My North Korean Childhood.

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Random Things About Maxi Kim published 28/06/2009

mkIn Japan today there are more than a million young adults who literally shut themselves away from society, refusing to leave their bedrooms for months at a time. The so-called hikikomori phenomenon coupled with the growing number of group suicides have alarmed even the most cynical observers. Obviously there is a dimension to the problem that requires socio-economic attention, but I believe subcultures such as otaku, new zoku, and postpunk punks can play a particularly positive role in the current crises. Here I’m not just talking about manga and anime, but also the fact that there is simply a lot of nihilism in East Asia, it’s in the air one breathes and the dream one dreams – imagine a ubiquitous fog without borders or limits.

Richard Marshall interviews Semina author Maxi Kim for 3:AM.

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Morrissey Attack published 25/06/2009

we“We’re on the 859th floor of the Tokyo Attack Towers—the hardest fucking building every built. A thousand fucking mad Muslim piloted jumbos packed with Anthrax, napalm and AIDS needles couldn’t dent this cunt!” Just then a thousand mad Morrissey fan piloted jumbos packed with Anthrax, napalm and AIDS needles and BNP election leaflets crashed into all nine sides of Attack Towers Tokyo, bouncing of harmlessly but showering thousands off innocent geishas and sexy schoolgirls and salarymen and manga artists in the street below with disease and fascist propaganda.

By the late great Steven Wells.

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The Trope of ‘Revenge’ in J-cinema published 22/06/2009

fpFemale Prisoner # 701: Scorpion boasts the production values of a Japanese studio film, but like the work of Seijun Suzuki (Tokyo Drifter, Branded To Kill etc.) it manages to transcend the formulaic limitations of production-line cinema. Nonetheless, the essential characteristics of Matsu the Scorpion will be familiar to anyone who has seen more than one ‘revenge’ film. There is no need for Matsu to exist as a fully formed ‘character’ because her motivation and superhuman strength are a product of her burning desire for revenge.

Stewart Home on Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion and the trope of ‘revenge’.

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Rise of the Nu Mohemians published 16/05/2009

pg1In broken English and through a translator he goes on to tell how he felt disturbed by the repetitive cycle of observing chicks arriving to the scene, enticed by the appeal of darker life, slipping into a world of wrist-cutting, drugs, prostitution, debauchery and occasional degradation. From his bar he assembled a team of groupies who spilt their stories to him. He emerged as a writer making notes on his phone about the new faces’ demise.

Kirsty Allison on what gaijin writers can learn from Tokyo’s m-novel scene.

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Haruki Murakami Interviewed published 28/03/2009

hmSince his first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, was published three decades ago, the author has been an outsider in his native land, shunning the local press and literary establishment, and declining all but one domestic request for a public appearance. He has been seen, and to some degree positioned himself, as a literary pariah in Japan, in part because of its tepid-to-negative critical reception of his work: “I was called a punk, a con man. Some kind of swindler. Being different is difficult in Japan. They hated me. So I left.”

Roland Kelts interviews Haruki Murakami.

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Closed Circuit Literature published 23/02/2009

cobBarber’s finely tuned historico-sanatorium mentality presents a chemical formula for the city whose three constituent particles are ‘… the digital city, the banal city of well-functioning, corporate mundanity, and the never-built city of looted grandeur and genocidal power that had been designed to form the pivotal site of Europe.’ It is from Hitler’s room in Linz’s Wolfinger Hotel that Barber returns again and again to the urgent hysteria of the hallucinatory panic that is the ethical and aesthetic spinal column of all his work. Which city is the real city? Which history is the more truthful? Which dream is the city’s? Who is the city? Where is the city? Where do they go?

Richard Marshall on Stephen Barber‘s Cities of Oblivion.

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Tune In Tokyo published 11/02/2009

lhcContemporary Japan takes up a similarly glamorous mental space in the minds of western experimental writers and artists to that occupied by American high-schools in the brain-pans of European teenagers. Both have the allure of alien exoticism: alternate universes where everything’s the same yet crucially skewed, positioned sideways to our own. Of course the advantage that Japan has over Degrassi Junior High is that everyone’s a Ninja and it looks like Bladerunner. Obviously.

Gaijin a-go-go Mat Colegate gets to grips with a collection of new writing about Tokyo.

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Psycho Thriller – Qu’est-ce que c’est? published 01/02/2009

In the first 50+ pages of this short novel, Ryu Murakami subtly builds tension through personal history and familial responsibility, interspersing the narrative with thoughts on post-war Japan, consumerism, the changing face of Japanese youth culture, and the sex industry. There are some memorable lines, including: “He’d also proposed a theory: that the legs of young Japanese women epitomized the best of the changes that had occurred in the decades since World War II. Aoyama was inclined to agree.”

A review by Steve Finbow.

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