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January 17th, 2005

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09:02 am - Random Shit, vol. two
I know what I'm about to say isn't true, y'know, like ontologically, but for the purpose of discussion grant me some leeway won't ya?

Okay, Japanese people are too slow to question the status quo and are too concerned about the opinions of others. I remember being shocked when I discovered there even WAS a teacher's union here (what the hell are those fucks DOING, anyway?) and you here the phrase "It can't be helped" more often than not NOT in regards to acts of God, but rather acts of man, which of course CAN be helped. Foreign cultures are an easy target when you're addressing others from outside that culture, and I get sick of a lot of the knee-jerk insulting I hear from fellow expats about Japan. But regardless, I think the above is more true than not.

Americans, on the other hand, are too arrogant, I think. "Arrogant" is actually not quite the right word, but I can't find another one ("lack of humility", maybe?). Anything that might suggest that someone is "better" than someone else is off limits. Americans say things like "We're the greatest country in the world" despite never having been anywhere else. I think the current administration is a good example of this quality at its worst.

We artists tend to have our fair share of pigheaded arrogance. A friend of mine (identity protected) recently wrote about his past on his livejournal, and when people complimented him in the comments section saying things such as "Good story" he jumped on their backs, saying that it wasn't a story, but was in fact "kind of his fucking life". Okay, first off, he's wrong. What he's written on his livejournal is no more his life than a photograph of a hamburger is something you can eat. But on top of that, he was literally saying "Fuck you" to people that were COMPLIMENTING him! There seemed to be a very disturbing unwillingness to really even listen to what they were saying. I have to say, it actually kind of pissed me off the way he flew off the handle.

I usually don't react so violently, but I too am probably guilty of "what do you know" defensiveness when it come to criticism. I dunno, there might be a few Picassos and Dostoevskys out there that are the kings, that probably don't have anything to learn from anyone in terms of a "teacher-student" relationship, but for the rest of us, well. There's a LOT I have to learn yet about making comics (my chosen artform). Right now I'm working on the art of crafting a story itself. In the past I've kind of faked my way through it, which was probably okay when you're writing something that'll take someone 10 minutes to read. What I'm working on now will be more than three times longer than anything I've ever done, and the reader getting bored suddenly becomes a real issue. Holding interest is a very subtle skill, but an important one that I need to develop. I'm swallowing my pride and reading books on the subject.

Like each and every living soul in Japan, you can take humility to an unfruitful extreme. If you start talking about target markets and shit like that than you're probably not creating art anymore. "But at the end of the day" blah blah blah blah

(2 comments | Leave a comment)


[User Picture]
Date:January 25th, 2005 09:31 am (UTC)

You better not mess....with American Pride!

dude, sorry I so slow to respond to this.

First of all, let me say that this link will MAKE YOUR COMPUTER WANT TO TAKE A BATH. It's totally safe for work viewing, but CREEPY BEYOND BELIEF.


Actually, I could tell you what the teacher's union are doing. They did a lot, maybe not in the way that we think of it, but still a lot. Though now they have been rendered harmless by the gov't.

"It can't be helped" more often than not NOT in regards to acts of God, but rather acts of man, which of course CAN be helped.
-This is so true it makes me want to go to sleep in a featherbed of truth.

Americans say things like "We're the greatest country in the world" despite never having been anywhere else.
-I have read this, and let me just say in defense of America that there are a lot of ways to measure greatness. The weight of all our citizens, for instance, is pretty great, as is the length of all our roads and the destructive power of our nuclear arsenal. When you are looking at "greatness" overall, I guess it's a question of how you add these different things up. For instance, does one pound of citizen = one mile of road = one bucket of unburned ligmite coal?

written on his livejournal is no more his life than a...
-At this point, allow me to point out that you CAN eat a photograph of a hamburger, IF it's printed out. Of course, if it's a digital photo, there's no way to eat it, even though you could possibly eat the display screen or the storage medium (in which the digipic resides). So I guess you are getting into metaphysical territory here: What constitutes a photo? What does it mean to "eat" something anyways? These are important questions you raise.

In conclusion, I was really impressed with the bit I saw of your current project. The world needs more of you, my friend! Read away! (What about these Will Eisner books everyone suddenly is gushing about?)

[User Picture]
Date:January 27th, 2005 12:31 am (UTC)

Re: You better not mess....with American Pride!

No problem about the delay in replying. I had sort of given up on receiving any response to this entry from other Realists, but for a while I checked hourly to see if anyone had replied. I very rarely reply on the journals of other Realists, yet sort of expect them to reply to my posts*. A double standard to be sure!
[*Though I do make an effort to reply to posts put on this forum, as a symbol of solidarity.]

Ok ok, I know you're just joking around, but it did sort of bother me when I wrote it that my example about "eating a hamburger photo" was technically incorrect. What I meant of course was that a photograph of a hamburger is not a hamburger, and a story about your life is not your life. I'm sure as shit not a good writer yet, but the more I write the more I understand how much fiction goes into non-fiction and vice versa. Living a cool & groovy life might help one write, but there's clearly more at play there in terms of crafting a story. I, for one, am becoming less concerned with representing reality. If anything, I'm starting to see everything I write and draw as a form of very subtle symbolism; a concise, carefully crafted statement with an "um" thrown in symbolizes real, uncrafted speech, a dot symbolizes an eye, sweat symbolizes anxiety, a long shot of a landscape symbolizes the passage of time and/or a change of location. I think if the story you tell doesn't get stuck in a rut and if you're consistent in your use of symbols, however outlandish, you can usually get the audience to go along with you.

"I was really impressed with the bit I saw of your current project"
Thanks. Though I'm curious about something. When you were talking about it at Christmas, you went on and on about how much you liked the art. I don't doubt your sincerity on this point, but it almost sounded like the sort of concentrated praise you might give someone if you don't really like what they were doing as a whole, so you pick the one thing you do like and praise that up to high heaven. Was that the case here? I'm just curious cuz while I like the idea of making comics that "look" good, I'm more concerned about making comics that "read" good, so if you think they're not doing that let me know. Complete honesty appreciated; if your honesty is brutal and you're worried about tarnishing your internet "nice guy" image, feel free to e-mail privately. (NOTE: Actually you did sort of address some of the readability issues, so I'm not accusing you of dodging the issue or anything. Plus I know you don't have it in front of you which of course makes it harder to "review". Sorry to obsess about it. If you have nothing to add, dat's cool.)

I remember once saying to you that I thought the script for my comic was within spiting distance of completion, and you said you thought it was more only 80% done. I now feel that even your appraisal was overly generous. Just gotta keep plowin' away I guess...


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