Introduction: all aboard the (techno-)orient express!

I used to think blogs were merely excuses for bored kids/students/anyone to ejaculate their intellectual jizz into cyberspace to be read, or more likely not read, by thousands. However, over the past months , I have come to approach blogging as a modern way to develop an idea, find a niche audience for that idea, and draw from that audience; not necessarily to preach to millions, but to make a valid contribution to a smaller audience that is genuinely interested in a specific topic; an audience who may also nurse your idea, feed it, and help it grow. Combining this newfound awareness of blogging’s potential with my decade-long interest in anime, I have established this blog: an academic look at technology’s place in anime and Japanese culture.

I have always found approaching Japanese culture and anime analysis from a Western perspective a wondrously frustrating task; an excursion of paradoxical sentiments. On the one hand, I am fascinated by the blatant differences between our cultures – the foreigness of it, the exotica, the orientalism, I guess. But on the other hand, trying to gain an insight into this culture from a Western perspective, trying to shelf Western dispositions in trying to understand and interpret the giant robots, the animism, the spirituality – the bizarre coexistence of science and religion! – is enough to drive the more curious viewer insane. But there is something about the inaccessibility I enjoy: the mystery of it all, the uniqueness. There is something personal, revelatory even, about the Western interpretation of the East, of anime, that I have come to appreciate. Like getting lost in a big city, you may not end up where you want to be, but you have had an adventure nonetheless; your own little discovery – insight – that is not necessarily correct, but not wrong either. You become the slow younger sibling to the athletic, straight-A big brother: you can’t compete with his obvious prowess, but every now and then you impress the family with your own idiosyncrasies and charms.

While it is the intention of this blog to have a strong focus on technology’s place and role in Japanese culture and anime, it will also inevitably harbour my naïve Western insights. So while you could say we are partaking in a heuristic search for truth, the truth will, at times, be a personal one.

All aboard the (techno-)orient!

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About shumbapumba

Would-be intellectual keeping my brain busy. View all posts by shumbapumba

6 responses to “Introduction: all aboard the (techno-)orient express!

  • TheBigN

    Good luck on this endeavor! \o

    Do you have any ideas about how much you’ll reach in regards to technology? Is it going to be mainly comtemporary and futuristic, or will it include some ideas from “the past” time wise? Other concepts like Steampunk?

    • shumbapumba

      Hey,
      Glad you found my blog! I have a very general conception of technology, anything from the most advanced robots to body technologies such as drugs. Also the concept of machines will probably be looked at through Deleuze and Guattarian eyes (my thesis dealt a lot with their theory, they approach the body as desiring machines and binary machines, etc always coming into existence through connecting with another object, eg a bike is just a bike until, say, a human hops on then the man-bike goes from an object to a vehicle, a machine). This kind of view comes in handy when dealing with the concept of the cyborg which I will definitely be sinking my teeth into at some point. Sorry to ramble, but yeah I’m happy for the whole technology thing to take me anywhere really. At the moment I am doing a lot of reading into the place of robots in Japanese society and culture as well as watching a lot of mecha (mainly Gundam atm) but this is only the beginning! I’ll hopefully get a new post up by next week, i’m thinking something philosophical like technology and the spirit so keep reading. And yeah I’m definitely open to some steampunk. Any suggestions besides Steamboy?
      Regards,
      James

  • ghostlightning

    Interesting, very interesting.

    I’m not a Westerner at all (I’m from the Philippines), but I have a very American university education (De La Salle University Manila), and was an academic literary scholar for a short time. I’m rather aware of your concerns about Orientalism, treating Japan as the “Other” and all that (As our own Isagani R. Cruz calls us, we are the “other” Other).

    I neither sympathize nor condemn. I appreciate your awareness of your own narrative and for what its worth all this blog-writing is content generation in itself.

    Trust TheBigN to find you first! (he did find my own blog over 2 years ago… interestingly, a post on Cowboy Bebop — as I noticed your avatar). You should also check out http://guriguriblog.wordpress.com as gaguri does some interesting stuff with Deleuze and Guattari.

    I did a couple of pieces on GitS:SAC’s tachikoma last year, though I did them without an overt (or borrowed) theoretical framework. I’m sure you’ll be able to identify how my own thoughts on the matter sound like some theorist you’ve come accross (I only mention this to dissuade you from thinking I assume that I write new thought).

  • shumbapumba

    I’ll be sure to check out that blog – I’m a big D&G fan. I applied their concepts of affect and the Body-without-Organs to construct an ontological examination of rave culture for (half of) my honours thesis. It’s quite dense stuff but well worth while. And I’m excited to find more blogs that look at anime and manga through a scholarly lens. Thanks for reading!

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