Saturday, December 5, 2015

Weekly Ramble 2: What’s Miyazaki Constructing? More Lit Crit

Almost a month ago I put up something I called “weekly ramble”, thinking that I might do more such columns, possibly weekly. The idea was to ramble over things that have been on my mind without trying for anything “tight” or “conclusive”. Just ramblings.

For various reasons I did get around to rambling the next three weekends. But now I’m feeling the need. I want to write something, but I don’t really want to focus.

My current Miyazaki project – The Wind Rises – is beginning to weigh on me. I thought I’d be done by now. I didn’t have anything definite in mind when I started posting about the film, and the idea of doing a longer than usual run of posts on The Wind Rises wasn’t on my mind as I did a second or even a third post. I supposed it was about the time I did the 3QD post that I realized I was going long on this one.

But not this long. I’m a dozen posts in, though some are rather short, I’ve started drafting a 13th, and I can easily imagine one or two after that before wrapping up. It feels like those are going to take forever, and yet even when I wrap up I know there’s more I could do with the film.

And then all of a sudden Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics has come to mind. It’s about how comics are constructed and I regard it as the best introduction to cognitive criticism, though it’s about comics and though it is itself in the form of a comic. I’m feeling that, though I’ve described a lot about Miyazaki’s film, I’m not sure what I’ve learned about how it’s constructed. What’s the point of all this description if it doesn’t add up to something else?

What it’s supposed to add up to is A LIFE. But how does it do that? What’s the principle? It seems to me that Miyazaki is trying to come to terms with Japan and Japanese history, but also with his own life, and what do the two have to do with one another? What kind of satisfaction did he achieve at the end, an end after all, with Japan in ruins and his protagonist walking off into dreamtime?

And then there are the ongoing struggles with literary criticism and computation and description. I’ve had a few brief email exchanges with an old professor of mine from Buffalo days, Charlie Altieri. I studied modern poetry with him. He’s a philosopher and works both sides of the aisle, Continental and Anglo-American, and so thinks about literature very differently from me. Which is why it’s been useful chatting with him. I’ve already posted a bit about him (HERE and HERE) and may end up writing an open letter.

And then there’s next year’s graffiti project with Green Villain. Things are slowly coming together. But it’ll be a slog.

I guess that’s my watchword for the week: I’ll be a slog.

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