Preface: Prosthetic Memory and Anime
I have a human friend, whom I met a few years ago before all the celestial upheaval I encountered, who likes to walk around reading books. Over and over, I have explained to him in occasionally gruesome detail what kind of consequences he should expect by continuing to do so. Sadly, my mind blanked once and I resorted to the lawnmower scene from The Happening as an illustration. God will forgive me, if God cares.
I try to be stationary while reading, preferably lying down in a comfortable Chesterfield while my tongue lolls out and my body (almost) visibly atrophies on the spot. Despite this–perhaps eccentric–preference, there is an indisputably active component to all reading. This is because the book is not just offering itself up like a little black raincloud. To offer an inexcusably dramatic simile, it’s more like a high-pressure glass tank of those chemicals that give people superpowers. In other words, it requires constant monitoring and an aptitude for recognizing when something is about to turn for the worse. Every book is not just a “gift” or something we unwrap and receive, but also a receptacle, something that demands much more from us than our time. Literature has this way of prying its way past our defenses when we least expect it, and, unfortunately for those who want only to take and use books, there is not much we can do to avoid being changed by what we read.
Reading books together is one of the best ways to come to a better understanding of texts. I plan to do just that. For the next couple of weeks, I will be documenting both my critical perspectives on two books and the places where they overlap and can be brought into dialogue. This partnership, if you will, came about more by simple happenstance than design. Synchronicity, if you will (will what?). I read one book, picked up the other, and found remarkable resonance between them. Closeness of both time and ideas. They address different cultures and conversations in different ways, but, as I hope to convey in my series, even these seemingly disparate texts can enter into and reshape one another in fascinating ways.
The two books are Anime: From Akira to Princess Mononoke by Susan J. Napier and Prosthetic Memory by Alison Landsberg. I will review the first, then the second, all the while intending to write a further pair of articles showing how the one can be read into and through the other and vice versa. I am excited for the possibilities.
And, Mr. Harold Zo, if you dare touch my manuscripts again, I will eat your limbs. And I am not aware that that can be read other than literally. Then again, human creativity has no reasonable bounds. I may get to taste him yet.