The Lunar New Year: (1) We murder to dissect

While I’m still unsure as to whether I can pull this feat off, I don’t back down on things that I’ve said: so here I go. I’m not going to write 3000-word posts everyday, but I’ll try to write morsels of thought that would hopefully bring you guys to vote for me. I tried searching for a good category for 15 posts, and I found that my ancestors celebrated their Lunar New Year in 15 days. So I decided simply to call it my Lunar New Year. I hope you like the title. 🙂

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We murder to dissect.

This is a line from William Wordsworth’s poem The Tables Turned. I have not culled it directly from his poem, however, but from So Human an Animal by Rene Dubos (as far as I know, no, he’s not related to Andre Dubus III). The choice of book was a departure from normality: I usually read classic novels or critically-acclaimed contemporary ones, and the book was neither. All the book had going for it was a Pulitzer Prize (it won in 1969 for General Non-fiction) and a cheap price-tag. I bought it anyway as it was cheap (I bought it months ago, and only picked up the book because I was being attacked by boredom, sickness and an inability to sleep). But like most books I’ve bought in the past, I tried finishing it.

Since I only read timeless novels for the most part (that’s why they’re called classics!), I was surprised at how badly the book aged with time. Although it had grains of knowledge, I found the book to be an indictment of society without offering any real solutions. I’m glad, however, because it referred to a lot of writers, and introduced me to that wonderful line.

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Smiling in the face of death

Guncannon, in one of the rare times we chatted directly with one another on IRC, told me he had only contempt for those who over-analyzed things (and I admit, I am a victim of that sometimes). Having grown and delighted in literary analysis, I tend to look too much into things at times. When I discovered this line, however, I was delighted. Wordsworth was indeed a genius.

We murder to dissect. Has anyone noticed that in their attempt to peg meaning into the anime that they watch, they have also disfigured it and murdered its content in some way? Daniel posted regarding Code Geass and its tension with colonialism, and it was incisive. However, one does not know if that was the message the writers truly wanted to deliver. In his interpretation of Geass’s message, he may have transformed the anime into something that it wasn’t. Somehow, he has intellectually murdered what it was for perhaps the writers as well as most people so that he could offer insight on it. But isn’t that alright? While I’m not a fan of murder (as anyone sane isn’t), all of us as anime watchers intentionally or unintentionally transform, disfigure, or mutilate the series that we are watching through our own interpretations. But if that fosters discussion, promotes knowledge, and in the end develops wisdom, what is a little murder of concepts? After all, in its murder, the phoenix of intelligence is allowed to rise once more.

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12 Responses to “The Lunar New Year: (1) We murder to dissect

  1. IcyStorm Says:

    Sometimes we simply think too much and “discover” themes and messages and symbols that the writers and director(s) never intended or planned. Sometimes we need to simply step away from the analyzing and enjoy the show.

    But if you find the analysis and pondering entertaining or enjoyable, then by all means, feel free to murder the show as many times as you’d like. It’s just that people (myself included) sometimes ruin the a work for others by extracting the “fun” out of it and beating it senselessly.

  2. IKnight Says:

    I’m in a rush right now, so expect some more thoughtful response later (i.e. in a few weeks or never), but why should we care about the message the writers wanted to deliver? Is it somehow superior to all the other messages?

  3. Ryan A Says:

    I’m hot for the way things rub me….

    …. meaning, the experience; a matter less arguable because it is personal. If a writer isn’t dead, it would be easier to ask about “hidden meaning”. I’m not counting relations (symbolism, allegory, etc), which are usually a little more obvious and less subjective.

    OooOOo ^^ I finished the semester

  4. Michael Says:

    @IKnight

    Not that we should prioritize what they want to say in any way, I’m pointing out that we change the anime a little every time we see it … just that 🙂

    @RyanA

    Congratulations! 🙂

    The experience is what changes and the message thus changes also with every viewing of the anime. But even the authors sometimes overlook something from their own works. 🙂

    @IcyStorm

    Yeah.

    And that’s the point. We somehow murder a show a little bit (or a lot) with our thoughts of it. But if that promotes intelligence, why not?

  5. IcyStorm Says:

    Because it’s not what the content creator had in mind. Perhaps you may be taking stuff from anime that wasn’t intentional or planned; kind of like this

  6. korosora Says:

    But hey, some turn out to be true.

    I loved following this guy’s interpretation of Portal, and he eventually does find his analysis to be supported by the creators:
    http://www.game-ism.com/2008/04/04/still-alive-shes-free/

  7. Lupus Says:

    You know, I’ve always thought that way. Whenever you analyze a piece of fiction, you’re in some way murdering your own joy in it. I prefer to let me feelings take the lead, and simply enjoy a show based on the emotions that it invokes in me.

    Does that make me dumb, or perhaps, shallw? Probably, but I find a lot more joy in that than painstakingly pulling a show apart to reveal its hidden meanings or to justify my like or dislike of it. It doesn’t help that I’m not very good at that either.

    Of course, to each his own. If you derive joy or other forms of satisfaction from pulling a show apart, why not? It’s probably the superior form of consumption too, since it actually produces things that other people can consume.

    Mean whilst, I’m going to watch and like Kanokon, even though it is the shallowest sort of show.

  8. Nagato Says:

    If our daily interpretations of anime could be considered ‘murdering’, then I’d have to say what you and Daniel do would be the equivalent of dropping a nuclear bomb. =p

    But, I wouldn’t say that we’ve really murdered anything intellectually, whether we overanalyze or not – as long as we stay open to outside opinion. Since interpretations are always subjective, there’s never really a right nor wrong. (Unless of course, the author or writer informs us of such.)

    You say that our intellectual homicide allows the phoenix of intelligence to rise even greater – I say that we never murdered anything in the first place. =D

  9. smashingtofu Says:

    Death Note’s original author’s never intended for any deep meaning or symbolism and in reality if you look hard enough, the series is actually rather typical for a shonen ; and yet people around the world is talking about it as if it was the bible…or something! At the very least, the original author’s appreciate any sort of discussion and in my personal opinion if one finds meaning or value to something then all the better! The only thing I’d discourage is letting the works own your lives…

  10. Michael Says:

    @korosora

    That is scary.

    @Lupus

    What makes you glad, makes you glad. If you watch anime for entertainment’s sake, nothing will stop you from doing so. I certainly wouldn’t, as I do that at times, too.

    @Nagato

    Things may also be seen that way. 😛

    @smashingtofu

    I agree with you. Discussion fosters knowledge, and yes, it’s all the better if people find meaning from these things. 🙂

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