The Lunar New Year: (6) Athambia, aphasia, apathia

I am an idiosyncratic guy (I believe everyone is, to some extent). Among the quirks that I have noticed in me, however, is the quirk of being a bibliophile bordering on obsession. Simply put, I have this itch to read, and I tell you, it has not been pretty most of the time. This comes from a personal exigency to do something productive when I’m not doing anything, and since I cannot channel this exigency to be productive towards studying I direct it to reading. While I haven’t read as much as the scholars and litterateurs, I think I’ve read quite a significant amount of books.

Are there any other postmodern anime?

With this said, reading has been the primary reason why I haven’t been able to update in the past days. In addition to the required Waiting for Godot, I had to be an ass and read Fifth Business as well. Even with the pending thesis and the novels still required, I just have this itch to grab a book whenever I’m done with another. Some people have their fancy with food: they eat to their hearts’ content; some have their fancy with computer gaming, or with sports: they play to their hearts’ content. I have my books, and honestly, I need to discover contentment. I’m wasting so much time with novels extraneous to the curriculum (but they’re so much fun!).

I still enjoy reading novels or plays within the curriculum, however. I just finished re-reading Waiting for Godot, and it simply represents what dim anime like Afro Samurai or Ergo Proxy have tried to paint in their series. I’m not a literary critic (nor will I ever be), but I did like the part when Lucky spoke.

He mostly spoke gibberish, but I have read regarding him and identified him as representative of Christianity as a religion in the modern times. These insights are not mine, but they have illuminated the stupefaction I once had found myself in. Lucky, in his stuttering and idiocy, spoke of three Greek words which I noted instantly because of their uniqueness in the play. These words were apathia, athambia, and aphasia.

Afro Samurai

Apathia is familiar to us as apathy. Athambia is imperturbability, and aphasia is an inability to vocalize. I believe (and this critique reflects my belief), that these words have characterized the impuissance of Christianity as a modern religion. God is apathetic (he does not intervene); God is imperturbable (he has never been reached by living humans); and God is aphasic: he has never spoken , even to just prove his existence. The quaquaqua stuttering may suggest the word ‘quaquaversal’ (coming from all directions, turned towards everywhere, dispersive). Of course much more can be obtained from the play, but the play possesses an ability to muck definite meaning that can be tagged into it.

I believe that the three words, however, not only function as a denouncement of Christianity, but the triangle that pervades modern living: the person in this age is evolving to be mired in apathy (he reaches out to no one); he is evolving to be mired in athambia (he can be reached by no one); and he does not speak (physical society has been becoming more and more of a superfluity with the advent of faster Internet, and supposedly ‘social’ networks: voices need not be heard anymore).

These three things also act as the cornerstone of postmodern anime. (In fact, Waiting for Godot was one of the first postmodern texts.) In Ergo Proxy, one can see that there is a pervasive apathy; people are crumbling in solitude; and one can no longer vocalize (because the robots do it for him or her).

It’s quite a haunting work, if one can see past trying to grab meaning from the entirety of the text.

15 Responses to “The Lunar New Year: (6) Athambia, aphasia, apathia”

  1. lolikitsune Says:

    Still waiting on Lucky Star ~ Terrorism.

  2. IKnight Says:

    A friend of mine saw a production of Godot which had a chap wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a big ‘G’ cycling round and round the stage, without speaking, for the whole performance.

  3. Michael Says:


    I haven’t watched Lucky Star, so I probably couldn’t write about it. :c


    Godot’s a very exploitable and malleable play. I can see the reason why. It sounds awesome, though. I’m actually trying to procure the film version of it, to see whether it is a great adaptation or not.

  4. Ryan A Says:

    Good points. I think it is important to remember we are living creatures, and more people need to connect in the physical world (at least say hello to strangers and such). Turn off the myspace, walk on the street and remember where we came from [, humans birth humans].

    I’ve not studied these things, but it sounds like a warning against such civilization…. a total disconnect. :/

  5. Nagato Says:

    I’m surprised you’re not an English major.

    It certainly does look like our society is plunging into the ‘postmodern trap’ of athambia, aphasia, and apathia. However, I feel that our human instincts still keep us in check – that is, the need to socialize and make our voices known to others. I don’t think that will change anytime soon, unless somehow robots that can be the perfect partner are invented. (lols like Chobits. Which reminds me, that would have been a good example for you to use.)

  6. Baka-Raptor » Blog Archive » The Swooping Descent of the Dark Emissary! Says:

    […] got a writing assignment to work on (which it’s almost as lame as Michael’s “I didn’t update because I was reading” excuse). Deal with it. This video is worth at least five written posts. If you’re […]

  7. lolikitsune Says:

    >>I haven’t watched Lucky Star

    Never stopped a good anime blogger before…

  8. Michael Says:


    Indeed. We are more and more becoming a world of technocrats, and it is debilitating to the development of what is truly society as a whole.


    The use of the word trap is very apt. And yes, I forgot about CHobits, sorry.


    Um, yeah, it won’t stop me, but I have only 7-9 days remaining to write regarding it, and I just can’t. As it is, I’m having a hard time watching Kaiba, which I promised someone I’d watch.

  9. smashingtofu Says:

    Well, we ARE kind of in a revolution (ie industrial revolution) and technology is moving at a ridiculously fast speed. Although optimistically speaking, I think we will adapt to it and may even find ‘warmer’ ways to connect in this cold, still-infant world we call the ‘net.’ I guess one current example is this VR glove that allows you to react to stimuli in some 3d world. Currently I believe Japan is finding ways to be able to do that; as an example: some person across the world would be able to ‘touch’ something in another location or people would be able to physically feel an object at a museum without risking harm to the object. There’s also the already existing voice/video chat, which is a fair bit more engaging but with the obvious risk of losing your anonymity. There’s also the fact that space travel doesn’t seem so farfetched anymore and even if it does happen; its only going to reinforce our need for people or society as a whole and this is evidently shown in an manga *or anime, if you prefer* like Planetes. Fortunately, we as humans have a conscious and I believe that is good enough. The only reason I think the internet seems like a terribly cold place, is only because its this big-cluster-mind-fuck of a world that allows people to state whatever cannot be said in real life…which hopefully keeps us sane. That said, personally I think my comment is completely incoherent, but eh, I post this before I start proofing this again *click*

    great post : )

  10. j Says:

    hi mike. it’s me, the guy you watched hot fuzz with. pls put in a good word for me with the admin guys. i want to sign up for an account, preferably with the name psychotaku. thanks a lot.

  11. j Says:

    lemme paraphrase what naomi said at the end of MetaruGearSoridu:
    “as technology increases and world population grows the impact of what we can do as individual human beings seems to shrink. but we can still change the world through our ideas, and the digital media is a great way to do so. genes are no longer as important as memes.”

  12. The Abundance of Meaning « “Lelangiric”, or so they say… Says:

    […] 6, 2008 in Meta-analysis Tags: meaning, meta So I was reading Anime | Otaku’s entry pertaining to Afro Samurai and also how it related to a short bit on the difference between denotation and connotation, as The […]

  13. “lelangiric” » The Abundance of Meaning Says:

    […] I was reading Anime | Otaku’s entry pertaining to Afro Samurai and also how it related to a short bit on the difference between denotation and connotation, as The […]

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  15. SimplicusSimplicissmus Says:

    Actually (and to quite honest I am shy to say so) I have never read or concerned myself with Anime…
    But I am very fond of Waiting for Godot and its themes along with the way they are processed and since you drew some connections I might discover a new engagement for me!

    A side note to Godot : My favourite is Estragon, he seems like a naive child who challanges rational adult thinking with his questionings : eg. Vladimir : … so there you are again! Estragon: Am I?

    I also love the part when they start making excercises – everyday life gymnastics…

    Nice post,
    maybe I will leave another comment after I have read some Anime

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