1. Going on a silent retreat this weekend, which I really feel the need for. I’ve been experiencing what feels like some personal growth lately, and with it’s come another sort of existential disappointment over where I am at the moment.
2. I’m taking a break from My Hero Academia for a bit, since it’s the kind of show you could get absolutely carried away with and I want to pace myself. So far it’s excellent; the best superhero story of any medium that I’ve seen in…well, a very long time. Maybe even going all the way back to The Incredibles (which it often reminds me of, only a more fleshed-out take on the idea). And it’s only getting better as time goes on, the characters develop, and you start to understand what the writer is going for with them.
In particular, the ‘bully’ character, Bakugo starts out as more or less a completely unlikable ass. But as the show goes on and he reveals more layers and we come to understand his motives more he emerges as a really fascinating character. Likewise his dynamic with the hero is of a kind I honestly don’t think I’ve even seen before (and that’s a rare accomplishment indeed); neither friend nor enemy, but a kind of furiously demanding rivalry. But the thing is, he never stops being an angry jerk, it’s just that, like the other characters, you eventually start to accept it as “he’s just like that” and come to appreciate him in spite of it (and then, on the rare occasions he shows a bit of vulnerability or does something decent, it lands all the harder).
3. One of my absolute favorite characters, though, is Asumi, who insists that her friends call her “Tsu” and whose superhero name is “Froppy”; a plain-spoken, sensible girl with all the powers of a frog (“I also can spit up my stomach to clean it, but that’s not really useful”), who speaks in a croaking near-monotone, but is an incredibly sweet, endearing character, as well as a skilled heroine. Something about the combination of her wall-eyed, froggy appearance and sincerely friendly, always-dependable character just makes her amazingly adorable; like the kind of classmate everyone wishes they had in school.
Basically, they could re-brand this “the Froppy Show” and I’d be perfectly fine with that.
4. While breaking from MHA, I’ve started watching Super Cub, which is kind of the exact opposite: it’s an extremely slow-paced, down-to-earth slice-of-life story that requires you to really give it your attention for its effects, and is full of long, silent mood shots. The show is about Koguma, an orphan teenage girl living alone on a government stippened. She’s shy and quiet and has, in her own words, “no parents, no friends, no hobbies, no ambitions for the future.”
Then, one day, she buys a used Honda Super Cub motorbike and finds that it begins to open up her life in unexpected ways. Having her own bike gives her a new sense of freedom, and more than that, an identity; something she can take an interest in and spend her time and energy on. She then starts slowly making friends among other cub riders and finds herself growing more confident as her world expands.
5. As I say, it’s a very slow, sedate series that demands the viewer’s attention for its effect, as the payoffs are often very subtle and quiet. A lot of the show is just a teenager riding about on her moped at an easy pace. But if you put in the attention, it can remarkably gripping. I actually found myself exclaiming aloud a few times in one episode, where Reiko, Koguma’s more assertive and out-going friend, repeatedly attempts to climb Mt. Fuji on her bike. I was invested enough that her wiping out on switchbacks next to steep slopes, or suffering from the thinning atmosphere genuinely made me wince. Because the show feels very real, so things that would be nerve-wracking in real life (but barely noticeable in most fiction) – come across as nerve-wracking here. There’s not much of that; the show is largely very sedate and calming, but when it comes, it lands.
6. The Transcendentalist notions of greatness – individuals remembered for shaking the earth with their mighty words and deeds – is nothing but the old pagan idea of glory, leaving a name for yourself and being remembered (hence the obsession with digging out people “forgotten by history who really were responsible for these great deeds and who oh, look! Better fit our ideas of racial purity!”). The same one that Homer was deconstructing back in the Odyssey, and which Boethius ripped to shreds in De Consolatione. To sum up his argument; the Earth is a mathematical point compared to the whole of creation, only part of it is inhabited at all, only a small fraction of that by people of your own culture who even potentially could give a damn, and only a fraction of them are paying enough attention or care enough to remember you. And then they’re gonna die anyway and you’ll probably be forgotten in a few centuries at most, and even apart from that, the world will eventually end and no one will be left to remember you at all.
In any case, the fact that strangers will be talking about you after your dead is really nothing to be excited about.
“We’re all gonna die, but when I do, people I will never know will still be forming asinine opinions about me, so there!”
7. In modernist parlance, “well behaved” means “adheres to false doctrine” and “to make history” means “to advance modernism.”
So, “well-behaved women” means the same thing as “infidel women,” and “well-behaved women seldom make history” only means “those who do not adhere to my worldview do not advance my worldview.” Which is true.
Keeping in mind that modernism and it’s parent philosophies are themselves distinct belief systems and not the common-sense neutrality that they claim to be takes a lot of the sting out of them.