Category Archives for: Film Reviews

Film Lists, Watching Life, and Letting Beauty Emerge

10 October 2016

talk talk talk

One of my earliest posts on this blog, circa 2010, was about saving Netflix ratings. I still have that file. I found it in my Dropbox. And now, 6 years later, I used it.

Netflix previously failed by narrowing their film selection to a small selection of popular films around the time that they created the digital streaming service. Netflix seems to have failed yet again by not giving a simple interface / display of user ratings, allowing the internet free-market to fill in the gap.

Upon searching the internet for anime films to watch after being quite life-affirmed by Colorful [todo: add link later], I stumbled upon Letterboxd. I’m unsure why it took so long for such a simple website to form. Perhaps there was that generic list-making website before it?

Anyway, here’s a list of favorite films that I created How bored / habituated to sedentary life I must currently be.

Further, I *liked* a few lists. I *liked* too many. Not good. I over-browsed, over-consumed, over-organized.

But, if your aesthetic judgement finds bits of beauty in the infinitude of audio-video output, then, through the linking of those bits one eventually finds a beauty bit collector! ScorpioRising might be one, as his list As I Was Browsing The Auteurs, Occasionally I Saw Glimpses Of Beauty (also copied to letterboxd by another user) seems to be a collection of beautiful bits. Undoubtedly, beauty (including love) naturally unfolds in those films. And surely, there are more lists out there like it, such as assasf’s list (((.

I think that’s all I need now as far as film selection goes for the next few years. Gone are those early college days of perusing Metacritic, Roger Ebert’s website, BFI’s Sight & Sound, big three festival-winners and their specific awards, and other critic-oriented lists which result in similar film canons (though Kenji’s canon is probably darn good), sloppily adding them to a 500 capacity ordered queue on Netflix, or post-Netflix, a text file. Finding Letterboxd reminds me of my experience with 8tracks, where people discover music and create music playlists as opposed to machines or in film lists: critics, and I was able to freely enter countries and listen to the sounds of that country, without a need to really select what to listen to, spending more time experiencing, less time searching. Now I feel I can continue living life, watching reality at the pace of reality, as I did when I rode my bike when I was a child, and still now, when I ride my scooter. Just watching, nothing in particular, allowing one’s attention to see the natural beauty of the world.

So, if my habits become more sedentary, focusing on information (digital or not; mediated communication) rather than reality, as many modern jobs force one to do for several hours per day, and as desired information is easy to obtain, then these films can save me, alter my habits and attention from the mirror of the world that is information to the real world, remind me what life is like in different areas on earth, inspire me, to go out, and live, again.

Further talking

Kenji’s austere film list is on three websites: Listal, MUBI, and Letterboxd, and in that order in Google popularity. Hmmmmm.

It also seems Letterboxd has a database of films, so many films are missing. Can’t just write the title in?

More lists

While searching for slow-spaced, contemplative goodness, I stumbled upon An Austere List by Kenji. I’m a bit frightened to watch that right now, as only having watched The White Ribbon from that list. But, luckily, I found Slow Cinema Filmography (1975-2013), which derive’s its list from a thesis. Awesome!

Kenji has a list for Indian films! So, maybe, there’s more than Satyajit Ray.

Anthropology and empathy reminds me that one can just search for research topics, such as human condition, urban planning, cultural theory, or hatred of capitalism.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Film Reviews, Films, Humanities, Life, Personal, Philosophy of Film

A Japanese Ideal

09 September 2016

Perhaps thought of after watching Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light.

There is an ideal of an idyllic, rustic lifestyle shared in many of my favorite animated films from Japan (Wolf Children Ame and Yuki, Memories Drip-drop, and My Neighbor Totoro [todo: want to re-watch and review]. Perhaps resembling an actual arable area in Japan.

[todo: haven’t even started to write about this!]

from thoughts

To todo: pay bills!

Continued thought for blog posts about the ideal lifestyle:

Into the Forest of Firefly Lights harks memories, of childhood and the ideal of romance. It’s simple, short, and sweet, much like the experience of watching many great short films (La Maison un Petites), but at 45 minutes, a bit more impact than those instant Pixar character development sequences through memory (Up).

One thought provoked was whether this is based on an actual relationship. Of having problems in relationships due to time, loss, or even age difference. It seems in Japan (and much of Asia), there isn’t much free-time, except during those childhood summers, when there’s no school and the family takes a trip into the countryside. It’s here freedom, love, imagination, sparks. And perhaps, there was a relationship during those summers. People do tend to work and forget about those important things: love and family. It’s only when we have a break that we focus on it. All of my relationships have been during the summer too, because I focus on work (personal or wage labour) during the other seasons. I am normally focused on work. So, for me, it brings about some good romantic memories, time spent after summer school, time spent in the park. Innocent, romance.

The second thought it provoked is of the ideal Japanese lifestyle as glorified by many of my favorite animated films.

Though the film didn’t depict it as the other films have (moving to the countryside [from an urban area], building a home, farming), somewhere in that childhood freedom in nature, there it still exists.

During my time in Lanyu (蘭嶼), I wanted to experience and live in that culture: free-diving, fishing, spear-gun fishing, cooking, farming, vending, making things (commodities) from materials. It’s primitive, especially when compared to my philosophic or new-media making past. It’s natural science, as opposed to the infinitely more complex social philosophy. It’s a material-oriented life, as opposed to an idea, information-oriented one (link to material vs information).

It’s what we experience as children: learning what materials do, making things out of them. Less care for social development. **Just taking everything in and acting upon it.

Isn’t that culture? To simply act within a time and space?**

There, whilst experiencing 蘭嶼, memories of JRPGs such as Harvest Moon, MMORPGs such as Ragnarok Online, one mysterious one I can’t remember the name of (link to forums of most recent RO game), World of Warcraft, and the infinite other RPGs I played when I was young came. I acted the same way as I did in those games: I went out alone, learned the environment, researched the best methods, and did things: practice swimming by snorkeling, catch crabs and cook and eat them (a rather haunting experience as they are so cute), catch fish via fishing and cook and eat them, research local flora and animals and make commodities out of them, sell things through vending on the street market.

It’s all quite the dream. It’s all a game. **Each culture can be seen as a game.** People act according to their institutionalized cultured and habits: capitalism, passed-down behaviors, love, desire for social development, desire for wisdom. In the game of Lanyu, during the summer people capitalize through tourism (tour guides, snorkel and diving guides, accommodation, food vending), stocking money for the winter, or continue working by finding a job on Formosa (the main island of Taiwan). Catching and eating sea creatures is in their culture, from their past. The knowledge of the environment only known to those living there, and slowly disappearing due to social development of the children, and the lack of passing down of traditional ways of living from the elderly.

It’s all seemingly primitive compared to the Information Age, which involves tech-related occupations, computer programming; even the Industrial Age is very modern compared Lanyu. Sure there’s manufactured rice now that is imported, and some tools from supermarkets from the town closest to the port, but not much is to be seen from the developed world.

[continue later, getting off track]

Quote from post-film thoughts of Into the Firefly Forest:
> The film is slow, dreamy, like Totoro. It has its magic. It’s predictable, yet I was happy to watch it, and it made me happy, optimistic.

> For the simple things. Memories. Good times. Summers. Natural joy. Picnics. Talking. Sharing. Time.

> I think of all those memories I created in Taiwan, and elsewhere. A happier place. Instead of my cultural theory, I take in the youthful joy. Of the Chinese class, of her, of my trip in Asia, of New York, of the fatkids, of College Park, of my youth. So many memories. It’s beautiful to think about.

> I’ve been so focused lately that I’ve recently stopped thinking. This free-thinking is what makes me happy. Ignore reality, and be happy.

The literal name of the film of Only Yesterday is Omiede Poro Poro, (todo: check name) roughly memories trickling down, with poro poro being a sound-action of something dripping. Poro Poro! With the cute partially rolled r phonetic. And that’s a core argument for living in Taiwan as opposed to New York (todo: link to post): that living in Taiwan creates more experiences, more memories. I’ve only lived in Taiwan for a small fraction of my life, yet as I think of my life, much of the memories were formed there. So many adventures, friendly people, thoughts. When I watch the memories of these films, my own memories of Taiwan, an island not dissimilar to Japan, are invoked. All those people, places, things I’ve done. When I stop, perhaps on a transportation, just as in the film (and many other films from Ghibli), the those memories rush back, or rather, they kind of trickle down, and I desire them.

I want to go back, live them again. I contact the people. I tell them I am really cherished those times. It’s s childish thing to do, yet, so human. During my recent heartbreak I took a ride a scooter from 宜蘭 through 台東 to 台南 and back toward 蘭嶼. Those memories came. I wrote to everyone I thought I may have loved during past time. I wrote it during the phase of break-up whee one seeks comfort. It was pathetic, yet affirming.

I love Taiwan. I love the experiences I’ve had here. I love the people here.

And so I desire to be here. I desire to join another hostel, be a part of the experiences that go in to living in one. I desire to live in Lanyu, farm and fish and vend. I desire to move to a farming area and build a home as was done in Wolf Children. But none can be done alone.

And all of this contradicts my Western mind. My Western part desires to organize people on Lanyu to increase safety, health, and engineering. It desires a better education. Yet, it desires freedom, and enjoys the freedom the kids on Lanyu have. One feels a connection there. Those children are free, unlike Taiwan. They run around town, swim, hang out with strangers.

Can both be had? Can one be rational and free? West and East?

This contradiction is an everlasting conflict.

Why catch a single fish with rudimentary methods when there are huge high-tech boats with nets that catch hundreds? Why farm when there are huge farm fields looked over with industrial tractors and large machines? Why not just eat cheap cereals and skip to the information and ideas? One doesn’t have to fight for survival in the Information Age. Cereals are cheap, air conditioning or even simple fans exist. Why go backward in social development? We should be designing and philosophizing.

Why? Experience and memories. Nothing more.

The West focuses on the material reality. Design. The East focuses on experiences. In the West, the portfolio matters most. In the East, you must provide a biography. It’s not about what you make, it’s what you have experienced. The experience of making is just a small part.

So what stops me from experiencing? My Western past. I often think in terms of social development. Increases the development of wisdom. Figuring out cities. Figuring out cultures. Social philosophy, urban planning, all of it.

What’s the point of creating yet another hostel? I should be pushing art with games for education, films with documentary and philosophical content, putting new knowledge into ever more accessible mediums. I should be in India de-slumming. I should be in an emergency care platoon. I should be doing a lot.

Yet, I feel so stable, so normal, when I am on my own, doing my own things: fishing, making games, making things on my own. Not caring for the world’s problems. It’s taken me many years to get this feeling again. To forget about [ignore] politics is so difficult, when it affects everything.

Leave a comment | Categories: Anthropology, Area, Art, Essays, Film Reviews, Films, Humanities, Literature, Philosophy, Social Philosophy

言の葉の庭 (The Garden of Words)

08 September 2016

romanization: Kotonoha no Niwa
literal translation: garden of leaf of word [?]
meaningful translation: word garden [?]
English title: The Garden of Words

notes / thoughts

desire to do own thing / path, as opposed to what society wants in the form of school and work

goes to nature, drinks beer :). Ahhh, this is natural! Nature and a drink. And chocolate!

romantic scenes reminds me of Three Times

paths of a 15 year old in Tokyo is limited to two ways, “childish desires” or save money and make shoes. A recurring theme in these Japanese animations: limited to paths laid out by society. Such a joyless society, where drinking beer in the park is one’s joy. Only relations, no other form of joy. No consumerism, I guess?
– perhaps the lack of communication is the problem. No creativity, no talking.
– at least, that’s my current problem and reason for depression

woman holding on to relationship and job, far overdue, barely able to get up and “walk” on one’s own
– unable to walk! That’s me currently, or after heartbreak, or after leaving a community, or basically my life in Taiwan. I’ve become so relationship-oriented that I’ve lost my childhood desires (not teacher fantasies).

desire to do personal design / work / art, motivated working for capital at restaurant

Surely I missed her, but…
I think it’s clinging to those feelings that’s keeping me a little kid.

27 years old, yet but [feels as if she] didn’t do anything during the past 12 years [(27–12=15)]
I’ve always been here, stuck in the same place
– hmmm, very possible. Those poor Tokyo souls; Minds trapped by the strength of culture, and relationships. How awful, being a slave to culture, unable to make decisions autonomously. I really shouldn’t hitch through Japan, should I?

Didn’t do anything wrong (when another person falls in love)
– Reminds me of some Koreeda film. Hmmmm, I think? Can’t think of it [now]…

mmm, actually a good conversation of school / culture problem (referring to the teacher-student situation)
– again, east Asian school culture have such close relationships that even teachers are able to get hurt.
– A huge problem pointed out is that the police is useless. Saving face. Just earlier today, I was thinking about how a women would be unable to live my life as I’ve been sleeping outside next to a hot spring lately, because she risks getting raped. How fucking frightening is that? I checked the internet, noticed that the statistics were near 20% for America (WTF, my mind still hasn’t been able to digest this), and 1% in Japan. The problem is that Japanese people rarely report it, to save face, patriarchal society, etc. cultural problems of Japan. Wild. These far east societies really do retain some ancient cultural problems, and they take so long to change. Maybe another generation? It’s so strange to me for it to progress so slow in these social aspects. But if Japan is anything like Taiwan, perhaps it isn’t, as much of Taiwan is old, rural, backward-thinking in oh so many ways (education, healthcare, police, general etiquette, everyday work-life at companies).

no beer sign. Also no playing sign?

classic literature still seems to be taught in Japanese society, if I were to take these animated films as truth. Wolf Children had a philosophy class, Only Yesterday had a Basho poem, and this one includes a tanka, and the woman is a classic literature teacher. This is quite a contrast to American education of science. Of course, I prefer philosophy, as it creates good conversation and relates to life.

ahhh, the joy of nature :) (as typhoon or heavy rain and wind comes in)
– so many memories of this in Taiwan

you saved me.
– ahhh the classic post break-up need for human physical support to move on

a post-thought:

Aesthetically, I didn’t care much. It was even distracting at first, to see the camera zoom out and track, or take shots of random spots as if it were a real one, and having focus like expensive cameras, taking those cheesy transition shots that focus out. Poor souls who animated the thing, wasting time mimicking standard live films.

I probably missed out on some classic Japanese ideas (symbolism) in all of those nature shots. Zen? Them being in a garden. Fengshui? Weather patterns? Anyway, I don’t feel it mattered too much.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Film Reviews, Films, Humanities

歸途列車 (Last Train Home)

07 September 2016

Just a few minutes into Last Train Home and my my wakes up from the sloth-paced recent days of healing and waiting for my money to come in.

It’s starkly different from watching a film by Koreeda, which is so familial, revolving about love. This film already incorporates space, governance, politics, culture, and so on. It has the bigger picture in mind. Koreeda focuses on house, this film focuses on the rest of the day, including work.

Perhaps it’s the hectic pace, of cities, of work. Once the scene of the countryside comes, I feel at ease again.

Watching them get on the train is normal to me now. All of it is. I don’t feel terrible about it? Become complacent? Lost my ideals?

They travel 2100 kilometers, but don’t experience any of it in between.

You should avoid anything that should harm your study.

The huge panaromas and distant views of the countryside and city really do contrast. Why go to such an ugly city? Why not live in that beautiful rural area? As long as one has access to a library, a computer, it’s okay! Fuck the city. Especially a Chinese one.

Part 2:
Work is work. The factory looks like my first job’s office. Not so bad. At least it has more people, and kids!

Oh, but this times its a child worker. Damn.


Oh shit. That is her!

Hmm, school or work, it’s a prison, enclosed by culture. Cultures don’t understand idleness.

That’s the Asian mentality: I’d rather work harder than for my child to work.

Buying freedom, independence through work (in capitalism). Using time to buy time.

Let’s just roam around the world.

Money vs being there. Being there, absolutely.

Just watching the film now. Not much philosophizing, thinking. The daughter goes home for New Years with a spunky teenage attitude. Loves her grandparents more then her parents. Her little brother places a seemingly mere #5 in whatever school that is. The educators are probably very outdated, but it’s not shown. Freedom through work, the American dream, is looked down upon.

Watching the film, I don’t feel much. I don’t feel my need to change the world as I normally desire, when I am active. Acceptance? Lazy.

Though, I don’t feel so bad for the people either. Culture is the problem, largely. It’s culture that forces people to smoosh into trains for New Years. It’s culture that the parents want their kids to be educated through the traditional educational system. The daughter is the light. Yet, working that many hours doesn’t get anyone anywhere, does it? Maybe the daughter will try a different job. It’s just trial, part-time. Then move on just as she said the farm was a sad place, so too will the factor be. That’s education. She’s moving from the farm, to factory, to some place better. A hostel, hopefully!

[continued on the next day 7/9/2016]
Back to 7-11 where there’s air conditioner! Wow, what a difference! I can think. In not constantly in need of hydration. No mosquitos! The developed world in one room!

Skipping straight in to the climax. Classic. Parent cares for money to raise child and support for education, child cares for none of it, and in a way, is right: she cares for the people near to her: her grandparents. What’s money got to do with anything, including and especially education? That single decision is already smarter than her parents toiling away at non-sense. Perhaps it’s up to her to save her parents from habituated misery. The father’s seemingly rational view fails completely amidst the daughter’s feelings

The daughter working at a bar is not a bad first job. It’s money. She’s doing it right, experiencing slowly, reality. School doesn’t teach it.

The father desires; he must let it go.

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蛍火の杜へ (~Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light)

07 September 2016

Japanese: 蛍火の杜へ
romanization: Hotarubi no Mori e
literal: Into the Forest of Fireflies’ Light
English: [none]

during-film thoughts

Suburban house, missing the in-between in life
Noisy insects!

…ended up just watching the entire thing as I did as when I was young.

post-film thoughts

A similar story to Spirited Away. Perhaps they root from some ancient Japanese source story.

The film is slow, dreamy, like Totoro. It has its magic. It’s predictable, yet I was happy to watch it, and it made me happy, optimistic.

For the simple things. Memories. Good times. Summers. Natural joy. Picnics. Talking. Sharing. Time.

I think of all those memories I created in Taiwan, and elsewhere. A happier place. Instead of my cultural theory, I take in the youthful joy. Of the Chinese class, of her, of my trip in Asia, of New York, of the fatkids, of College Park, of my youth. So many memories. It’s beautiful to think about.

I’ve been so focused lately that I’ve recently stopped thinking. This free-thinking is what makes me happy. Ignore reality, and be happy.
– Perhaps not ignore reality, rather, stop organizational behaviors and live!

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Film Reviews, Films, Humanities, Life, Personal

幻の光 (~Will-o’-wisp )

08 August 2016

Japanese title: 幻の光
romanization: Maboroshi no Hikari
literal translation: phantasmic light
meaningful translation: a trick of light, will-o’-the-wisp
English title: Maborosi

Well, that’s quite confusing, ain’t it?

From Yahoo Answers:

幻 is more often used as a metaphor for things that are troubling you, ie. spectres from the past, things that are hard to grasp, etc. (ex. 幻の名物 – phantom souvenir – people say it is available, but you cannot find it) This is also often used when describing thinking about those who have died, especially those close to us, but less as a ghostbusters ghost and more as a ghost of the mind.

notes from second viewing:

Written the day after watching it, skimming through the video, like my old film-watching days:

some thoughts while skimming, and re-occurred ones:

There’s so few items in the household. Because the setting is in a past time, and because of Japanese culture.

Her mind is stuck on the past. It’s too difficult to think about raising a child, …[stopped thought?]

She’s beautiful. A bit alien, but stunning. Mongolian? Some Japanese aboriginal? Eyebrows and eyes are almost exaggerated.

After the news of her husbands suicide, she bikes, ruminating. I do the same.

At a later time, she dwells on past photos. I do the same.

Strange match-making service. Quite similar to Indians. Is having a partner that important? Or is it merely cultural? I can imagine an American getting on fine without a partner, but I’d guess an Asian would rather *want* to share the experience.

Japan’s geography is much like Taiwan. The coast is similar to the coast I’m currently near, on the southern tip of Taiwan, with a coral coast; quiet, small towns.

Every detail and action matters in the film. It’s dense in content without action.

The new husband’s house also frightens me of Japanese culture. An isolated room with a television. There’s just not enough noise, fun, action, social life. Everything is organized, thought and then decided upon. Very little consumption. Creating a very insular culture.

She’s still able to smile and laugh. Amazing.

The nature is stunning, like Taiwan.

Super traditional formal wedding. Looks as if it could have happened in Taiwan too. The house, especially kitchen, feels warm, when there are people in it.

The kids run around in nature. Lovely. Kids need it. Strange, but beautiful green tunnel door frame with the kids.

Kids are picked up by a neighbor. Small town love.

Traditional cutting and crafting. So slow, the life there is. People fish. Mothers cut their kid’s hair. All of this exists in Taiwan too. It’s strange, compared to modern societies. Does she have to adapt from Osaka? Was her job busy?

Ah right, the tradition of leaving the house and coming in, as the daughter leaves for school. So much emphasis on the household.

Hahaha the son is great, sleeping with the grandfather on the boat. The childhood love for nature is awesome.

Such a slow life.

She’s stunning without clothes too, even with an old-fashioned huge panty.

The kids get along well. Like the Asian emphasis of having a partner to share an experience, it’s probably equally important to let the kids have a partner, a brother or sister, too.

Hah Osaka looks terrible compared to the more natural coast, but as long as one spends much of the time in a house, it doesn’t matter where one lives.

A bit of thrill: he comes all the way to the cafe near home, cheerfully, then intends to go home.

Another strange slow, close-up frame, this time on her. Perhaps a cinematic cue, as it was with the boyfriend: a change in direction for the person.

Man, learning radishes at the outdoor sink is a beautiful thing. So it putting up a bamboo fence. Only get this kind of life in the rural areas of Taiwan, like preparing for a typhoon and cleaning potato leaves.

Is it possible to move on, after losing a long-loved one, such that of a childhood sweetheart? The new husband was able, but she isn’t. How can one replace 20 years of knowing someone? That’s non-sense. She’s right. It’s impossible.

An alien cultural funeral procession? How the heck did Koreeda capture the beginning of snow with that frame?

She continues to ruminate.

His answer is great, about chasing an alluring light in the distance. There’s no real answer.

The new husband is great, spending time with the kid, helping the son ride his bike.

It’s during the winter humans ruminate, and during the spring and summer that humans take action. She decided to leave.

obvious screenplay bits:
new husband as a shadow
she says “you nut” to her new husband, which was something her husband said to her
her grandmother disappear into the cold and dies, the new grandmother figure disappears but comes back
like her, the new husband senses something wrong, but perhaps feels it’s small
son wants to buy a green bicycle with a bell like his father had
Ozu ending
– season change
– position of her a little behind
[probably missed a bunch, such as cleaning the floors, empty rooms, and more]

When I saw this during my film-consuming younger years, I thought it was great. Maybe it was the lack of words, emphasis on visuals, human gesture, and ideas.

During this second view, after recovering from a personal recent heart-break, I just watch it without much feeling, in wonder, thinking of my own problems, or nothing, passing time. Perhaps it’s my favored contemplative pacing that made me love it.

It is strange when the camera sits on her husband, in the factory, then again, when he leaves without looking back. His reaction is strange: he doesn’t react. She says she’s been acting a bit weird and he gives a strange story of an older retired sumo-wrestler co-worker making him depressed. Did he not react out of depression? She tries to cheer him up, with such pure-hearted cheerfulness, but to no avail.

In a realistic analysis now: I know East Asian cultures tend to put blame on themselves, thus resulting in suicide, as opposed to Americans, who may find optimism in other motives (art, work, media), move on more easily (more shallow relationships), blame it on others, or some other method of coping.

Indeed, Japan’s culture seems to be on the extreme end of the family-community spectrum. There is so much emphasis on family. So much so that memories, mementos, time, seem to create a whole different mindset [todo: perhaps add Our Little Sister thoughts here too]. Every object in a house has a reason or meaning. Any change in the family relationship is considered a paradigm shift. Every family decision is thought about deeply, decided formally. This is what frightens me about Japanese culture, because I’m on other extreme end — community and playing / exploration.
— (end of first writing session)

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バケモノの子 (The Boy and the Beast)

03 May 2016

After The Boy and The Beast (Japanese: バケモノの子, Hepburn: Bakemono no Ko, literal: monster and child, English: The Boy and the Best), second half:

This film is much simpler and less thought-provoking than the director’s previous film Wolf Children, of which I wrote a lot about, and Takohata’s thematically similar last film The Tale of the Princess Kaguya because a lot of time spent on tropes: all of the characters are tropes, the first half is a huge training montage trope. All of Hosoda’s films contain many tropes, especially when compared to Miyazaki or Takahata, but this film may have spent the most time with plot tropes.

Though, there were good bits: learn by doing first, then learn to teach, then learn from media; Be raised in the wild first, then naturally go toward organized knowledge, intrinsically motivated; gaining wisdom socially is more motivating; the time spent together learning will always be remembered (in both cases: with the beast and with the girl).

[other thoughts: surveillance state or feeling of Tokyo, the closeness between the two worlds, Moby Dick?, live frames from Tokyo’s subway]

[todo: after reading wiki:

Torn by his double life, he is unable to reconcile the resentment he had as Ren and the lack of connections he has as Kyûta. When he rejects both his father and Kumatetsu, he discovers a powerful void within himself that nearly overwhelms him until Kaede calms him down and gives him a bracelet that has helped her when she becomes anxious.

Ichirôhiko wakes up surrounded by his adoptive family, understanding that he is, like Ren, a human raised by beasts, and accepts it as well.
Wikipedia, The Boy and the Beast


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Into the Wild

04 November 2015

[todo: just copied from from text file. I copied quotes from the book because I wasn’t using my e-reader application to read it, and in doing so, I’ve created my longest post; There’s no point of reading this, and therefore posting this? Yet, I want to think about the decisions that McCandless made, because they are similar to some of my own. The notes from the book are also in reverse order, newest on top. Also need to go over thoughts during viewing of film.]

I’ve written quite a bit recently about searching for an the ideal nomadic lifestyle, using the lives of successful like-minded people. This book and film, though both lacking intellectual rigor to understand the protagonist’s thoughts, have an ideal nomad as the subject, making it frighteningly good material for self-reflection.

Into the Wild [film] (second viewing in lifetime):

Why Alaska? Maybe he just happened to be there after a long trip, constantly escaping society.

Perhaps the bus was his death. The lure of a shelter, a home, to organize things and life in, as opposed to the constant decision-making the road offers. Perhaps he would have kept going, in and out of society. But the shelter kept him in place. Perhaps. Well, maybe not. He probably would have continued if he were in good health. Just a matter of lack of nearby health facility.

“The climactic battle of killing the false being within”
– what’s the false being here, the culture of society.

He doesn’t want “things”.

“Chris measured himself and others around him with a fiercely moral code”.

“He risked what could have been a relentlessly lonely path, but found company in the characters of the books he loved…Tolstoy, London, Thoreau…He could summon their words to suit any occasion”

“It was inevitable that Chris would break away, and when he would do it, he would do it with characteristic immoderation”

Immediately after college, he leaves the ?…

Uses car as transport and shelter. Somehow missed flash flood warning. It happens, can’t plan everything.

A documentary proved that in his bag upon death he still had all of his IDs and $300 cash, so he didn’t cut and burn them. It makes no sense to. Have to watch out for fiction.

He leaves his car, just keep moving forward. No point of using time to salvage. Keep creating. Less things.

His tent, still too close to society, as vacationers watersurf nearby. Have to move further, at least away from tourism.

He cleans himself in an outdoor bathroom.

He had good grades in serious subjects, contemporary politics in Africa, Apartheid, food crisis in Africa, etc.

“…Spent four years fulfilling the absurd and tedious duty of graduating college…emancipated from false sense of security, parents, and material excess, things that cut Chris off from the truth of his existance”

Pacific Crest Trail

Bought books on edible plants. Now that’s hardcore.

“Rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, give me truth.” Paraphrase of Thoreau against the lovely hippie mother who asks to love his parents.

He stays up focused, reading.

Meaningless battles at home, between parents, and some between children and parent.

He moves quick and enthusiastic, like a monkey. :)

Afraid of water.

Reads in solitude, no love, ascetic, but loves humans.

Camps in a hill, not too far from a hitchhikeable road.

Lol, shaving in large farm sprinklers. Yessss.

Doesn’t gamble. Enjoys company, though with a barrier, not giving into culture completely.

Plays music whilst everyone else gets drunk and talks.

Listens to many stories, but doesn’t talk back much, except for his dislike of society.

Vince Vaughn rightly says to go South, and only Alaska during Spring.
– Why north? Because that’s where no one has travelled before? There are many unexplored areas in America, especially in cold mountains. No need to go to Alaska to get away.

Vince getting arrested is the causation of continuing to travel.

After high school he drove cross country in a used Datson.

Lol at permit to paddle on river. Reminds me of when I wanted to dive (with a group) on the east coast of Taiwan, and snorkel some part of Okinawa.

Water is indeed frightening.

Ah shit, didn’t take helmet. So focused on moving forward, sometimes take more risky paths. It’s inevitable. I’ve made some rash decisions too, like taking buses at night, or not wearing a helmet while biking.

Mmm, at age 4 at 3am wondered 6 blocks for some candy. Oh the sweet adventure.

Freedom and simple beauty.

36 days in a cave. Crossed border without care.
– Mmmm, 36 days. The time goes by in a cut of a film, but that’s 36 days of exploring nearby and thinking. The bus only lasted 100 days, so it’s not much different, yet it’s disproportionately cut off like much of the film.

Fit with exercise and shadowboxing.

The city is indeed haunting. Reminds me of my time in New York. I had a lot of rapid thoughts. The problem with film is one doesn’t know what the person is thinking. There could be a lot of complex thoughts going on at any moment in McCandless’s head, but no way to communicate it, not even in writing. What he thinks here is forgotton.

Eat and sleeps at homeless shelter. Quite a different experience than nature. This is indeed what one must resort to in the city.

He’s ashamed to ask for a bed at a homeless shelter.

The dark and trashy inner city. Why would anyone choose not to be a part of culture and live in the city, as opposed to not be a part of culture and live in nature? It’s the society vs not theme. Trying to be a part of society but consistently failing to be, leading to ascetism. Perhaps my ideals where too far from society, that when I tried to implement it in Taipei, I failed, instead, appeared homeless. I tried to be a part of society on my ideal terms, but it doesn’t work, and so I had to get out.

McCandless looks at a mid to upper class restaurant similar to the way I did in New York and Taipei. I didn’t want any part of these places.

But unlike me, he leaves the same night. I camped a few nights by the river. Then had a friend house me for a week. Then a cheap hostel. But I was running out of options, money, and the city wasn’t offering me any outs, as much as I tried, communicated.

The city scenes are at night, nature scenes in day, which corresponds to the times people are active in each area.

The culture is so restricting that he probably didn’t find anyone nice, human in the city. Later, he gets kicked off a railroad for freeloading, as if he made a difference. The strictness of civilization, must have made him want to retreat further from it. At many times I feel society is so beauracratic, so stupid, that I also get away from it.

Lol, works at fast food restaurant for money to get to Alaska. I need to do this right now! Fuck being trapped at this hostel. I can work temporarily and move on.

Thoughts the day after viewing (11/2):

[from the next day on a bus to Taipei?]
I felt I should go immediately. I can work a temporary job for a little cash. Then if I want, I can go back to Taipei and continue my plan. It’s okay to not begin my plan immediately. It’s great enough that I still desire to do so. It’s better than being at the wrong institution, country, or social group. At least I can still think about it. It’s my grand Alaskan plan.

I can re-learn to eat oatmeal and exercise. I can work and read books. But perhaps I’ve already spent enough time doing these things and desire to be in the direction of my plan, with people. It’s okay. Saving money is a necessary part of it. Or, taking a loan. Whichever. But a loan is cheating. Without the loan I am more free, likely to take on whatever paid gig. The loan requires a plan.

From a bus, I can see the mountains and the towns next to them. Do I want to be there farming? As long as I meet some nice people to talk to.

Or should I go back to my creative self, putting material and idea together for civics or education? That’s where all my active thoughts go toward. Farming will just create slave mentality, no inspiration, like a suburban house.

Maybe it’s the active survival that will wake me up, or at least keep me awake. And that will cause me to act, instinctively to survive. Similarly, isn’t it instinct to protect others, people? That’s worth being active for too. Civics.

Nature provokes thought, for survival. Cities provoke thought, for the betterment of society. Nature teaches one to be self-reliant. Cities allow one to maximize their potential. Nature is indeed backwards.

Use nature as a means for taking a break, not an end. The end is the city. One must alternate between both. Or, keep drifting between small towns and organizations.

notes for Into The Wild book:

[over two days]
“The repugnance to animal food is not the effect of experience, but is an instinct. It appeared more beautiful to live low and fare hard in many respects; and though I never did so, I went far enough to please my imagination. I believe that every man who has ever been earnest to preserve his higher or poetic faculties in the best condition has been particularly inclined to abstain from animal food, and from much food of any kind….
It is hard to provide and cook so simple and clean a diet as will not offend the imagination; but this, I think, is to be fed when we feed the body; they should both sit down at the same table. Yet perhaps this may be done. The fruits eaten temperately need not make us ashamed of our appetites, nor interrupt the worthiest pursuits. But put an extra condiment into your dish, and it will poison you.
“YES,” wrote McCandless and, two pages later, “Consciousness of food. Eat and cook with concentration…. Holy Food.” On the back pages of the book that served as his journal, he declared:
I am reborn. This is my dawn. Real life has just begun[…]”
– here, McCandless finally becomes conscious of everyday life-sustaining activities, of food, work, task, reading. His awareness changed toward his actions. He became aware of more. He created a philosophical base.

“I was under way, propelled by an imperative that was beyond my ability to control or comprehend.”
– monomania is a good word for this too. I surely suffered from this too, with San Francisco, New York, and later travels, but that’s how travel works, you choose a single destination, and go.

“he Devils Thumb demarcates the Alaska-British-Columbia border east of Petersburg, a fishing village accessible only by boat or plane. There was regular jet service to Petersburg, but the sum of my liquid assets amounted to a 1960 Pontiac Star Chief and two hundred dollars in cash, not even enough for one-way airfare. So I drove as far as Gig Harbor, Washington, abandoned the car, and inveigled a ride on a northbound salmon seiner.”
– wow, with very very little money, and enough sense to hitch a salmon boat

“I was working then as an itinerant carpenter, framing condominiums in Boulder for $3.50 an hour. One afternoon, after nine hours of humping two-by-tens and driving sixteen-penny nails, I told my boss I was quitting: “No, not in a couple of weeks, Steve; right now was more like what I had in mind.” It took me a few hours to clear my tools and other belongings out of the crummy job-site trailer where I’d been squatting. And then I climbed into my car and departed for Alaska. I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.”
– also has no problems leaving society, not worrying about it

“I was twenty-three, a year younger than Chris McCandless when he walked into the Alaska bush. My reasoning, if one can call it that, was inflamed by the scattershot passions of youth and a literary diet overly rich in the works of Nietzsche, Kerouac, and John Menlove Edwards,”
– Jon Krakauer read Kerouac

“In July 1992, two years after Chris left Atlanta, Billie was asleep in Chesapeake Beach when she sat bolt upright in the middle of the night, waking Walt. “I was sure I’d heard Chris calling me,” she insists, tears rolling down her cheeks. “I don’t know how I’ll ever get over it. I wasn’t dreaming. I didn’t imagine it. I heard his voice! He was begging, ‘Mom! Help me!’ But I couldn’t help him because I didn’t know where he was. And that was all he said: ‘Mom! Help me!’”
– this makes me worry very much about Mom

“As months passed without any word of Chris—and then years—the anguish mounted. Billie never left the house without leaving a note for Chris posted on the door. “Whenever we were out driving and saw a hitchhiker,” she says, “if he looked anything like Chris, we’d turn around and circle back. It was a terrible time. Night was the worst, especially when it was cold and stormy. You’d wonder, ‘Where is he? Is he warm? Is he hurt? Is he lonely? Is he OK?’”
– mmm, Mom probably thinks in a similar way. Wow, years pass? Impossible, he’s only gone of two years. I’ve done a month though.

“In the spring of 1990, when Walt, Billie, and Carine attended Chris’s graduation ceremony, they thought he seemed happy. As they watched him stride across the stage and take his diploma, he was grinning from ear to ear. He indicated that he was planning another extended trip but implied that he’d visit his family in Annandale before hitting the road. Shortly thereafter, he donated the balance of his bank account to OXFAM, loaded up his car, and vanished from their lives. From then on he scrupulously avoided contacting either his parents or Carine, the sister for whom he purportedly cared immensely.
“We were all worried when we didn’t hear from him,” says Carine, “and I think my parents’ worry was mixed with hurt and anger. But I didn’t really feel hurt by his failure to write. I knew he was happy and doing what he wanted to do; I understood that it was important for him to see how independent he could be. And he knew that if he’d written or called me, Mom and Dad would find out where he was, fly out there, and try to bring him home.”
– similar, but for me, there’s no chance that my parents would come and pick me up. I have no reason not to call. It’s just a feeling of being detached from society at the moment.

“What does she mean ‘whoever I’m with?” Chris railed at his sister. “She must be rucking nuts. You know what I bet? I bet they think I’m a homosexual. How did they ever get that idea? What a bunch of imbeciles.”
– mmm, appears homo, but isn’t.

“Chris seldom contacted his parents that year, and because he had no phone, they couldn’t easily contact him. Walt and Billie grew increasingly worried about their son’s emotional distance. In a letter to Chris, Billie implored, “You have completely dropped away from all who love and care about you. Whatever it is—whoever you’re with—do you think this is right?” Chris saw this as meddling and referred to the letter as “stupid” when he talked to Carine.”
– mmm, pressure from mother. Quite important though. I also didn’t have a phone, or, I chose not to use it. I still don’t.

“During his senior year at Emory, Chris lived off campus in his bare, spartan room furnished with milk crates and a mattress on the floor. Few of his friends ever saw him outside of classes. A professor gave him a key for after-hours access to the library, where he spent much of his free time.”
– lol, spartan is a good word. Milk crates are quite functional, moveable pieces of furniture. Ah, escape to library and media. Hmm. Sounds like my escape to films for a real education.

“he grinding, dusty haul up the Alaska Highway was Chris’s first visit to the Far North. It was an abbreviated trip—he spent a short time around Fairbanks, then hurried south to get back to Atlanta in time for the start of fall classes—but he had been smitten by the vastness of the land, by the ghostly hue of the glaciers, by the pellucid subarctic sky. There was never any question that he would return.”
– deadline of going back to school

“To his dwindling number of confreres, McCandless appeared to grow more intense with each passing month. As soon as classes ended in the spring of 1989, Chris took his Datsun on another prolonged, extemporaneous road trip. “We only got two cards from him the whole summer,” says Walt. “The first one said, ‘Headed for Guatemala.’ When I read that I thought, ‘Oh, my God, he’s going down there to fight for the insurrectionists. They’re going to line him up in front of a wall and shoot him.’ Then toward the end of the summer, the second card arrived, and all it said was ‘Leaving Fairbanks tomorrow, see you in a couple of weeks.’ It turned out he’d changed his mind and instead of heading south had driven to Alaska.”
– lol. No phones at that time? Could have used a payphone. But indeed, less and less contact.

“As assistant editorial page editor of The Emory Wheel, he authored scores of commentaries. In reading them half a decade later, one is reminded how young McCandless was, and how passionate. The opinions he expressed in print, argued with idiosyncratic logic, were all over the map. He lampooned Jimmy Carter and Joe Biden, called for the resignation of Attorney General Edwin Meese, lambasted Bible-thumpers of the Christian right, urged vigilance against the Soviet threat, castigated the Japanese for hunting whales, and defended Jesse Jackson as a viable presidential candidate. In a typically immoderate declaration the lead sentence of McCandless’s editorial of March 1, 1988, reads, “We have now begun the third month of the year 1988, and already it is shaping up to be one of the most politically corrupt and scandalous years in modern history….” Chris Morris, the editor of the paper, remembers McCandless as “intense.”
– one should be immoderate. Chris was right again.

“Chris’s seemingly anomalous political positions were perhaps best summed up by Thoreau’s declaration in “Civil Disobedience”: “I heartily accept the motto—‘That government is best which governs least.’” Beyond that his views were not easily characterized.”
– a very general view, but fits my autonomism ideals

“That summer, Billie remembers, “Chris started complaining about all the rich kids at Emory.” More and more of the classes he took addressed such pressing social issues as racism and world hunger and inequities in the distribution of wealth.”
– mmm, also did this earlier than me. Again, because I didn’t live in a city, or alone, away from my parent’s home bubble.

“Chris was the sort of person who brooded about things,” Carine observes. “If something bothered him, he wouldn’t come right out and say it. He’d keep it to himself, harboring his resentment, letting the bad feelings build and build.” That seems to be what happened following the discoveries he made in El Segundo.”
– mm, I do this too, and I still think it’s right not to bother unless it makes a behavioral change to a large amount of people. One person’s problems can easily be ignored.

“Like many people, Chris apparently judged artists and close friends by their work, not their life, yet he was temperamentally incapable of extending such lenity to his father.”
– I sure did judge artists by their work instead of their life, but coming from a large suburban house, that’s what probably normally happens, one has to consume media for an education

“Children can be harsh judges when it comes to their parents, disinclined to grant clemency, and this was especially true in Chris’s case. More even than most teens, he tended to see things in black and white. He measured himself and those around him by an impossibly rigorous moral code.”
– mmm, Rorschach / Kantian moral code

“he summer between his sophomore and junior years Chris again returned to Annandale and took a job delivering pizzas for Domino’s. “He didn’t care that it wasn’t a cool thing to do,” says Carine. “He made a pile of money. I remember he’d come home every night and do his accounting at the kitchen table. It didn’t matter how tired he was; he’d figure out how many miles he drove, how much Domino’s paid him for gas, how much gas actually cost, his net profits for the evening, how it compared to the same evening the week before. He kept track of everything and showed me how to do it, how to make a business work. He didn’t seem interested in the money so much as the fact that he was good at making it. It was like a game, and the money was a way of keeping score.”
– interesting to not care about the work and just get the money, as opposed to caring for all actions, including that which makes money
– lol at the game analogy

“I saw Chris at a party after his sophomore year at Emory,” remembers Eric Hathaway, “and it was obvious he had changed. He seemed very introverted, almost cold. When I said ‘Hey, good to see you, Chris,’ his reply was cynical: ‘Yeah, sure, that’s what everybody says.’ It was hard to get him to open up. His studies were the only thing he was interested in talking about.”
– focused on work, impact, not the bullshit American society, especially college society

“The summer after his freshman year of college, Chris returned to Annandale and worked for his parents’ company, developing computer software. “The program he wrote for us that summer was flawless,” says Walt. “We still use it today and have sold copies of the program to many clients. But when I asked Chris to show me how he wrote it, to explain why it worked the way it did, he refused. ‘All you need to know is that it works,’ he said. ‘You don’t need to know how or why.’ Chris was just being Chris, but it infuriated me. He would have made a great CIA agent—I’m serious; I know guys who work for the CIA. He told us what he thought we needed to know and nothing more. He was that way about everything.”
– crazy, also developed computer software. Well maybe not, it’s work local to his parent’s house: DC.
– also, Chris didn’t want to say more because it isn’t required to understand more. That would be a waste of time, of his, and, perhaps, of his father. Maybe. Perhaps just not interested in teaching, and prefers autodidact.

“To his parents’ pleasant surprise, as the school year stretched on, Chris seemed thrilled to be at Emory. He shaved, trimmed his hair, and readopted the clean-cut look he’d had in high school. His grades were nearly perfect. He started writing for the school newspaper. He even talked enthusiastically about going on to get a law degree when he graduated. “Hey,” Chris boasted to Walt at one point, “I think my grades will be good enough to get into Harvard Law School.”
– crazy how school can swerve one toward a systematic direction

“During the course of his travels, Chris had acquired a machete and a .30-06 rifle, and when Walt and Billie drove him down to Atlanta to enroll in college, he insisted on taking the big knife and the gun with him. “When we went with Chris up to his dorm room,” Walt laughs, “I thought his roommate’s parents were going to have a stroke on the spot. The roommate was a preppy kid from Connecticut, dressed like Joe College, and Chris walks in with a scraggly beard and worn-out clothes, looking like Jeremiah Johnson, packing a machete and a deer-hunting rifle. But you know what? Within ninety days the preppy roommate had dropped out, while Chris had made the dean’s list.”
– functional belongings are difficult to depart with
– indeed, he’s serious about school

“So at first I didn’t say anything about the safety aspect. I played tennis with Chris, talked about other things, then eventually sat down with him to discuss the risks he’d taken. I’d learned by then that a direct approach—‘By God, you better not try a stunt like that again!’—didn’t work with Chris. Instead, I tried to explain that we didn’t object to his travels; we just wanted him to be a little more careful and to keep us better informed of his whereabouts.”
To Walt’s dismay Chris bristled at this small dollop of fatherly advice. The only effect it seemed to have was to make him even less inclined to share his plans.
“Chris,” says Billie, “thought we were idiots for worrying about him.”
– mmm

“Near the end of his trip, it turned out, Chris had gotten lost in the Mojave Desert and had nearly succumbed to dehydration. His parents were extremely alarmed when they heard about this brush with disaster but were unsure how to persuade Chris to exercise more caution in the future. “Chris was good at almost everything he ever tried,” Walt reflects, “which made him supremely overconfident. If you attempted to talk him out of something, he wouldn’t argue. He’d just nod politely and then do exactly what he wanted.”
– ah wow. I also had a few dangers: the ATV incident, and I still have to learn to swim.

“After leaving Virginia, Chris drove south and then west across the flat Texas plains, through the heat of New Mexico and Arizona, and arrived at the Pacific coast. Initially, he honored the agreement to phone regularly, but as the summer wore on, the calls became less and less frequent. He didn’t appear back home until two days before the fall term was to start at Emory. When he walked into the Annandale house, he had a scruffy beard, his hair was long and tangled, and he’d shed thirty pounds from his already lean frame.”
– sounds like me after any trip, lol. The calling part is a problem too, but less so when I’m in a city.

“In 1986, on the sultry spring weekend that Chris graduated from Woodson High School, Walt and Billie threw a party for him. Walt’s birthday was June 10, just a few days away, and at the party Chris gave his father a present: a very expensive Questar telescope.
“I remember sitting there when he gave Dad the telescope,” says Carine. “Chris had tossed back a few drinks that night and was pretty blitzed. He got real emotional. He was almost crying, fighting back the tears, telling Dad that even though they’d had their differences over the years, he was grateful for all the things Dad had done for him. Chris said how much he respected Dad for starting from nothing, working his way through college, busting his ass to support eight kids. It was a moving speech. Everybody there was all choked up. And then he left on his trip.”
– sounds like how I feel, but, I never said it directly to him.

“For children are innocent and love justice, while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy.”
– Chesterton

“When I mentioned the offer to Chris,” says Walt, “he wouldn’t even consider it. He told his boss that he had other plans.” As soon as high school was over, Chris declared, he was going to get behind the wheel of his new car and spend the summer driving across the country.”
– sounds like my confidence after my first job

“In a matter of a few months, half a dozen other students were working under him, and he’d put seven thousand dollars into his bank account. He used part of the money to buy the yellow Datsun, the secondhand B210.”
– my Mazda 3 was far more expensive purchase, but similar in that it was a compact, desired hatchback, and okay fuel efficiency

“Her son, the teenage Tolstoyan, believed that wealth was shameful, corrupting, inherently evil—which is ironic because Chris was a natural-born capitalist with an uncanny knack for making a buck. “Chris was always an entrepreneur,” Billie says with a laugh. “Always.”
– mmm, capitalism as outlet and motivation for creativity as a kid. Sold vegetables and printer copies

“hey didn’t flaunt their modest wealth, but they bought nice clothes, some jewelry for Billie, a Cadillac. Eventually, they purchased the townhouse on the bay and the sailboat. They took the kids to Europe, skiing in Breckenridge, on a Caribbean cruise. And Chris, Billie acknowledges, “was embarrassed by all that.”
– mmmm, I really shouldn’t have gone on that Caribbean trip. I was really old at that time. Very embarrassing for myself at that time, not so much for my family. That’s okay, I understood that they’re human.

“McCandless’s personality was puzzling in its complexity. He was intensely private but could be convivial and gregarious in the extreme. And despite his overdeveloped social conscience, he was no tight-lipped, perpetually grim do-gooder who frowned on fun. To the contrary, he enjoyed tipping a glass now and then and was an incorrigible ham.”
– yeah, I enjoyed social life, but didn’t enjoy the norms of consumption of commodity, wasting wealth for fun. Nature is better.

“Chris brought home good grades,” says Hathaway. “He didn’t get into trouble, he was a high achiever, he did what he was supposed to. His parents didn’t really have grounds to complain. But they got on his case about going to college; and whatever they said to him, it must have worked. Because he ended up going to Emory, even though he thought it was pointless, a waste of time and money.”
– mmm, a bit ahead of me here too. He actually thought of not going to college, whereas I didn’t think much of college but attended anyway. Though I care for social problems, I didn’t have the independence to learn how much a waste of money college is, also a waste of time.

“On one occasion Chris picked up a homeless man from the streets of D.C., brought him home to leafy, affluent Annandale, and secretly set the guy up in the Airstream trailer his parents parked beside the garage”

“On another occasion Chris drove over to Hathaway’s house and announced they were going downtown. “Cool!” Hathaway remembers thinking. “It was a Friday night, and I assumed we were headed to Georgetown to party. Instead, Chris parked down on Fourteenth Street, which at the time was a real bad part of town. Then he said, ‘You know, Eric, you can read about this stuff, but you can’t understand it until you live it. Tonight that’s what we’re going to do.’ We spent the next few hours hanging out in creepy places, talking with pimps and hookers and lowlife. I was, like, scared.
“Toward the end of the evening, Chris asked me how much money I had. I said five dollars. He had ten. ‘OK, you buy the gas,’ he told me; ‘I’m going to get some food.’ So he spent the ten bucks on a big bag of hamburgers, and we drove around handing them out to smelly guys sleeping on grates. It was the weirdest Friday night of my life. But Chris did that kind of thing a lot.”
– mirrors my interest in homeless people, but in a rather different way. While I was into documenting them, or interviewing them, he was actually already taking actions, and he was a few years younger than me at that time. I only did that once I went to San Francisco. Though, the encounter with homeless people only occurred because I moved to a city, where I interact with them.
– more direct actions

“On weekends, when his high school pals were attending “keggers” and trying to sneak into Georgetown bars, McCandless would wander the seedier quarters of Washington, chatting with prostitutes and homeless people, buying them meals, earnestly suggesting ways they might improve their lives.
“Chris didn’t understand how people could possibly be allowed to go hungry, especially in this country,” says Billie. “He would rave about that kind of thing for hours.”
– not afraid of the inner city, and doesn’t understand human psyche, but trying to help. Also, living in America still doesn’t make sense how bad inequality is, or how people still do not have homes or food or how prostitution exists.

“McCandless took life’s inequities to heart. During his senior year at Woodson, he became obsessed with racial oppression in South Africa. He spoke seriously to his friends about smuggling weapons into that country and joining the struggle to end apartheid. “We’d get into arguments about it once in a while,” recalls Hathaway. “Chris didn’t like going through channels, working within the system, waiting his turn. He’d say, ‘Come on, Eric, we can raise enough money to go to South Africa on our own, right now. It’s just a matter of deciding to do it.’ I’d counter by saying we were only a couple of kids, that we couldn’t possibly make a difference. But you couldn’t argue with him. He’d come back with something like ‘Oh, so I guess you just don’t care about right and wrong.’”
– mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, maybe the most affecting part for me. Wants to make a sociocultural difference, but not through a system. Direct intervention. It’s as simple as that: “It’s just a matter of deciding to do it”.

“He internalized the disappointment. He’d go off alone somewhere and beat himself up.
“It wasn’t just running Chris took so seriously,” Gillmer adds. “He was like that about everything. You aren’t supposed to think about heavy-duty stuff in high school. But I did, and he did, too, which is why we hit it off. We’d hang out during snack break at his locker and talk about life, the state of the world, serious things. I’m black, and I could never figure out why everyone made such a big deal about race. Chris would talk to me about that kind of thing. He understood. He was always questioning stuff in the same way. I liked him a lot. He was a really good guy.”
– good diverse upbringing in suburban America

“He was really into pushing himself,” explains Gordy Cucullu, a younger member of the team. “Chris invented this workout he called Road Warriors: He would lead us on long, killer runs through places like farmers’ fields and construction sites, places we weren’t supposed to be, and intentionally try to get us lost. We’d run as far and as fast as we could, down strange roads, through the woods, whatever. The whole idea was to lose our bearings, to push ourselves into unknown territory. Then we’d run at a slightly slower pace until we found a road we recognized and race home again at full speed. In a certain sense that’s how Chris lived his entire life.”
– hahaha this is amazing, reminds me of my biking explorations with friends on my street. It’s also creative and rewarding. Creative in constantly learning to find the quickest route possible, like parkour, and rewarding because one actually physically explores new areas, learning more of reality. It’s empirical, and fun.

“He tried his hand at many sports but had little patience for learning the finer points of any of them.”

“Chris had so much natural talent,” Walt continues, “but if you tried to coach him, to polish his skill, to bring out that final ten percent, a wall went up. He resisted instruction of any kind.”
– no patience, or, does not care for mastering things. Not necessary. Understands it, then moves on. No need to waste time on the last 10%.

“A gifted French-horn player, as a teen he was a member of the American University Symphony but quit, according to Walt, after objecting to rules imposed by a high school band leader.”
– always leaves because rules waste time.

“Their musical rivalry seems not to have damaged the relationship between Chris and Carine, however. They’d been best friends from an early age, spending hours together building forts out of cushions and blankets in their Annandale living room. “He was always really nice to me,” Carine says, “and extremely protective. He’d hold my hand when we walked down the street. When he was in junior high and I was still in grade school, he got out earlier than me, but he’d hang out at his friend Brian Paskowitz’s house so we could walk home together.”
– :). Maybe I wouldn’t be a bad older brother?

“Walt grows quiet, staring absently into the distance. “Chris was fearless even when he was little,” he says after a long pause. “He didn’t think the odds applied to him. We were always trying to pull him back from the edge.”
– edge of society.

“Much of the food he put on the table came from hunting—despite the fact that he was uncomfortable killing animals. “My dad cried every time he shot a deer,” Billie says, “but we had to eat, so he did it.”
– mmm, good argument for vegetarian

“But there were good times, too. On weekends and when school was out, the family took to the road: They drove to Virginia Beach and the Carolina shore, to Colorado to visit Walt’s kids from his first marriage, to the Great Lakes, to the Blue Ridge Mountains. “We camped out of the back of the truck, the Chevy Suburban,” Walt explains. “Later we bought an Airstream trailer and traveled with that. Chris loved those trips, the longer the better. There was always a little wanderlust in the family, and it was clear early on that Chris had inherited it.”
In the course of their travels, the family visited Iron Mountain, Michigan, a small mining town in the forests of the Upper Peninsula that was Billie’s childhood home…”
– family trips, yay

“At the age of two, he got up in the middle of the night, found his way outside without waking his parents, and entered a house down the street to plunder a neighbor’s candy drawer.”
– age 2 or 4?

“Walt bought Billie a Gianini guitar, on which she strummed lullabies to soothe the fussy newborn. Twenty-two years later, rangers from the National Park Service would find that same guitar on the backseat of a yellow Datsun abandoned near the shore of Lake Mead.”
– important belonging to go back for

– thoughts while reading book, grabbing knowledge, or organizing a book’s ideas which relate to my current thoughts / life

“Westerberg pawed through the files at the grain elevator until he found two W-4 forms McCandless had filled out. Across the top of the first one, dating from McCandless’s initial visit to Carthage, in 1990, he had scrawled “EXEMPT EXEMPT EXEMPT EXEMPT” and given his name as Iris Fucyu. Address: “None of your damn business.” Social Security number: “I forget.”
But on the second form, dated March 30, 1992, two weeks before he left for Alaska, he’d signed his given name: “Chris J. McCandless.” And in the blank for Social Security number he’d put down, “228-31-6704.” Westerberg phoned Alaska again. This time the troopers took him seriously.”
– hahahaha, I do this at times too. Silly bureaucracy.

“The papar risked their lives—and lost them in untold droves—not in the pursuit of wealth or personal glory or to claim new lands in the name of any despot. As the great arctic explorer and Nobel laureate Fridtjof Nansen points out, “these remarkable voyages were … undertaken chiefly from the wish to find lonely places, where these anchorites might dwell in peace, undisturbed by the turmoil and temptations of the world.” When the first handful of Norwegians showed up on the shores of Iceland in the ninth century, the papar decided the country had become too crowded—even though it was still all but uninhabited. The monks’ response was to climb into their curraghs and row off toward Greenland. They were drawn across the storm-racked ocean, drawn west past the edge of the known world, by nothing more than a hunger of the spirit, a yearning of such queer intensity that it beggars the modern imagination.”
– hmm, from Ireland to Iceland to a little island nearby, they physically kept escaping society

“Sleight believes that if Ruess had made it across the river alive and reached the reservation, it would have been impossible for him to conceal his presence “even if he was still playing his Nemo game. Everett was a loner, but he liked people too damn much to stay down there and live in secret the rest of his life. A lot of us are like that—I’m like that, Ed Abbey was like that, and it sounds like this McCandless kid was like that: We like companionship, see, but we can’t stand to be around people for very long. So we go get ourselves lost, come back for a while, then get the hell out again. And that’s what Everett was doing.”
– yep, love people and talking, but need time away from society

“Half of the ten sunniest places on record are in the American southwest states of Arizona, Nevada and Texas.”
– Travelers, especially campers, are attracted to the sun, just as I am in Asia. It’s no wonder they end up in the sunniest of places. I think McCandless made the mistake of going to a cold place.

“For two days I couldn’t tell whether I was dead or alive. I writhed and twisted in the heat, with swarms of ants and flies crawling over me, while the poison oozed and crusted on my face and arms and back. I ate nothing—there was nothing to do but suffer philosophically….
I get it every time, but I refuse to be driven out of the woods.”
– hah, it reminds me of my sicknesses during travel. Mostly stomach viruses.
– this is a quite silly decision, to not get poison ivy medicine, especially since it’s semi-annual.

“Ruess was just as romantic as McCandless, if not more so, and equally heedless of personal safety. Clayborn Lockett, an archaeologist who briefly employed Ruess as a cook while excavating an Anasazi cliff dwelling in 1934, told Rusho that “he was appalled by the seemingly reckless manner in which Everett moved around dangerous cliffs.”

“Indeed, Ruess himself boasts in one of his letters, “Hundreds of times I have trusted my life to crumbling sandstone and nearly vertical edges in the search for water or cliff dwellings. Twice I was nearly gored to death by a wild bull. But always, so far, I’ve escaped unscathed and gone forth to other adventures.” And in his final letter Ruess nonchalantly confesses to his brother:”
– safety depends on the mind and body, not by policy. Here, I believe, Ruess was right. One cannot comprehend the infinite decisions that go on while climbing a mountain, it is dexterity, and only the adventurer understands their body enough to make those decisions.

“and hundreds of houses of the cliff dwellers, abandoned a thousand years ago.”
– living in abandoned abodes! very good idea.

“I have always been unsatisfied with life as most people live it. Always I want to live more intensely and richly.”
– mmm, intensely and richly.

“The beauty of this country is becoming part of me. I feel more detached from life and somehow gentler….”
– I’ve felt this with Taiwan, but I didn’t feel detached from life until I became stuck inside a closed space. I’ve always felt close with the people of Taiwan, not just the country. The city and small towns, not pure nature. I’ve only felt detached when away from people: scooter trips and time not spent with friends or in public areas such as markets.

“…I have some good friends here, but no one who really understands why I am here or what I do. I don’t know of anyone, though, who would have more than a partial understanding; I have gone too far alone.”
– his mind and interests are too far from society. Happens to me with philosophical thoughts, but now I’ve got e-books which help, some. I don’t have to be alone. I can talk to people using cellular data, real people or a medium of information.

“I have been thinking more and more that I shall always be a lone wanderer of the wilderness. God, how the trail lures me. You cannot comprehend its resistless fascination for me. After all the lone trail is the best…. I’ll never stop wandering.”
– feels that he will never fit society, and simultaneously never stop wondering.

“At eighteen, in a dream, he saw himself plodding through jungles, chinning up the ledges of cliffs, wandering through the romantic waste places of the world. No man with any of the juices of boyhood in him has forgotten those dreams. The peculiar thing about Everett Ruess was that he went out and did the things he dreamed about, not simply for a two-weeks’ vacation in the civilized and trimmed wonderlands, but for months and years in the very midst of wonder….”
– mmm, dreamed and did. Easy to get out of society.

“I had some terrific experiences in the wilderness since I wrote you last—overpowering, overwhelming,” he gushed to his friend Cornel Tengel. “But then I am always being overwhelmed. I require it to sustain life.”
– sounds like me or Peter Pan at times

“At the end of the summer, Everett returned home only long enough to earn a high school diploma, which he received in January 1931. Less than a month later he was on the road again, tramping alone through the canyon lands of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, then a region nearly as sparsely populated and wrapped in mystique as Alaska is today. Except for a short, unhappy stint at UCLA (he dropped out after a single semester, to his father’s lasting dismay), two extended visits with his parents, and a winter in San Francisco (where he insinuated himself into the company of Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and the painter Maynard Dixon), Ruess would spend the remainder of his meteoric life on the move, living out of a backpack on very little money, sleeping in the dirt, cheerfully going hungry for days at a time.”
– similar to my short period at Parson’s, and love for city artists

“In Los Angeles, Everett attended the Otis Art School and Hollywood High. As a sixteen-year-old he embarked on his first long solo trip, spending the summer of 1930 hitchhiking and trekking through Yosemite and Big Sur, ultimately winding up in Carmel. Two days after arriving in the latter community, he brazenly knocked on the door of Edward Weston, who was sufficiently charmed by the overwrought young man to humor him. Over the next two months the eminent photographer encouraged the boy’s uneven but promising efforts at painting and block printing, and permitted Ruess to hang around his studio with his own sons, Neil and Cole.”
– just do shit!

“the Ruesses were also a nomadic family, moving from Oakland to Fresno to Los Angeles to Boston to Brooklyn to New Jersey to Indiana before finally settling in southern California when Everett was fourteen.”

“It is true that I miss intelligent companionship, but there are so few with whom I can share the things that mean so much to me that I have learned to contain myself.”
– mmm, not worth the cost of being a part of society

… as to when I revisit civilization, it will not be soon. I have not tired of the wilderness… It is enough that I am surrounded with beauty… This had been a full, rich year. I have left no strange or delightful thing undone I wanted to do.
– a full year of experience! Amazing.

Everett wrote no books during his life, but was a lifelong diarist and sent home hundreds of letters.[16] His journals, art, and poetry were later published in two books
– lifelong diarist. Keep on living, let someone organize the shit you think for you.

Starting in 1931, Ruess traveled by horse and burro through Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado, the high desert Colorado Plateau. He rode broncos, branded calves, and investigated cliff dwellings, trading his prints and watercolors to pay his way. He explored Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks and the High Sierra in the summers of 1930 and 1933. In 1934, he worked with University of California archaeologists near Kayenta, took part in a Hopi religious ceremony, and learned to speak Navajo.

“He was an extremely intense young man and possessed a streak of stubborn idealism that did not mesh readily with modern existence. ”

“Alex’s backpack looked as though it weighed only twenty-five or thirty pounds”

“Still, Gallien was concerned. Alex admitted that the only food in his pack was a ten-pound bag of rice. His gear seemed exceedingly minimal for the harsh conditions of the interior, which in April still lay buried under the winter snowpack. Alex’s cheap leather hiking boots were neither waterproof nor well insulated. His rifle was only .22 caliber, a bore too small to rely on if he expected to kill large animals like moose and caribou, which he would have to eat if he hoped to remain very long in the country. He had no ax, no bug dope, no snowshoes, no compass. The only navigational aid in his possession was a tattered state road map he’d scrounged at a gas station.”

expensive backpack

“a diary—written across the last two pages of a field guide to edible plants—that recorded the young man’s final weeks in 113 terse, enigmatic entries.”

“and asked Alex how long it’d been since he ate. Alex allowed how it’d been a couple of days. Said he’d kind of run out of money.” Overhearing this, the friend’s wife insisted on cooking Alex a big dinner, which he wolfed down, and then he fell asleep at the table.”

“. If he started a job, he’d finish it. It was almost like a moral thing for him. He was what you’d call extremely ethical. He set pretty high standards for himself.”

“You could tell right away that Alex was intelligent,” Westerberg reflects, draining his third drink. “He read a lot. Used a lot of big words. I think maybe part of what got him into trouble was that he did too much thinking. Sometimes he tried too hard to make sense of the world, to figure out why people were bad to each other so often. A couple of times I tried to tell him it was a mistake to get too deep into that kind of stuff, but Alex got stuck on things. He always had to know the absolute right answer before he could go on to the next thing.”

“That fall he developed a lasting bond with both the town and Wayne Westerberg.”

“The attachment McCandless felt for Carthage remained powerful, however. Before departing, he gave Westerberg a treasured 1942 edition of Tolstoy’s War and Peace.”

“And McCandless stayed in touch with Westerberg as he roamed the West, calling or writing Carthage every month or two. He had all his mail forwarded to Westerberg’s address and told almost everyone he met thereafter that South Dakota was his home.”
– semi-anonymous dwelling with capital production. Ace.

“history and anthropology major”

“He was offered membership in Phi Beta Kappa but declined, insisting that titles and honors are irrelevant.”
– :)

“She was surprised and extremely touched: It was the first present she had received from her son in more than two years, since he had announced to his parents that, on principle, he would no longer give or accept gifts.”

“Chris had purchased the secondhand yellow Datsun when he was a senior in high school. In the years since, he’d been in the habit of taking it on extended solo road trips when classes weren’t in session, and during that graduation weekend he casually mentioned to his parents that he intended to spend the upcoming summer on the road as well. His exact words were “I think I’m going to disappear for a while.”

“Here is a copy of my final transcript. Gradewise things went pretty well and I ended up with a high cumulative average.
Thankyou for the pictures, the shaving gear, and the postcard from Paris. It seems that you really enjoyed your trip there. It must have been a lot of fun.
I gave Lloyd [Chris’s closest friend at Emory] his picture, and he was very grateful; he did not have a shot of his diploma getting handed to him.
Not much else happening, but it’s starting to get real hot and humid down here. Say Hi to everyone for me.”
– very functional letters, and “not much going on here” type of lack of talk, as opposed to talks of travels to strangers

“During that final year in Atlanta, Chris had lived off campus in a monkish room furnished with little more than a thin mattress on the floor, milk crates, and a table. He kept it as orderly and spotless as a military barracks. And he didn’t have a phone, so Walt and Billie had no way of calling him.”
– mininmalism

“By then Chris was long gone. Five weeks earlier he’d loaded all his belongings into his little car and headed west without an itinerary.”
– no itinerary

“Alex finds Mexicans to be warm, friendly people. Much more hospitable than Americans….”
– :)

“Having reached his destination, McCandless slowed his pace, and his mood became more contemplative. He took photographs of a tarantula, plaintive sunsets, windswept dunes, the long curve of empty coastline. The journal entries become short and perfunctory. He wrote fewer than a hundred words over the month that followed.”

“On January 16, McCandless left the stubby metal boat on a hummock of dune grass southeast of El Golfo de Santa Clara and started walking north up the deserted beach. He had not seen or talked to another soul in thirty-six days. For that entire period he subsisted on nothing but five pounds of rice and what marine life he could pull from the sea, an experience that would later convince him he could survive on similarly meager rations in the Alaska bush.”
– wow, just rice?

“To avoid being rolled by the unsavory characters who rule the streets and freeway overpasses where he slept, he learned to bury what money he had before entering a city, then recover it on the way out of town.”
– hmm

“On February 3, according to his journal, McCandless went to Los Angeles “to get a ID and a job but feels extremely uncomfortable in society now and must return to road immediately.”
– yes

“On February 24, seven and a half months after he abandoned the Datsun, McCandless returned to Detrital Wash. The Park Service had long since impounded the vehicle, but he unearthed his old Virginia plates, SJF-421, and a few belongings he’d buried there.”
– material belongings still important? Or to avoid identity?

“Then he hitched into Las Vegas and found a job at an Italian restaurant. “Alexander buried his backpack in the desert on 2/27 and entered Las Vegas with no money and no ID,” the journal tells us.”
– hmm, to avoid losing anything?

“He lived on the streets with bums, tramps, and winos for several weeks. Vegas would not be the end of the story, however. On May 10, itchy feet returned and Alex left his job in Vegas, retrieved his backpack, and hit the road again, though he found that if you are stupid enough to bury a camera underground you won’t be taking many pictures with it afterwards. Thus the story has no picture book for the period May 10, 1991-January 7, 1992. But this is not important. It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found. God it’s great to be alive! Thank you. Thank you.”
– :)

“When his camera was ruined and McCandless stopped taking photographs, he also stopped keeping a journal, a practice he didn’t resume until he went to Alaska the next year. Not a great deal is known, therefore, about where he traveled after departing Las Vegas in May 1991.”
– stopped because he was experiencing life! Fuck writing.

“the fog and rain was often intolerable.”
– :)

“ In September he hitched down U.S. Highway 101 into California, then headed east into the desert again. And by early October he had landed in Bullhead City, Arizona.”
– toward the heat again and again, so why north?

“On the face of it, Bullhead City doesn’t seem like the kind of place that would appeal to an adherent of Thoreau and Tolstoy, an ideologue who expressed nothing but contempt for the bourgeois trappings of mainstream America. McCandless, nevertheless, took a strong liking to Bullhead. Maybe it was his affinity for the lumpen, who were well represented in the community’s trailer parks and campgrounds and laundromats; perhaps he simply fell in love with the stark desert landscape that encircles the town.
In any case, when he arrived in Bullhead City, McCandless stopped moving for more than two months—probably the longest he stayed in one place from the time he left Atlanta until he went to Alaska and moved into the abandoned bus on the Stampede Trail. In a card he mailed to Westerberg in October, he says of Bullhead, “It’s a good place to spend the winter and I might finally settle down and abandon my tramping life, for good. I’ll see what happens when spring comes around, because that’s when I tend to get really itchy feet.”
– yes, winter hibernation and summer itchy feet

“At the time he wrote these words, he was holding down a full-time job, flipping Quarter Pounders at a McDonald’s on the main drag, commuting to work on a bicycle. Outwardly, he was living a surprisingly conventional existence, even going so far as to open a savings account at a local bank.”
– things get conventional in the winter

“McCandless had tried to disguise the fact that he was a drifter living out of a backpack: He told his fellow employees that he lived across the river in Laughlin.”
– shame? Well, what can one say to normative culture people that don’t understand nomadism?

“In fact, during his first several weeks in Bullhead, McCandless camped out in the desert at the edge of town; then he started squatting in a vacant mobile home. The latter arrangement, he explained in a letter to Jan Burres, “came about this way:”
– hah, my current thought / move. Camp and make some money!

“Thanks so much for the Christmas card. It’s nice to be thought of this time of year…. I’m so excited to hear that you will be coming to see me, you’re welcome any time. It’s really great to think that after almost a year and a half we shall be meeting again.”
– meeting people after a year and a half

“Sometimes I think it was like he was storing up company for the times when he knew nobody would be around.”

“McCandless was especially attentive to Burres, flirting and clowning with her at every opportunity. “He liked to tease me and torment me,” she recalls. “I’d go out back to hang clothes on the line behind the trailer, and he’d attach clothespins all over me. He was playful, like a little kid. I had puppies, and he was always putting them under laundry baskets to watch them bounce around and yelp. He’d do it till I’d get mad and have to yell at him to stop. But in truth he was real good with the dogs. They’d follow him around, cry after him, want to sleep with him. Alex just had a way with animals.”
– good females

“It is true that many creative people fail to make mature personal relationships, and some are extremely isolated. It is also true that, in some instances, trauma, in the shape of early separation or bereavement, has steered the potentially creative person toward developing aspects of his personality which can find fulfillment in comparative isolation. But this does not mean that solitary, creative pursuits are themselves pathological….
[A]voidance behavior is a response designed to protect the infant from behavioural disorganization. If we transfer this concept to adult life, we can see that an avoidant infant might very well develop into a person whose principal need was to find some kind of meaning and order in life which was not entirely, or even chiefly, dependent upon interpersonal relationships.”
– solitude: return to the self

“I don’t recollect Alex ever talking about any girlfriends,” says Westerberg. “Although a couple of times he mentioned wanting to get married and have a family some day. You could tell he didn’t take relationships lightly. He wasn’t the kind of guy who would go out and pick up girls just to get laid.”
– serious

“In high school McCandless had enjoyed a close rapport with two or three members of the opposite sex, and Carine recalls one instance when he got drunk and tried to bring a girl up to his bedroom in the middle of the night (they made so much noise stumbling up the stairs that Billie was awakened and sent the girl home). But there is little evidence that he was sexually active as a teenager and even less to suggest that he slept with any woman after graduating from high school. (Nor, for that matter, is there any evidence that he was ever sexually intimate with a man.) It seems that McCandless was drawn to women but remained largely or entirely celibate, as chaste as a monk.”
– mmm

“When McCandless hugged Borah good-bye, she says, “I noticed he was crying. That frightened me. He wasn’t planning on being gone all that long; I figured he wouldn’t have been crying unless he intended to take some big risks and knew he might not be coming back. That’s when I started having a bad feeling that we wouldn’t never see Alex again.”
– crying because he left another society, a good one

“Hey Guys!
This is the last communication you shall receive from me. I now walk out to live amongst the wild. Take care, it was great knowing you.
– hmm, determined to live self-reliantly

“It may, after all, be the bad habit of creative talents to invest themselves in pathological extremes that yield remarkable insights but no durable way of life for those who cannot translate their psychic wounds into significant art or thought.”
– very good quote by Jon Krakaeur to choose

further reading

Lacy, Hugh (Editor) (1940). On Desert Trails. El Centro, California: Desert Magazine Press.
Rusho, W.L. (1983). Everett Ruess: Vagabond for Beauty. Peregrine Smith Books.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Film Reviews, Films, Humanities

おもひでぽろぽろ (~Memories Drip-drop)

10 October 2015

Japanese: おもひでぽろぽろ
romanization: Omoide Poro Poro
literal: memories drip-drop
English: Only Yesterday

9/20/2016 and the few days before

I’ve watched the ending of the film a few times recently:
Such a great end to the film. I can’t think of other animated films that can match.

Just shake hands?

Taeko imagines a life as a farmer, with Toshio. The idea is there. The ideal is there. Then next day, she acts upon it.

When one leaves a place, a person, a society, that one loves, the reaction is that of Taeko sticking outside the train window, looking back: a mildly surprised blank expression — What now? It happens every time for me too, an awkward good-bye, then thinking while leaving. Or, a lack of thinking, emptiness. I usually take a nap being tired of packing and good-byes, and only begin thinking and living the day I arrive at the destination. Taeko, instead, stays up, with a blank expression, thinking, as the wonderful scenery passes: what now?

Go back to a simple office job? That seems crazy from this place, this moment. No, it’s natural to stay with Toshio’s family. So, why am I on a train? Where am I going? There’s no need to go.

That, compounded with the fact she felt love for the first time, makes the decision easy.

The younger Taeko tugs at her older self’s arm — C’mon! And from a blank expression to realization, she decides, and acts upon the decision.

And that’s another example of socialization in a Takahata film.

9/9/2016 daytime

[todo: review thoughts]

”Thanks to you, I finally have family in the countryside”

Oh such memories of people I’ve met or lived with in the countryside. The hostels and countryside houses make me so happy. Such a good life. Such sweet, good-hearted people.

”As the memories came flooding back.”

The family gets together to eat a pineapple. So much sharing and conserving of food. Wasting food goes against culture in a huge way, perhaps due to war and history. Though now, with the industrial revolution, it’s strange to see. And it still exists. It’s irrational now, yet the culture still exists.

The sisters think of eating banana and eat it, as opposed to seeing something, then eating it. It’s very rational-choice, as opposed to Taiwan’s night market, strolling and eating anything seen. It’s far less adventurous.

The girl’s memories of hot springs, pineapple, rock’n’roll craze, and school build up so much, so much reality.

Japan’s school culture is nuts with self-governing hall monitors making decisions. So many rules. So Japan-esquire.

:D The love sequence is brilliant. First love, so well portrayed. Awkward, but lovely. And it’s the female side that shows.

Why 5th grade? A certain time is remembered.

lololol, so fun from a girl’s perspective. Buying underpants in the infirmary.

The facial expressions are great too.

Hmmm, this is useless! Becoming a review, as opposed to a way to think about my next move. Argh.

Chrysalis stage? I don’t remember this scene.

But when one stops working, the mind wanders, dreams, desires, an ideal life?

Flexing female strength (ability, mind) then giving in to culture.

Memory and then sleep. Yep. That’s actually how it works. The mind wanders then contemplates.

Continued from the next day:
Mmm, thinking of stealing a bag is a cultural problem from the city. The interaction between city and rural changes, to being more physical, without worry. Like Jon said, in India a stranger grabbed a kid’s arm to get him on the train, without asking. It’s normal, in the culture of that place.

Toshio likes his car. Rural people like their materials. As do I. It’s a possessive thing, habituation. And music. Zombie-like rural life. Less thinking, routine action.

Toshio likes Hungarian music, because it’s farmer music, and he’s a farmer. I’ve met aboriginals that listen to other aboriginal music before too. Aboriginals find other aboriginals relatable, and even interesting.

Toshio and his friends came to see a girl from Tokyo. Out of interest, people from small, homogenous societies often do find foreigners interesting.

Toshio, almost gets into an accident, as either he’s habituated to rural driving, or just is more in tune to driving and not worrying about safety, especially compared to Japanese city folk.

I think he even curses like a local.

A famous Basho poem is recited. Neat that he reads it, also is relatable to his life.

She reads it as more of research and a bit of curiosity.

He says that the farmers didn’t make money from safflower. And also in the past, they didn’t make money from some red flower (crimson, rogue). It’s a reality of capitalism. The merchants made the money, as they do now in India and probably everywhere.

Barbecue on the mountain. I recently had a barbecue under a bridge in Lanyu.

“Fewer people live for their work”

”I don’t live for my job, but I don’t hate it either”

”I could farm for 24 hours a day”

His ethics are unbelievably good-hearted.

Ah, he also moved from office job to farming. Neat! Hence his enthusiasm.

The scene showing the individual farmers is great. A reality check.

Haha, rural people always care for health, tired? Hungry? It’s their way of caring.

Mmm, old tales, of history.

Mmmmm, at first she thinks of resentment of city people, capitalists.

The grandmother prays toward the rising sun. Takeover watches the people, happily, and then copies, prays.

Pictures are taken, like a good trip.

She talks of history, and industrial revolution, but as I thought of while watching, some work still requires human hands, like picking tea leaves.

Rain doesn’t stop people from working, even if the work is done outside. Just have to do it.

As a smarter city person, she thinks of history of the society.

“If I could’ve worked like this as a child, my school essays would’ve been really interesting”

Need experience to write.

Haha cute, still picky about onions. I was a bit picky too. :)

The third child is always a bit more spoiled, somehow.

Mmm, grandmother says the three daughters are so selfish.

Haha father loves her, and sticks to her side. :)

Hehe, grandmother doesn’t eat oily food.

Hahahaha the purse scene is great.

Ahhhh what a crazy culture, slap for no shoes. Memories.

Haha, thinking she was adopted. Normal to think that in single culture.

Mmmm, a single slap. I remember that too.

Haha spoiled brat. I was too. :)

Not sure why there was a creationist scene during the promise.

Haha touristy area because of good views. Truth.

Mmm, remembers disappointing parents. Mmm, not normal. Ah, gets the big picture in dividing fractions, as opposed to route learning.

Good move by Toshio, paralleling the math problem. “We farmers give up too easily.” Giving in to culture, following normative development (against capitalism [“let’s rethink prosperity”, or whatever a city represents), just like her education norm.

As they walk and talk, tourism exists in the background.

“I could never give up to it completely.”

That is exactly how I feel.

Haha ski instructor, kind of like how I want to be a diving instructor in Lanyu. Physical prowess of rural people.

The history of an area is almost philosophical! Haven’t seen that in an anime before, or any film. Love it. Observant.

“That’s why I felt so at home. Although I didn’t grow up here, my soul was at home here. So that’s it.”

Takahata romanticized nature, farmer life. Depicts it real, as a struggle, with history, but the main character also has this romantic view.

Toshio says in theory it’s good, but in reality it’s hard work. It’s repeated, but worth repeating, as it does seem great as an idea, but very few go back.
It’s a choice in lifestyle, to live as a farmer. Under global capitalism it doesn’t make much money, as mentioned many times. Is it even considered progress for humankind? Why not eat industrially-created dry foods and use industrially-create artificial dye, as opposed to using one’s own body to struggle to inefficiently extract commodities from nature? The two jobs result in a vastly different experience, and as always, it’s the experience that matters. Driving through those fields, thinking of the history of the area, thinking broadly of lifestyles (/ all the ways people live in all societies) in all points in history. Sure, it’s more materially efficient for Taeko to be a an office bee in a company’s hive, but there, she won’t have experiences that deviate from other city bees. There, she can only experience through media, such as Basho, or virtual reality. The current iteration of the modern city becomes habituated as the reality of the world for many people in the world, but what about all of other possible ways to live? What could those experiences lead to?

She tries country life. A guy helped her live it.

Haha essays and creativity through a rehearsed play. She realized she could do anything. That’s creativity. :) I think some of these dreams may be from Takahata’s past too, as he’s quite studious too.


[todo: review thoughts]





































– 可是,有費,需要很多工作,industrial revolution and time not mentioned.

The problem with narratives is that they show life, instead of showing a method to improve society. Narratives will only deeply affect those who have experienced similar times as the characters have, which is often limited to the society the characters live in.

For example, here, I am reminded of farmers in Taiwan, Taiwan’s rural areas such as Yilan county which I am currently residing in and the east coast, which I have travelled recently.

Other than that, nothing to the film applies to my life, and is therefore impractical to me.

General themes exist. The special ones here are the fakeness of short-term tourism, the difficulty of socialization, and a female’s perspective in contemporary society.

But as usual, narratives are just consumables, not reality, nothing to react to. Quite different from a practical handbook, a workshop, or a social experience.

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Film Reviews, Films, Humanities

Winter’s Bone

04 October 2015

[todo: need to review thoughts]

Thoughts during a viewing of Winter’s Bone:

Their school is not much different from my own: army training classes (ROTC, whatever that acronym was for), teaching young female students how to carry a child, general guidance in life. I didn’t touch any of that.

The mother has to take care of kids, a dog, and a horse. She must wash clothes, cut wood, comb her mother’s hair (optional). This is life without technology. Not enough free time or simultaneous time to consume media.

Law as major problem. How can the law allow the father to put the house on bail. Does the police not care for people?

~”Never ask to what ought to be offered.” This is a moral the mother teaches to her son, even in the face of hunger. I don’t believe it. Technology should be shared, along with food and housing.
Temporarily gave horse to neighbor for care because low on money. Neighbor offers to take care and allows to use technology to chop wood more efficiently. Food is low too. Difficult to survive.
Must teach kids how to survive. This community is barely surviving, in the most developed nation. These kinds of places actually exist in Suffolk, Virginia.

Asks to come in to friend’s house.

Actually, that was normal in College Park too. Though, on film, it seems so unnatural, unsocial.

Even the mother must ask her husband to use “his” truck, to help her friend by giving a ride. Hmm, maybe she asks to come in because the father owns the house. Well, the father’s parents gave it to them. So much property non-sharing already.

It really is the survival of the fittest, as opposed to communism.
Mmm indeed gender difference in marriage.

Uncle has a gun. Went to army? Treats humans like animals without feelings.

Can’t escape to city? This community is barely surviving. No media about cities? Or any better place for living?

Men settle “business” while women stay at home. Feels like such an ancient society, like that Kurosawa film Dodeskaden, yet it exists.

Blood. The big man.

Skinning and gutting a squirrel is indeed weird to a new person, unnatural.

Gossip as belief of who has power? Or gossip as fear from law?

I stopped writing perhaps before buildup of climax. Not so much because it was somewhat socially realistic and thrilling, but because it contained many elements of a thriller narrative and tropes, such as a good uncle that acts bad uncle (think Professor Snape), a badass gang with a gang leader, and so on. Yet it somehow mixed in quite an unfamiliar setting in the Ozarks of the U.S, making it feel quite real. I guess I’m not ready for narratives, and rather stick to film essays.

A quick Google search brings a Facebook post of an Ozark resident listing many differences from reality. In neorealism, is it more important to depict reality or use a film formula to ensure smooth viewing?

Leave a comment | Categories: Art, Film Reviews, Films

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