Miyazaki Returns: Confirmed

We’re three days late on the news, but Studio Ghibli has made Miyazaki’s return official:

Studio Ghibli co-founder and acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki is working on a new feature-length project for the studio a couple of years after announcing his retirement.

The announcement was made during a pre-Oscars interview with Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki. Suzuki, who was talking about the Oscar-nominated film The Red Turtle that Ghibli co-produced, confirmed Miyazaki had started working on the film he was rumored to be attached to last year.

A reporter for 47News was at the interview and tweeted out the confirmation early this morning.

Although it’s not officially confirmed, it seems likely that the film is going to be based on his unfinished CG short “Boro the Caterpillar” that he had expressed interest in extending into a feature length film back in November.

A movie about a caterpillar, huh? Should we be skeptical?

Who am I kidding. It’s Miyazaki. It’s virtually guaranteed to be an instant classic.

This is especially exciting in light of a small project – for lack of a better word – some of the younger Superversives are working on. Shhhhhhh…

The Symbol of the Spirit in Flesh

The esteemed Andrew Klavan once remarked (and here I paraphrase) that we as a culture are undergoing a mindset shift. Instead of focusing on a spiritual reality (here I do not mean spiritual in the religious sense, but in the non-physical sense, such as with emotions and ideas), we are shifting to the physical counterpart of the spiritual truth. The example he used was the shift, where now we tend to say, “I had an adrenaline rush,” or “I was on an endorphin high,” instead of the non-physiological, more spiritual “I was excited,” or “I felt elated.” One describes a state of being while the other describes a physiological reaction to that state. Klavan believes that these physiological responses are the expressions of the spirit in the medium of flesh.

Regardless of one’s religious or philosophical beliefs, there is some truth to this. Many actions are used to convey meaning, to act as symbols to express the ineffable and intangible truth. Take a kiss or a handshake, for example. If one simply analyzes the various physical aspects of the action (placing lips on lips, grasping another’s hand and shaking, etc.), there isn’t any specific aspect that contains ‘love’ or ‘trust’ within it, no way we can measure or point out these spiritual states of being. It is the ritual of the kiss or the handshake that conveys the love or trust. The action is not love (or trust) but it represents love (or trust). The flesh is an expression of the non-physical, in this case. However, as Andrew Klavan said, we as a culture are moving away from that, to a point where the physical, in our minds, becomes what it attempts to represent (We can see this in the culture’s treatment of romance and love).

When one peruses the current state of fiction, whether on TV, or in written form, one can see this effect. Romance has lost the grace, elegance, and purity of the days of old. When most think of the romance genre, they think of the Dread Empress, her works beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! All shall love them and despair! This Dread Empress is, of course, the numinous and brilliant Jane Austen. She harkens from a time where these spiritual, or intangible, states of being were widely known, and while associated with the symbolic actions that represented them, they were not confused with them.

This confusion manifests in two ways. The first form of confusion is a synthesis of the symbol and what it stands for, equating the symbol and what it represents, limiting it in a sense. This means that, in the mind of a synthesis materialist, the kiss means love (which we agree with), and that love means a kiss. Intangibles, such as love, have much more multiplicity to them, and by limiting them to a physical expression, the tangible is limited in meaning.

This is why our culture cannot understand the concept of non-sexual love (with the exception of parental/familial love). They can’t imagine two people loving each other and not wanting to sleep with each other. Two men or two women, to those not afflicted by this particular confusion, can be close friends, and can love each other, without having any physical desire for each other (such as David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and Mary and Martha from a popular book known as the Bible). But to someone with this affliction, the only way they can understand this is to call them ‘family.’

There’s another form of confusion between tangible symbols and the spiritual, intangible concepts they represent. This other confusion is a divorcing of the symbol from its tangible meaning. The physical is pursued for only the benefits of the physical. This leads to physical hedonism. If someone sleeps with another, it is not as a symbol of love, but simply a process to achieve pleasure, more akin to sating one’s hunger or slaking one’s thirst. This was the view of several of the members of the Frankfurt School, a group of Marxists who invented the concept of critical theory.

The Frankfurt School wasn’t an actual institution, but rather a collection of Marxist philosophers from Germany fleeing persecution during the rise of the Third Reich (Many of the Frankfurt School members were Jewish). They were also very into the concept of free love. As Andrew Breitbart detailed in his book Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save The World, they sought to damage or rebel against the social, political, and (especially) moral code of Western Civilization.

Among their numbers was included Wilhelm Reich, who believed that most psychological problems stemmed from sexual repression, whose psychiatric practices incorporated this theory. Erich Fromm,  another Frankfurt philosopher who bought into this belief, helped propagate the ideas that would grow into the self-esteem parenting movement that made the next generation especially susceptible to these messages. The most influential might have been Herbert Marcuse, whose book Eros and Civilization argued for sexual liberation as a cure for psychological ills on a societal level, where ‘polymorphous perversity’ (his words from the aforementioned book) would be what cures all mental ills (the phrase “Make Love Not War” was attributed to him as well).

The very nature of free love is that desire is like a closed pot of boiling water. Eventually, enough steam is going to build up until it blows, so the best idea is to take off the lid every so often to prevent that from happening. It is a physical need, a hunger to be sated, a pressure to be relieved, an itch to be scratched. In contrast, the traditional view of desire, of sex, would be that it is an expression of deep love and commitment, that you love the other person with such power and depth that that love can grow and become a new life. It represented a love that, with the rest of the symbols associated with it (that being marriage), says that you are ready to commit yourself to this other person. It is a symbol whose meaning is acted out not just behaviorally, but biologically.

That understanding of love has romance to it. That has allure and beauty to it. That act represents love so powerful that nature responds and new life is formed. However, in popular culture, that has become the less popular view. Watch any TV show, someone would sleep with someone else, who they weren’t in a relationship in, much less had that much love for, and assure other characters that ‘it meant nothing.’ That is the basis of the second confusion. The symbolic act is divorced from its higher meaning and becomes just an act. You kiss because it feels good, not to show you love them. You sleep with someone to blow off steam, not to say you love them so much you’d make a life with them (both in the sense of spending a life with them and procreating).

Now, one may look at this massive philosophical rambling and be content to wave it off. Why does this matter? If one wishes to call themselves a fiction writer, one thing that needs to be studied is the human condition. The two confusions are lies to our nature arising as a result of adopting materialism. The first confusion is the attempt to conflate the meaning with the symbol, trying to preserve the meaning that materialism, which states that only actions and matter exist, not intangibles, would destroy. The second confusion is the logical endpoint of materialism, reducing man from a creature who acted out intangible concepts via symbolic actions to little better than an animal, acting whenever his hunger, thirst, libido, or any other of the various physical urges strikes.

If you want to write stories that sell, you must first understand the nature of people. Andrew Klavan, in an e-pamphlet he wrote called A Crisis in the Arts, defined art as a method to convey the human experience. And a good story conveys the human experience, unadulterated, pure, and still vibrant with life. The human experience may be acted out in the flesh, but the true things we aim for -love, hope, joy, courage- are things of the spirit, things that the flesh can merely act out symbols for. If you want to convey the human experience, take heed of this fact. Oftentimes, the things we can’t touch or see are more real than the things we can.


Corey McCleery is an aspiring author, artist, and perpetual student of whatever he reads. He accidentally is writing a story on Wattpad called Fever Blood, about a dragon-man who saves a woman and the adventures they have together, found here.

English Covers of Anime Songs

I’m not usually terribly fond of dubbing a foreign language work. I tend to think movies/TV/games/whatever should be changed as little as possible to make them intelligible and get the appropriate point across. That having been said, I do love when people take something awesome and play around with it a bit, like the woman with the lovely voice has done with a classic Macross song here:

And Neon Genesis Evangelion’s nonsensical, but awesome, opening theme, “Cruel Angel’s Thesis”:

I’m not sure it works as well as her cover of “Ai Oboete Imasu Ka,” but the weird lyrics suit the song well.

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Romances

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m a sucker for a good romantic arc in a story. I mean, come on. I’m a Macross fan, and Macross is about three things: fighter planes in space, pop music idols, and love triangles. Don’t get me wrong; I’m here for the explosions, more often than not. But ages ago, when I was a fledgling teenaged writer I noticed something interesting: as much I was watching Babylon 5 to see Sheridan lead his war against the Shadows and Earth, I was thoroughly invested in his relationship with Delenn. In reading the Robotech novels, I discovered, to my teenaged discomfort, that I had very definite opinions about how  the Rick-Lisa-Minmei triangle should play out– and so did all of my friends.

I think there’s a tendency to blow character stuff off in favor of “gosh wow” sense of wonder and action and plot. And that’s probably fair enough. If characters spend too much time staring into each other’s eyes and daydreaming/moping/whatever, you’re firmly in Lifetime and Hallmark Made for TV movie territory. But on the other hand, love launches a lot of ships and draws a lot of swords. It’s part of that visceral, human experience that lends truth to our fiction. What’s worth fighting for without love? What’s worth dying for if not love?

So with that said, here are a few of my favorites:

Continue reading

The Scythe and the Flower

On Facebook, I got into a long discussion on the difference between subversive and superversive, and whether or not either or both were necessary. Eventually an analogy occurred to me that I think works extremely well.

Imagine a garden. Part of it is made up of beautiful flowers, and part of it is made up of ugly, creeping weeds.

Subversive fiction is like taking a scythe to the garden. A scythe is a tool; it is not necessarily a bad thing. Used properly, the scythe can take down weeds. “Pygmalion”, later turned into “My Fair Lady”, was used to cut down English high society to scale; “The Importance of Being Ernest” was used for a similar reason. You can probably classify “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, a series I am on the record as a fan of, as subversive. It subverts all sorts of things over the course of the series, but most obviously it subverts common children’s literature tropes. All of these works are very high quality works of literature.

Of course, subversive media doesn’t always take down weeds; it can also take down flowers. “The Magicians” by Lev Grossman and Pullman’s Dark Materials series are subversions of “The Chronicles of Narnia” and its Christian worldview. “Watchmen” subverts the concept of heroism. And while all of those works are high quality, some even brilliant, they’re all cutting down flowers.

In contrast to the scythe, superversive fiction is like growing a flower. The scythe is a tool that is used to cut down and prune, but the flower brings something beautiful in the world. It’s a living, growing work of art.

And while the scythe is sometimes necessary, we can always use more flowers.

 

Signal Boost: Mr. Superversive Strikes Again!

Many people feel Tom Simon, Mr. Superversive himself*, is the the best essayist living today. However, he writes fiction, too! Here we have six excellent short works of fantasy by Mr. Simon:

Worm-of-the-Ages_613

The Worm of the Ages on Amazon

Join Tom Simon for a light-hearted excursion through the fields of the imagination, from legends of ancient days to laboratories of a twisted future. This collection of six stories by the author of WRITING DOWN THE DRAGON includes:

The Worm of the Ages
Droll’s audition
Magic’s pawnshop
A case of vengeance
Kundenschmerz

And as a bonus, a new story, ‘The wrongs of the matter’, never before published in any medium.

Buy yours today!
Be the envy of your friends and the puzzlement of your neighbors!

Enjoy!

About the author: (This was so amusing, I felt compelled to share it.): Tom Simon has been writing fantasy for many years, but it was only in 2012, with LORD TALON’S REVENGE, that he began publishing this work. Like most writers, he has had a wide range of peculiar jobs, from sysop of a dialup chat board (before the commercial Internet) to assistant in a Member of Parliament’s constituency office. One of his MP’s constituents was an ardent advocate for the population of elves who lived (so he said) in a patch of wild ground in the midst of the city. Mr. Simon regrets that he was never personally involved in dealing with elf issues. However, he has met the usual assortment of witches, wizards, and one creature who styled himself Archdruid of Canada.

 

  • — Tom Simon is called Mr. Superversive himself because he is the one from whom the rest of us borrowed the word. For years, he has been known as Superversive on LiveJournal.

Kickstarter Opportunity, last few days!

Quite some years ago, my friend Danielle Achley-McPhail invited me and a couple of other friends to jump on board and help her edit the first Bad Ass Faeries anthology, fairytales with a kick. The series ended up being four books long and was a great deal of fun. It included some excellent stories from a wide variety of SF and fantasy authors.

Now, Danielle’s publishing company, eSpec, is republishing the best of the BA Faerie stories along with new art. The kickstarter is nearly over, but it has been very successful, which means that if you jump on now, a lot of extra goodies have already been unlocked.