City

A work in progress – and something completely different.

A crime novel about cultural and generational clashes.

A series of murders in the Melbourne art world.

A detective who isn’t what she seems.

A confusing metropolis where more is happening underground and online than the authorities can control.

How are these images connected?

Related Blog Posts

Korean Boy Bands

By |December 11th, 2011|Tags: , , , , |

One of the problems with the sexualisation debate is that is so white and middle-class. As Australia turns towards China and Asia, and as Asian immigration increases, it is quite natural that we begin to see the influence of Asian culture. Asian Pop is starting to be noticed in Australia and SBS now runs a program dedicated to Asian pop music. I've already mentioned the way that Japanese pop culture selects certain Western themes (and memes) and twists them in unique ways. And whilst the moral conservatives panic about the influence of Black and Latino music on white, middle-class girls [...]

Female Shredder: Shotaro Nakamura

By |October 7th, 2011|Tags: , , , , |

Or is she? This one is a bit odd because some have questioned if Shotaro (nikumanguitar)  is really a male who enjoys female cosplay. The controversy was sparked by the fact that Shotaro first posted her clips without showing her face, then she wore a surgical mask to hide her features. Weird. Anyway, her more recent clips show her (or his) face. I'm also fascinated because she chooses a fashion style called Loli-Goth (see here). So here it is, kawaii shredding (transexual or otherwise). I can't say I'm a fan of her style though. It's very cold and technical. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqYpeULHffU&list=PLA7F75B2FF6A42E29&index=1 [...]

One More Japanese Child Vampire: Evangeline

By |July 30th, 2011|Tags: , |

This is sort of a digression, but it has a point. We are seeing a cultural shift in the West away from the certainties of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Films are increasingly becoming moving graphic novels with the development of ever sophisticated CGI. It is hardly surprising that it therefore turns to comics and anime for inspiration. Indeed, we are witnessing a flood of films based on comic book heroes. But it goes further than that. The 'gaming' industry is getting to be as big as films and there is considerable cross-fertilization. Comics become games, games become films, films become games [...]

Geisha, Oiran, Kamuro And Mizuage

By |January 26th, 2011|Tags: , , , , , |

Fascinating stuff this - and a real challenge to Judeo-Christian mores. This also gives me a chance to enter into a new topic that is closely related to my novel Navaratri, that of the sacred prostitute. Prostitution is not a sin under Buddhism. The payment of money, support, patronage, etc for sexual favours is considered fair and ethical. The Judeo-Christian condemnation of prostitution has a number of causes, which I will discuss at a later date. For now let me say that one is purely religious - several competing religions allowed some form of sacred sex and as the patriarchal [...]

Futanari

By |January 24th, 2011|Tags: , , , , |

Futanari is the Japanese word for hermaphrodite. It is commonly used to refer to a genre of anime and manga that explores (and plays with) gender confusion. Some is explicit, some is playful.

Tomoe Gozen

By |January 22nd, 2011|Tags: , , |

Tomoe Gozen is another famous samurai woman. She was said to be an excellent horsewoman, swordswoman and archer. Tomoe was especially beautiful, with white skin, long hair, and charming features. She was also a remarkably strong archer, and as a swordswoman she was a warrior worth a thousand, ready to confront a demon or a god, mounted or on foot. She handled unbroken horses with superb skill; she rode unscathed down perilous descents. Whenever a battle was imminent, Yoshinaka sent her out as his first captain, equipped with strong armor, an oversized sword, and a mighty bow; and she performed [...]

Dark Alice And Kore

By |January 18th, 2011|Tags: , , , , , , |

There's a definite theme behind many of my posts. I am aware of it even if I don't always make it obvious. The clue lies in this blog's subheading - Psyche, Eros, Transgression. I admire the work of Carl Jung. Yes, some of his work is dated, but I still think he has a lot to contribute. Not so much in terms of psychiatry, more in terms of hermeneutics. I think he has a lot to say about the way individuals and cultures construct narrative. Let me restate that: philosophically I'm inclined towards hermeneutics. Without going into a dense discussion [...]

Luis Royo

By |January 18th, 2011|Tags: , |

My next novel City explores the world of manga, anime and the graphic novel. The plot involves a cult underground manga that was banned in Japan for sedition and is banned in the West for its violence and shunga-like sexual content. So I've been researching the world of the graphic arts, and I came across the work of Luis Royo. Even though he's not Japanese his work captures the essence of the underground manga in my novel.

Japanese Gothic: Takato Yamamoto

By |January 17th, 2011|Tags: , , |

The theme of City is the clash between cultures and sub-cultures. If anything irritates me it is the narrow-minded middle-class defence of mediocrity. We live in a rich and complex world with many intriguing cultures and sub-cultures. Yet the mediocre cling to the dull values of their narrow middle-class lives, every now and then popping their heads out of their suburban burrows to express shock. City investigates a series of murders done as art. Sub-cultures clash as an ordinary detective is thrust into the world of street art, Japanese manga and the pop culture world of fantasy. She encounters values [...]

Japanese Gothic: Dolls

By |January 16th, 2011|Tags: , |

I went on a fishing expedition yesterday - really just research for my next novel City. Found something really interesting. A book called Japanese Goth. It contains a wealth of fascinating material. The Japanese have a long-standing tradition of dolls - ningyõ. The Japanese tradition differs from the West, they are not seen as children's toys. Indeed, the Japanese believe dolls can have a soul. Some modern Japanese artists have taken this craft to a new level. Two such 'new masters' are Tari Nakagawa and Mari Shimizu.

Horror And Violence In Japanese Pop Culture

By |January 14th, 2011|Tags: , |

Okay, I've touched on the topic of kawaii (cute) in Japanese pop culture, but the Japanese don't mind a bit of horror and slasher-type violence either. And like most things, it's way over the top. Of course, you are not meant to take it seriously and some of it involves a playful perversion of Western archetypes. A good example is Vampire Girl Vs Frankenstein Girl. This is definitely NOT my thing. I try and avoid slasher movies, but this is just so extreme it's ridiculous.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5z_QIMb6NGc

Moral Conservatives And False Causation

By |January 13th, 2011|Tags: , , , , , , |

In my previous post I talked about the Japanese aesthetic of kawaii and how this is easily misinterpreted in the West as a form of paedophilia. The Japanese deliberately manipulate the 'Western' archetype of the Lolita (derived from Nabakov's famous novel). However, in typical playful Japanese style it takes on complex meanings. And whilst much of this is intended to be kawaii, there are much darker aspects. Some anime and manga explore paedophiliac themes in graphic detail. This shocks many in the West, with many moral conservatives arguing that the widespread availability of such material will only encourage people to [...]

Kawaii And Moe

By |January 12th, 2011|Tags: , , , , , , |

Japanese pop culture inverts (even perverts) Western norms. Whilst the West panics about the sexualization and adultification of children, the Japanese have created a complex aesthetic around the 'childification' of adults. This can easily be misinterpreted by a Western culture in the midst of a panic over paedophilia and sexuality in general. The two Japanese words that define this aesthetic are kawaii and moé. Kawaii is roughly translated as 'cute' and moé as the subject/object of fascination. Whilst this can have an erotic subtext, it is often anti-erotic. If anything, the kawaii aesthetic is paradoxically asexual (it 'plays' with erotic [...]

Japanese Sub-cultures

By |January 12th, 2011|Tags: , |

It's been fascinating researching Japanese pop culture for my next novel City. I've been quite impressed with the transgressive nature of much of it (the gyaru play on the Western bad-girl cliche). There's a real sense of parody, satire and just plain fun. It's a cliche to say that the Japanese are unoriginal and uncreative. Far from it. By comparison, Western teenagers are very conservative and rather boring.

The Anthropology Of Sex: Japan

By |January 6th, 2011|Tags: , , , , , , |

Bought a fascinating book yesterday, Sex and the Floating World by Timon Screech. It's a detailed, academic look at sexuality during the Edo period. Lots of interesting detail about erotic symbolism and sexual manners. It also provides a valuable contrast to Western assumptions. The author says that sexuality during the Edo period was a kind of fluid bisexuality. Both men and women could and often did, take same sex lovers. Indeed, homosexual relations were common and even institutionalised in some circumstances. 'Heterosexual' and 'homosexual' were not fixed, distinct human types, rather they were understood as activities. We could say the [...]

My Next Novel, City

By |December 29th, 2010|Tags: , |

Summer break, time to get into my next novel, a crime thriller called City. So I'll be dropping in little hints and the results of my research. Without giving too much away, the plot involves a manga about a geisha who becomes a female ninja. Yep, they really existed, female asassins who sometimes posed as geishas in order to get close to their victim.