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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Do Not Mistake the Pointing Finger For the Moon; or, From Mediated Life to Life.

In the late 90s I was enraptured by an anime miniseries called Please Save My Earth.  Never mind the story; the people who made the show certainly didn't.  It was adapted from a long-running comic book series (that screaming you hear is nerds yelling "It's not a comic book; it's MANGA!") that had way too much made-up-as-she-went-along plot to fit smoothly into the adaptation, added to which the story in the comic wasn't yet finished when the anime was made.  The first episode of the six-episode show had a leisurely pace, but as it went on the tempo picked up, with incident trampling over incident until, at the end, we got a montage of unaddressed plot threads that felt like a "Next time on Please Save My Earth" trailer and an effort at poetic, rather than narrative, resolution.  This failure/refusal/confounding of linear narrative resolution, no matter how clumsy, prepared me for literary modernism in a way my literature classes hadn't.  The ending burst like a seedpod, flinging unresolved plot threads and dimly glimpsed story points all over, and I found it more entrancing than any tidy conclusion could have been.

So I was really into this show.  At one point in it there's a shot of a tree with its leaves wafting in the breeze; it had no narrative significance, but it was pretty to look at while the heroine narrated at us, and perhaps it suggested a context to her affairs that a more conventional picture of her face wouldn't provide.  For some reason this animated image of a tree resonated with me, perhaps because I lived in a neighborhood full of trees.

Every night I would come home from my second-shift job and walk the dog in the dark.  One of our neighbors had placed a light under a tall tree; the light shone up the shaft of the tree, illuminating its entire length up to the canopy of leaves.  I think I would have overlooked it if I hadn't had that animated image of a tree awakening me to the way trees exist on their own beside our lives; the numinousness of trees suddenly mattered to me after a life of living around them, and that illuminated tree became a nightly touchstone for me.

So.  I've progressed from cartoon trees (that in retrospect looked more like wobbling green bubble gum blobs than foliage) to trees with dramatic lighting, to just liking trees in general.  I regard this as progress: from the mediated experience to the thing itself.

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