Monday, February 15, 2010

The Assertion of Meaning

Last night's tweets;

Peppermint cleans living walls to the bone.
A grey brothel has a smiling pope bust.
Ghost sheets don't ever hold people alone.
Truths of old records are matters of trust.

My head is killing me. It's been killing me since last night. I'm really tired, too, and I'm hoping I can use this to my advantage when I go to bed in a couple hours--I have to be up at 6am to go to jury duty. I was planning on going to-day, but I'd forgotten to-day's President's Day. So I'm going to have to somehow draw, ink, and colour the first page of the new chapter on massive sleep deprivation. To-morrow should be fun.

I was disappointed to learn yesterday through Neil Gaiman's blog of a man being sentenced to six months in jail for owning "obscene" comics. Gaiman linked to an old entry of his in which he defends his position of defending free "icky" speech as part of a response to someone questioning why one should. Gaiman does a great job of describing the grey areas between art and pornography and also paints a useful picture of the people who are unfairly victimised by anti-obscenity laws and rulings. But Gaiman kind of failed to respond to the questioner's main argument, which was that preventing just one child from being abused would be worth some somewhat draconian censorship laws.

There are a couple ways I'd respond to this. One could say that by this logic there shouldn't be air travel, since preventing air travel might be worthwhile in order to prevent the small percentage of the time in which deadly, horrific plane crashes occur. And the counterargument might then be that air travel is necessary now for our society to function, whereas something like lolicon does not serve society in any way. All art is quite useless, as Oscar Wilde said in his preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray, but Wilde also makes a point in that preface to say, "Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty."

And he goes on to say there is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. His central argument being that it is the corrupt reader who takes to heart corrupt meaning from art. The person Gaiman's responding to mentions "support communities" providing encouragement for people to indulge in deviant behaviour. Even if it were true that proliferation of lolicon were directly linked to an increase in child molestation, one might point out that Prohibition tends to make such problems worse. It might be helpful to contemplate how things might go if the United States government outlawed the American Nazi Party and the Ku Klux Klan--the members of these organisations would simply put together new groups, possibly with fuel added by the government oppression.

I haven't read any genuine lolicon manga--my experience with the concept has been limited to the anime series Dance in the Vampire Bund and Hayate no Gotoku, and in both cases I've found in evidence a rule of fiction that's almost invariably true--fictional children are quite different from real children, particularly in adult works where they are usually stand-ins for parts of the adult psyche, a sort of role playing. Neon Genesis Evangelion, widely considered the greatest anime series of all time, is about fourteen year-old kids who are often portrayed in deliberately titillating ways but who are also used to address and explore psychological issues of dependence and identity. I mean, there's a reason I'm often charmed by fictional children while I'm usually annoyed by real children. It's something like this;

FICTIONAL CHILD: "I don't know where I am. I find my fixation on this concept or person is destructive to my concept of self and brings to mind uncomfortable aspects of my relationship with my parents. I'd prefer to just play my cello all day, if it's all right with you."

REAL CHILD: "Can you buy me this? Faggot! I like turtles."

I'm not attracted to kids, but I do think Dance in the Vampire Bund's theme is kind of cool;

And that's a mainstream anime series. The Handley case suggest to me a road to some absurd precedents being set in western law to prohibit Japanese imports.

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